FM vs. bluetooth for cellphones

I have a pair of Phonak Bolero 90 BTE. I want the best way to connect my hearing aids to my cell phone. Phonak has a bluetooth system (ComPilot) and an FM system. I can’t figure which is better and which works best with cell phones, both hearing and speaking. Would appreciate any advice. Thanks --Steve

I’m surprised FM is an option for phone use. What device has the outgoing microphone?

Hi, Don, It’s confusing but this is how they explained it: The FM transmitter is called Smart Link Plus. The cellphone is connected by Bluetooth to the transmitter, which then streams by FM to a receiver plugged into a shoe on the HAs. In order to speak, there is an external clip-on microphone which plugs into the transmitter, which you obviously have to have nearby. So you’re back again to wearing something around your neck, and you are using both FM and Bluetooth.

With the pure Bluetooth system (Com Pilot), the neck loop will pick up voice, but if you want to hide the loop under clothing or you want a better sound, you need an external microphone anyway. The advantage of FM is that you can stream conferences or TV direct to the HAs without a neck loop. I couldn’t get a straight answer on which has the better sound – Bluetooth, or FM-Bluetooth combined. I believe that sooner rather than later, iPhone will have a direct link, but nothing has been announced yet.


I would get the ComPilot since you only need the ComPilot and the HA’s to use the cell phone, with the FM system you need the shoes for the HA’s, the SmartLink Plus and the microphone. It seems like it would become a pain just to talk on the phone. With the ComPilot you just press a button and talk, it doesn’t get much easier.

I agree, that’s the set up I use along with the TVLink. No muss no fuss!!!

The only way for that to happen would be for all the hearing aid manufacturers to get together on a standard, and for smartphones to transmit/receive on this standard. The most likely standard (just my guess) would be a Bluetooth protocol with lower power requirements than Bluetooth Low Energy, so it could work in a hearing aid, that also could carry voice (that doesn’t exist yet). Then you still have the problem of the microphone and how it is powered (or attached). Current devices, like the small Resound Phone Clip+, solve those problems (voice transmit/receive and microphone) and mine works fine on a lanyard under my shirt.

Android has announced support for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and a couple of manufacturers have announced plans to include it but the applications for BLE do not currently include voice, just data (example, proximity sensor).

Starkey has a Bluetooth phone setup that uses the hearing aid microphones to pick up the outgoing voice. I understand it works in most situations, but not high noise situations. It still has an intermediate device but the device can stay in a shirt pocket or under the clothes most of the time.

For now, I think we are just looking at incremental improvements on the current devices and schemes. But, it is not a bad situation right now. All major manufacturers offer a Bluetooth phone device and those devices are getting better.