I'm brand new - Musician with quick question - Widex vs Costco if my cost is the same?


#1

I’m brand new to the forum and have a quick question. I saw an audiologist and had confirmed moderate severe sloping hearing loss (I’ll add my test as soon as I get a copy). My question is that I do have some insurance which will help cover the costs of aids (one time in 3 years, $2,500.00 per aid). They do not reimburse for Costco though (I was interested in the Kirkland KS8 aids). I can get Widex Evoke Fusion 330 aids for the same amount out of pocket as I could get the Kirkland Costco aids. I’m a classical pianist and organist part-time and a paralegal during the day. Which would be the better way to go if the price (for me) is the same?

The reason the price ends up being the same is that my health insurance deductible has to be met. Anyway, any thoughts, as a musician, which would be a better aid for me? I’m confused because my price ends up being the same.

I really liked the audiologist though and the testing was very thorough. The price through the audiologist includes batteries and all fittings, etc. for 3 years, as well as “auditory training” (whatever that is), loss, warranty, repairs, etc.

I’m confused because I did so much research here on the Costco aids and felt pretty confident about them (one of the people I work with has them), but I don’t see as much information about the Widex aids.

My other question is that if I add $1,000, I can get the Widex Evoke Fusion 440 - would that be worth the upgrade? I’m so confused, and scared. I make as much as a musician as I do as a paralegal, so both occupations are really important to me (I’m a single mom of three). I can’t play the piano and organ without an aid anymore (can’t hear directors, pastors and cuing when it’s time to play) so going without isn’t really an option anymore, but I’ve heard stories from other musicians that aids make music sound different when you’re actually playing and it’s such a huge part of my life.


#2

Many musicians like Widex. Another is the Bernafon. (Costco) Some insist on analog aids for performing.

You can probably find musicians here that like and dislike any brand.


#3

Thank you so much for such a nice and quick reply. It’s all so confusing. I don’t think I could afford the Bernafon, but did read about them. There is such a wealth of information on this forum, and so many nice people, which makes it hard to know which way to go. Thanks again!


#4

Well, the Bernafon is more expensive than the KS8. It is around $2600.


#5

I read about those. They sound wonderful. I’m afraid I would be eating Ramen noodles for 6 months if I tried to push the envelope that far. They do sound really nice. I’m really trying to keep myself under $2,000 out of pocket because I don’t want to have an emergency, like car repairs or something, and not be able to get to either of my jobs. The KS8s and the Widex aids both come to about $1,600 for me for the pair, so I’m just trying to figure out which way is the best to go when I don’t really understand much about hearing aids. Makes me feel pretty unintelligent. It’s a lot of money for me and my girls so I just don’t want to make the wrong decision.

I suppose if it would really make a big difference, I could spend more . . .?


#6

“My other question is that if I add $1,000, I can get the Widex Evoke Fusion 440 - would that be worth the upgrade?”

Do you think it is an upgrade because it costs more? Costco gets a special deal from manufacturers so you really can’t equate cost with quality in this case. The Widex may be better for you, or maybe not. There is no clue about that from the difference in cost though.


#7

Sorry - I think I wasn’t making myself clear - typing too fast - LOL! I can get the Widex and the Costco aids for the same amount (one includes insurance and one doesn’t). What I was wondering is, with both places, is it worth it to pay more to go “up a level?” if that makes sense?

I’m kind of leaning towards Costco, but I just don’t know if I should try to use my insurance towards the Widex ones. Cost is the same.


#8

One reason that Musicians like Widex is that that brand offers more input headroom than many others. At least this was true in the recent past. Other manufacturers may have upgraded their products recently. How this works: Imagine trying to use a very cheap microphone that was designed to record a lecture as a vocal performance mic. The singer’s voice right next to the mic would overwhelm the cheap mic’s capabilities and there would be distortion.
A similar thing happens with many hearing aids. They are designed for speech, not live music. Widex (and I think a couple of other brands) are analogous to a vocal performance mic in that they will accept louder signals with more dynamic range without distorting. If I were you I would eat Ramen for awhile and get the high-end Widex aids over the Costco aids. At least get a definitive answer about input headroom before you buy.
Also make sure your audi sets up whichever aids you buy with a separate program for you to use while you’re performing music. Have the audi minimize (but not totally turn off) the feedback cancellation feature and eliminate all the speech comprehension enhancement features in that music performance program. Those features (especially feedback cancellation) will make music sound harmonically “off” to you.
Also are you sure your insurance won’t cover Costco aids? Mine will; it’s just that, with Costco, I have to pay for the aids up front and then be reimbursed by my insurance. Maybe put the aids on a credit card and pay off the credit card when you get your insurance reimbursement. Hope this helps. Good luck.


#9

Thanks so much! Your answer was so informative! I’m going to go with the upgraded Widex for now. My audiology office is going to work with me for three months for payment for what insurance doesn’t cover, so I don’t have any upfront cost with the Widex and the actual cost to me is the same as the Costco aids. I don’t really trust my insurer to reimburse for Costco because someone else in my office had real difficulty getting reimbursement for his Costco aids, but another person said they paid their audiologist quickly for the aids he got. I can’t risk paying entirely out of pocket and then not getting reimbursed. Audiologist put in for the insurance this morning and as soon as that payment comes through she’ll get me in to fit the hearing aids.


#10

Definitely to the above! I’ve been a singer virtually all my life and a guitarist since I was 12. I’m 67 now. Music was my sole or main source of income for most of the '70s and '80s. (I’m also a paralegal now…) Your first introduction to hearing aids will take some getting used to, but it is a huge enhancement to your life.

You will have issues in that you will be hear the tone (not to mention volume) of your instruments differently than you have in years (assuming your hearing has been gradually deteriorating and not the sudden result of accident or illness).

I’m fortunate in that, I have a fine guitar that I bought 47 years ago when my hearing was fine and I spent a lot of time selecting it over others that I played. It has been my “yardstick”. I know that even if I’m not hearing it exactly as it sounds, IF another guitar sounds relatively good - volume and tone wise - compared to it through my hearing aids, then the new guitar is worthwhile.

Singing while playing puts another wrinkle into the “hearing aids for musicians” equation. Your instruments are coming at you externally, whereas your vocals are a mix of internal perception and external perception.

Do NOT be discouraged at the change and DO work with your tech to get a program or programs to work with your music!

Best of luck!

Dave


#11

I’m also going to underline the importance of a so called ‘music program’ for any HA that you might end up getting. I play classical guitar and having all compression and feedback (and other?) features turned off in this dedicated program is crucial. It’s good to ask if the audiologists at any center you might buy from are familiar with this sort of thing (my Kaiser audiologists were not.)

And another thing that I learned: I was torn between Costco and the highly recommended hearing aid center that I ended up going with. Costco would have saved me $800.00. In the end I didn’t like their aids as much as the ones that I got (Phonak). But more importantly–and I didn’t know this as a HA newbie–there’s a good amount of upkeep involved in hearing aids. I was able to work with my audiologist over several months dialing in my music program. More–I shed a lot of wax and need cleaning, even though I scrupulously use wax guards. My center is open on Saturdays and I can literally wander in and have that done in under a half an hour. AND the center is close by my house. All of this is worth the added cost over the Costco aids. I’d suggest considering this aspect of your purchase beforehand. How ‘available’ are Costco audiologists (or any ) to you.


#12

I can wander into my audiologist’s office around 4 on Saturday or Sunday, get a roasted chicken, and new domes or whatever. :grin:


#13

Costco has been great for me. They are open saturday and sunday. Appointments can be had same week. They will adjust, clean, etc., as much as desired. No audiologist, but the dispenser I use is very skilled and knowledgeable. He used to work for a hearing aid company as a repair tech and has been able to perform some repairs on the spot when anyone else would have sent them back. I had workups by an ENT and audiologist at the start of things to really know what’s what. They have twice the warranty period vs. most others, etc., etc.


#14

Definitely to the above! I’ve been a singer virtually all my life and a guitarist since I was 12. I’m 67 now. Music was my sole or main source of income for most of the '70s and '80s. (I’m also a paralegal now…) Your first introduction to hearing aids will take some getting used to, but it is a huge enhancement to your life.

You will have issues in that you will be hear the tone (not to mention volume) of your instruments differently than you have in years (assuming your hearing has been gradually deteriorating and not the sudden result of accident or illness).

I’m fortunate in that, I have a fine guitar that I bought 47 years ago when my hearing was fine and I spent a lot of time selecting it over others that I played. It has been my “yardstick”. I know that even if I’m not hearing it exactly as it sounds, IF another guitar sounds relatively good - volume and tone wise - compared to it through my hearing aids, then the new guitar is worthwhile.

Singing while playing puts another wrinkle into the “hearing aids for musicians” equation. Your instruments are coming at you externally, whereas your vocals are a mix of internal perception and external perception.

Do NOT be discouraged at the change and DO work with your tech to get a program or programs to work with your music!

Best of luck!

Dave
[/quote]

Thanks so much! It’s so nice to talk with someone that gives such an informative answer. I had heard that I would hear tones differently. Luckily I don’t sing so at least I don’t have to worry about that too. I did just recently buy a Russian balalaika though so that should be interesting with the new hearing aids. I’ll let you know how it goes. Get the new aids on the 15th so I have my fingers crossed.


#15

You all are so helpful! I’m learning so much. When I talked to the audiologist that was exactly what she was talking about for me - a dedicated program with all the “active” features and feedback suppression, etc. turned off. And part of the reason too is the same thing you said as far as getting in easily. The audiology office is very easy to get in and be seen. When I called Costco to try to get an appointment for even an exam, soonest time was three weeks out. Might be difficult for adjustments, which I know I’ll need. Thanks again!


#16

Yes, the most expensive HA’s in the world aren’t worth a damn if the receivers become occluded with wax–which can happen slowly so you’re not aware of it. And then when you are, having to wait for three weeks to get an appt. would be maddening. The receptionist at my center is trained to vacuum off wax from my aids, that’s why I can ‘wander in’. And it’s as great as it sounds, even without take out of roast chicken! I have a habit of going in every three to four weeks on a Saturday morning with no appt.–it tends to be slower for them then and the process is always very fast. And I usually am hearing better afterwards.

There’s member here who goes by Musician that is highly involved in classical music and who plays piano and organ as well as conducts . He has good posts about which HA’s he prefers for music, although in the end it may be an individual thing. You might search this forum for his posts. I became involved in that discussion several years ago when I was choosing my HAs. Maybe try ‘best hearing aids for music’[ or even ‘for playing music/classical music’.


#17

You can extend the 3 year warranty to 5 years merely by using the Costco credit card. Plus they have a 6 month money-back guarantee. Can’t beat that IMO. Larry


#18

I am a musician as well. I sing and play guitar. I do have to fiddle with volume on the Resound Forte 8 hearing aids… but so far I’m quite happy with the music I hear with these. That said, I don’t play in a gig type situation any more.

And classical music is sometimes quite strange, in particular violin based classical. I have actually taken out the hearing aids a few types when listening to my classical collection.

Pop music , soul , etc all sound good with these HA from Costco. I have 6 months to decide if I like them … that works well for me.


#19

I haven’t finished reading the entire thread so this is a reply to the initial question of Widex vs. Costco for a musician.

Answer: Widex, hands down. 440 if within budget.

Once I finish the thread and have time for a more thoughtful response, I’ll post more. From a quick skim, it seems as though others are suggesting brands other than Costco or Widex. I can’t comment about those comparisons but may be able to add to conversation in a bit.

Cheers.

-K


#20

Well, I got the Widex. I’m actually trialing the 330s for now and so far I absolutely love them. Have not found a situation (noisy restaurant/bar, work, church, speak easy, driving, etc.) where I have had any problems. Streaming has been so seamless I’ve actually fallen asleep twice with them on while streaming a Netflix movie in bed. Haven’t had any trouble with drop off in streaming in either ear, which I was a little concerned about. Haven’t had too much of a chance to play yet with the evoke sound sense learning thing because I’ve been working too much and too late in the evening, but I’m looking forward to playing around with it a bit. I lasted 6 days on the 312 battery, with Bluetooth streaming the entire time, which I felt was pretty good.

As far as music, so far I’ve only been able to trial them with my electronic digital grand at home (which I got so I could play at night without driving the neighbors crazy with Beethoven or Brahams late or night, or Carole King (ha ha). So far, it’s not been nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I haven’t had much distortion in the higher registers, which was my biggest concern, and no real issues with feedback or distortion at other levels and frequencies, nor with trying differing sounds, piano, organ, harpsichord, etc. I’m planning on getting some Bluetooth earphones and trying to key in that way so that I can play during the night again (I think there is an adaptor I need to get that I’ve read about through Yamaha).

Will be trialing the aids on a concert grand this weekend, and a three manual pipe organ, so I’ll let everyone know how that goes. I have been able to use them with my office phone without a telecoil just holding it slightly above my ear near the mic, which is nice.

Haven’t had difficulty with wind noise or noise in car either, which the one other time I tried hearing aids was just awful. They seem to pretty seamlessly go from one environment to another without a lot of issues.

One thing I found very nice was when I was playing in a bar environment, there was a very very loud drunken lady to my right slightly behind me. I was able to use the app and position the directional mic such they it toned her down and made her much less unpleasant.

So, so far so good. My audiologist has a musician coming in to meet with me next week for fine tuning regarding the piano (I’ve been keeping track of which notes seem loud or brassy on a chart, so I can show him the frequencies against the notes), so hopefully that helps.

I’ll let everyone know how the next few weeks go. I’ve got my fingers crossed. So far, I’m very pleased.