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.