Phonak

I’ve been wearing hearing aids most of my life and it’s time for new ones. It’s been 5 or 6 years or more since I got my current Siemens Acuris p pair. Always lots of hype about new developments, which makes it hard to know what’s worth investing in. My ENT guy’s audiologist recommends Phonak Ambra. They carry three levels of Phonak (in addition to other brands): Ambra, Solana, Cassia. Questions:

  1. auto ZoomControl sounds great. Does it automatically change direction or do you control the direction of the mic?

  2. Soundrecover sounds terrific - does it help?

  3. Is there a volume control on the hearing aid (Ambra behind the ear) or only on the remote?

I’d also be interested in people’s general experiences with using a remote – I haven’t used one before. And thoughts about Costco – a friend bought a pair of ReSound aids there for less than half the price.

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I suspect that if you like the way your Siemens have sounded you won’t like switching…

Hello!

  1. auto ZoomControl does change direction automatically. The auto ZC detects where speech is coming from and thus acts accordingly.

  2. SoundRecover has been nothing but terrific for me. It’s optimized for high frequency hearing losses. It compresses higher frequencies in lower regions and is designed very well.
    It takes time to get used to, but it was wonderful to be able to hear previously inaudible sounds. An incredible experience!!! For me, I feel it does help me understand people more too. It’s a nice “boost” in that regard.

  3. Certain Ambra behind the ears do have volume control. It depends on the model of Ambra.

The Ambra Petite, Ambra microM, Ambra M H20 do not have volume control directly on the BTE but do have a program switcher button (program switcher doesn’t change volume, just switches manual programs you’ve set).

The Ambra microP and SP do have volume control in addition to the program switcher button.
I would definitely trial them with your audiologist.

I don’t have experience with Costco, so I can’t comment. I would personally feel that I wouldn’t want to get my hearing aids from a place that has a focus on bargains, since HAs are so important to me. HOWEVER, that’s based off of no experience with their hearing aid services and if you like your audiologist and they give you a good trial period then by all means use them. It seems like you’ve had a positive experience there thus far.

Phonak Ambra is the best out of the Solana and Cassio. It has the most flexibility. Solana is one step down from Ambra and Cassio is another step down.

So, I would definitely go with your audiologist’s recommendation for the Ambra, especially considering your audiogram, you want the best possible experience.

I didn’t like the myPilot remote as much as some other people. I felt the digital display caused short battery life (this remote is rechargeable). HOWEVER, there is another remote: the PilotOne which looks extremely appealing to me as it uses a battery to power it and there’s no digital display. Again, this is personal preference and your experience may very well be different.

You can always ask to trial a remote and try another one.

But Phonak’s automatic program in which they automatically utilize other programs when they detect the need for them (eg. noise cancellation, etc.) is the program I use. I just leave it on that and the hearing aid does a good job. I find that for me, when I get a good fit from the audiologist and we’ve adjusted everything, manual control isn’t as important. That’s my personal experience and yours might be different.

I hope that helps!

Thanks! This is very helpful! Grateful Gump

I have been wearing Phonak Ambra BTE heaing aids for over 5 months. If I knew what I do now I would have gotten at least 1 if not 2 additional opinions before buying them.

I have never worn hearing aids before. I have a high frequency hearing loss and can only understand about 1/2 the letters of the alphabet when spoken individually.

I feel that I was defrauded by Sonus. I feel comfortable using that description and I am not sure what to do about it.

The multiple audiologists I saw and am seeing at Sonus all informed me of their experience with Phonak Ambra hearing aids. In actually none of them were qualified. The right one failed and when I told them there was no volume at all on the right side they blamed it on my hearing loss. It took 2 months to get that fixed. I called Phonak directly and they refused to help me. It seems these hearing aids are extremely difficult to adjust and tend to greatly over amplify “air sounds”.

I would not except the poor sound quality on my cell phone let alone my $8,000 hearing aids. My hearing aids have been sent for repair 3 times now. My promises of getting them adjusted working properly seem to be fading. At least they do help in conversations and when watching TV.

Please feel free to contact me or print this post and show it to your audiologist before purchasing Phonak products.

If anyone out there has advice it would be greatly appreciated.

Steve
like2angle@dslextreme.com

You’re blaming Phonak, a huge multinational corporation, for poor service/skills provided by a couple of people at a local Sonus outlet???

I called Phonak directly and they refused to help me. I

I bet they simply & politely said ‘Please follow this up with your local supplier.

Your point of contact is your local supplier, not some poor soul in a Phonak factory.

If the forecourt of a Shell franchise is grubby, do I write to the head of Shell to compain? No, I moan at the site manager of the petrol (gas) station.

I’ve had my Phonak Solanas for a bit over a month now. These are my first HAs so my situation is a bit different from Gump. Overall, I’m happy with them and the service from the Audiologist has been very good. She recommended the Solana as it has the best feature set for the price. There isn’t a lot of difference between the Solana and the Ambra. The Ambra has adjustable Zoom Control. I have Zoom Control as one of the selectable programs on my ComPilot remote but it can only zoom to the front. I haven’t used it yet so I don’t know how much it helps.

Sound Recover works but you need to have it adjusted to your specific need. I found that I was getting a lot of harshness and high pitched “noise” until they reduced the Sound Recover level. I may still need to have it turned down a further notch.

I have the standard ComPilot remote control. I can use it to adjust the volume (can also be done on the HAs); I can select programs (I have 4 optional programs set up); I can pair it with Bluetooth devices; and, I can plug in a direct stereo connection from a device like an MP3 player. It also has a microphone that is used when you pair it with a cell phone. It worked well with my phone but when the remote is hanging at chest level, it doesn’t pick up all that well.

For like2angle, someone on this forum can probably advise you as to the possibility of switching to another Audiologist. If the Audiologist is prepaid for the follow-up visits, that may make it difficult or impossible to switch. I think that your problem was your choice of Audiologist much more then choosing Phonak.

No experience wth the hearing aids as I have Phonak Naida UP.

But with the remote control, I have the My Pilot and I love it.
When I change programs on my aids I have to cycling through my 5 programs to get to the end (mute) but with the My Pilot I can go from 1 to 5 or 5 to 1 (5 because I have 5 programs, it could be more or less), so it is a lot easier to say to do number 5 the mute program.
With the Pilot One, you can only change the volume on both aids at once, with the My Pilot, you can change each ear on their own or together which I find helps.
I also find I get confused with what I am on when I change them on my aids, with the display on the My Pilot, I know exactly what I am on.
I find with the My Pilot, my battery will last 3 weeks before I have to charge it so I dont find it does not last as long because of the rechargeable battery.
The ComPilot could be a good thing as it is a remote and other things as well, but from what I see of it, it does not look like it would do as much as the My Pilot, looks like it would do the same as the Pilot One.

I think that is possible. I trialled some Solana aids a year ago and I believe they were never properly programmed. There has been a new version of the Target software since then and some of our professionals believe these aids may be easier to setup with the newer software.

I am not sure when the newer software was released. It is possible that like2angle’s aid were adjusted with the older software. Using the newer software to program & upgrade the HA firmware may improve things.

Just another thought & viewpoint.

But with the remote control, I have the My Pilot and I love it.

When you’re using the MyPilot, can you have it in your pocket or do you have to hold it up at chest level as shown in the manual?

I can have it quite far down my chest but if it is on one side, it will only adjust the aid on that side. I find I have to have it in the middle to do both aids.

I do find with the checking the battery life of your aids on the My Pilot, I have to have it pressed against my nose though. I do find this quite useless as it will always say battery full on both aids until I have had a warning beep to saying battery low on my aids, then it will show on My Pilot that my batteries are just about to die. It is kind of a useless function anyway now we get warning beeps on the aids. I always carry spare pack of batteries with me anyway.
My left aid is maxed out so I only get 8-9 days with the 675 but the right I can get about 11-12 days with the 675.

Just wondering if anyone else with the Cassia/Solana/Ambra HAs has managed to get them adjusted so that they work well in noisy environments. I am working on it but I’d be interested in any one else’s experience.

Last night I was in a pretty noisy room with lots of people talking in groups. I saw it as a good opportunity to see how well speech-in-noise and zoom could cope with that challenging situation. I had the zoom program added on my last visit to the Audi but I hadn’t really had a chance to give it a good try. The bottom line was that speech-in-noise was the best of the two but not good enough by any means. Even with speech-in-noise on, it sounded like I was in a metal drum with a thousand angry bees in the background. I was generally able to understand speech but it was sensory overload with all of the background noise. Zoom was a total disappointment. It didn’t even do as much as speech-in-noise with respect to noise suppression and the actual zoom (to the front only on the Solana) wasn’t noticeable.

I am hoping that this will get better with some further adjustments and I sent a report to my audi that I will follow up with her at my next appointment. I will provide an update once they get adjusted and I have a chance to test them out again.

Anyone else have any luck with this?

I’ve had my Naida S IX SPs for about a week, with one adjustment after the initial fitting and I’m having similar experiences. I find that environmental noises are SO loud and distorted it’s almost painful, ESPECIALLY in the Zoom program. I was at the gym and somebody dropped some weights about 30 feet away and it was like they were right next to me. Similarly in a restaurant a waitress clearing tables 20 feet away totally destroyed any chance of comprehending my spouse next to me. I too am hoping we can get this dialed in and know that it will take some time.

Looking at your loss, what sort of mould/coupling do you have on the Naida?

Has the Audiologist suggested you might have high-frequency dead-spots?

Have you considered abandoning the worst part of your HF hearing?

Has the audiologist explained the ‘downward spread of masking’ ?

I’d say that for a new HA wearer, you are actually doing quite well to be able to understand speech at all…it really can take quite some time for your brain to be able to filter out the noise that the hearing aid is incapable of eliminating. That said, you can have the noise reduction changed somewhat to hopefully help in those situations.

Something else to check, there is a small percentage of HA’s that get wired wrong at the company where the front mic is wired for the back and the back is wired for the front. You’ll know if they are switched if when you are in directional mode you seem to hear more from behind you than in front of you. Something to check for…

Looking at your loss, what sort of mould/coupling do you have on the Naida?

Conventional earmolds with standard hook

Has the Audiologist suggested you might have high-frequency dead-spots?

Nope. What exactly does that mean? I’ve assumed that anything above 2000hz is dead to me.

Have you considered abandoning the worst part of your HF hearing?

Can you explain more please?

Has the audiologist explained the ‘downward spread of masking’ ?

No, but I will ask her next week. I just got my second adjustment today and my first impression is that there is some improvement, but I need to see how it goes.

Thanks for your response. I appreciate it

I looked up “downward spread of masking” and found an excellent explanation here:
http://www.hear-it.org/Masking

That is EXACTLY what is happening, and I’m guessing that ties in with “abandoning the worst part of my HF hearing.”

It’s to do with the amount of power needed to re-establish hearing to your higher frequencies - each 3dB equates to a doubling of power, so even on a conservative setting you are going to get 30-40dB of gain in the high tones, if you do the maths, that means several thousand times the power needed in the lower tones. It’s not likely to help in two ways, firstly it corrupts the signal at the lower tones and secondly the output of he speaker is going to include a fair amount of distortion. That’s before feedback issues etc.

The worst part is that you’re going to be wearing a mould that exceeds your actual hearing needs. If you abandoned the hf, you could probably get away with a far less occluding fitting and retain more of the naturally occurring sounds and fidelity in your canal. Or even wear lower power hearing aids and get a more satisfactory result.

This all makes sense to me. Yesterday, per my original request for a comparison trial, we introduced a pair of Oticon Agil Pros (RITE with power domes). I’m having feedback and occlusion issues, while both are under control with the Phonaks (vented moulds). We’d already discussed using moulds with the Agils, but I was anxious to try them to get a comparison.

Questions:

  • Can the Phonaks be "retrofitted" with a slim tube or would we have to order new aids?
  • By "abandoning the HFs" are you referring to using a lower power aid and RITE type fittings? There are no adjustments that would accomodate this in either the Agils or the Naidas?

If the Phonak hearing aids are standard BTE’s they can be used with standard earmolds OR slim-tubes.

When you “abandon HF’s” it usually means instead of focusing on getting adequate amplification in the HF areas, you focus instead on the mids and lows where the patient has OHC’s that are functioning and capable of sending information up to the brain.