Experience with Starkey Halo 2 i1600

I have recently replaced my old Starkey hearing aids with the new Halo 2. My hearing loss is not profound and is mostly in the mid-range. Without aids, I have some problem with everyday speech and the sound from the TV. For telephone I have been using earphones (Bluetooth and wired) so I can hear the caller through both ears.

My overall reaction to the Halo 2 is that it is a paradigm shift in the way I hear and the way I use the iPhone. Any sound produced on the phone is routed automatically to my ears without me doing anything and without any external attachment to the phone.

General setup
You need to install the TruLink iPhone App on the iPhone for most of what I describe to work. iPhone settings for the hearing aids are found here: Settings / General / Accessibility / Hearing Aids. I have all settings “On” and have selected “Automatic” where available. Some people have reported the need to set “Audio Routing” to “Always Hearing Aids” but “Automatic” has worked for me. A triple click of the home button on the iPhone gets you a screen where you can adjust volume, select memories, and “Start Live Listen” (which routes the iPhone microphone to the hearing aids).

Using the telephone
I was delighted the first time I used the iPhone to make a call while wearing the Halo 2. From my audiologist’s office, I called his receptionist and talked to her with the phone in my pocket using only the hearing aids.

When I left the office, my next stop was the UPS store to ship some hardware. UPS would not accept the charge number I had so I had to call someone to solve that. Again, after dialing, the phone was in my pocket. The person I was talking to asked to talk to the UPS agent and for a moment I was lost. I could hand the agent my phone but it would still use the hearing aids. The solution is trivial – you just have to be ready for it. Press the “Audio” icon on the phone app. It will show that you are using hearing aids. Just select “iPhone” or “Speaker”.

Anything you play on the iPhone is transmitted to the hearing aids. I found the sound quality very poor until I turned on “Stream Boost”. You should definitely turn on “Stream Boost”. It made the sound quality acceptable – meaning good enough for me. It still didn’t quite match the sound quality of $8 Bluetooth earbuds.

If you turn on “Live Listen”, you can stream the microphone on the iPhone to your ears. I found this wonderful. When I was talking to someone who spoke very softly. I put the phone on the table between us and could hear him fine.

I sing with a group and I have recorded my harmony parts as voice memos on the phone. I can review a harmony part by playing it on the iPhone and I hear it but nobody else does.

If you are streaming anything to the aids, then the microphones on the aids are disabled.

I find that the batteries last 9 to 10 days. Since I use a lot of Bluetooth, this is acceptable to me. My previous Starkey’s batteries lasted almost exactly one week (with no Bluetooth). My previous Starkey aids gave me a battery low warning “batteries” about 30 seconds before they turned off. The Halo 2 gives me about 30 minutes notice. This is better because you actually have time to do something about it.

You can add the hearing aid batteries to the display you get on the iPhone when you swipe down and view the “today” screen. I visited my audiologist one week after getting the new aids and both the iPhone today screen and his software still showed the batteries at 100%. A couple of days later (day 10) the battery levels suddenly dropped to 0% and then gave me the warning “batteries”. For me, the battery level display on the phone is useless. It’s always 100% or 0%. The TruLink app also shows a battery level indication on any memory screen but I’ve only seen three displays – completely full (when new batteries are installed), about 80% full (most of the time) and empty (when you’ve heard the “Batteries” warning). This may be an artifact of the batteries themselves. I suspect it is good design for a battery to do its best to provide the rated voltage until it just can’t do it any more.

I know that the batteries are air activated and that they start generating electricity when you pull off the tab. I did not know that you should give the chemical reaction time to get going. I’ve always (for years) put new batteries into the aids immediately after pulling off the tabs. In general, it is recommended that you wait one minute for the reaction to get started. Starkey suggests waiting five minutes.

When on any memory screen in TruLink, press the gear symbol at the top of the page and one of the options is “Alerts”. If “Alerts” are on, the aids play an audible sound for a calendar event, Email event, or social media event. I quite like getting this notification when a text message comes in.

TruLink and Memories
What are called “Memories” on the Halo 2 were called “Programs” on my older aids (if MY memory is correct). My audiologist set up 3 Hearing Aid memories for me – “Normal”, “Restaurant” and “Meeting” (I suspect Normal is always there). I added 4 TruLink GPS memories – Home, Library, Sing, and Car. For “Home”, I have the volume a little louder. For “Library”, I almost have the volume off. For “Sing”, I have the volume quite high. For “Car”, I have the volume lower and used “SoundSpace” to reduce High Frequencies.

When you change memory manually or Trulink changes memory automatically, you are notified with an audible (only to you) signal. For the hearing aid memories, the notification is the number of the program “One”, “Two”, or “Three” for me. You have to know (if you care) which memory is which. For the Trulink GPS memories, you get a tone that you learn to recognize as a memory change. You must be running TruLink on the phone if you expect it to make the adjustments I describe next.

For “Normal”, “Resturant” and “Meeting”, I manually select the desired program using TruLink on the iPhone when it is appropriate. The first three TruLink GPS memories that I added are selected automatically by TruLink when the GPS says that I am at the location for which they are programmed. For example, as I walk from the parking lot to the library, when I’m a certain distance from the library, the hearing aids make a notification sound and switch to the “Library” memory. When I leave the library, they revert to “Normal” and say “One”.

The “Car” memory is different. It is selected when you are moving more than 15 miles per hour. (It is not an instantaneous change. It can take a minute or more for the memory to change.) It’s interesting that if you are at a stop light too long, the memory will switch back to the “Normal” setting. When you move again, the “Car” memory is again activated. I think of this as a “Car” setting so I was surprised when I was riding in a trolley that the memory switched to the “Car” setting. They know I’m moving but do not, of course, know what vehicle I’m in.

Some situations I’ve noted

Pairing with another Device
If your aids are paired with your phone and you want to pair with some other device, for example your audiologist’s software, power off phone completely and turn hearing aids off and on (By opening battery compartment and closing it again). If the software or other device can’t find your aids, it’s probably because the phone still has them paired.

Find Hearing Aids
When on any memory screen in TruLink, press the gear symbol at the top of the page and one of the options is “Find My Hearing Aids”. This brings up a graphic that I believe shows you the Bluetooth signal strength.

Recording from the iPhone Microphone
When on any memory screen in TruLink, press the gear symbol at the top of the page and one of the options is “Remote Microphone”. This brings up a picture of a microphone with three possible selections: a power button (a circle with a line coming out of the top), a Red record button and a list selection. You must first turn on the microphone by pressing the power button. Now whatever the iPhone microphone hears is transmitted to your ears. While the microphone is on, if you press the Record button, the App additionally records what it hears. You press the record button again to stop recording and you are prompted to give a name to the recording. If you do give a name, the recording is saved in the list of recordings. Pressing the list icon gives you the names of all the recordings you have. You can select one and replay it. Note that the list icon is visible but unusable if the microphone is powered on. Turn off the microphone (by pressing the power button) and then select the list. The documentation does not say this.

Ear to Ear
On my older Starkey’s, if I pressed a button on the aid to change program or adjust volume, this would be communicated to the other aid using what is called “Ear to ear”. The Halo 2 does not have “Ear to Ear”. The aids only communicate with the iPhone. Without the phone, if you adjust volume or change memory by pressing a button on one of the aids, it will only affect the device where the button was pressed.

Tunity is an iPhone app that lets you stream live TV to your aids. It is not specific to Starkey and works with any Bluetooth ear buds. I include this only because I tried it with my aids. If you’re in a noisy bar and they have TVs on (maybe the program you are interested in doesn’t even have the volume on) you scan the TV screen with your phone and the app locates the audio and streams it. It only works for live TV not recordings. It would be pretty neat if it worked but for me it never worked. Only once did it actually find an audio stream for me for a sporting event and it streamed the audio to me in Spanish. Perhaps this App will get better over time.

Some Problems
I think the Halo 2 hearing aids are a great product but not all is perfect.

I had one failure in the first 40 days of my evaluation period. Driving in the car, I got the “batteries” notification in the left ear after only 3 days with a new battery and the left device shut down. When I got home, I replaced the battery and the left device made a sputtering sound for about a minute and then shut down again. This was repeatable. I recalled reading something like this on one of the hearing aid forums but I could not locate it again. I called Starkey customer service. I wanted to know if this was a known condition and what to do about it. They were completely unhelpful. I took out the battery for about 30 minutes and when I put it back all was OK again. I suspect moisture is the problem because it was a 100 degree day and I was perspiring heavily when the unit failed. I know they are supposed to be water resistant but I don’t have another explanation. I’m a little worried because other people have reported numerous electronic problems but this is the only one I experienced. The battery problem occurred in the left unit again a few days later as I was parking at my audiologist’s office. He measured the battery with a tester and it shown 100%. Putting it back in the aid also worked for a few minutes then it dropped again. It was another hot day and I had been perspiring again so he and I both still suspect it’s a moisture problem – only in my left aid. Note that each night I take the batteries out and put the aids in a dry box. When I change batteries, I now wait about 2 minutes after pulling off the tabs before putting them in the aids.

Sometimes Trulink, the iPhone app, stops changing memories. I suspect that while it should be running in the background, it sometimes falls asleep. If I make any change manually on the app, it comes alive again. Not a big problem just annoying.

Wish list – features that would be nice to have
The Halo 2 is new technology and I think we’re only beginning to see the possibilities.

  • Since I can use the phone with it in my pocket, it would be nice if one of the buttons on the aids could be programmed to answer the phone and to hang up.
  • When the aids switch memories it would be nice if they spoke the name of the memory rather than a number or a tone. I would think that it is only software to let you record a short audio clip giving the name of the memory and playing that back to you when it switches to that memory.
  • It would be nice if the notification alerts could also play a short recorded audio clip instead of giving a tone. The tones are different for different kinds of events but I don’t get enough of them to remember the tone patterns. If I heard “Text Message” there would be no doubt about why the alert was sent.
  • While we’re at it, the technology to read text exists. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could press a button on the aids and have the iPhone read you a text message? I’d use the same button as the one I’d use to answer the phone.

In Summary

These comments are mine alone. If I have anything wrong, let me know and I’ll update this review although I don’t mean for this to be a substitute for the documentation provided by Starkey.

I think the function provided by the Halo 2 hearing aids is wonderful and I would do not want to do without them. I’m hoping I do not experience any of the troubles reported by others. This technology is new and I’m sure there’s much more to come. Even people without hearing loss would love these devices were they not so expensive. They are that good.

1 Like

Thank you so much for this post. So much helpful info.

I bought my first hearing aids 2 weeks ago - Starkey Halo 2 i2400.

I’ve had lots of problems, mostly with the bluetooth and the app. I also have a problem with the battery draining within a couple of days in the left aid, but that I would think Starkey can fix or replace the aid. Let me first state that my hearing loss is moderate.

I upgraded to IOS 10 shortly before getting the aids. Starkey seems to be faulting the “flakiness” of the app with IOS 10. Frankly, I don’t buy. In the end, I was told by Starkey to wait for an Apple update to see if that resolves the problems. I have 60 days to return them and am inclined to go along.

The flakiness includes the app freezing, unpairing and simply doing odd things. For example, and this is one of many, the app used one memory for one ear and a different one for the other yesterday, out of the blue. This seemed to happen all on its own. That was fixed by resetting everything. However, there have been too many times I have had to go through the reset process.

My main gripe though, is the streaming, particularly music streaming from the phone. Prior to the aids, I was a regular user of ear buds on my commute to work on the train. No problem and they cancelled out the noisy train sound very well. However, with the aids, the outside noise overwhelms the music. I use Sound Boost and have the mikes muted, but little help.

As for the phone, the streaming works so so. There’s static at times and it’s not overly clear. I prefer not to use the phone streaming.

My provider is not familiar with the Starkey, not a good thing. However, he does make every effort to help from calling Starkey to other providers that he knows. I generally call Starkey, but it’s becoming a real PITA to call them almost every day, leave messages that don’t get returned, etc.

The aids work fine in accomplishing the primary goal - my hearing is improved - I can hear conversation and TV much better. However, I would love to be able to use the app also free of hassle. My guess is that there is little I can do about the music streaming. By their design, and I’m guessing, all hearing aids are going to let in background noise. However, I don’t want to start taking out my aids and putting in earbuds, particularly on a half hour commute.

What do I do? Wait it out? Are there better aids that integrate with the iPhone? I am not afraid of technology and adapting, but this seems to be too much work…

Well, Resound has a MFi as does Opticon. Older firmware was updated when someone had problems with OS10. I run OS10 with a 5S and it is solid. The Opticon is the latest aid out with many trying them with success. I am happy with my Resound based aids.

Thanks for the response. I don’t know much about the best way to shop around… perhaps you or someone can offer a suggestion. I need to find a new provider. I should first mention that my insurance company offers a $3000 hearing aid benefit which covered the Starkey. Although the provider / audiologist that I got the Starkey from tries his best to be helpful, his knowledge of the hearing aid market is limited and his ambition to expand his horizons is just as limited. He doesn’t carry Opticon or Resound - Starkey is the only iPhone compatible aid that he carries. He didn’t know much about the Halo 2 though - I was his first customer. He works for a medium-size hospital. I have only had the Starkey for 2+ weeks so it will be no problem to return them.

I’ve heard good things about Opticon though I am unfamiliar with Resound. I work in NYC and I assume my choice of providers will be much greater there than in many places. I need to find a provider that carries a wide selection, i.e., Opticon and Resound, as well as one that takes my insurance, Oxford. I did find such a provider, one that’s affiliated with a major NYC hospital and called them. However, there were a lot of out of pocked expenses and it seemed they nickel and dimed, unlike the provider I got the Starkey where I paid nothing except my co-pay. For example, the NYC provider wanted $100 for a fitting, something my Starkey provider did in 30 seconds at no charge. The aids fit fine. And it was $200 for a consultation, another $100 for this and that - all out of pocket.

So, how does one go about finding a provider? The only way I can think of is to get a list of providers covered by my insurance and then calling them to find out what types of aids they carried and asking about out of pocket expenses.


With the $3000 covering the aid, it looks like you were being provided the entry level aid. That’s not all bad. What they do is provide the same hardware but disable features. The aids will sound very close. The features disabled are designed to provide more help in difficult situations – noisy area and group chat.

The nickle and dime operation should be avoided. A good audiologist is paramount and one more interested in profit will not likely be the caring person you seek.

Being in NYC, you might want to find a Costco. They service the aids for free for the life of the aid and that includes supplies – except batteries. You can get their best aid for less than $3000 and they would have the features missing from the aids you are trialing. But, you need to do the insurance between you and the insurance company. Costco does not accept insurance. Make sure the insurance company will work that way as one of the gotchas is they often get a discount that wouldn’t be there with Costco.

You seem to know twice as much as my provider. I had no idea that some of the features were disabled. I’m guessing the provider didn’t know either. He tries and he’s a nice guy, but not at all knowledgeable.

I need a provider that is in network as I have a HMO. So Costco is out. The one other provider I talked to, the nickel and dime operation I mentioned, also requests payment upfront and I would somehow have to wait for reimbursement, something I’ve never done in the many years I’ve had this policy. When I questioned the legality, they told me that it was common practice for equipment. I know nothing about this stuff and I guess a question for Oxford, but it was my understanding that in network providers cannot do that. However, I must say the technician was very helpful on the phone and answered many specific questions I had about products. However, paying upfront is out of the question. That’s the one thing I like about the Starkey provider - very simple and painless regarding the finances.

Are these the only two providers in your HMO? Based on the nickle-dime guy, I am guessing that the HMO is actually paying him something less than the going rate which is why he wants you to pay up front and then stick you for future charges to make up for that.

You can go to the Starkey site and see what the different levels offer. Typical cost for the various levels might be 3200, 4800 and 6200. If you see something you want that is above the basic unit, you are going to have a more substantial cost.

Click on this for the Starkey Pro site which has more info than their regular site. Find which model they are fitting you with and you can compare it to their Halo2 which is their premium aid. You’ll find it hard to get good info and that seems to be all manufacturers intentions.

I don’t really know the Starkey line. Maybe someone else can give you solid info.

The providers I mentioned are the only two I’ve contacted. There are more. I will call Oxford to find out all network providers in nyc.

As for the fee, I checked my coverage before visiting the local guy and asked him for the best aids for the amount I was covered for. Btw, I don’t think he makes a commission. He works for a hospital. Though this hospital is not big, it’s part of the Barnabus system, one of the largest.

I’ll do more research next week, but I think the key lies in talking to Oxford.

Great post, jimbrownsmart! Here are my observations on same:

I have been using the Halo 2 RIC 312 (i 2400) for about a month now. It is really discouraging that each year the manufacturers explain with unbridled excitement that finally, the perfect hearing aid has arrived and it is so much better than last year’s model, about which they said exactly the same thing (last year). But, sucker that I am, I decided to place a huge bet on the Halo 2 RIC 312 model.

People like me with mild hearing loss are difficult to please with hearing aids because they hope to regain perfect hearing. I also have low frequency loss, which is difficult to correct with HA. I’m still a beginner (I’ve been using hearing aids now for about a year and a half), so it is not surprising that I have been dissatisfied with all of my previous experiments, which were:

Stakey Halo (made for iPhone): I was distressed at the low quality of music reproduction, even using the “Music” program, and I found that streaming music from the iPhone was intolerable. I have since learned there are two reasons for these problems, (a) feedback control involves introducing a warble into the sound which is probably OK for rock music but is horribly irritating when listening to classical music and (b) the low power version of bluetooth used by hearing aids (to connect with the iPhone) has a low “bit rate” which translates into low quality audio reproduction – good enough for voice but lousy for music, especially classical music where each note counts. However, in the end, I decided against these HA mostly because they were too big. I felt like I had horns. My glasses kept hitting against the hearing aids. I started to look around at the aids other people wore and I found that their choices were much more innocuous than the Halos.

Resound Linx2 (made for iPhone): these were smaller than the Halo so I was happier wearing them. They also use bluetooth connection and are “made for iPhone”. The batteries only last for about 3 days, but I did not mind changing batteries often. The iPhone “Resound Smart” app had a “focus” feature that was useful in noisy environments. But the low frequency amplification on these added distortion on some very low male voices (and other low frequencies) that made these voices impossible to understand. My audi worked very hard at removing this distortion but I now feel that it is a byproduct of the algorithms that are used with these aids. When she removed all the low frequency amplification the distortion disappeared. Still, I could understand ordinary speech better with the Halos. In slightly noisy environments, the “focus” feature helped, which made the Linx2 a better choice than the Halos for noisy situations, but in very noisy environments (including most restaurants these days) both hearing aids were totally useless anyway (and incredibly frustrating).

Starkey Muse i2400: These use the small 312 battery and are about the same size as the Linx2. They don’t use bluetooth and the batteries last about 5 days. According to my audi these had the same electronics as the Halo but without the bluetooth and iPhone control and in fact I found that I could understand speech better with these than with the Linx2. The iPhone app does not have the variable “focus” that the Linx2 app has.

After many months of experimentation and adjustments, I settled on the Muse i2400, but I have been constantly frustrated with trying to understand speech in noisy environments, at times finding that I could do better by removing the hearing aids completely. I don’t even try to use the “streaming” function for music. I asked my audi to turn off the feedback control in the “Music” program (she was very reluctant to do so) and I found that I could listen to classical music provided I use low amplification and put up with the occasional squeal when, say, hearing a long violin note of just the “wrong” frequency. BTW I love the newer Starkey “comfort” domes. On the other hand, for most situations and especially for quiet conversation in small groups, these hearing aids have really changed my life and I have come to depend on them.

The new Halo 2 RIC 312:

These are very pricey. (I went with the top of the line i2400.) My audi says the “normal” list price is something like $7800; she was able to offer them to me for $7000 and she gave me a 50% trade-in on my Muse aids because they were (just barely) less tha one year old. Maybe my hope to buy a new car will have to be delayed for another couple of years.

The Halo 2 aids use the smaller 312 battery and are about the same size as the Muse, so I am happy with the size. The batteries seem to last much longer too. The “Truelink” app for iPhone has many wonderful enhancements, including the much-desired “focus” adjustment. You can download this app for free and experiment with it in “demo” mode to get a good idea of its capabilities. (In this app, the wider the white circle is, the more noise and undesiriable sounds are filtered out.)

According to my audi the Halo 2 aids each have two microprocessors as opposed to the original Halo (and the Muse and the Linx2) which have a single processor. My audi says that the top of the line Oticon also uses two processors, but I found that although the “Oticon ON” app is useful and flexible, it does not provide the same level of customization as the Starkey app. In the last few weeks, GNResound has unveiled their new Linx3D with great fanfare, but I don’t know whether these have dual processors.

In the Halo 2, the second processor is used predominantly to process speech in noise. Since this was the main source of my problem with the Muse I decided to give them a try (with the usual option to return after a certain period of time, less a certain “restocking” fee). Also, the processing speed on these aids is twice as high as on the Muse, and the sampling rate is higher, which is supposed to result in greater sound clarity.

My experience is that, indeed, this is the case. It’s not so much that I notice a huge change, but rather that I no longer feel constant frustration at not being able to figure out what people are saying. The Halo 2 aids seem to be much “less noticeable” than the original Halo, so I suppose that means they are working much better!

Speech in noise: The app offers many different parameters that can be customized, and my audi downloaded several “programs” that are designed to help with speech in noise. I chose “Auditorium” (for understanding speech in live drama, or in lectures and seminars) and “Restaurant”. You can start with any of the standard programs and then modify them, saving the result to a custom program (up to 20 custom programs may be saved). So now I have “My Auditorium” and “My Restaurant”, having fiddled with the various noise filters, especially the “speech focus” in the app for these two programs.

Can I now hear speech perfectly in a noisy environment? No. In a loud restaurant full of young professionals drinking beer and laughing at the day’s scandals, can I hear as well as the 25 year old kid sitting beside me? No. Can I hear better than I could with the original Halo aids? Yes, definitely.

Music: The “Music” program is surprisingly good, much better than with the original Halo aids. I have been using the “Music” program with the smallest level of feedback control (a setting that can only be adjusted by the audiologist), but I may pressure her into letting me try the music program with no feedback control, realizing (as I mentioned above) that I will probably need to lower the amplification level and put up with the occasional squeal.

iPhone connectivity: In my case, iPhone connectivity and the app worked flawlessly (although the range is short and the connection drops if the distance between iPhone and HA is more than about 4 feet). I found the “streaming” function very useful for phone calls.

Some limitations of the Halo 2:

-- The Muse hearing aids are connected to each other via the 900 Mhz radio link, so if you use the button on one aid to change the volume, it also changes automatically on the other. With the Halo 2, the connection between left and right HA passes through the iPhone, so if the iPhone is out of range then you need to adjust each HA separately.

– “Streaming” music from the iphone is horrible (see low power bluetooth limitations above), and so when I work out in the gym I remove the HA and go back to using a separate pair of earphones for music.

– The Halo 2 does not have a telecoil (which I would probably not use anyway).

– The Linx2 can be outfitted with a “micro mic”, a lapel microphone that communicates directly to the hearing aids, which can really help when two people are trying to converse in a noisy restaurant. Starkey does not (at the moment) offer a similar product, although you can use the iPhone in “microphone mode” to act as a (rather large) mic.

– Bluetooth on the iphone places a constant drain on the battery and I find that my phone needs recharging a bit more often.

– Purchasing the Halo 2 will wipe out your bank account (at least it did mine).

In summary, I think the Halo 2 is a definite improvement over the original Halo and Muse models, so I will keep them, but there is still lots of room for further improvement.

Thanks for the detailed review. Just walked out the door with my Halo 2 i2400. So far, so good. Don’t use it for streaming music or phone calls, have an Android handset, and like being able to tweak some of the settings without having to make an appt with the audi.I also notice the warbling that occurs in certain music–especially noticeable with, say, pure tones like acoustic guitar or piano sol works. The Music program seems to account for this and eliminates the warble, which was my main complaint with the Muse i2400s I tried last year.

Can’t post an audiogram ATM, but basically all my high end is gone, can’t distinguish much involving sibilants of fricatives

I am new to wearing hearing aids. I have the Starkey Halo 2’s. My major complaint is that I wear reading glassed and, since I live in Arizona, I wear sunglasses outside all of the time, the loud scratching sound that I hear when I put on my glasses is very irritating. Has anyone found a solution for this. Starkey has none, although they say that many people have raised the issue. I tried Phonaks over the ear before these and had the same problem.

For most of us, it’s just one of many sounds that we eventually get used to. Some people like sweat covers over the hearing aids. Some (not many) give up and go with some sort of in the ear aid.