Hands-free: Wear one HA + one earpiece?

I need to find a solution for hands-free cell calls. I wear Oticons – OPN1 miniRITE – and have an iPhone 8 running iOS 13.3.1.

I gave the Oticon ConnectClip a try after asking about it here a couple of months ago. I could never get it to work satisfactorily. Pairing problems, sound problems (sound only in one ear; quality – volume or scratching; inability to hear the other person, or sometimes their inability to hear me). The problems varied, and worse, were not consistent or replicable. It worked briefly – once. But other people get annoyed when you’re continually calling to test your gizmo! Unfortunately, because of a family problem, I wasn’t able to focus on trying to solve it, which means my return window closed and I am now out a lot of money.

I am still in search of a solution. I wonder now if I should try wearing a Bluetooth earpiece in one ear while I’m driving. Keep a HA in the other ear for ambient sound/safety.

It seems stupid, I know. Especially as I get good sound using Hey Siri. I think I’m really only lacking a microphone and the ability to answer a call.

Does anyone have any experience or advice about such a workaround?

I had OPN 1 miniRITE aids but am now using OPN S 1 miniRITE. I also have a ConnectClip. I use an older iPhone 6 Plus - it will not run iOS 13 so is at 12.4.5. That version was released about when 13.3 was for newer iPhones.

When I got my ConnectClip, the provider had to program the aids to know about the clip (at least that is what I was told). Also, the firmware of the OPN 1 aids had to be upgraded to allow use of the clip (some time back when the clip was originally released to the US). At a later point, there was a firmware update for my ConnectClip - it is at firmware level 1.13.0 now.

So I would suggest that you ensure that the firmware for both your hearing aids and the ConnectClip are current. I found a download of Genie II (from the UK) and that includes a firmware update program that runs under Windows 10. You can plug the ConnectClip into a USB port on the computer with an appropriate cable and the program will tell you the firmware level and if it is current. The Oticon ON app on iOS will report the software level of your aids. My backup OPN 1 aids were updated to 6.1 on 1 October 2019. The older version of the ON app on iOS reported both software and firmware levels - 6.1 and au2cs3fw5.16.1 for my OPN 1 aids. I do not know if there is a more recent version as I switched to OPN S 1 aids last September.

If your firmware/sofware is not up-to-date, I would get that done by your provider before trying anything else. If you are up-to-date, then I would remove all pairing from the ConnectClip. Then I would pair the ConnectClip with the hearing aids and then the phone. I would probably also forget and redo the pairing of the hearing aids to the iPhone.

Then I would turn off the ConnectClip and ensure that both hearing aids are correctly connected to the phone. Next check the settings for audio routing in your iPhone: Settings --> General --> Accessibility --> MFi Hearing Devices --> Audio Routing --> Call Audio to “Always Hearing Devices”. The MFi Hearing Devices screen should also show both hearing aids (R + L) and Connected. Use the > to check that both are set to stream. I suggest “Adjust Independently” be turned off unless you really want that.

If you have multiple iOS devices (iPhone and and iPad or similar), you might turn off all except for the phone during setup/testing - I have issues when both my iPhone and iPad are near the hearing aids as they seem to fight for control.

For calls at home, I just place my old iPhone on a desk in front of me and leave it there for “hands-free” calls. The phone audio reliably connects to both hearing aids during phone calls for me. I don’t typically use the ConnectClip for phone calls, only for connecting to a computer. If you need hands-free calls in a car that doesn’t connect to your phone, you might try putting the phone in a shirt pocket with the mic pointing up - some have reported success that way. I don’t use my phone while driving a car (or riding my bicycle).

I have tried the ConnectClip with my Cisco VOIP, bluetooth enabled desk phone at work. The ConnectClip shows up as a bluetooth headset. People I call have reported that the ConnectClip microphone volume is too high and it is too sensitive so there is significant background noise (HVAC fan for example) heard. This was supposed to be fixed in the firmware update for the clip but my experience doesn’t bear that out. So I don’t use the ConnectClip for phone calls in my office. I just use the iPhone placed on my desk so my hands are free for taking notes or whatever.

If you aids and iPhone are working correctly, call audio to your OPN 1 aids should “just work” for both ears - no need for the ConnectClip for that as MFi in the phone does that. If the aids and ConnectClip are at the correct firmware level and paired, the ConnectClip should also work but the volume/sensitivity of the clip microphone may be too high, at least in my experience.

Stuart

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^^^ Great analysis right here! My only half-penny addition is to ask who your cell service provider is? Mine is T-Mobile, and it is VERRRRRRY spotty - not only where I live, but also wherever I seem to travel. I’m often told by callers that they can’t hear me, and there are also incidents when on my end I hear a LOT of squeeeeeeeeaaaaaakkkking, scratchy sounds and basic dropping out of calls.

Unrelated to your issue, I’m wearing Phonak Marvel 90s streaming to a Samsung S9 cell phone.

But still, the cell phone provider or issues of bandwidth seem to render calls less than optimal.

Do other people in your area get better cell service?
I have the Audeo M aids and had to change Bluetooth bandwidth to fixed. That cleared up the screech issues.

Thank you all for your replies and especially to Stuart for his comprehensive how-to guide! I am about to dive into his recommendations.

I should say that my intended use is hands-free cellphone use while driving. Like Stuart, I don’t have a problem with my phone at home. I don’t need the ConnectClip then and just place the phone on my desk. If I’m walking, I simply hold the phone under my chin for the mic. Driving is the problem – it’s now illegal to hold my phone while underway.

In response to the questions about my cell service: It’s Verizon, and I don’t have problems otherwise with it. I use Bluetooth on my phone with great success for phone calls, audiobooks, podcasts, and music. The sound quality is excellent and in stereo.

It’s the CC that is the problem. For some reason, I can’t tell through my Oticon phone app what soft/firmware is on my HAs. But my audi updated them in September, so I’m guessing I’m current. I don’t have access to Genie. I also don’t know what version is on my ConnectClip.

Interestingly, the one time I got the CC to work, I could not also get my HAs to connect to the Oticon app.

It sounds like you all think that the CC should work. If I can’t make it work seamlessly, do you have any opinion about the question of using one third-party earpiece for phone calls?

One problem solved…realized my Oticon ON app wasn’t updated. So now I can report that the firmware on my HAs is version 6.1.

I’m going to echo what bagger/Stuart said. I have OPN S1s and have no issues of consequence doing hands free with my IPhone 6s software 13.3.1. I often use a Connect Clip, though it has occasional problems. What I do as the call is connecting is switch to the screen that shows various sources (phone mic, Connect Clip, IPad and my various Bluetooth cars. I make sure that the audio is set to the source of choice. Sometimes when I step out of a car the phone will remain locked on the car’s Bluetooth so checking the audio source is a must before I call if I’m standing anywhere near the car.

My problem with the Clip was hanging onto them. I’ve lost two so far. Reluctant to get a third but I’m starting to think I might have to. Kudos to biggar for the comprehensive post. Really, keep bugging whoever you need to bug, 'cause if you can get it to work you won’t get a better solution.

Ok. Tried again tonight. Successfully paired. But the sound is all over the place. Sometimes it’s fine. Several times the sound got cut. (“Hey Siri, What’s the capital of Norway?” “Lo.” “Hey Siri, what’s the temperature?” “… ees outside.”) I think it got cut in both directions – I told Siri to call my home number, and the response was confirming only the first few digits. At least this time, it was (mostly) stereo……

In short, highly unreliable. If the idea of hands-free cell phones for drivers is to cut down on distraction, this is much worse than simply holding my phone to my mouth. Very distracting!

I suppose I could take it to my audi to see if he has any ideas, tho’ I bought it through Amazon.

Yes. Folks on Verizon are HAPPY campers! Call this a “control issue” where hubs has our cell phones on T-Mobile for billing, which required me to close out the Verizon account a few years ago. Now that Sprint + T-Mobile are together things could get better, but for the past few years, I feel like I’ve traded Times Square for a squatty farm house (a la the TV show stars from “Green Acres”). Call me Lisa Douglas - the phone’s ringing at the top of the pole outside the bedroom window. :expressionless: