Issues with Phonak iCom (long)

I am so frustrated with this iCom thing that I’m ready to take a hammer to it! I started wearing Phonak’s Naida S IX SP about six months ago. These have worked pretty well so far. The programming issues are another post/rant. I’ve been wearing Phonak aids in both ears for over 10 years. I’ve used the FM system with them for over 10 years also and have been very happy with the FM system.

First off I will say that the sound quality through the iCom is great. It does not produce the artifact (extra sound) that Naida produces in the presence of music, whistling and women’s voices.

However, that does not compensate for the problems.

  1. The iCom does not do anything better than the FM system and it doesn’t do as much as the FM system.

  2. When using the iCom with the television, computer or CD player, the iCom shuts off the external speakers of the TV/computer/CD player. No one can hear it but me. Obviously, this defeats the main purpose of the iCom as an assistive listening device to use in the presence of other people.

  3. There is no option that I know of to turn off the external mics with the iCom like there is with FM system. With the FM system you have the option of FM only or FM+mic. There is no such option with the iCom that I know of. When I am using the iCom, I do not want to hear anything other than what is coming through the iCom.

  4. The background noise overpowers the Bluetooth signal coming through the iCom. My audiologist turned down the mics, but the Naidas compensate by amplifying the background noise. I guess they think the muted background noise is soft speech that I want to hear.

  5. The iCom as a Bluetooth device paired with cell phones is a terrible, terrible device. People cannot hear me because of the background noise. I have to shout at that really obnoxious volume level that people hate for cell phone users to use. After my audiologist turned down the mics on the iCom, people said they couldn’t hear me due to my voice sounding muffled or like I’m on speakerphone.

  6. If there is a gap in the audio signal (lull in the conversation on the phone, silence while the CD changes tracks, short silence when listening to a video tutorial on the computer, etc.) – even just a short gap, the iCom shuts off. When the signal resumes, the iCom restarts several seconds later. I have lost several seconds of speech. This is disruptive.

  7. When the iCom turns on and off, the beeping signal is painfully loud.

I tried to return the iCom before the 30 day trial period was up, but my audiologist flat-out refused to take it back. In fact, I had requested the FM system when I first ordered the Naidas 6 months ago. She ordered the iCom instead. Thus far she has refused to order the FM system. Now she says that the Naida can’t be fitted with the FM system. I never would have ordered the Naidas if they weren’t compatible with the FM system! Anyway, that’s a separate post/rant.

Does anyone have any solutions to the above issues? Sympathy?


First, I don’t believe that the Naida’s are not compatible with an FM. Phonak is a HUGE proponent of assistive devices and their FM system is used pretty extensively so for Phonak to make their product, designed for people with severe hearing loss, incompatible with an FM system doesn’t make any sense at all.

The iCom should be able to be coupled with the TV and other devices without shutting off the mics of those devices. The only way I can think of that it would deactivate the external speakers is if you are plugging the iCom in using an external headphone jack - this means there would be a cord connecting the actual iCom to the device. If it’s coupled correctly, people in the room should be able to hear sound coming from the TV or whatever you are paired to normally.

When using an iCom, there is a setting where you can set the balance of the mic and iCom input. You can set it so that you can hear only the iCom or the iCom and sound through the HA mics. Now, I don’t do many iComs so I haven’t had to change those settings often but I’m 99% certain this can be adjusted so that it’s similar to FM+mic.

I have heard that people on the receiving end of the phone calls when using an iCom do have a hard time hearing the speaker. Phonak does have a remote lapel-mic that can be clipped closer to your mouth so that it’s easier for people you are calling to hear your voice…this might be something to consider.

I’ve heard others complain about the lag time with the iCom signal and I’m not sure how to fix that…sorry.

The beeping that comes on when the iCom shuts on/off can also be changed and/or turned off.

Hope that helps a little bit!

It sounds like you have the Icom plugged into the wrong jack on the TV. So other people can hear the TV when you are using the Icom it should be plugged into the audio out jack in the back of the TV. I would also recommend adding an extension cable on the audio cable that comes with the Icom so you can have it next to you for easy volume control( if someone turns the TV volume up or down, the Icom’s also goes up or down). As for your other problems I don’t have any answers since my wife is the one that uses the Icom and she has some of the same complaints as you do!

>5. The iCom as a Bluetooth device paired with cell phones is a terrible, …

While expensive ($1100 - $1300 online), the SmartLink+ might do what you want. There are other (cheaper) options, too.

>I tried to return the iCom before the 30 day trial period was up, but my audiologist flat-out refused to take it back. In fact, I had requested the FM system when I first ordered the Naidas 6 months ago. She ordered the iCom instead. Thus far she has refused to order the FM system.

Well, this kind of thing bugs me a lot. I switch businesses for less. If possible, use a university audiology clinic to obtain hearing aids. They don’t have much financial interest in what aids/options you buy or don’t buy.

>Now she says that the Naida can’t be fitted with the FM system. I never would have ordered the Naidas if they weren’t compatible with the FM system! Anyway, that’s a separate post/rant.

There are some shoes that attach to the Naida S that give them FM ability:

If she used the Phonak web site to find out if they could be fitted with an FM system, I can understand her response. I found the place where I thought it should have told me if it could use FM, but there was nothing about FM. I needed to keep hunting.

>Does anyone have any solutions to the above issues? Sympathy?

You definitely have my sympathy, and some empathy, too! The Phonak web site has a ton of information–so much, that it is hard to find what one is looking for. Unfortunately, the information they have on each hearing aid and accessories is inconsistent. However, if you keep hunting, you can find out almost anything.

I agree the Phonak website has a lot of information and the person or persons that set it up need to go back to school and learn how to set up a website that is easy to navigate and is also consistently set up for each item on the site.

I wear Naida UP and I am just about to get the FM system.

They work with Phonak FM Systems because the receivers are inside the battery draws so are made my Phonak.

See the link - This link is for the SP Naida not the UP Naida.

They also work with the normal FM systems if you change the battery draws (battery draw has a bit cut out so the shoe can touch the connection) but the problem with doing it like this, you have to take the shoes off each evening to turn the aids off, which is fine but means the shoes wont last as long.

Seb, I do have the iCom plugged into the back of my TV, and my TV has no headphone jack surprisingly enough.

Here is the link to the brochure for the SM system: Add “.pdf” to the end of the link.

Is page 12 saying that the iCom can be converted or used as an FM transmitter if you plug the MLxi into the bottom of it? I know that I would still need to get the ML11i boots regardless of what transmitter I use.

I can’t imagine that my audiologist was financially motivated to push the iCom so strenuously since the FM system costs so much more. Yes, it’s alot of the money, but the Naidas are alot of money, too, lol. I want what works regardless of the cost. Fortunately I can afford it. It galls me however to pay over $500 for something that doesn’t meet my needs and that I can’t return now. Perhaps I can donate it to a charitable organization that can give it to someone who can use it. Know of any such organizations?

Yes, the Phonak website could be better designed. The Phonak reps on the customer service line need to understand their products better, too. They told two different audiologists that the Naida S IX SP was not compatible with FM, that it was only compatible with the iCom. I didn’t believe either audiologist. Phonak is know for have the best FM system. It doesn’t make sense that they would design such a powerful and robust hearing aid and not make it compatible with the FM system. The aids would be a waste of money otherwise. Anyway, the second audiologist got frustrated with my insistence that the Naida were FM compatible and called Phonak while I was in the office and put the call on speakerphone. The Phonak rep told hear that the Naida was indeed FM compatible. So I have to cut the audiologist a little slack there. So frustrating!

When you get the Phonak rep in your audi’s office bring up the fact that you didn’t want the Icom but the FM system instead and you wanted to return it but couldn’t and see what they can do to swap it out. It might be worth a try. I think if you audi pushed the Icom on you and it’s not working for your audi should be willing to take it back. As for the cable connection. make sure it is plugged into one of the 2 audio out jacks, there should be one marked left and one marked right, if you have it plugged into one of the 2 and you get no audio out of the TV when the Icom is on try plugging into the other one and see if that works. Good luck!

Seb, the TV connector cable that came with my iCom had a red plug and a white plug at the end that plugs into the TV’s audio jacks. They are plugged in correctly. Another annoying thing about the iCom is that it doesn’t hold a charge worth a darn - two hours max. It doesn’t matter if I’m actually using it. If it is turned on, the battery lasts only 2 hours. I read of people leaving the thing on all day so that the iCom will immediately activate when a call comes in from their cell phone. Did I get a lemon?

NaidaUP, so the receiver fits over the battery? With Claro and Savia Art that I had previously, the boot fit into the battery socket and the battery fit into the end of the boot. You didn’t have to remove the boot in order to take the battery out.

Are you turning the ICom off at night and the base station (TVlink) too? My wife found out that if you don’t you only get a couple hours out of the battery, but if you turn it off you get maybe 5 hours. We also got a spare charger and if she is watching a movie she plugs in the ICom so it doesn’t die 3/4 thru the movie. What kind of TV do you have?

It may be a setting on your TV that deactivates the speakers when something is plugged into the audio out. That’s not so unusual, since people usually plug a tuner or a set of external speakers into the port.

As far as battery life goes, you may have got a dud. I had my iCom for 2 years, then the battery life started to suck. It was sent back to Phonak, who replaced the battery. I’m now back to full day battery life again. The best secret for expanding the life of the iCom battery is ito use the minijack connection for streaming music from you mp3 player or whatever. This burns a FRACTION of the energy used for bluetooth streaming.

Good luck


Try unplugging either the white or red wire from the back of the tv and you should get sound out of one of the speakers on the tv but both the tv and the tvlink will be in mono and not stereo.

From reading the overview of the MLxi, it appears to just be for when you have non-Phonak hearing aids, but want to use Phonak FM accessories. There might be more to it than that, though.

Some donation routes might desire that you believe the device is working. However, I suspect you can donate it to the Lions Club (tax deductible) which has been accepting hearing aid donations for decades. They will happily take broken aids, too, by the way. However, If you search the Internet for “donate hearing aids,” you’ll find that “everyone” wants your aids. Presumably, many of the organizations will also take an iCom for when they have compatible aids to give to someone. :slight_smile:

You also might consider holding on to it for a few months before doing anything. A situation might arise that can be helped by the iCom. It’s value isn’t going to drop over the next few months. From what I’ve read, there are some things people do that can’t be done without the iCom.

Did you check its warranty? Even though your dispenser may not take it back, perhaps Phonak will.

Lastly, in lieu of finding a highly capable professional techie that can figure out if the iCom is working the way it is supposed to for you and talk to you about it, if you know a techie person (e.g., young relative), he or she might be willing to dig into this for you at your house with your aids, the iCom, your TV, and all the manuals.

@ Seb: Oh, duh. I’m generally brighter than that. I’ve been turning the iCom off at night but kept the TV plugged into the base. I’ll try that. :slight_smile:

A Evil Scientist: I do recall now that with my previous FM system (Zoomlink), the external speakers shut off when the FM was plugged in when they
hadn’t done that previously. So the problem probably does lie with my TV. I had hoped that the problem was the Zoomlink and not the TV. My TV is a 36" flat screen Sony Trinitron that’s 9 or 10 years old. The picture is fabulous. That’s why I haven’t gotten another TV, though I would love to have a TV that I can mount on the wall. The Trinitron is a monstrosity with a 300 lb picture tube in the back. HOWEVER, this happens with all TVs. The workaround is to place the FM transmitter right next to the TV speaker. To reduce the background noise, I place a hand towel over the transmitter without covering up the microphone. This works pretty well. But you can’t do that with iCom.

@ Seb: I cannot charge my iCom while using it like I could with my two previous Phonak FM systems. It won’t work if I leave it on the base while watching TV. I didn’t think you could charge and use the iCom like you can with a cell phone anyway.

Hi Jenra
I’ve been reading your post and was wondering how you’re getting on with your iCom? It’s seems like most things have been covered although I know Phonak regularly update their products, so it might be worth checking your iCom has the most recent firmware updates. Any clinic with Phonak’s fitting software could check it for you - and some of the preformance issues might be resolved this way. Hope this helps.

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I have oticon sumo for 2years only work well for 1 1/2 year cost 3000 need new aids what is good. I am 60 lost hearing due to illness in 2009 after strokes and three month coma. Help please.

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