How to use with Bluetooth

I am in the process of choosing hearing aids, and have been told I can get ones that will work with my iPhone via Bluetooth. The audiologist said to just hold the phone close to my ear. That pretty much defeats the purpose of Bluetooth, which is to talk hands free. I’m hoping I misunderstood, and that I only need to hold the phone close to activate the connection, and I can then put it back in my pocket to talk. Can someone please clarify?

Well it depends.

If it’s indirect streaming, then you’ll need to have a Bluetooth enabled streamer accessory designed for the hearing aid that you typically wear around your neck and put in your upper pocket near your mouth, because this streamer has a built in mic to replace your phone’s mic. You’d pair the iPhone with this streamer, then you can put your phone in your pocket or purse and do hands-free talking with this intermediate streamer which relays sounds both ways to your iPhone.

But many mfgs now make “Made for iPhone” (MFI) HAs that eliminates the need for the intermediate streamer. The iPhone will connect directly to the MFI HAs and you’ll hear the phone in your HAs. But because you still need to use the iPhone’s built-in mic to deliver your own speech to it, you must hold it near your mouth (not necessarily near you ear per se) however you want. So for MFI HAs, the phone experience is not entirely hands free, unless you sit at a table and just put the iPhone on the table close enough to your mouth.

There is a new hearing aid (the Phonak Audeo-B Direct) that will give you a direct streaming experience on the phone (either iPhone or Android phone) and use the mic on your HA to pick up your speech. For this HA, you can leave the phone in your pocket because you don’t need its mic. BUT, there are a couple of major limitations to this specific hearing aid’s technology:

  1. You can only hear your phone conversation in mono (you pick which hearing aid to hear from).

  2. There’s no A2DP bluetooth support for this HA, so you can’t stream music or video sound from your phone to this HA. It ONLY works for phone calls. You can buy a TV streamer and physically (not wirelessly) hook it up to your TV and the TV streamer will stream sound directly and wirelessly from the TV streamer to your HA.

Agree with Volusiano for the most part. However, there are some subtleties that he’s missed regarding the Audeo B-Directs.

Most important, it’s NOT true that BT support only works with phone calls. I actually use the B-Directs with other audio from my phone (notifications, YouTube videos, etc., and sometimes even music), though as Volusiano said, the audio is MONO only, and you’d need a free app to send all of the audio to the HA.

Also, the TV Streamer is something of a misnomer; it’s really an audio streamer that just happens to be aimed at TV viewing. However, you can just as easily connect it to any kind of music system (or a home theater receiver for that matter), and listen to music in (fairly crappy) stereo.

Having a true hands-free phone is really nice, and the B-Directs are the only HA’s that provide that capability without an intermediate streaming device.

I stand corrected, chatteremail, because I never actually used the B-Direct myself.

Also good point about hooking up the TV streamer to any kind of audio source, not limited to the TV only. Really, anything that has an audio out connection. Heck even your iPhone as well, if you want to get the stereo experience from your iPhone music.

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You need to find an AuD who has a clue!!