Oticon Real 1 vs Philips Hearlink 9040 (huge price difference)

It could very well be similar to a Toyota vs Lexus or Chevy vs GMC (or maybe Chevy vs Cadillac?) situation. But I wouldn’t equate Philips to Toyota and Oticon to Lexus performance wise, but obviously price-wise, it seems to be. But this is a very personal choice and folks who draw this comparison based on their personal experience can be justly doing so if that’s what they conclude it to be.

But we know that Toyota is not equal Lexus and Chevy is not equal Cadillac. So I would equally say that Oticon Real 1 is not equal Philips 9040 is not equal Bernafon Alpha XT 9 is not equal Sonic Radiant SE 100. Back when it was just Oticon OPN 1 and Sonic Enchant 100 were available (and Bernafon, too, of course, but not Philips yet), the same thing happen and an HCP who frequented the forum (the old one, which was bought and turned into this one) made the claim that the OPN 1 and the Enchant 100 are the same thing. I expressed my doubt and the same HCP offered to send me a pair of Sonic Enchant 100 to try out, in return he just asked me to give my honest opinion to the forum. So I got to try out the Enchant 100 for a few weeks, and do A/B comparison against my OPN 1 in parallel in multiple situations, on the fly. My conclusion was that the Enchant 100 is very respectable, but is not equal to the OPN 1. I posted a long report on the forum to fulfill my promise to the HCP who sent me the Enchant. You can probably still find the same report here on this forum.

I suspect that many reaction would be the same as @jay_man2 's recent post above. The Oticon and the Philips should both perform well enough for their needs, but the huge price difference would sway them toward the cheaper solution. Why not? It makes total sense. Yet, other users like @Abarsanti tried both the 9030 (and liked it a lot) ended up returning it in favor of the More. But I think @Abarsanti is a DIY user, so he probably was able to source the More at a much lower price than through the normal HCP channel, hence the price gap is probably not as huge for him as for normal people.

Thanks guys,this has been a very interesting read for me, some really good information and possibilities abound.

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Very nice read indeed. My two cents: maybe all those companies are there to fulfill a “market” necessity, not an “engineering” or “logistic” one.

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I actually agree with everything you said here, @chrisb. It’s the collecting and training of the data in the lab that’s a lot of work. Once trained, the neural network gets boiled down to the most efficient coefficients for the neurons to execute and deliver good result most optimally.

I don’t recall where (prior to your post #34) I said that after the supervised training is done, that it was done again more than once? Yes, the supervised training was done for 2 million sound scenes in the Oticon More and for hundreds of thousands of speech in noise samples for the Philips 9030, but after the supervised training is done and they’re happy with the result, the product with the trained neural network gets released and put on sale.

If more supervised training is done behind the scene in the lab AFTER they released the product, for another future product release, then that’s a separate thing.

I suspect it’s a similar situation to Luxotica. A large conglomerate selling assistive devices under many brands, no true differences in tech, sales restricted through practitioners. The brands largely existing to create the illusion of choice and maintaining incredible profit margins.

But at the end of the day, I don’t think any of us can really assess for the differences or lack thereof without conducting blinded trials with the various hearing aids programmed with identical audiograms.

The real elephant in the room is how the independent audiologist pressure the companies. Do you really think a $1800 pair can match a $5k-7k pair? :smile:
The independent’s I’ve talked to really don’t like Costco and don’t like the companies selling a comparable product at less than 1/2 the price. They complain to their reps. I realize there are different markets, and many sales are covered by insurance. I’m really surprised that Phonak KS10 is really the same as their high end product sold for much more. The KS10 has Tinitus capabilities that work, but CC won’t turn them on for you. This may be part of the reason there is no KS11 (as of yet).

@jay_man2 Do you find the 9030s are as open as the More’s?

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I find it interesting that in the UK SpecSavers sells both Phonak Lumity and Philips 9040. The prices for the Phonaks and the Philips are exactly the same.


I do find the 9030s as open as the More. I find no practical difference between the two, except the price.

Absolutely no doubt at all, lots of people have fallen for the “it costs more so it has to be better” rabbit hole.

Yeah they don’t like the competition on price, but they can’t slam the Costco models because they know it’s a similar product.

Why? Again just because someone costs more doesn’t mean it’s better, the independent clinic only have “better service” that they can offer clients, they simply cannot on price, but another thing the independent still have the CIC ITE market tho.

No I don’t think it has anything to do with this, I’m not even sure we’ll see a KS11 even, hopefully your right and they’ll choose one of the premium models they already sell?

Unitron actively promotes this mechanism though. So you can bet Sonova runs the same paradigm. You can buy in-field upgrades for your entry level Unitron aid to bounce it up to the top model on their ‘Flex’ program.

Like I said, why go through all the arse-ache of multiple type approvals, inventory, differing bill of materials and supply variables, when you can just build the same thing and tell it to work differently in the software.

Do you not have different powered diesel engines in the US, where the manufacturer just messes around with the turbo pressure to produce differently ‘powered’ models?

More like the VAG group in Europe.

Oticon - Audi
Bernafon - VW
Sonic - Seat
Phillips - Skoda


Philips is a Bernafon clone, not an Oticon clone, no? Hence the whole “channel free” thing.

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Probably, I’d be surprised if these things cost any more to manufacture than say… a pair of airpods.

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No it’s not Bernafon, not channel free that I can see from the spec sheet.

Isn’t this Unitron Flex program the same as the Oticon Tier 1, 2 and 3 selection? Or am I missing something else?

OK so Unitron is more flexible in letting people buy in-field upgrades to bump their entry level up to their top model, and maybe Oticon does not promote an official flexible upgrade path like that. But still, that’s all on the same hardware platform only, right? Philips does the same thing with the Tiers, 9040, 7040 and 5040. Phonak Lumity has 90, 70, 50 and 30, and so on. So yes, they all run through the same paradigm where they use the same hardware platform and differentiate the technology tiers with software.

But what was discussed earlier on was not about using software to create different tier levels on the same platform to create different price points. What was discussed earlier was whether Philips uses the exact same hardware platform as Oticon or not → cross brands (and Bernafon and Sonic). There’s no public information that says they do. The FCC approval for the radio module is not clear enough evidence in my opinion.

But even if they indeed share the same hardware platform and just use software to make them different, I think that the difference in the software would still make them different enough to warrant a discussion on how different they are. You can’t just say “well, they all use the same hardware platform and that’s what matters the most because the software variations make much less difference anyway”. After all, that’s what the OP wanted to know in this thread. And there are 2 aspects to this discussion → 1. the theoretical aspect of how they are different (even if only software-based) and 2. the anecdotal aspect (based on user experience) of how they are different.

My first aids were the KS model current in August, 2010 which I think cost in the $2k-$2.5K range. About a year after the warranty expired, they failed, and Costco suggested rebuilding them for $270. I got 2 aids that appeared to be the same outwardly, but they clearly changed internally - they gave me an extra program. I took that to mean the hardware cost 10-15% of the price at Costco. I expect Costco makes sales to a significantly higher percentage of prospects than clinics do, which allows a higher income/prospect. The Costco plan seems to be lower price to more people/HIS vs the clinic plan of higher price to fewer people/HIS.

All in all, I think it’s eminently possible that we can buy the same devices from Costco and clinics for vastly different prices.

@philbob57 Don’t forget that a lot of folks get them with insurance or through the VA for free in the US.

It certainly looks like the Bernafon devices, and the “phoneme focus” and “envelope focus” are reminiscent of Bernafon’s “speech cue priority” stuff.

Yes, the Flex program is between models within the same nominal ‘brand’. We’re not shown the similarities underneath the outer packaging of different group brands, but they are virtually identical: just for economies of scale.

Like when you buy a Seat Leon and it has all VW Golf bits inside. Seat’s engineers can put nicer wheels and wind up the turbo a bit to make it their performance model (Cupra), but it’s all Golf underneath (just different clothes).