Sebotek and Phonak Micro Power

Saw this post on another forum:

I recently trialed the Sebotek and the Phonak Micropower hearing aids. This will be long but I feel like I was treated right by my audiologist and I think the good guy or girl should be recognized too. I am new to this board but not new to hearing loss. I started wearing a hearing aid 40 years ago when I was in my teens with a behind-the-ear Zenith Moderator. I purchased my last two sets of CICs; Starkey and Oticon, from my present audiologist in Dallas. A few weeks ago, my new puppy ate one of my aids so I went to the audiologist to find out what I could do. My present aids were 4 ½ years old.

I asked about the Oticon Deltas but she explained and also showed me on her computer that they would not work with my loss. She suggested that I try a pair of Seboteks. I was fitted with the aids and they were adjusted. She did not ask me to sign a contract as she wanted me to try these with no obligation. I had more volume and better hearing with the Seboteks as compared to my CICs. I did not like the ear pieces that were not custom fit. They kept slipping out and when they were not tight in my ear, I could not hear as well. It might not have been fair or correct, but I did not feel that the Seboteks offered the quality or current technology that other brands offered. As a positive, I really liked the small wires connecting the aid to the receiver and I felt like the receiver in the ear was the proper use of technology. On my follow up visit, I explained that I liked the receiver in the ear and mentioned that it was a shame that other companies have not done this yet.

She told me about the Phonak Micropower. She was up-front that this was a new aid and that she has not fitted these yet. Again, she offered to let me wear these for a few weeks without signing a contract. The Micropower has fitted ear pieces that house the receiver. For the trial, they have a few sizes of non-fitted ear pieces. She programmed and adjusted the Micropowers in the office. Since I was going on vacation, she suggested that I take the Seboteks also, in case I did not like the Micropowers.

There is a world of difference between the Seboteks and the Micropowers. I have always been a person that put my aids in my ears and then I forget about them until I take them out at the end of the day. I do not adjust the volume or make any other adjustments. The Micropowers have a remote, but I decided that I was not going to mess around with the remote; either the Micropower can automatically adjust itself for the sound environment or it was not for me. Like some other new aids, the Micropower is always working to find voices and trying to reduce background noise so that the voices can be understood. The initial adjustments were close to ideal. On the first follow up visit, my audiologist and I worked together to make the adjustments. She did not make a change unless I understood what the change was supposed to accomplish and how to listen for the changes. She took impressions of my ears to have custom ear molds made that will house the receivers. I also ordered new Micropowers in the color that I wanted.

On my second follow up visit, I picked up my new Micropower aids and returned the loaners. The ear molds were a perfect fit, but were longer than necessary. We agreed that she would have Phonak remake the ear molds shorter. In their advertisements, Phonak bragged about their small and discrete ear molds, so we are going to hold them to it.

I work in construction as a manager and can be around noisy machinery while listening to people talk. We fine-tuned the “voice in noise” settings to help improve voice comprehension around loud machines. Again, we made the adjustments together. It was a team effort using her experience in improving hearing and my knowledge of what I want to improve. She spends over an hour each visit discussing how the Micropowers work and discussing the adjustments that can be made. I did sign a contract now and my “official” 30 days has begun but I don’t have a concern about it. First, I was able to try the aids I wanted to try and secondly, I know from experience that my audiologist will work with me until I say it is perfect. We have another follow-up scheduled for next week and right now I would not make any changes to the program. My hearing today with the Micropowers is the best that I can recall. Putting the speaker right next to the ear drum makes sense to me. Of course, that that one of the positives of the CICs which I have been wearing for the last ten years… The Micropower allowed me to keep the “receiver in the ear” benefit while permitting more power from a Top-of-ear housing. This might sound like a commercial. In the past I was pleased with my hearing aids, but I love the Micropowers.

It sounds like my husband has the same requirements as you. He was considering the Delta, but was told that he was borderline with the power. His audiologist suggested the MicroPower and it’s quite expensive. He’s a retired carpenter but still does alot of handyman construction work with noise, dirt, etc. He was quoted $5690 for two of them after a $1500 credit for trading in his old ones at his hearing aid center. We live in Orange County, California. Does this price seem about right. They are quite expensive!

Thanks,
Chris

The Phonak Micropowers are quite costly, as they are probably the very best receiver in the ear design high tech hearing aid on the market right now.

Average costs are around $5,500-$7,000 on the high end, as these are expensive hearing aids to purchase, in fact, the most costly in the Phonak lineup right now.

I think he is getting a good deal, provided it incudes all of the fitting charges, follow ups, etc.

Please let us know how he does with them.

I have recently moved to the Dallas area and I am looking for a place that deals with the Micropower hearing aids. Would it be improper for me to ask what audiologist you recommend in the Dallas area?

I currently have CIC hearing aids from like seven years ago and I am looking to get new ones that are not so out of date.

Give Phonak a call at 1800-777-7333 and ask for a Dallas Dispenser/Audi who does lots of units per month. The more they do, they should be more familiar with their products.

Also, ask for referrals from local users.

I live about 40 miles north of Tyler. My audi says that there may be no technology to help me beyond my current Siemens Infinity P+ BTE. I would like to audition the Micropower and may have to go to Dallas to do so. However, does anyone know if the various internet sites such as Genesis, Hearing Planet and Aidright would be good places to go through? They contract with local dispensors and I would assume they would point me in the direction to those that deal mostly with the brand I choose. Has anyone had good (or bad) results going through the internet dealers?

The prices are up there. While it true one may find an audi or dispenser that
can save one say 500 to 1500 dollars, one may be hard pressed to
find an audi or dispenser that has the time for mulitple fittings and trials (read
“a one hour adjustment” here). Case in point, my audi barely had time to
give me a hearing test…I couldn’t imagine her finding time for one hour of
adjustments. Nothing again her knowledge… Thankfully I have a dispenser
that does have time…this makes me hesitant to go shopping for the lowest
price.

That makes sense. I just got off the phone with the people at HearingPlanet and I asked them to set me up with an appointment with a local hearing center. The rep said this particular center has had 12 years fitting Phonak so that is a good thing. About the time factor you mention, yes, that is important. My audi takes all the time necessary but he does not deal with Phonak and is mostly a Siemens specialist.

From what HearingPlanet shows on their website, the hearing aid center is paid “substantially” less if I return the aids within the 45 day trial period. They point out that this gives the audi the incentive to make sure I have a good fit and that I am pleased with their results. According to the website, there must be zero customer complaints to be on their list. Also, they have to meet some specific guidelines to qualify as a HearingPlanet provider, or so says their website. There were slightly lower prices at one or two similar internet sources but HearingPlanet seemed to have a pretty good policy spelled out and the criteria for being a provider was quite strick.

So, I figure I have nothing much to loose and I have enough experience as a twenty year plus aid wearer to know if they are trying to do me a good job. I go in for my appointment on the 20th and I’ll report back the results.

Thanks for sharing this information.

We look forward to hearing your report once you get them.

I will certainly do that and I hope to report a pleasant experience - we shall see. I had to change my appointment to the 23rd but I’ll post back here soon after that.

As promised I will now report on my experience today. I went through HearingPlanet in order to find a qualified Phonak dispenser in my area. I live in the country and the towns are few and far between. HearingPlanet hooked me up with someone about 45 miles away who they said were well qualified with several brands, including Phonak.

I met with them today and brought with me my hearing history and recent audiogram (as of Jan. 9). The audi asked me if I was satisifed with the results of the recent test and I said I was. If that was the case, he would not conduct another test and would give me his recommedations based on my history and the new audiogram.

He agreed with my other audi (a Siemens specialist) that no hearing aid out there today would make a huge difference for me in most situations. However, he noted that my Siemens Infinity SP+ only had a couple channels and a device with more channels could help with some specific situations such as restaurant noise. Since I basically have lost everything beyond the 3000 range, he felt that a super power aid was not as important for me as a power aid that had a good noise reduction circuit and about 6 channels. He ruled out the Phonak Supero feeling that power for power’s sake is often a mistake. He mentioned that, dollar for dollar, something like the Maxx might be a good fit.

We spent two full hours going over the specs and advantages/disadvantages of several brands and models. I told him I was not looking for an entry level device like the Maxx but wanted to see what the very best could do for me. He said the MicroPower would fit that description and it too would be suitable for me BUT at a much greater price. He believed the V would be as good for me as the IX. I told him to go ahead and order it, we’ll give it a good go and see what happens.

I then called HearingPlanet and spoke with the service rep who was a very nice and professional fellow. He explained in detail all the requirements and options. I don’t know if this is Kosher or not but I think it is important for future buyers of this aid to know what is offered for the price (if Admin/moderator feels this is not appropriate, feel free to delete the next couple paragraphs). The bottom line price quoted me was $5179 complete. This included the office visit, molds and all the trips necessary to tweak the things once they arrive.

The $5179 also included a wrist watch remote (which I wanted but was an option that cost two or three hundred bucks or there abouts), 80 batteries and a year’s prepaid subscription ($150 value or so I was told) to LACE. I have no clue as to what LACE is other than it is a communication enhancement program that HearingPlanet has had a lot favorable feedback on. They also will send me at no charge an electronic Dry n’ Store. I forgot now if the rep mentioned the extended warranty which is given and which also includes loss insurance. I also forgot to ask the audi if he had the latest iPFG software to use once the aids arrived as I understand that is the best software available for Phonaks. I told him if I can hear my friends in a restaurant setting I’ll buy them. If I can watch a movie or TV and understand at least most of it, I’ll buy them. If it appears I will need FM, so be it, I’ll buy that too. Whatever it takes with (somewhat) realistic expectations. But if there is no improvement, back they go.

So, overall, it sounded like a good deal, especially since they give me 45 days of tweaking and testing to decide if I like them (which I believe is 15 days longer than my State requires). And quite frankly, cost is not really a factor for me. The MicroPower should arrive in a couple weeks and I’ll keep this thread updated as to my experience and impressions. I have my fingers crossed!!

That is great to hear!

Look forward to hearing how you do with them. Of course, no hearing aid can restore hearing perfectly. Yet, the Micro Powers are so configurable and adaptable…it is a much better choice than settling with a MAXX, which is a very basic and “classic” style hearing aid.

Price is very good for what you got, especially with the Watch Pilot (you really need to have a remote if you use the Micro Power, to take advantage of it’s features).

Make sure the Audi has the IPFG version 1.6 which was released recently, although the V will work fine with the 1.5a. version.

Did they take molds of the ears to make the custom CIC like housing for the receivers? I also hope that they measured you for the proper lenth receivers (there are 4 lengths), unless they have the full receiver kit with all lengths.

If not, it may be worth calling them to confirm, otherwise the fitting date may have to be rescheduled if they don’t have them.

Yes, I wanted to find out about the software he had but as I said, I simply forgot to ask. You know, I think it is important to bring notes with all the questions so nothing will be overlooked. I remembered most of what I wanted to talk about but notes would have been all inclusive. I will call HP and tell them to be sure to send the latest version to this audiologist if they have not already done so.

The molds were taken but they looked like any other, nothing special. He did have a black device for length that he inserted in my ears first. I’m not sure what it was for specifically and I do not know if this is part of the “kit” you are talking about - but I’ll find out.

Okay, the MicroPowers are in and I go in Thursday for my initial fitting. Is there any tips anyone can give me? What to look for, what to ask for, how to tell if I’m getting fitted with the proper software, the proper way? I know the proof is in the pudding but there may be some things I should ask about. Also, I understand this aid has liner and non-liner ability. What is the difference, advantage and disadvantage of each. I guess since there are both I’ll be trying both but I’m not sure I know what this is.

Since the software is relatively good, why not let the Audi do what he normally does and then take it from there. Just make sure that they are comfortable, that the thin wires are able to stay right against your face, even with movement, listen to your own voice and make sure it is tolerable.

Initially, try the regular compression which is WDRC which works very well for most users. DSC is only if WDRC does not work, which is rare and mostly for people who are musicians, etc. Yet once you switch to DSC, it will switch all programs to DSC (linear) type of compression.

Thanks Admin, that is a good tip about the WDRC and I’ll remember that.

The fitting yesterday went well. The MicroPower aids were shown and explained to me, key features demonstrated, cleaning method, remote operation, etc. The audi started with the default program on the 1.5 iPFG program he used. This was based on my audiogram from a couple months ago and I guess the settings were what Phonak recommends based on my chart. He used the WDRC linear setting.

The hearing aids were put in and I hardly could tell they were on. Very comfortable! But right away they sounded bass heavy and my voice and the audi’s voice sounded like we had our heads in a bucket. The left ear was not as bright as the right even though it is my slightly better ear. We did some minor tweaks and changed frequencies to give the sound more “treble”, so to speak. He changed the left ear so that it was more in balance with the right. The first channel is for normal, quiet situations, the second is noise, the third is telecoil and the fourth is auto which goes into channel one or two depending on sitiuations. I try to keep it in channel four most of the time and can’t tell much difference when it switches, if it switches at all. Since I was in a small room enviornment, it was difficult to tell how they would sound in the real world. He said lets try them with the tweaks we made and return in a week for further modifications.

After spending the rest of the day and night with them I still felt I had cotton in my ears. Things were just not bright and my understanding of speech no better than before. And I noticed that now the adjustment of the left ear made the right one sound soft and underpowered. I went to a restaurant with my friends and although the background noise was significantly reduced, I could not hear them talk, catching a word here and there, even those right next to me. This was particularly true of women voices. Unlike my current hearing aids, I did not feel discomfort at the restaurant noises but everything is muted, even that which I do not want muted.

I played golf in them as well and they reduced the wind noise. Also, the terrible “hum” and “whine” sound of the electric motor that usually drives me nuts was virtually eliminated. These must have very good noise reduction. In both major settings (I have not tried telecoil yet) I tend to hear rustling of paper, pops, clicks and similar “sharp” sounds loud and dominant over other sounds. People’s voices I know very well sounded different like they were voices of someone else. And sometimes, especially women, it sounded like their words were being “clipped”. For example, instead of hearing a word like “cosmopolitan”, they would sound like “cosmo…tan”. I can’t describe it really except to say the words were “clipped”.

I also noticed speech distance was adversly affected. I spoke to my Judi from my lawn while she was on the deck and I could not hear her. The radio in the car, never listenable because of road noise anyway could not be heard very well not because noise was overriding it so much as it just did not seem to have the volume, even though I set the aids all the way up.

At the end of the evening I decided to put my old Siemens back in and it seemed like a revelation - a whole new world dawned and everything seemed brighter, more natural and understandable. I will continue to use the MicroPowers this week so I can make more tests and notes to give the audi on my next visit to make them better. Right now, however, we have a long, long way to go.

Has anyone had similar, initial response from their aids? What adjustmets were made and what suggetions in adjustments do you have based on my initial impressions?

I read your comments with interest. I have been fitted with Phonak micropower BTE aids for three months now and have returned to my audiologist almost on a weekly basis to no avail to date.

To explain, the three “standards” of sound that I hear are either

  • normal,

  • a sound that is similar to that when you have water in your ear or when you lose altitude swiftly;or

  • a sound that is likened to talking into an empty vesel or similar to the quality of sound when you rub the diaphram of a stethescope.

The problem is that the aids switch from one sound quality to the other for no apparent reason and sometimes one aid will exhibit one quality of sound and the other aid another and then they will switch to “normal” and then start over again!

I also find that at times I am able to clearly understand a persons speech and then at another time I am unable to understand the same person in the same location. The volume is OK but the clarity is “all over the shop”.

This is my first venture into wearing aids and I see and have experienced the positives at times but for the most part the devises are performing in a most bizarre way.

My audiologist has borrowed my aids and has worn them for a few days and, thankfully, has experienced the same “switching” that I have.

The Phonak rep has spent one appointment with us but the problems persist.

I am thankful that I have an understanding and persistant Audiologist.

Do you have any thoughts and how did you over come your difficulties if at all?

Regards

Quentin

I have been fitted with Phonak micropower BTE aids for three months now and have returned to my audiologist almost on a weekly basis to no avail to date.

To explain, the three “standards” of sound that I hear are either

  • normal,

  • a sound that is similar to that when you have water in your ear or when you lose altitude swiftly;or

  • a sound that is likened to talking into an empty vesel or similar to the quality of sound when you rub the diaphram of a stethescope.

The problem is that the aids switch from one sound quality to the other for no apparent reason and sometimes one aid will exhibit one quality of sound and the other aid another and then they will switch to “normal” and then start over again!

I also find that at times I am able to clearly understand a persons speech and then at another time I am unable to understand the same person in the same location. The volume is OK but the clarity is “all over the shop”.

This is my first venture into wearing aids and I see and have experienced the positives at times but for the most part the devises are performing in a most bizarre way.

My audiologist has borrowed my aids and has worn them for a few days and, thankfully, has experienced the same “switching” that I have.

The Phonak rep has spent one appointment with us but the problems persist.

I am thankful that I have an understanding and persistant Audiologist.

Any thoughts or comments please?

Regards

Quentin

I can HIGHLY recommend Jones Audiology in Fort Worth 817-335-2583 and Robin Carson, Au.D. She is super…spends all the time you want to get explanations and a good fit/program. I have Phonak Sudeo IX’s $7,500, but I love them.