My contact with three different hearing aid groups...and Phonak questions

I’ve contacted Choice Hearing, Hearing Revolution, and Connect Hearing, based upon what I’ve read here, and also because they carry several brands I’m interested in. Here is some ramblings about my contact with them and more questions in particular on Phonak.

Choice Hearing, they have no providers close to me, in fact they are further away than Costco. I also really wanted to talk to one of their audiologist providers but they would not give me a contact information. They simply want to schedule an appointment so they can get me into their providers office. So I haven’t a clue who I would be dealing with. Their prices are pretty good though.

Hearing Revolution, they have networked providers all over the country, yet they would not give me a contact information. They simply want to schedule an appointment with ‘someone’ who I can’t talk with or research, similar to Choice.

Connect Hearing, their website did show me providers. I started calling the closest one…got answers machines. Using Google Maps street view, they look like dumps. I called a third one (getting further out about same as Costco)…and finally got someone to answer the phone Pleasant office worker. I asked if I could email my audiogram, have the audiologist review and call me. They said sure! Next day she did…and we talked for ONE HOUR AND A HALF. I gave her zero help, wanting her to independently make a recommendation. She recommended Phonak Audeo series, either the V90 or V70, and also said Widex would be a good choice. Surprise…the same general recommendations I got here. She said both do similar functions with the frequencies (I wasn’t aware from reading here that Phonak did it similar to Widex). She used this explanation in explaining the two HAs. Picture a bench with 4 people sitting on it, which represents the lower frequencies. Widex audibility extender will move higher frequencies down, and it would be like added another person sitting on one of those 4’s lap. Phonak with it frequency transfer (she used a specific term and it escapes me at the moment) position the higher frequency between the 4 sitting on the bench. The good bad of this, dunno. She said other Phonak’s would not help me, had to be the Audeo, implying they do not have the same technology. I learned latter the Bolero was newer than the Audeo, but we did not discuss the Bolero. Here’s the kicker…$6500 for the V90, around $5500 for the V70. I ‘sense’ some discounts could happen though. She also commented my hearing will continue to deteriorate (which I kind of seeing now) and other hearings aids may need to be replace 4-5 years, the Phonak have enough power they will not. She’s obviously a Phonak fan over the Widex, in fact she wears HAs, Phonaks. I also discover Connect Hearing is the old Hometown group. So…I like what she had to say, I do NOT like the prices. I hope….the audiologist at Costco will have traits like this person has. I find it pretty refreshing, and unusual for an audiologist to spend that kind of time with me, not having a clue who I was. Makes me want to do business there.

Since Um bongo implied Phonak or Unitron…and given above, I definitely will try the Phonaks. I’m the type of person that will not lean on an audiologist like I talked to, to do in office trail fittings etc…knowing I can’t cut the $6500, even though I’d really like to hear them on my ears. If I was, I’d trial the Widexs too….but they have to make a living too, and unless I resolve myself to maybe pay that, just ain’t going to do it. How I get there do to pricing not sure. I did tell her, I plan on going to Costco, and by making a big loop out of my trip, I could easily at least a visit to their office, somewhere down the line,

Questions, what is the difference between Audeo and Bolero series?
What is the difference between Audeo V90 and Audeo Q90?
Do any Phonaks at Costco compare to the Audeo series?
With Phonak coming out with Bolero, if the Audeo technology is not at Costco now…do you think it soon will be?

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I know the Audeo V series is RIC and the Bolero is behind-the-ear from what I understand. This is the first I’ve heard that Bolero is newer than Audeo. I think they’re more like apples and oranges. Not the same product. Costco does not have the Audeo V. They only have a product comparable to the Audio Q. Additionally if you need tinnitus masking Costco can’t give that to you. I purchase my hearing aids from a private audi attached to my ENT’s office. They were 6k. Quite a bit more than Costco but way more convenient and I trust them. You can probably Google search most of the questions you asked. Good luck.

Audéo places the speaker directly in your ear, whereas Bolero uses a tube to transmit the sound to your ear. V stands for Venture, Phonak’s latest technology platform, which replaced the Quest platform. 90 means you’re getting the highest level of functionality within the platform. The Brio R at Costco is very similar to the Audéo Q90. Even though Bolero V was released about 6 months after Audéo V, both contain the same technology and features.

$6500 for the Phonak Audeo V90 312T is absolutely no break in price IMO.

That was in fact pretty much the exact price I was going to pay a local Audigy Certified Business here in my town for a pair ($6490), with the fitted Molds and SP Reciever. They came, I tried them, but didn’t leave the office with them due to uncontrollable feedback issues, and declined the purchase. This came with full 3 yr warrantee, 3 years of free batteries, monthly cleanings, yearly hearing tests, unlimited visits, etc for 3 full years.

Not sure if you had gotten pricing from places like Choice, but I’ll take an educated guess and say about $4500/pr for the exact same HAs I mention above (TOTL Audeo V-90 312T). That’s roughly $2K in savings.

That of course is a personal choice, and decision, which one outweighs the other, the handful of drives versus a $2K savings?

Costco as you have been saying is another viable option for you, but I don’t believe Costco is in a market situation to order-sell the Audeo V90-V70. That what they sell are “similar” in some respects (Brio-Etc), but in others a sort of more generic version with a deletion of some features. How much difference in basic overall sound quality (if any) that such “lesser” models possess versus the “regular” Phonak line, I honestly cannot say?

Phonak’s technology for shifting higher frequencies to lower frequencies is called “Sound Recover”. For people like us, this feature may be quite helpful for us with considerable profound HF Losses. I have yet to experience such myself just yet, but will soon.

This can be a common experience for folks like us, who live in smaller towns, or rural areas, that the selection of local audis are slim to none. My town of 30K surely doesn’t have the selection of vendors like large metropolis’ like Chicago, NYC, etc.

And yes, some audi’s businesses don’t exactly look like you’re walking into Neiman Marcus Stores. That may not necessarily be a good gauge to judge the efficiency, qualifications, experience-expertise, and service of an audi.

I’m gathering that those that are, with fancy offices in high rise buildings (like in Chicago on Michigan’s golden mile) will be the sort of places where you will most likely be donating a Kidney for a pair of aids. High mark-ups for that pretty office with cute receptionists, magazine racks, Keurig Coffee Machines, fancy flyers, displays, and the like. Those sort of perks do absolutely nothing to get you fitted and happy, living with a good pair of aids at a fair price.

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What a local audi business will do:

Hearing Test if needed, and by usually most accounts you could go into 50 different vendors, get 50 different hearing tests, and all will virtually be identical in graph-test results. This has been my findings.

The Audi (in my case, and most likely yours as well) with take mold impressions of both ears, this is about a 20 minute process total. Pretty much standardized today, and you’d have to get a real doofus back alley practitioner to screw this up, but it can happen. Usually many will say one common way to get a good impression is to sit with your mouth slightly agape for a better fitting Mold.

Then the Molds go off to the manufacturer, for the cases, or ear molds to be made. It is now out of the local audi’s hands. The manufacturer may make a perfect fit, and then again, it can happen where an ill fit can make or break the proper performance of the finest, most costly HAs on the planet.

It will then be on an audi’s experience, that when such arises, to recognize such, and the need of yet another impression(s) being needed to be made?

Then the expertise of an audi to be a computer tech wizard, to understand and have good knowledge-experience with the software programming to make both initial settings, and then further final tweaks to squeeze the best performance from any given HA. But this all depends upon “your” input, and some recognizance of what’s missing, or what could be better, or other sonic-fit issues.

Without the end user’s input, the audi has nowhere to go. They cannot hear, or feel what you hear-experience through a HA.

Lastly, is of course how often and with what reliability a local audi can accommodate you for visits, or when issues arise. If it’s like here where I live with many businesses, where it’s 2-3 week’s time, this can be a inconvenience, and a feeling that “You are there for them”, and not the other way around as it should be.

Fancy offices in high rises…I see $$$$$ before I even open the door. Neatest, professional looking though can be detected. A very old vehicle that is well maintained and in very good condition even with a lot of miles says something about the person owning it. You don’t need a fancy store front.

From pictures I thought the Bolero was RIC also…all these models names etc does cause confusion. Thanks for the clarification.

Your correct on the pricing from Choice. I for sure will not pay $6500. I have concerns about the audiologists though. I want to talk to them BEFORE I make a drive there. You can pick up a lot in a phone call. AND…I have some issues with my left ear that I think are going to give fitting issues. I fear that process is not going to be stick em in and it be good. I’ll probably express those thought to Choice and see if I get anywhere.

I definitely need to do a trip to Costco, try KS6, Trax 42, and Phonak Brio. Getting ahead of myself since I’m not in a position to buy these until the first of the year…money/tax reasons.

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Hearing Revolutions can’t give you the name of the audiologist until you tell them which brand you want to trial. They have different audiologists that work with different brands. I purchased my hearing aids through Hearing Revolutions and I trialed a different brand with them as well. What you say about them not giving you the provider names is probably based on you cold calling. Once you pick a brand, they find the audiologist that will agree with work with you. If you ask them what ones are in you area for a certain brand, they will tell you, but probably not unless you’re going to trial hearing aids.

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The Audigy Business was going to give me 90 days same as cash (either cash up front, or 90 days, the price was the same). And longer payment plans can be gotten, but no doubt one will pay extra for these sort of payment plans.

A couple things I can say good about the Audigy Business, trial period by NM state law is 45 days. the trial period at the Audigy Business here was a full 75 days.

And when I concluded the Phonak Audeo V90 312T wasn’t cutting it for me, my money was refunded in full, no restocking fees, or other fees to deduct from my refund.

Why the Phonak had feedback issues, especially with custom fitted earmolds is beyond me? Three possible culprits, improper fit of Molds, wrong selection of the Reciever (SP, maybe should’ve been the more powerful UP Reciever?) and lastly, possible improper programming and settings adjustments due to possible lack of knowledge-experience by the audi?

You’ve got a substantial loss, but it’s by no means impossible unless you have really bizarre ear canals or non compliant ear drums.

Was feedback the main/only issue?

Any option to go on the power receiver and power dome combo? A canal shell ought to be the best though.
Does your loss have a conductive component?

Mark, your loss looks a little like mine. Widex Dream 440 REALLY helped me. I tried Siemens Binax 7, Starkey (whatever the top of the line is… I forget the model), and Phonax Bi-Cros. The Widex Dream 440 beat them all hands down. You may wish to trial this and see if it works for you. The Widex rep set mine up and was at my fitting with the Audiologist that Hearing Revolutions set me up with and they implemented the Audibility Extender feature.

Um Bongo, if you are asking me about such, no, unfortunately there was no other receiver option in house, so the possibility of the UP Reciever with perhaps a universal double dome could not be sampled. Yes, feedback was the major issue, to get to where gain was at an acceptable level, and the HAs didn’t sound like I had earmuffs over the HAs, feedback then reared its ugly head big time.

I know it’s usually a common rule of thumb, that an experienced audi will often select a more powerful receiver, or HA with the thought in mind that a patient’s hearing may further deteriorate over time, thus the more powerful option that would be up to the task due to a higher margin of remaining gain should the need arise.

This hasn’t appeared to be a personal problem with myself, my hearing graph has pretty much remained quite stable over the past ten years with no further losses. It was “I” who chose the SP Reciever, but the audi did seem to agree wholly that it should’ve met my needs.

There’s no need to overprescribe with a RIC fitting. You can always be moved up to a more powerful receiver when needed. Like I said above, it’s a severe loss, but not beyond the realms of a higher power receiver under normal conditions. Difficult canals and stiff eardrums can give feedback/seal issues.

Was a bone conduction level taken? Without this figure, it’s impossible to say how much gain you need.

Assuming you you aren’t going ahead with this, what’s plan B?

Mark assume you have HAs now? What did you end up with?

I have a hunch I’m going to have issues with my left ear. It tends to close up…the opening physically overnight…and I have wax from that ear. From what I know though, it is surprising…and bothersome…that the Phonak so highly regarded didn’t work for you. Something was amiss for sure.

Just discovered Connect Hearing is owned by Sonova. nothing wrong with vertical marketing, but you want to know these things in dealing with these people.

I also got a call back from Costco. They do not have audiologist on site. They are hearing aid fitters. Bad or immaterial, dunno.

Yes, bone conduction was done. I gather where that’s where they place a sensor on the back of your skull, and then play some frequency tones, correct?

Yes, option-plan B is coming up next Wednesday, a brand spankin new pair of Phonak Virto Q90 312T ITC with UP Output.
They made me one pair, and messed up, was a Non-Wireless (NW) model, which was what I didn’t want.

I’ve seen pics already of the new HA’s, Choice sent me a couple pics, but for the life of me with this forum, and my puter, could not download the files? Look to be the exact same small size though, an ITC, not a 1/2 shell model. Time will tell when I see them in person I reckon. Hoping for the best. The NW version are still at the local audi. If, there is a size difference with the new wireless Virtos, I might opt to take the NW models instead. Size, and discretion is of high importance to me. I do not want HAs that look like I’m wearing two humongous Wine Corks in my ears!

Maybe this might sound like a crazy idea to all, but maybe something like a dummy ITC Mold left in your ear overnight would keep your ear canal open? I know you said it was only a problem with one ear.

And maybe with that said too, maybe you might be also better suited for an ITC Model HA, just like what I’m getting?

Even though the RIC HAs seems to hold so much promise, and some advantages versus a custom ITC HA, I was never much enamored with not only have a custom fitted mold in my ear, then also some more crap hanging off the back of my ears also.

My suspicions I felt were right on the money, I do not like the RIC, no matter what it may offer.

Felt it in some ways is a “backward” move, going back to BTE (Behind The Ear) technology.

Maybe in another 4-8 years, some newer technology will be present, better miniaturization, where any power selection will be available to a CIIC (Completely in the Canal) invisible aid. God willing, this would be an option I myself would like looking into, and having one day.

If my present Phonak Perseo ITC HAs (or others) didn’t squeal when covered by a hand, or pillow, I’d wear them 24/7, even to bed.

One reason why, better safety. There could be an Iwo Jima-Tarawa Battle outside my bedroom window, and without HAs, I don’t hear a damn thing. That, and a big concern of hearing Smoke Alarms should a fire in the house break out.

ITC…ain’t ruling it out, but so far the go to aid appears to be RIC. I do wonder, how well these things stay in place, ie, crawling under a tractor to change oil. I won’t be doing that forever, but still do fairly active things, that could put aids in jeopardy.

I can hear up to 1500hz, then it falls apart and I’m right there with your loss. What i do hear, is more and more just jumble of things all together. Talking to just ONE person, I’m ok…kind of lean into them though. TWO trouble starts, and if there’s any background noise, I’m done.

Good news, I think. A Choice hearing aid provider to call me Monday, Their price on Phonak Audeo V90 $4400. Expensive but big difference from $6500.

A well fitting ITC should stay planted in your ear canal with everything facing you, up to, and including a fist fight.

Sure, you’re ever so slightly getting by in a 1-1 convo. Why? You’re a sub-conscious “lip reader” to get by, and probably don’t even know it consciously.

I once wanted to be a Gynocologist, but that was my biggest problem, I couldn’t learn to “Lip Read”! LOL

I feel that the RIC is the latest-greatest boon, but not necessarily so. Vendors like “pushing” these types, for a 1-stop visit, here you go, a universal dome of the right size to fit, , do a “1960’s Gas Station Clean your Windows, Check your Oil” scenario, then kick your ass straight out the door, “don’t come back now”, hopefully never to be seen again, take your money, end of story.

Cookie Cutter BS, like shopping at Home Depot. And all I can say with that business model, is “Up Yours in a Rowboat”!

Any HA can be placed in jeopardy.

Cleaning one in the bathroom, and one accidently falls into the toilet. Garden Hose, and your Niece thinks she’s being cute and funny spraying you down on a hot summer day, and just hosed down $5K worth of hearing aids. Forgetting to take them out when showering, shampooing hair, I’ve come very close to doing this on more than one occasion.

Your puppy chewing one up, an accidental trip into the washing machine. No matter what, and how supposedly damage proof these new fangled aids are, they can be damaged.

High humidity enviornments are harsh on aids, live in the Florida Everglades, and I’m sure they will fight extreme humid conditions, which might shorten their lives.

Choice Hearing Aids, and a good number of others do provide an included one time damage warrantee with deductible. Meaning you lose or damage one, you wont be paying full price for a replacement