I was asked by Audiometrix to review a pair of Ria 2s and to compare them to Costco’s KS7s. Trying out another pair of hearing aids was an educational process. When I got the Ria 2s, the first thing I noticed was that they had closed domes instead of the open domes I have in my KS7s. When I hooked them up the programmer, I also noticed that they had more powerful receivers than the KS7s. Hmm. Comparing hearing aids is not a straight forward process. There are a lot of variables. I’d keep that in mind when comparing any two hearing aids–differences may be more related to how they’re set up rather than the brand and model of the hearing aids.
Trying out the Ria 2s, the first thing I noticed was that the left ear had a constant, staticky, white noise sound. After several emails and phone calls, we basically determined that these are not suitable for me. We confirmed that it wasn’t a flaw in the hearing aid, because the right sided one produced the same noise when I placed it in my left ear. Playing around with the gain controls through Genie, the only way I could eliminate the noise was to dramatically lower gain for soft sounds at the 2500 hz range. Kind of defeated the point of the hearing aids, as these aids have only 4 gain handles: 250, 1000, 2500 and 5000 hz; There was no way to selectively eliminate the noise without eliminating the gain I needed so we agreed I should return them.
Exploring the software did allow me to learn a fair amount of things about the Ria 2s and how they might compare with the KS7s. They are relatively inexpensive for RIC (receiver in canal hearing aids (price through HearTech is less than $1400 for a pair). Costco doesn’t have any RICs that are comparably priced. The KS7s are a little less than $1700 for a pair. Although the KS7s are more advanced, the Ria2s are still very sophisticated devices. One can setup multiple programs and the aids shift settings depending on what kind of environment they’re in. All control of the Ria2s is through a push button on each aid, The KS7 has 2 buttons per aid and can also be controlled by a smart phone app. The KS7s allow more control over how directional the microphones are than do the Ria2s. The KS7 also has a lot more control over gain at different frequencies: 20 gain handles versus only 4 for the Ria2s. All that said, 20 gain handles is likely overkill and I seldom use my smartphone app. KS7s do support frequency lowering while the Ria2s do not. I like the frequency lowering, but it does not have much of an effect on understanding speech for me.
I think the Ria2s could be a viable, affordable option for someone wanting straight forward hearing aids and with a hearing loss that could be covered by the 4 gain handles–I’m guessing a flatter loss than mine. I still question how appropriate it would be for a newby to start with online hearing aids, but for an experienced user who doesn’t need all the bells and whistles, these could be worth a look. I still think the KS7s are a better value and for a first time hearing aid user, I think the ability to meet face to face with your hearing aid fitter is very helpful.