SINGAPORE. Just before Christmas, I visited an Oticon store to try out the Oticon Tego. Been told that oticon was good for speech. The Tego has directional mikes and four programmes. I made a security deposit and managed to checkout a service loaner BTE for a Christmas dinner at a friend’s. A large crowd was expected and I needed one to test out how well it was going the Tego would stand up in helping me understand speech trying situations. Just for your info, the threshold for my right ear is 110db and my left, 40db. As such, I only wore one on my left ear. The degree of my hearing loss will help to put the following observations below in perspective:
 ONE-ON-ONE, like conversations in the cabin of a car, the Tego works well. The voice was crystal clear.
 OPEN SPACE, conversations at the backlawn, the Tego works fairly well. I was able to make out and follow the ‘small talk’ that was taking place.
 iNDOORS/INTERIORS/ENCLOSED, conversations at the dinner table, it proved quite disastrous; I was not able to pick up the ‘small talk’ and was quite lost most of the time. Having said that I think I was hearing ‘more’ than my Siemens Signia as I was able to follow some conversations. Speech on the Tego was clearer than my Signia.
I tried eave-dropping on the conversation of two commuters across the width of an airconditioned train carriage but wasn’t able to make it out.
The Tego, compared to my Siemens Signia, is a much ‘noisier’ aid. There is a lot of ‘swoshing’ sound in the background, like that of rushing water, or tuning for a radio station but not quite getting there. Even in a quiet room, the ‘swoshing noise’ is always present. Having said all, staff at the Oticon store explained that the Signia is quieter because it is a top of the line model during its launch whereas a Tego is a mid-range model. He recommended that I try the Oticon Vigo Pro instead.
And i did just that over the Lunar New Year period, another challenging time for me with my hearing, by borrowing a demo set of the Vigo.
The Vigo came with an open-fit and that in itself proved very comfortable and natural as compared to my BTE Siemens that came fitted with a mould. Here are my observations:
 IN THE CROWDED MALL. The default programme that was set to augment my hearing loss proved to be rather noisy (However, when I turn down the volume by two decibels or so, the noise generally disappeared). The Vigo picked up the shuffling of shoes, footsteps of passers-by / shoppers. The plus was in the din I was able to eave-drop on conversations of some people passing by.
 QUIET AT HOME. The Vigo works quite well. I was able to pick up my wife’s speech without trying too hard (concentrating, straining).
 IN CHURCH. I found that I was almost able to follow the stories told by my pastor, an improvement over my Signia.
 REUNION DINNER (read ‘Thanksgiving’, a table of 12) While I was not able to understand all the conversations, the Vigo fared better than my Siemens in helping me understanding a little more. I was able to make out some conversations, enough to be able to make some sense of what is happening (though not all the time).
 FAMILY GATHERINGS DURING NEW YEAR. While I am not expecting my hearing to return to normal with a hearing aid, I am quite positive about the way the Vigo has turned out. There is definitely some improvement in my ability to understand another in a noisy challenging situation. I find myself feeling more relaxed, more confident and more at ease in striking a conversation.
GENERALLY SPEAKING I am quite pleased with the results I experienced with the Vigo. I don’t think it is possible to find my ideal of a hearing aid- one with the ability to pick up a conversation fully with my eyes closed, or to hear someone speaking while not facing me but I must say the Vigo works well.
OTHERS - I intended to try out as many brands as possible before I decide on one and I made a trip to another hearing aid dispenser that recommended a Unitron Moxi (according to her, a more reasonably priced brand comparable to the Phonak, close enough with almost the same features) and the results were quite good and comparable to the Vigo. It seems less noisy as compared to the default setting of the Vigo. But too bad they do not allow customers to borrow a service loaner to test it in the real world outside. That would help a great deal in assessing if the aid is indeed suitable for me.
Any recommendations or comments? The pricing for the Vigo is steep, SGD3600 for one piece - that’s about US$2400. it comes with a one year full warranty, 5-year service warranty (parts payable).