Phonak launches Audéo B-Direct, "Made for All" Bluetooth Hearing Aid

Media Release

Phonak to release a game-changing Bluetooth hearing aid that connects directly to any cell phone* and TV, based on a revolutionary new chip technology

Stäfa (Switzerland), August 17, 2017 – Phonak, the leading global provider of hearing instruments and wireless communication solutions, today announces the Audéo™ B-Direct, a revolutionary hearing aid that directly connects to any Bluetooth®** enabled cell phone*. The new hearing aid is the first product to make use of Sonova’s revolutionary SWORD™ chip and wireless radio technology. Audéo B-Direct delivers excellent sound quality thanks for the proven Belong platform and AutoSense OS™. The low-voltage wireless chip has the lowest power consumption of any hearing aid using Bluetooth Classic. As it supports the classic Bluetooth protocol, it provides direct connectivity to cell phones – including Android™, iPhone® and even classic cell phones – with no extra body-worn streaming device required. Based on the innovative Belong™ platform, the Audéo B-Direct simplifies the life of consumers by offering them the freedom of direct connectivity, truly hands-free calling, and excellent TV sound quality(1). Phonak is also announcing an extension of its Belong platform to a new generation of Phonak Virto™ B customized products, the world’s first hearing aids with Biometric Calibration. All new products will be available in the U.S. end of August with Europe and other countries worldwide following step by step from September 2017 onwards.

“For 70 years, Phonak has continued to develop life-changing solutions that break down barriers”, says Thomas Lang, Senior Vice President of Phonak Marketing. “With the Audéo B-Direct, we’re now breaking barriers to accessibility and connectivity. Audéo B-Direct also works similar to a wireless headset. We’re giving more hearing aid wearers access to proven Belong technology without limiting them to a single cell phone, manufacturer, or operating system. This is a true game-changer for our industry.”

True hands-free calling is now a reality

The Audéo B-Direct simplifies life even more thanks to real hands-free voice calling. Hearing aid wearers can answer or reject a phone call by simply pressing the push button on their hearing aid. The ringing of the phone is heard through the hearing aids and once the call is accepted, the conversation is instantly streamed. The wearer’s voice is picked up by the hearing aid’s intelligent microphone network and transmitted to the other caller similar to a wireless headset. All this is done without the hearing aid wearer ever having to physically touch the phone.

Hearing aids double as a wireless TV headphones

The new TV Connector, using proprietary AirStream™ technology, is a state-of-the-art compact multimedia hub that seamlessly connects wearers to their favorite TV programming for an immersive audio experience. It’s a true plug and play solution that automatically turns a pair of Audéo B-Direct hearing aids into wireless TV headphones. The TV Connector is also capable of connecting to multiple Audéo B-Direct hearing aids simultaneously, ideal for watching TV together.

Filling a significant gap in the industry

As a ‘Made For All’ hearing solution offering universal connectivity, the new Audéo B-Direct fills a significant gap for both hearing aid wearers and hearing care professionals. According to a recent report(2), over four in five smartphone buyers worldwide choose the Android operating system. The Audéo B-Direct addresses this sizeable so far neglected market while also providing compatibility with Apple’s iPhone. In addition, the new solution addresses the more than 23 percent of hearing aid wearers ages 50+ who own a classic cell phone(3). Universal connectivity to any cell phone is especially important considering the intense growth in smartphone ownership over the last decade. The pioneering Made For All solution is another result of Phonak’s unwavering commitment to change people’s lives for the better.

Phonak Virto B: the world’s first hearing aids with Biometric Calibration

At the same time Phonak introduces Phonak Virto B, the world’s first hearing aids with Biometric Calibration. Each ear is unique and each ear hears differently. Identifying over 1,600 data points, the Phonak proprietary 3D modelling software calculates the unique calibration settings for each Virto B hearing aid. The result is a 2 dB improvement in directionality leading to better hearing performance(1). Virto B comes in a full product family launch. The new CROS B Custom for single sided deafness is also introduced to be compatible with Virto B.

  • with Bluetooth® 4.2 wireless technology and most older Bluetooth phones
    ** Bluetooth is a registered trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc.; Android™ is a trademark owned by Google, Inc.; iPhone® is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc.

(1) Field Study News under development. Full details available in September 2017 at
(2) Global mobile landscape 2016, eMarketer, November 2016

About Phonak

In 2017, Phonak, a member of the Sonova Group, proudly celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Headquartered near Zurich, Switzerland, Phonak was born in 1947 out of a passion for taking on the most difficult hearing challenges. Seventy years later, this passion remains. As the industry’s leading provider, we offer the broadest portfolio of life-changing hearing solutions. From pediatric to profound hearing loss, we remain committed to creating hearing solutions that change people’s lives to thrive socially and emotionally. We believe in creating a world where ‘Life is on’ for everyone.

For more information, please visit,




Phonak Remote for Apple iOS:

Phonak Remote for Android:

I just read about this today! I, for one, am going to ask my aud-guy about the Phonak aids. WHY should I continue with Oticon Opn miniRITE when it has ZERO Android compatibility?

And the latest from Oticon - still dithering about a clip-on streamer for Android:

Good afternoon;

Thank you for your inquiry. We can confirm the release of the ConnectClip accessory was pushed back from its expected release. One of the ConnectClip’s functions is the interface for Android-based phones. The Android community doesn’t have a standardized protocol for direct-to-instrument streaming. So developing a solution that’s compatible across devices is more complex than for Apple’s proprietary protocol. We can’t speak to the lack of standardization among companies that develop Android-based devices. But the teams at Oticon’s headquarters are constantly working with our technology partners to address the complexities of this ever-evolving landscape.

The latest information from headquarters is the ConnectClip is expected to be released later this year. As soon as the ConnectClip is available, we’ll notify providers so they can follow up with their patients. We’ll have information for them at that time, as well. Our website will also be updated when the ConnectClip in released. If you haven’t already, please let your provider know you want to be informed when it’s released.

Best Regards,

Technical Support Audiology
Oticon, Inc.

Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You

When will the class action lawsuit be filed?

1 Like

Cool! Really looks like they will work with nearly all cell phones. Sounds like Bluetooth 2.1 is minimum suggested requirement, but may work on older versions. However, for use of the REMOTE app, it requires iOs 10.2 or Android 6.0 or better. They’re already listed on Buyhear too! $3800 for a Audeo B90 direct.

What I like about it beside supporting regular non BLE Bluetooth for Android is the fact that it will use its own mics to pick up your voice for a completely hands-free experience. It remains to be seen how well the mics will pick up your voice and filter out the noise around your voice so the other side can hear your voice clearly. But it is very positive!

And it’s also not just positive news for Android phones, it’s also going to be very nice for people who use Skype/Lync/Soft phones on their laptop for conference calls.

Competition like this is a win-win for not just Phonak and the consumer but will also drive Phonak’s competitors to better pony up and deliver the equivalent capability or risk losing out market shares to Phonak.

I can’t wait until the ultra power version comes out!!

What is the ultra power version?

Another positive with this model Audeo B direct is that it comes in size 13 battery. But I don’t know if that helps give users more days of operation or not. It may have been needed to power that SWORD chip for the regular BT support instead of giving users extra battery life.

Basically Sonova has been able to miniaturize and more importantly come up with a new low power design of the neck streamer that can be integrated into the hearing aid. -> voila, no more neck streamer and still compatible with regular BT!

I mean the Naida range.

Ah, OK! Hopefully soon. From what I observed with Oticon, it took them a year to come out with the power version of the OPN. Don’t know if that’s typical time frame for a power version to come out or not with other HA mfgs?

If this hearing aid does what it says it will, then the other manufacturers are going to be left playing a pretty desperate game of catch-up to recapture all the business they are going to lose.

I don’t know… I think those mfgs with neck streamers are not going to lose all their customers because the solution is there for their customer already. Although not as convenient as direct streaming to Android, at least it’s not a deal breaker, more like a nicer-to-have.

For those without a neck streamer for Android phones yet like the Oticon OPN, they’ll suffer at least until they come out with their neck streamer. And they definitely deserve losing business for not having a neck streamer solution yet this late in the game.

What remains to be seen is the battery life. The choice of the size 13 battery is already an indication that although it’s a low power chip design, the price for being compatible with regular BT probably still means it still sucks up more juice compared to a BLE solution. That’s why everyone else stuck with a neck streamer for regular BT support until Sonova/Phonak broke free from that norm with this SWORD chip.

Yes I thought the same re: battery so only time will tell on this one - I do think it is a positive step forward though in terms of connectivity. I’m not a huge fan of the intermediate streaming devices, as it is just another thing one has to charge/carry around. That being said I see a lot of elderly clientele, so ease of use tends to be more in the forefront of my mind when it comes to hearing aids. Anyhow, interested to see how it pans out for Phonak and hoping to see the company who I work for (Widex) get on board with developing something similar (and soon!)

I am guessing all those solutions wrapped in one must be impacting on battery life but Phonak are pretty good at keeping battery life good so will be watching this space as real users get their hands on these. Also very interested to hear how iPhone users rate them for ease of connectivity, app use, connection reliability etc. This took a year longer than they estimated so I’m assuming there were significant problems along the way. I certainly hope they have nailed it. Doesn’t sound like it is a rechargable either so I’m guessing that is a battery life issue.

It will be interesting how it is implemented. Older BT chips had a low energy feature but it was limited. I looked at the spec a while back but only briefly. As I recall, older LE was implemented as monodirectional with a limited bandwidth – think monoral phone grade instead of stereo/hifi. The 5.0 spec goes well beyond that. A lot will depend on the quality of the BT/WiFi chip in one’s phone with more expensive phone providing better features and less delay. But we used the limited bandwidth that POTS phones used successfully in the past and talking on the phone will be an improvement for most hearing losses. Using it with a TV LE solution or streaming music could be problematic. Note that the advertising says phones and doesn’t cover other use. My guess is that it will take a newer phone or LE transmitter to stream satisfactorily.

Oh Kenji… You shouldn’t post while you have been drinking!

I hope Phonak didn’t rush this to market. I had a look at the app that is used to control these hearing aids and it has minimal features other than changing the volume and switching programs. The beauty of the Made for iPhone hearing aids is that the integration is rock solid and the hearing aids respond instantly to any changes in the app. All it takes is poor battery life, slow response times or a flakey Bluetooth connection to spoil the concept.

Another thing that worries me is that they are using the hearing aid microphones (vs the phone microphones) to talk. This sounds convenient but doesn’t work in practice. When you use the phone as a microphone, you can mute the hearing aid microphones to hear better when talking on the phone in very noisy environments. Perhaps the software can reduce the sound to your ears without reducing what goes to the phone.

Lets hope they got it right…


Some more info. The aid is definitely a compromise. The “con” list in this brief review is intersting.

Phone calls only go to one ear??? Hope this isn’t true. The web page also seems to say some features are disabled. If Stereozoom (cross broadcast to both ears in noisy environments) is removed, then Phonak really blew it.


One ear was good enough for home phones. :slight_smile:

It is a limitation in the older chip-spec.

I wrote about it in another thread. You can’t miss it; it is right above the post by Jakey calling me a drunk.