Resound Alera vs. Future

I understand that Resound Alera comes in three models - 5, 7 and 9 and that the Resound Future sold at COSTCO is similar to Alera. First, does anyone know the difference between the 3 Alera models, and second, which of the three models is the Future like? Thanks for any help.

The Future is reputed to be identical to the Alera 9 except for the shape of the battery door. The wireless Future carries a model number of 861 while the Alera 9 is 961 and the Alera 7 is 761. This implies that the Future is positioned between the 9 and the 7. I trialed the Alera 9’s and currently own the Futures and I see no difference in features between them, and that applies to the accessories (tv streamer, remote) as well.

Alera 9s and 7s each have 17 channels, while the 5s have 9. All three levels come with 5 programs. Based on those numbers, I believe the Future is most closely related to the Alera 5.

I’ve also heard the Future is slightly thicker, which may have something to do with the battery door issue.

Check out HearingRevolution’s blog about comparing private label hearing aids to the name brands.

How do I find HearingRevolution’s blog? Thanks.

I don’t follow your logic at all. I witnessed the Resound rep telling the Costco audiologist that the only difference in the Alera 9 and the Future is the shape of the battery door.

I’ve also heard the Future is slightly thicker, which may have something to do with the battery door issue.
In addition, I was trialing both the Alera 9 and Future simultaneously and held both in my hand. The thickness is identical. The battery door is pointed in the Future, that’s the only difference. In addition to the above, I have studied the features available in both products and they are absolutely identical. There are no features available in the Aventa software for the Alera 9 that isn’t also available for the Futures.

Check out HearingRevolution’s blog about comparing private label hearing aids to the name brands.
I checked out the blog and it says absolutely nothing definitive.

Funny, because MY Resound rep stated that the Future is equivalent to the Alera 5.

dr. amy

Feature difference chart from GNResound’s webpage:
Note that there are really six Alera models available: a 5, 7, and a 9 with wireless features, and a 5, 7, and 9 without wireless features (look above the chart, where the model numbers are listed). Within the wireless Aleras, each step up the model chart adds about $800 to consumer cost, though this can vary depending on the audiologist. My audiologist’s impression was that in hardware, the three wireless models are identical except for a slightly upgraded microphone in the 9. The major differences were in software programming and in warranty coverage (not listed in the chart, but longer in the 9 than in the 7, longer in the 7 than in the 5).

This chart kind of minimizes the differences and is not as clearly written as it should be to help consumers understand exactly what features get added as they step up the line.

For example, one key difference between the 5, the 7, and the 9 is the number of custom programs that can be added to the main program, changeable on the fly by the user with the button on each aid or with the optional add-on remote. These programs are shaped by the audiologist often using templates provided in the Aventa software and then programmed into the aid at the audiologist’s office. (Aventa is not legally available for consumer use.) An example of a common program offered for the Alera (and many other aids, of course) is a Restaurant mode, which brings up voices in relation to noisy backgrounds. The effect is subtle but real. (It’s still hard to hear quiet conversation in noisy restaurants, but not as hard as it would be without a Restaurant mode.)

The 7 allows two extra programs in addition to the main one. (I know that mainly because it was my main reason for upgrading from the 5 to the 7.) The 9 can do more, but I forget whether it’s three or four extra programs, and the chart just says “up to 4 programs”–does that include the main program, or not? The 5 only allows one extra program, or none; I’m not sure, but I think it’s one. The chart indicates that each step up the model line allows for more programs but doesn’t specify exactly how many for each model. They should have made that chart clearer for that feature difference and others.

GNResound is likely to be very coy and vague about differences between Aleras and Futures because they want some doubt there in the public mind–they want to keep both private audiologists and Costco happy. Since GNR is vague, each side can market what it does best without having their marketing message undercut by the manufacturer and leave it up to consumers to choose.

This is quite easily demonstrated to be wrong. There are several features that are present only on the Alera 9 and not the Alera 7 or Alera 5. Any Future owner can verify that these features are present in the Future. For example, one such feature is “Natural Directionality II” . I have this present in my Future and it is enabled in memory location 1. If my Future were an Alera 5 (or a 7) this would not be possible.

Some of the other features present only on the Alera 9 are “Adjustable directional mix”, “environmental optimizer II”, “environmental noise reduction”, and “AutoScope adaptive directionality”. These are all available in the Future. Just look over your audi’s shoulder during your next fitting, and have him/her demonstrate that these features are present, selectable, and can be enabled in your Futures.

My $0.02 is that Resound is purposefully obfuscating the facts regarding the Costco Future hearing aids. I base this on the following experiences: I was in my audi’s office and she called her Resound representative and asked how they compare. She was nice enough to put the call on the speakerphone so I was right there as the representative was “bad mouthing” the Futures and saying they were Alera 5s. I later stopped by Costco and was asking about features only to find out that (just as Citation4444 stated above) they have options found only in models higher than the 5. Thus, I called Resound myself and although they didn’t want to talk to me directly, they did answer some basic questions. At first I was told they were Alera 5s, but when I asked about the additional options, the story changed and I was told that the Futures are “a totally difference aid and difficult to compare, but would fall somewhere between an Alera 5 and a 7”. However, on another visit to Costco I happen to notice lots of commotion in the hearing aid center. I walked up and overheard that they were discussing Resound aids. Just so happens that my timing was great as two of them worked for Resound and were there to train on the new Futures. They were nice enough to answer my questions, telling me that the electronics were identical to an Alera (just as Citation4444 indicated) and the only physical difference was the shape battery door (btw, I too have compared it to my Alera 9 and other than the shape of the battery door they do appear identical). However, they also told me there were a couple of differences. One is in regard to the firmware which they claimed (please understand that I’m ONLY relating what I was told, I don’t have any experience with the Futures other than holding one) had options that fell between the Alera 7 and 9. The other is the warranty which is a 3Yr/3Yr (broken/lost) warranty with the Alera 9 and a 3Yr/2Yr with the Costco Future.

Since I already owned my Alera 9, I didn’t pay too much attention to (what they claimed) were slightly different features in the different firmware versions. I seem to recall they had something to do with some of the options (like expansion, noise tracker II, directional mix, and possibly even DFS Ultra) having an extra option, or two, available when programming the Alera 9s that isn’t available with the Costco Futures. In other words, in many cases the option is there (unlike in the Alera 5s or Alera 7s) but has one or two less selectable menu choices. Again, it’s important to note that I’m only repeating what was told to me by the Resound reps there to train on the Futures!

I also agree with Citation4444 when he says that a difference in options can easily be proved or disproved. All that would be necessary would be to speak with someone very knowledgeable with the Costco software, or a Costco audi that would allow someone to watch as they used the programming software. My audi is very nice and I’m sure she won’t have any problem telling me the available options (I’ll work on posting them) for the Alera 9s, so the only difficult part will be accurately determining the available options in the Resound programming software used at Costco.

I sent the following email to Resound Costco support. The reply was general that I should do trials to figure out the differences for myself or work it out with my professional.

To: Resound Costco Support (Bloomington)
I am trying to compare Costco’s Futures (F861-DRW) with the Alera 9’s (AL961-DRW). It looks like both have the 9 gain handles, but one spec sheet I got from Costsco had the F861’s as having 12 Warp compression bands while the Alera 9’s [and Alera 7’s] have 17. Is that right?
Looking through the technical, it also looked like the Futures didn’t have the Alera 9’s “Adjustable direction mix,” “Personalized noise reduction,” or “Environmental Optimizer II.”
Also, I couldn’t tell if the Futures “DFS Ultra” and “NoiseTracker II” programming were the same as the Alera 9’s “Ultimate”, or more like the Alera 7’s “Advanced” or the Alera 5’s “Standard”.

Thanks to everyone for their posts. I am new to this process.

Seams to me the answer is obvious with the model number, 861 is right between 761 and 961

Didn’t know about it being a Future 861-DRW but then it does indeed make sense. I did have my audi get the info on the settings for the Alera 961 (and she even included the 761), but they are at work. I missed a few days as I’ve been a sick, but I’ll (hopefully) get them posted on Monday.

Here’s the programming info that my audiologist sent me regarding the Resound Aleras:

961: 4 User Programs + Phone Now + Phone Clip + Streamers
761: 3 User Programs + Phone Now + Phone Clip + Streamers

961: 9 Gain Handles for adjustment
761: 7 Gain Handles for adjustment

961: Environmental Optimizer: Environmental Optimizer II
761: Environmental Optimizer: None

961: Directionality: Natural Directionality II, Softswitching w/Autoscope, Multiscope w/Autoscope, Fixed
761: Directionality: Softswitching, Multiscope withOUT Autoscope, Fixed

961: Beamwidth: Autoscope only (option can’t be changed)
761: Beamwidth: Narrow, Medium, Wide (no Autoscope)

961: Expansion: Off, Mild, Moderate, Strong
761: Expansion: Off, Mild, Moderate

961: Noise Tracker II: Off, Mild, Moderate, Considerable, Strong, Per Environment
761: Noise Tracker II: Off, Mild, Moderate, Considerable

961: Directional Mix: Very Low, Low, Medium, High
761: Directional Mix: Option Not Available

961: DFS Ultra: Off, Mild, Moderate, Strong
761: DFS Ultra: Off, Mild, Moderate

Separately the warranty is also different as listed below:
961: 3 Years If Broken, 3 Years If Lost
761: 2 Years If Broken, 2 Years If Lost
Futures (861?): 3 Years if Broken, 2 Years If Lost

This should be more than enough information to determine exactly how the Resound Alera hearing aids compare to their Costco Future counterparts. All that is needed now is someone familiar with the Costco programming software to chime in with their options…


That’s a great chart, Battery Ears! More informative than the ReSound chart for the Alera on ReSound’s website…

Some of these features which go to programming flexibility in stepping up to the 961 above the 761… the 961 upgrade, as I recall, adds about $800 to the Alera 761 price…may or may not give improved performance from a patient perspective. Sometimes these things are more important to marketing. Try before you buy and ask your audiologist for his or her reasoning if the audiologist is recommending the 961 and if cost is a factor for you.

Glad you like it! I agree with hamjor about making certain the options are worth the price difference. However, these aids are so expensive anyway that, for me, it wasn’t even a question! Also, I have a fantastic audi and she allowed me to trial both a 7 and a 9 and I can say for certain that the Environmental Optimizer II option alone is worth the additional money. Also, the only DFS Ultra setting that never produces feedback for me was “strong” which was only available in the 9s. Also, with my hearing (or lack thereof) the Directional Mix makes a noticable difference as well. I chose to disable the Natural Directionality II, but I know a few people that think it’s one of the best options available in Resound aids. If so you’ll have no choice but to step up to the 9. Lastly, there is one thing that is a bit of a bummer in the 9s… the directional beamwidth cannot be adjusted manually (as indicated in the chart) like it can in the lower model 7s. I asked about this and the audi called into Resound and after being transferred back and forth we were told that all of the extra code of the Autoscope (automatically adjusted beamwidth) fills up the available code space so the manual options needed to be deleted. Although I don’t have a major fault with Autoscope, I personally would have rather had the ability to manually adjust it instead of it always attempting to self adjust.

That’s fine! For you, then, the 9’s were definitely the right buy!

Only ReSound knows this answer for sure, and maybe a few people at Costco, but probably not the Hearing Aid Dept. pros in the Costco stores. In any event, I’m not at all surprised by the non-answer you got. They’re ALL going to duck this question (or blow smoke up your tailpipe, if one does seem to answer your question) because neither Costco nor ReSound wants to be pinned down on it in writing. It’s not in ReSound’s, Costco’s, or private audiologists’ interests for ReSound to be open and honest with this proprietary info. Sure, it’s in the consumer’s interest, but between ReSound, Costco, audiologists, and consumers, guess who’s odd man out when playing Musical Chairs? That’s it, Skippy: you are!

ReSound is trying to capture two competing markets with one device: they’re trying to get the market of aid-wearers served by private audiologists, and they’re trying to get the market of Costco shoppers primarily driven by price. If they take sides, which they could be perceived as doing if they answer your question openly and honestly, they’re going to tick off the other side. So they’ll duck it. It may even be part of the contract between ReSound and Costco, not to get too specific about the differences.

If the Costco Future meets your basic needs (such as how many custom programs you have), my guess is you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference with an Alera using both in the field if you hadn’t been told which one cost more. If that seems to answer your question about which one to go with, I’d say, not necessarily. Other important factors, such as the quality of the fit and the audiologist you might work with either privately or at Costco, and/or the convenience of the locations, could be as important as price, depending also on your budget.

My wife got a pair of Future HAs at Costco last week. They have four programs, (1) Natural Directional (2) Restaurant (3) Party (4) Music. She’s never used aids before, so can’t compare. Cost was $2,600 for the pair. The asking price from the Audiologist at the ENT office was $5,800 for Alera.

To clarify, the programs aren’t fixed and can be changed at will via the programming software. The Costco Futures do have four setable programs, but it’s up to the audi to decide how to program them.

Thanks again Battery Ears. Was anyone able to find the specs for the Futures? Has anyone heard any more about the differences between the Alera 9s and the Futures? I can purchase the 9’s through Hearing Revolution for $1999 each. Remote included. Audi visits for a year. Or I can go with the Futures. I just want to make sure, since I’m spending all this $$) that I get everything I could use. (not that I couldn’t use saving money in the process.)

One other thing. I stopped at Costco the other day to look at the size of the Futures. When I asked the audi/despenser if he could take one out so I could compare it next to my Deltas, he got very testy asking me if I wanted to buy today and if I were only buying the aid based on the size. Long story short. I did not like him, nor would I want him to be in charge of my adjustments. I’m assuming there’s more than one person at their Hearing Centers.