Starkey Extreme Power CIC / Zōn

I’ve been busy recently, and not had time to post.

I just thought I would post this interesting new development from my favorite hearing aid company. It’s a very high power CIC, designed for users who need power, but want small aids.

Starkey have now released their new operating system with Bluwave technology. I’m going to be installing my shiny new copy tomorrow; I’ll try and let you know what I discover.

It all looks exciting on paper. But we’ll have to see.

The Zōn aid also sounds pretty amazing. Claiming to be water proof and best in class for feedback cancellation, not to mention outstanding sound quality.

Oh yes, and the Zōn has a three year warranty as standard too.


I went to a training class a few weeks ago, and one of the reps took off his demo Zon aid and put it in a glass of water for an hour or so. When he took it out, he hooked it up to the computer and read out the aid so that we could all see that it was working fine. Pretty impressive!

This would be great for those of us who are outside alot in the summers, not having to take off our HA and jepordizing hearing those around us. What is the price ranges of the ZON (and I cannot figure out out to put the line above the O)?

I rather get the impression this is their new party trick!

Since I live in the wilds of East Tennessee, my training isn’t until June. But I get to play with the software today.

Hey ZCT where is your training in June? I also have my RIC/Zon/Curve/VOZ/LX training in June.

BTW…yes NuEar is calling it the ZOV…

Starkey Extreme Power CIC

Looks like a great solution for those who suffer severe to profound hearing loss who would like CICs!

Seems to me that Starkey are followers and not leaders and are only now catching up with the Siemens Nitro range.

I would think that they pulled a Nitro apart to see what makes it tick and then developed/applied their own solution.

Stiill, if this model was around a month ago I would have certainly considered them if the price was around $1625 (a pair unbundled, which is what I paid for my Nitros online with three year international warranty - confirmed), which I doubt.

Very, very impressive fiitting range with many additional features compared to the common standard for CICs!!

I am sure this product will do well if the price is right for those who prefer CICs and previously could only consider BTEs for their level of hearing loss!

What are these selling for?

I’m gonna guess (since the eXtreme is only in the 12/1600 models) it will cost the dealer that much…

Being first to market is not always a good thing.

Take the example of color TV. As soon as it came out America jumped on the bandwagon and ended up with NTSC. Europe and Japan waited a little and went with PAL, which is vastly superior in terms of picture quality and gives at least 25% more sharpness and clarity.

Thanks to the decision to leap into the first technology too quickly Americans have been suffering from a fuzzy poor picture quality for decades, whereas other countries enjoyed a sharper crisper image.

Starkey wanted to use their new class beating feedback suppression system so it could truly deliver the performance they wanted. They certainly didn’t want to steal some idea from Siemens.

Starkey did kind of lag behind when everyone else went digital and had a few missteps (anyone remember Cetera or however it was spelled?) but they are definitely back in the swing of things now. I used to fit a TON of their analog aids (those CE9s were great), then changed to other manufacturers for digitals, but I’ve had numerous successful Destiny fittings so Starkey’s back in my regular product mix again.

one can not ignore that they have improve their products,
but they need to still have a long way to catch up…

You always seem so down on Starkey, despite the fact that they are the largest American hearing aid company, and not a foreign import.

What exactly don’t they have in their product range that they need to ‘catch up?’ Because from where I am sitting their range now looks to be state of the art and cutting edge. In fact their new BluWave technology beat five major competitors for feedback cancellation and directionality, leading them to make the claim that the Zōn is best in class.

Like any brand there is probably some things that other manufacturers do that they don’t, and vice versa. But to claim they have a ‘long way to go’ is frankly misleading and ill informed.

what do the others prof. in this forum think?
Perhaps im being biased

I believe Admin, has also agree with me- in a post 4 or 5 months ago…

I would be interested to hear that.

I’ll lay my biases on the table right now. I really like Starkey, and am biased towards them.

I really dislike Miracle Ear. I am not all that impressed with Beltone, although it is one major brand I have never personally fitted. But I see a lot of patients with them, and they are unremarkable. Although they don’t suck as badly as Miracle Ear, which I place at the bottom of the pile. (The pile of hearing aid brands I have in my mind carefully arranged into a list of how good I think they are!)

I am a little indifferent about Siemens. They always seems what Randy Jackson of American Idol likes to say, “It’s just okay for me dog.” They are not bad, but when I used to fit them I was never blown away. Although when CICs first came out, they seemed to have one of the best fitting instruments.

I always liked Oticon, Widex and ReSound a lot, especially the latter. If Starkey told me tomorrow I had to stop recommending their aids, I’d look to one of these manufacturers. While I would do a lot of research before choosing which of the three, they are all good brands I like. I have fitted all three extensively in the past.

I didn’t start out biased towards Starkey. They earned that bias in my mind by consistently working with me as if they were trying to impress me. 14 years after I fit my first Starkey aid, they still seem to be trying to treat me right. The guy who was my main customer service rep at the office in England back in 1994, still works there. He’s been there over 30 years. That says a lot about the company.

In the past few years, my cancellation rate has been well below 5%. I consider that in no small part due to quality products produced by Starkey, and their willingness to work hard to retain my patients for me if they have made a mistake.

So what’s your point? That 8 months ago Admin agreed with your anti-Starkey bias? Last time I checked Admin does not speak for all hearing professionals. Also a lot has changed in 8 months technology wise.

As for what he said about Starkey marketing, I really would have to disagree. Quite honestly, when I started working for Audibel (owned by Starkey) in 2004, I was shocked at the useless marketing. Old faded pictures of celebrity users like the incredible hulk guy and that beauty queen from 1994. Horrible logos, mismatched advertising, a useless website that was as horrible as the Nu Ear web site is today. The brochures had barely changed since I started in the profession. Frankly, I was shocked that such a big company would have such pitiful advertising and marketing.

Thankfully, that has changed a lot in the last four years. Better web sites, nicer brochures and point of sale materials. It’s come a long way.

But to claim that a company that has grown from nothing to doing business in over 24 countries, did so just because of slick marketing is patently absurd. Because I can tell you right now, their marketing sucked. If their success had rested solely on the strength of their marketing, they would no longer be in business.

I’m not a HA professional but I’ve worn many different types of hearing aids over the years, beltones, unitrons, seimens, oticon, phonak, and starkey. Most recently (last 10 years) I’ve tried Starkey, Unitron, Siemens, and Phonak. It has been 10 years since I tried a Starkey product. The reason… they simply are not leaders in the HA industry. They seem to come out with products after Oticon and Phonak.

Go ahead and defend your product (as it is the one you sell), but knowledgeable people should and will consider different brands when trying to find the best hearing aid. I also believe it is the responsibility of the Audi/fitter to find the best aid from maybe 2-3 brands. Personally, I would run from a single brand dispenser because of the obvious bias.

Please understand, I would love to see Starkey (american made) take the lead in the HA industry. However, I like to stay on top of technology. No new Starkey products have really caught my eye and they have not given me a good reason to try another. If perception is the problem (if they really are that good), then they need to fire the marketing department.

I believe the issue is perception, and five years ago, I would certainly agree that the marketing department should have been fired. And for all I know, they were, because the marketing changed radically a few years back.

As for being first to the market with something, I believe I’ve already given an example of why this is not always the best idea. I mentioned PAL vs. NTSC. Americans rushed into the first format for color TV and for 40 some years have enjoyed a fuzzy crappy picture quality, while people in Japan and Europe get a much sharper picture with a superior format.

Starkey currently have some compelling evidence out there that their new Zōn is class leading for feedback suppression and directionality. A couple of key areas for hearing aids. And their open platform nFusion technology is among the best in the world.

As for my personal bias, I have already explained that I have fitted hundreds of aids from all (almost all) the major manufacturers over the years. I didn’t come to my conclusions because I was bribed, or coerced. I reached the conclusion completely independently when I worked for an independent company in England. Truth be told, I might even make more money if I picked another brand, so it certainly wasn’t a financial decision.

Regarding your perception that Starkey is not an industry leader, that is simply a misperception. In 1973 they were the first company to offer a 90 day trial period, and a one year comprehensive warranty. In 1982 they made the world’s first canal hearing aid. In 1983 they fitted Ronald Regan! In 1993 they made the first CIC. In 2006 they were first to meld nano and digital technology. Since 2000 the charity wing of the company has donated 255,000 hearing aids to the poor and needy around the world.

They now have 35 manufacturing facilities in 24 countries.

To me they are clearly a market leader. Their nFusion and now BluWave lines are just outstanding, and arguably among the best devices on the market. There are scientific papers published I can show you that compare these technologies to others and on a technical level they beat the competition in the areas of usable gain, feedback control, and directionality.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that marketing was the issue. I think the marketing has up until recently been pitiful, which is why people like you, and even people in the industry, are perhaps a little ignorant of just how great this company is.

I’ll tell you right now, as a person, I could not recommend something that I would not purchase myself. If I felt for a moment that Starkey were not up to snuff, and that I would rather recommend another brand to a friend or family member, then I would switch. While I believe in brand loyalty to some extent, I certainly don’t put that ahead of the trust a patient puts in me.

As a professional, I demand that Starkey continues to be great at what they do. If they start to get sloppy, or stop offering cutting edge technology, I drop them and move on.

But it is interesting to note that some of the fans of foreign brands have admitted on this board, that they don’t expect their aids to last much over five years. They have admitted that getting parts for foreign brands that are over a certain age is tough too. And I have always wondered how the ever weakening dollar is going to affect import prices. I’ve never had an issue with any of these things with Starkey.

Given my issues with perspiration the Zon peaked my interest. But I looked at the fitting range, and it seems to have a smaller fitting range than my older technology GN ReSound Pulse aids, particularly as an open fit aid.

With class leading feedback suppression I would have expected at least a similar fitting range, if not larger.

Am I misinterpreting something about the fitting range, ZCT?

i certainly agree with you, as a dispenser- I look for what is best for my clients, regarless of the nationality if it is American it will be a plus for me,
for I would not narrow my choices simply because this or that company is not american, I think there is a responsibility to provide what is best for our clients, I would say most entry level and mid price instruments are quite similar, but when you are ready to pay top dollars not all the instruments are identical…