Phonak Sound Quality NOW vs 6 Years Ago?

Hi, I tried a Phonak HA about 6 years ago and hated the sound quality back then. It probably wasn’t anywhere close to a top of the line model though. But in the same price range I very much preferred the Widex sound back then…

Now I’m trailing the Widex Moment and though I like the sound, the bluetooth has been very unreliable… Often it only streams music to one of the hearing aids… And even if it streams to both, one hearing aid often drops out randomly later. It’s annoying and I don’t like to have to deal with unreliable BS like this.

So when I learned that Phonak has great bluetooth and on top of that also does hands free calls as well (using the mic of the HA to capture your voice) I thought well that sounds awesome. Sounds like a HA that does bluetooth right.

My only concern is that 6 years ago when I tried Phonak I hated the sound, so I’m not sure if it’s worth trying Phonak again considering that. Because I figure that generally the base sound characteristics of a brand don’t change much over the years. At least with Widex that’s my experience.

Hence my question:

How is the Phonak sound quality now vs 6 years ago?

My impression is that “sound quality” is largely about how the aids are adjusted. What about the sound quality didn’t you like?

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I can’t comment on 6 years ago but I have found better sound quality with the paradise than with the marvel. But what I hear has nothing to do with what you hear. So I would suggest you try a pair yourself since you didn’t like them 6 years ago

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It too long ago to remember the sound specifics but overall I felt the Phonaks sounded like a toy hearing aid. Kind of like what you’d expect if you’d compare high end Bose speakers to some bad quality cheap speakers. That was my impression when I then compared the Widex with Phonak.

They were both adjusted by the same audi so I don’t think that was the issue.

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The perception of “quality” is entirely subjective. I would just give them a trial and see if they’re different. I’m getting around to exploring new aids. I’m likely going Phonak for their connectivity openness.
Bose is not a top of the line high-end speaker manufacturer. They’re good at marketing though.

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My take is that what a lot of people mean by what you describe is too much highs and not enough bass. The type of dome/custom mold can make a huge difference in bass, which many people associate with a rich sound quality. My understanding is that most hearing aid “speakers” (receivers) are made by the same company (Knowles) so in essence it’s like listening to the same speaker while somebody plays with the equalizer. Also if one is trying out hearing aids and gives feedback to the fitter what you don’t like, they’ll likely try to compensate with the next hearing aid. Lastly, “sound quality” is something many adjust to over time. I believe there’s a Dr. Cliff video on sound quality and that one should not base hearing aid purchases on that basis.

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Thanks for pointing out the video on this topic out by Dr. Cliff, here’s the link for anyone else interested in it: Why Hearing Aid Sound Quality Doesn't Matter - YouTube

I will just try them and see how it goes, thanks for the replies.

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Do you use Android or iPhone? I’m wondering if any of the brands outside Phonak have good pairing with Androids (Oticon definitely does not).

I have no comparison to past hearing aids, so I don’t know that I’ll be any help, but during my trial with the Paradise, I thought the sound was good. Some of the highs are a little tinny and certain sharp sounds seemed disproportionately loud. Maybe some adjustments and fine tuning will help with that? I did prefer the Oticon sound a bit more overall, and I also thought they did a better job in allowing me to distinguish sounds and “hear though” noises. But I don’t think Phonak quality is any sort of deal breaker, per se. It comes down to what certain features you might prefer out of the HA.

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I use an Andoid phone. The Samsung S10e. It works well with other bluetooth devices.

I have a bluetooth audio receiver for playing music in my living room. It works great no matter where I am in the house - very solid connection. I previously had a receiver that had a very unreliable bluetooth connection, and it annoyed the living daylight out of me. So I bought a new one and the old one is not collecting dust…

That experience makes me very cautious of any hearing aids that suck at bluetooth. It’s just so annoying when it’s unreliable that it negates for a big part that it even has the bluetooth feature. Because it’s not pleasant and fun to use anymore.

There are a couple things to keep in mind (and I was also surprised to learn that BT connections were an issue at all, but have since learned a bit more):

HA bluetooth is not the same as normal bluetooth connections. There’s a reason typical bluetooth headphones only have a few hours of battery life; they suck energy like crazy. HAs need to be designed to at least last all day (rechargeables, at least). They use a low energy protocol when connecting with phones, and they’re tasked with doing much more than standard headphones, so with Androids, they have yet to find a good balance between battery and BT signal strength. Given some time, I think the ASHA protocol will be smoothed out (I would hope, at least) and connections will be better and more stable. Also, LE Audio is on the horizon, granted it may take some time before that’s really a full environment in day to day life.

I would imagine that the focus of HA companies is on sound processing technology first. While a lot of us consider BT to be pretty essential these days, it’s still a secondary consideration if you think about how many problems people still have with hearing even with aids. So even though I lament on the current state of BT in HAs, it’s still a nice-to-have feature, and the importance of quality of life with the ability to hear and understand still takes precedence. Honestly, I’m also considering switching to an iPhone. That alone might improve BT connections.

I’m also seriously considering switching to an iPhone if the HA I pick will work reliably with that.

How about the Phonak though? Do you know if it works reliably with Android bluetooth? I know it has the best bluetooth functionality overall. But not sure how it fares on Android bluetooth and if for example the issue is with the Andoid HA bluetooth protocol rather than the HA itself.

Last I heard, Phonak is using the older standard bluetooth 4.2 or something. ASHA is a bit of a different thing iirc.
Most other manufacturers have the proprietary made for iphone sorta kinda bluetooth connection. You still need to use the mic on the phone. Apple might be working on a new-fangled thing on that front too…made for iphone.
One or two manufacturers are trying the ASHA thing. Few Android’s include that.
Phonak is the only one using plain ol’ standard BT.

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Paul, I think I’m just the guy you want to hear from. I bought Phonak Audeo Q90 at the end of 2013. They were my first HAs. They were OK. I thought they sounded kind of tinny. In 2016 I replaced them with Oticon Opn1. I liked those much better.
At the end of 2020 I trialed Widex Moment and I was surprised to find that I didn’t like them. Then I trialed Phonak Paradise. I was surprised how much better and more natural they sounded. I still have the Q90 so I was able to compare them directly. The Paradise were much better.
I ended up buying Oticon More without trialing them at all due to an impending change in my insurance. They sound only marginally better than the Opn1. I didn’t get to compare the More with the Paradise directly, but if I had been able to I might have bought the Phonak instead of the Oticon More. .
This is only my personal experience, of course, but I’d say Phonak has dramatically improved its sound quality since 2013.

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I have no problem connecting my phonak aids to my android phone. And the aids sound very natural, to me. Forget about 6 years ago. I’ve learned that after 6 years looking for new aids means starting the process anew. What happened 6 years ago is no longer relevant

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Phonak bt connection with Android is great. I have minimal stability issues, and the hands free phone calling is nice (though you still need to be in a relatively quiet environment). Also, you can ask your audiologist to change the master side for bt, so if you generally keep your phone on your left side or pocket, you can set the master to the left HA vs. the default being right, even though I don’t have any issues regardless which side my phone is on. Like someone else mentioned, Phonak does not use the ASHA protocol, but an older standard bt protocol. Somehow they’ve managed lower power consumption using it. I stream several hours a day and have no battery issues getting through a full day.

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My phonak paradise aids hook up with my android Bluetooth in seconds with no problem and stay connected until I disconnect Bluetooth

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I’d say most Android users are pretty happy with the Phonak Paradise Bluetooth. Connectivity with computers can be a bit troublesome and iPhone users might be disappointed that it doesn’t have the Made for iPhone features, but Android is relatively solid.

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I made the switch from Widex aids to the Phonak P90 because I’m an Android user (Samsung S10+) and wanted the Bluetooth features that the Paradise provides. I can attest that the Bluetooth works like a charm, and now I would have a very hard time giving up my hands free talking and ear tapping.

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Thanks everyone for all those helpful replies. It’s good to know Phonak bluetooth is good on Android and that Phonak sound quality is way better now than 6 years ago. Gives me confidence to keep them on my shortlist to try out.

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Thanks for sharing your experience with that switch. It’s very similar to my situation, so good to hear that was a good experience for you.

How about the sound characteristics, any change you can elaborate on that? Was that an upgrade for you too going from Widex to Phonak, and how would you describe their difference on that front?