Philips Hearlink first Impressions

Good question. I wish it continued to recognize the blower as just noise and leave it subdued, but it does come back during moderate pauses in speech. If the conversation continues as it usually does there’s no problem, but if there’s a couple of seconds pause (I haven’t timed it) the noise does come back.

The rising and falling volume of background noise can be annoying. There’s a lot of room for improvement in the programming. It’s most bothersome when watching a baseball game on TV. The announcers pause often and for lengthy periods as they should, but when they do the noise of the crowd in the background rises too much. I think that’s exacerbated by the television production itself, which also brings up the noise of the crowd when the announcers aren’t talking.

OK, thanks. Initially many people originally speculated that the Hearlink was a cousin of the OPN. However, there was official confirmation later that it doesn’t have the equivalent of the OpenSound Navigator. Your explanation above confirms this, because with the OpenSound Navigator, it would have sounded like the blower noise never left, so there’s no rise and fall in the noise volume in between speech. Nevertheless, that noise is still reduced in the presence of speech, just too quickly for you to realize that it was reduced, only for you to notice that you can understand speech better.

The Hearlink noise reduction as you described seems more consistent with the experience I had with the Sonic Enchant 100 technology. They do have pretty great technology on how to handle noise and improve speech. I was pretty impressed when I tried it out for a few weeks.

This is typical what i had when trying Viron 9. During speech, I didn’t get to hear except it(no background noise). But When speech stop, background noise (TV, blower, AC…etc.) comes back.
For me, this was distracting and I felt that when someone is talking am isolated in a room and don’t have any surrounding senses.

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I don’t have any experience with the Bernafon hearing aids. But from what I read up on it, its technology seems similar to the Sonic Enchant 100 I tried out, although that was just a guess. It does make sense if they share technologies, though, being sister companies and all…

That’s how noise reduction is working .if there is no competing sound to campare as nois and speech DSP won’t know what to reduce from spectrum.

Are there any issues with warbling when using feedback rejection?

They don’t whistle or screech like I’ve heard older hearing aids do, like a feed-backing PA system. When the feedback reduction cuts in they kind of make a “whirring” sound. It’s not very loud and is quickly suppressed, but it is noticeable. It only happens when I have them turned all the way up to my prescription, and in most cases I just turn them down a bit.

Thanks. It’s that ‘whirring’ sound that I am talking about. I play guitar, and it seems all modern aids misinterpret higher notes as feedback and then hop in right away to squash it. I’m working with my fitters at trying to make modern aids work for me, as I love the Bluetooth functionality. I have another appt Sunday afternoon… keep on tweaking!

So, I went and tried Philips hearing aids at Costco on Sunday. And I ordered a pair of the rechargeable aids. Overall, the feedback rejection is good - not nearly as invasive or ‘trilly’ as the KS9s. They will be here in two weeks. At that time, I will have both the KS9s and the Philips and I will see which I prefer in my everyday environment, and return the others. They sound promising, though!

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I’m looking forward to the results of your comparison. I’ve heard good things about the KS9s.

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Hi! New here are reading this thread with great interest! I’m at a decision point with Costco as well, coming down to the KS9 or the Philips. Demo’d both at the store but of course very hard to tell not in your own environment. I mentioned the Philips background gain to them… the starting and stopping of the background noises based on speech and the Costco people told me they’d never heard of those comments, but I experienced it there and since I had read this thread, I understood what was happening. Never thought to ask to order both and return one.

I previously had the Brio. The KS9 seems to be less of an adjustment since it’s likewise a Phonak product. They told me this has the Marvel chip but is not a Marvel, based on comments and research. The advantage to this aid is that it will stream calls to my Samsung, no iPhone needed. They had it set to about 80% of what the program is asking for and that still seems too loud, everything seems overdone, overly loud but that can be adjusted. (The tech I’m working with asked me if I generally have sensitivity to sound, that I’m always asking to reduce the program and make it lower – I’m trying to get things to sound natural and not in my face all the time! The crinkly produce bags and sounds of the cart sound so artificial!)

The Philips – I wanted it to be the slam dunk based on what I’ve read here and I’m not used to hearing what someone is saying a full aisle away in Costco! The background noise did its thing and that may take some getting used to. The hearing aid in general seems so loud… the technician told me she had it set to something like 40% of what the program is asking for and at that range I could deal with it, but isn’t that weird? The advantage there is that I would love the rechargeability and the Telecoil – I volunteer as an usher at a fabulous theatre locally and am a theater buff in general, so picking up what goes on in the theatre through the aids would be a treat but not essential. I have no iPhone so that feature doesn’t matter at the moment.

I think the KS9 is in the lead at the moment but really not sure which way to go. The first time with the Brio, there was a very clear decision between those and the alternate at the time (maybe Rexton?) This time, splitting hairs! Any other comments on experience with either of these would be helpful, thank you!

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@DeDe15, Thanks for this comparison review. I’ve been wondering about the Philips brand myself. Can you expand a little more on the “starting and stopping of background noise” that you experienced with the Philips?

RE the volume. I wonder what fitting rationale(s) was/were used during your fittings. If the Philips was programmed with the proprietary VAC+ that is usually used by Oticon (which is now affiliated with Philips)–that rationale is known to be a bit louder than the NAL-NL2 program. You might ask the fitter which fitting rationale was used and see if another fitting rationale might not seem as loud to you. Also, perhaps the fitter can set the hearing aids to have incremental increases in loudness as you become used to wearing them.

One thing you might want to keep in mind–I think the KS9 (based on Phonak Marvel) is not “locked” when you buy it from Costco, but I think the accessories might be limited. With the Philips, I think it is locked because Costco is the only place that sells it, so it couldn’t be serviced anywhere else, but they do offer accessories such as the Clip-on microphone that can be used for Android phones and in loud environments, and a remote control, etc. I’m not sure of all the ins and outs of what Costco offers, but you might want to factor some of this into your decision. Good luck, and please post any additional info about your experience comparing these two brands. Very helpful. :slight_smile:

I can’t help you with your choice, but thought I’d let you know 4 years ago I did exactly what you have contemplated – put both the Rexton Trax 42 aids and the current KS (6? 7?) aids on my credit card, tried them both in my ordinary environments, and once I decided, returned one pair. The Costco audi knew I was doing this and had no objections.

P.S. If you decide on the KS9s, or even can do it after trialing them, I hope you’ll leave a review in that thread. I have the Trax now, which work with BT devices via a neck medallion. I dislike wearing the thing and often leave it off when I’m out and about and then regret it. There’s a real appeal to HAs that would obviate that, and I’d like to hear from more people how they find phone calls with those aids.

The Philips sounded very interesting when they were first discussed here, but the fact they’re designed primarily for iPhone makes them a no go for me.

I feel quite underqualfied to post here, it seems that others have much more experience! Had I not read Emsgran’s review prior to trying out the Philips, I might not have known or noticed what was happening with the background noise. It was completely out of my mind until I put on the trials and the Costco tech started talking to me and I noticed a subtle suppression of the air conditioning/other noises in the Costco building and her voice was more pronounced since the background was ever-so-slighly muffled. It’s not drastic, night and day, but it’s there and I noticed it. When she stopped talking, the background noise slightly rose again until she started talking again, so weird but also interesting! My previous Brio’s never did that but they’re old (I was told today first generation) but I really liked them! And as soon as it happened I put 2 + 2 together and figured out what the Philips were doing. Not sure if it would bother me long term or if my brain would get used to it but if you’re sensitive to the subtleties of what’s going on with your hearing aids, you may notice it!

I had an extended time with the KS9 but may make another appointment and try the Philips again. I thought they’d be the slam dunk but at this point I’m leaning towards the KS9’s with an eye out for when my 6 month trial will end…if the Brio 4 or whatever they’ll call it shows up by March (6 months), my guess is that it will be like the KS9 with telecoil and rechargeable batteries that I’d love to have. Mostly I want something that I can more clearly hear voices with in as many situations as possible. The features are nice but different on each and if going by features, I have a Samsung so the KS9’s would have the edge there. Will continue to read here as more people try/buy these and we get more feedback.

Also, thanks for the info on the accessories, I’ll try to find out what’s offered. I did download the KS9 app and tried to hook up my phone to the aids but didn’t have much time/luck. The app did not allow me a lot of manual control. I asked one of the techs about it and was told that in both cases, Philips and Phonak, they want you to use the automatic program and not mess around with programming on your own, but that if you’re insistent and as a “last resort”, they can add additional programs to your app. For example, you constantly frequent the same restaurant and want some background or special noise cancellation for specific instances, I was told that they can program it into your app but they don’t usually do so or want to, that the companies are proud of the tech they’ve already put into the HA and don’t want you messing with it! Your mileage may vary!

That’s a common perception but your brain will get used to it in a month or two. When you turn them down from the target you are also turning down things you do want to hear.


I will second Don’s comment about loud. This seems to be very normal for all of us when first fitted with aids or even going in for an adjustment some time later or moving to new aids.

For what it’s worth, the KS9 aids are more Marvel than not. They are very nice aids. I believe the Phillips aids are also good ones, we just haven’t heard a lot about them yet.

Thanks for the comments. I’m kind of “starting over”, having not had HA since June when I lost one, so my brain needs time to re-program!

I have tried twice with the Philips HearLinks, having purchased them. The same results, both times - first with the 105dB receivers and once with the 85s after a more extensive time trying to fit them. A very strong peak at around 2.5kHz. We tried tuning and playing with smoothing out the curve, etc. But after an hour, I decided to return the HearLinks and stay with the KS9s. I have a good music program for them (actually tweaked that today to make it a little better). So, that’s what I am staying with. Anyone’s mileage may vary. Aside from not being able to get them to sound right for me, they seem exceptionally well made and equipped.

For the last 7 years I have been reasonably satisfied with a pair of Oticon Agil Pros. They were premium level and state-of-the-art in 2012, and the pair cost nearly $7k with accessories, followup fittings, etc. But recently they’ve been acting up, so I decided to look for new hearing aids. My first hearing aids were fitted by audiologists at the Mayo Clinic; and although I have the usual well-known concerns about COSTCO, because of the significant cost difference, I decided to give them a try anyway.

When I had my hearing test, I first tried a pair of the Kirkland Signature 9.0 (KS9) and then the Philips HearLink (PHL). Both brands were set up with their default automatic programs, and no adaptation mitigation - i.e., set to 100% of their target. Of course, you can’t really evaluate the suitability of hearing aids while just walking around COSTCO for a few minutes; but, for what its worth, this is what I noticed.

Speech in the cubicle with the door open, and while walking around the store, sounded good with both brands.

I also walked around a little bit outside in the parking lot, where there was a slight breeze blowing - one which I would never have heard with my old Oticons. I could hear the breeze about the same with both brands; it sounded somewhat like a gentle wind blowing over the end of a tube. With the KS9s, the initial “wind” sound went away in a second or two; but then every few seconds it would return for a second or two and then go away again. The PHLs, on the other hand, seemed to suppress the initial “wind” sound a bit more quickly; then it came back in a couple of seconds and went away again quickly. This happened once or twice and then it went away completely with the PHLs.

The BIG DIFFERENCE between the two brands was in hearing background noises. The KS9s sounded about the same as my old Oticon Agil Pros; that is, I couldn’t hear much background noise at all with the KS9s. The PHLs, on the other hand, REALLY enabled me to hear EVERYTHING going on around me in the store: the air conditioning, the clanging of shopping carts, the sound of people dropping things in their carts, the sounds echoing off of the high ceiling, people talking in the areas around me, etc.

My first reaction with the PHLs was one of annoyance at the volume and the “mental intrusion” of all of these sounds. But I decided it may mean that the PHLs enabled me to hear all sorts of things that I probably SHOULD be hearing. And knowing that that my brain has to adapt to the new aids, and that much fine tuning is possible if needed, I decided to get the PHLs.

I am scheduled for my initial fitting on Friday. I’ll report more on my experience with the Philips down the road.