Personal Programmable Hearing Systems

I have worn hearing aids for about 10 years. I am on my third set at this time. My first set was Starkey CIC’s. My 2nd set was From Beltone. Again CIC’s. My issues were background noise, an initial plugged up feeling, and after time simply fatigue from wearing them. I couldn’t wait to get them out at night.

While visiting with my audi at Beltone, she suggested a “Mid level” set of open fit Beltones for $4500. Top of the line was almost $8,000. I told her I’d think about it.

I wanted to be an educated consumer so to the internet I went. I spoke to several users of hearing aids from internet companies. With varying degrees of success. A gentleman from another forum turned me on to HearSource hearing aids. I have been wearing them for several months now and could not be happier.

The thing I like best about them is that I can program them myself. It was always very difficult to try to explain to an audi exactly what I was hearing and then have her try to adjust them based on my input. I always felt that there was something lost in the translation.

These tiny little FreeStyle hearing aids from HearSource are wonderful. I do training for law enforcement and I am on the road alot. My programming software is on my laptop. I paid less than $2000 for my new hearing aids and they are top of the line. All the bells and whistles and plenty of volume.

The only unhappy person in this whole thing was my audiologist. She said that she didn’t believe in purchasing hearing aids via the internet and that hearing aid sales was how she supported her practice.

HearSource required me to give them a copy of my hearing test and a note from my Medical Doctor before they would sale my these, but a trip to the Doc was worth not having to go back and forth to Audiologist’s office over and over.

What are your thoughts?

I have emailed HearSource regarding their features as it seems very basic for the price (considering they state wholesale prices to clients). I will post again if I hear anything back. I do not mean to take the wind out of your sails but there are actually some brand names with even more functionality (Small Open fit, Phase canceling Feedback Mx, Directional mics, wind noise protection and electronic wind noise reduction, Noise reduction in 8 Bands. 4 Compression channels, impulse noise reduction, Expansion, 3 manual programs, Datalogging, autophone, telecoil - good for bluetooth with appropriate neck loop, 2 year warranty) available from auds with one year unlimited adjustments at very similar pricing (at least where I come from). It is however not user programmable - another kettle of fish altogether re hearing safety, intelligibility, sensory deprivation etc. I guess the biggest difference for you would be the open fit vs CIC which would be significant especially regarding your own voice. What does your hearing loss look like?

I’m at 20 to 30 dB loss out to about 1000 hz and then a fairly sharp drop off to about 60 dB from 4000 to 8000. And nobody can take the wind out of my sail as I have found a great hearing system that works very well for me and my life style for much less than was quoted to my by my audi. :smiley:

HearNow,

Any update on the email to / from Hearsource.com? :confused:

I have received one, but it has lots of references to articles pulished elsewhere, which I still have to find first and then study. Will post as soon as I have it all down pat. From what he replied it seems a better aid than first thought, but only a bit more study will tell.

I have found the following articles on your devices features. It can be found here: http://www.rtidownloads.com/D1_demos.htm

Looking at the articles is seems that the chip was launched somewhere in 2005, where most current aids in the same or similar retail price category are generally from around 2006 (the one I mentioned earlier was from Oct 2006) and subsequently may have more advanced features and more proprietary algorithms. Your device does have 10 channel modulated noise reduction which is good and also phase canceling on par with most of those devices. I would still have to say there is better value out there and some with worse value, but without the luxury (and associated risks) of programming the devices yourself.

What I still dislike about the site is that they compare their devices to aids available from auds at $7000, which is simply completely untrue (have a look at what has been posted on Exelia and Epoq on this and the manufacturers sites). The other factor is that they falsely claim to charge wholesale to retail clients, which is also completely untrue as the technology and subsequent pricing is more on par with retail pricing for more basic hearing aids, which this compares to favourably (minus the professional and personal audiological support which retail includes). Remember compare apples to apples. However if you are happy with your purchase then good on you and enjoy. In the end it is you that needs to feel that you have attained good value (whatever your criteria is to determine value). I simply dislike the misleading information this particular website which you referred to uses to sell these devices.

HearNow,

I did do alot of research on this particular product (from an electrical and acoustical engineering point of view) and the others out there. I felt and do feel that my best hearing results would be accomplished with this system and my real world results have been fabulous.

I’m afraid that in this case we will have to agree to disagree. And that’s O.K. My background is law enforcement investigation work. And I went to the best experts in these two fields that were available to me (electrical and acoustic engineering). Not from the hearing aid sales point of view. $2000 is alot of money for me, much less $4500 to $6000 that I was quoted by my audie. Anyway I can only tell you that I am completely happy with my hearing aids and the ability I have to adjust them myself. And this IS important feature to me (if you couldn’t tell).

And I did save over $2500 from what my local audi had recommended. Obviously I didn’t buy both sets and run them through side by side comparisons. But I still have my old hearing aids that I spent thousands more on and the Hearsource hearing aids are hands down the best I have ever worn.

As far as their marketing goes, I take all hearing aid industry advertising with a grain of salt. I get things in the mail or see in the paper all the time, SAVE 50%, or buy ONE get ONE FREE. Or “Let us look in your ear, Maybe it’s just earwax”. Or, $695 for a 100% digital hearing aid (& then in the fine print it says “Fits up to 30 dB loss”). Anyway, that’s marketing and every industry does it. I’m sure that in your personal marketing you point out what you feel are your strong points and not the weak.

Thanks for following up with Hearsource though. Hope they were as nice to you as they have always been with me.

As I said before as long as you are happy. I have to admit that your devices seem sound from an engineering and electroacoustical (not that this is my field of expertise) viewpoint. However hearing aids also involve psychoacoustics, the specific pathology leading to hearing loss, coupling of the electronic system to a biological system, psychology of the individual, life style and expectations of the user, acoustics (ear canal and environmental), the auditory processing capability of the particular user, dexiterity of the user, mental capability of the user etc.

I guess there are unscrupulous people in everyfield and certainly not all are. In Australia we have to be very accurate with our marketing (and also choose to be) otherwise we’ll have the ACCC (Consumer protection) and OHS (Government hearing services department) breathing doen our necks in no time. We do however still have a few loose cannons who practice unlicenced and can market as they please as they have no regulating body they are answerable too.

Sorry just had to vent a but on unethical marketing :slight_smile:

I’m pleased you got something that works for you and that you are happy with. I’m sure we’ll disagree on another topic in the future. At least is keeps things interesting and gives readers different opinions and a wider perspective on things. Hopefully helping them make up their minds as to what is right for them. This can never be a bad thing.

hearnow,

Here is one thing that we can agree on. I wish I was on the beach in Australia right now. :smiley:

I totally agree. Thought and discussion is a great thing. Just the reason I check into this forum from time to time.

the spirit of the forums is to inform people so each one can make an inform purchase. So it is important to keep the facts right. and the choices open

David, the first time I knew about aids that can be programmed by myself, I thougth that might be the best news for me. But thinking further, I’m afraid I will end turning the volume all up just to feel better. Can that happen? :confused:

Sure, you can turn up the volume too high just like you can turn your stereo up and shake the walls. Even audie’s send patients out with the volume too high. My mom has been using America Hears aids for about 6 year (www.americahears.com). We purchased them for the self-programming option. We haven’t regretted it. It is much easier, efficient, and better for me to program the aids in her home and test the aids in her enviroment versus making many, many trips to the audie. In the end aids are really sound amplifiers similar to your stereo or ipod. You use equilizers similar to a stereo or ipod to adjust the volume for each frequency band. I really believe if the user of the aids takes the time to learn hearing aid technology and the software to program the aids just like you learned to use a computer, the user can do a better job of adjusting the aids versus an audie or hearing aid specialists. After all no one hears what you hear, not even the audie. You can best adjust the aids to your comfort level, hearing optomization, and day to day enviroment.

If you want to find out more about America Hears programming go to this page http://www.americahears.com/Products/VirtualOffice.shtml . You can contact them for a free demo copy of their software. Evaluating the software is easiest way to determine if you would like to program your own aids.

You should describe your hearing loss (preferably by posting your audiogram) when asking such a question.

I’ve been using America Hears self-programming aids for 3 months. They would probably end up in a drawer if not for the self programming software. I love it! I’ve made dozens of changes to the standard programs and created several custom programs. And yes, I screwed them up a few times but that’s not a problem as you can just load the original default program and start over.:cool: A neat feature is that you can program them while you’re wearing them. If you make a change that you don’t like, just reverse it and try something else. No need for multiple office visits.:slight_smile:
They’re not for everyone. But for a hands on type of person, they’re just what the doctor ordered. :wink: Can’t wait till they come out with a high end model.

Don

David,
is there a reason you went away from CIC this time?

I love the idea of being able to adjust your own HA, I spent weeks trying to locate someone with the correct software to do minor adjustments to mine.
Because i purchased mine whilst overseas I didn’t have a local dealer.

I too am a very happy “Personal Programmer” using the HearSource system (http://www.hearsource.com). I am on my third set of hearing aids and really could not justify, in my mind, spending another 5 to 6 thousand dollars on hearing aids.

I found HearSource through my repair needs. My previous aids were performing at less than optimal and when I went to the audi for repair / adjustment I was informed that in her opinion they were unrepairable and that I needed to “upgrade” to newer technology.

I went home and started searching for an alternative. I came across the HearSource website and sent both aids in for repair. I received both my hearing aids back in about one week and the bill was only $198 for the pair. Needles to say there was a bond of trust established with this company from the get go.

About a year ago, I purchased a set of HearSource FreeStyle OpenEar hearing aids for $1,990. They came with all the cords, programmer, software, etc. so that can do the adjustments myself. HearSource requests that you call them when you receive your hearing aids and they walk you through getting everything set up right and then they remotely help you fine tune your aids. I found it amazing seeing my cursor move on my computer and all the time listening to the HearSource “Coach” walk me thru the process, step by step.

They really do have a very nice setup. And I think most importantly, they were very nice and patient with me and all my “stupid” questions.

I enjoy doing the adjustments myself. I feel I have a better handle on it than when I was having to explain to someone else what I was hearing and then expecting them to be able to make adjustments to my satisfaction. What sounds great in the office may not be quite right out in the real noisy world.

These were the factors in me deciding to take control of my hearing loss. Since doing so, I haven’t looked back.

Walt

I purchased a BTE Open Fit RIC aid from Hear Source recently. I have been very satisfied with its performance and quality. I have an extensive background in electronics and computer science. I found the programming easy after watching their excellent video tutorials. They also provide an extensive manual for the aid and software in a three ring binder.

It is very convenient to have the ability to adjust your own aids at any time. You don’t have to wait for an appointment and available transportation.

I did call support twice. They were very helpful and provided the answer to both of my questions promptly. In addition, they could have adjusted my hearing aids over an internet connection using the supplied software. For me it is provides the ultimate convenience and value.

I will say however that I have purchased a set through a local audiologist do to the availability of a remote control. More on this in another thread.

Jeff

I chose America Hears over Hear Source because America Hears was only a 20 minute drive for me. My first fitting was done in their office and my second fitting was done over the internet where they take control of my computer with my HA’s connected. That’s just too cool, you have to try it! Of course after that, I did all of my own adjustments.

Since I’m local,they told me I could come in any time for adjustments if I had a problem that i couldn’t resolve myself. Of course I would have to make an appointment.:rolleyes: They’re very customer oriented - It’s all about the customer. Hear Source is obviously run the same way - judging by all the positive posts on this board.

Don

Bingo,

I think HearSource does it right. Group hug. :stuck_out_tongue:

I am also waiting for technology more appropriate to my needs to arrive on self-programming. I’ve yet to find a pair that support direct input, and DAI is absolutely fundamental to the way I used my hearing aids so I’d never purchase anything without it. Unless you have an interested, patient audiologist AND availability of an assortment of different settings nearby to actually go into and test the settings then office visits just don’t do it. Why ask me in a silent room if this or that setting is any better for reducing traffic noise in the street? Imagine the same thing for eye testing - there you go Mrs Bloggs, do you think you will be able to read your book any better with these lenses? Do you think you’ll be able to drive with these lenses? No, dear, keep your eyes shut for now, you’re going to take them home and drive for a while then make a new appointment if you can’t see.

NHS users are often unofficially restricted in the number of tune-up appointments they can get, most are not even told retuning is possible or recommended so they walk away on stage 1 settings and stay there for the next 3 years. If you return more than once every 6 months for retuning you are warned off, and appointments can take 3 months to come through in the first place. Many program without even allowing you to look at the screen and most adult dispensers don’t even know the first thing about DAI. Then there are the local policies that get you - we believe the auto program is so good we don’t “allow” you to have any others in there. Oh, we only allow global adjustments, we don’t turn loud sounds down and soft sounds up as you may lose the ability to tell whether sound is nearby or far away (already lost that ability, adjust away!)

But the instruments just aren’t up to the task for me, not in deliberately self-programmed instruments. I fully intend to take the self-programming path when I find a hearing aid I think has enough basic capability to make the investment in. My current hearing aids are not going to be it.