Starkey Wii SurfLink Quality

I’m trying to set expectations about what quality sound I can expect from the SurfLink streamer.

I’m testing a pair of Starkey Wii and so far the aids themselves seem to be wonderful and mostly meet expectations and the hype. I’d go so far as to say they are wonderful.

The same is not true of the SurfLink. I have the aids set up so Program 3 enables streaming from the SurfLink. This way, in theory, I don’t need the remote at all as I control volume with the left ear button and the program with the right ear button.

I had hoped that the sound from the streamer would be as good or nearly as good as a set of ear buds plugged into the TV output. In fact, the sound is thin, twangy, tinny with no noticeable low frequencies.
This may be just a matter of tuning my program 3 to provide the right
equalization but my first attempt to do this with my audiologist did not improve the situation

I’m trying to determine what I should expect from the SurfLink. Does the device and the aids have the ability to deliver HiFi sound and should I
continue to try to tweak the settings or is it hopeless.

Comments appreciated.


I’ve personally listened to this device a lot through hearing aids and through a demo set up Starkey did for me at their corporate office. I always thought the sound was amazing.

I recently listened to it again through hearing aids (I have no loss though) and was impressed.

Now I have noticed a few negatives on this board about it, and it does make me wonder about individual experiences with the set up.

If I were there personally trouble shooting this, I would probably set the output range of the Surflink to 50-75% initially, and I would create a dedicated streaming program in program 3. Then I would customize that to create a rich sound, and I would have the patient switch to that program every time they wanted to use the streamer.

My theory, and I could be wildly off on this, is that simply allowing streaming on any of the programs to simply randomly begin is not the best way of hearing the sound and appreciating it. So a special program customized to make the Surflink sound good, would be my solution.

I’ve also found that even if you are wearing open fit, the aids can be set to ‘closed fit’ in the software, and this will yield a lot more bass control, thus allowing a dedicated Surflink program to be less tinny.

Finally, the remote is free with the Surflink so I’d just keep it because it is useful in terms of watching TV, but I wouldn’t take it with me if I’m going out.

Just some thoughts.

On any open fit you’re going to struggle to get a lot of response below 1Khz, aren’t you.

There’s a few other parts to it: if the TV is on and the sound is turned down, the overall impression might be tinny. If the TV is on and the sound is turned up, if the signal is out of phase with the reproduction in the canal: you’ve got active damping occurring at resonant frequencies, therefore the sound will be lowered and possibly distorted.

Furthermore; if the sound is coming from a telephone signal, the lack of bandwidth becomes even more of an issue, especially if the low frequency portion is being ‘wasted’.

So: they might sound ‘Amazing’ to you or I, but the variability in user need could be their undoing.

All good points, but you know Starkey has close to 500 scientists on payroll, I’d imagine that they would have given some of these issues some thought.

New products like these are field tested with hundreds of patients with different losses, and are not released to the public without considerable investment, testing, and patient satisfaction.

So this is why I would argue that it is more likely an adjustment issue than a technology issue. I’d suggest the setting options I mentioned, or failing that, the hearing professional should get one of the developing scientists on the line for his or her input.

I’ve always found Starkey customer service to be outstanding, and these days their scientists can remote in to the hearing professionals computer and adjust the aids themselves if necessary. So it should be possible to calibrate the device in the office, with the help of a product specialist if the hearing professional cannot get it right themselves.


How many Starkey Scientists does it take to screw in a light-bulb?


One to stand on the ladder and hold it in place, 499 to pick the factory up and spin it around.

It’s Engineers btw: scientists make discoveries, Engineers make things work at a practical level.


Ha. Nice.

I agree that this could most probably be fixed in programming. I’ve had great feedback from patients about the Surflink.

What I have found is that patients may have to play with the initial range, but once they find the sweetspot, they are very happy.

Also, with any open fit, it is going to be difficult to get a good bass boost (assuming the patient needs it), but as ZCT said, your audi can trick the aids into a more rich sound.


I actually stopped using the open fit option in the software now. If you use occluded fit in Inspire, it gives you far more control over the adjustment pots allowing you to sculpt the program just right for occlusion management and sound quality. I’ve found this even works with lows <10dB. I’ve yet to see a down side to this technique, or really any upside to telling the aids I’m open.

I trialed 2 models of the WI hearing aids (Audibel Range & Silvertone W16) and the Surflink Media. I returned the Ranges and the Surflink not because of the aids, but because I realized the audi was never going to get either programmed correctly.

I’m having much better luck w/the W16’s and the hearing specialist, but had the same issues w/the Surflink that I had with the one that accompanied the Ranges.

The tinny sound drove me crazy, took all the enjoyment out of listening to my favorite shows. There were other issues, the volume decreased on left Range aid and no one, including the Starkey rep, could figure out why. The second Surflink I tried cut out completely. I returned it and went back to using my Sennheiser TV listening system and I’m once again able to relax and enjoy TV.

My hearing loss is primarily in the low frequencies. It’s far more important for my aids to function well and we’re still working on that. I don’t need the added aggravation of trying to tweak the Surflink as well.

There are better options out there. The Surflink just wasn’t working for me.

Following is my audiogram results:

Right: 55/ 40/ 55/ 45/ 25/ 75
Left: 60/ 50/ 50/ 55/ 40/ 85

SRT: Right: 40dB Left: 40dB

Unaided Discrimination:
Right: 80% Level: 70dB
Left: 88% Level: 70dB

Moderate rising to mild at 4 kHz then dropping to severe sensorineural hearing loss for the right ear.
Left shows moderately-severe rising to mild at 4 kHz then sloping to severe sensorineural hearing loss.

Many thanks for the responses. I am encouraged.

Just to complete the story, my hearing loss is mostly in the higher regions maybe 3K and above - not in the low range. Therefore, I do not need the aids to boost the low frequencies when I’m using the aids for normal hearing.

With the SurfLink , however, the only source of sound (especially if the SurfLink is connected to a computer) is coming from the aids and to have anything near full fidelity, they have to deliver the lower frequencies.

I will try the suggestions made here as soon as I can and report back.

I, too, am trying new Starkey Wi aids with Surflink. The initial setup of the aids resulted in a lot of “chirping”, which was resolved by setting the aids up manually without measurement. Since then, the performance of the aids has been pretty good. The same cannot be said of the surflink transmitter or controller.
Transmissions from the controller are only recognised and acted on by the aids between 60% and 90% of the time, with the success rate depending on which hand holds the controller. Apart from the non-responsiveness, this also results in the aids getting out of step with each other. This situation is unchanged by changing to either a different controller or a different set of Wi aids.
This dismal performance is matched by the Surflink stream which drops out regularly. The sound quality is fair, but the listening experience is abysmal, with a lot of time being spent getting one aid or the other back on line. This occurs whether or not our Wifi router or other nearby equipment is on or off, so i’m pretty sure it’s not interference that’s the problem.
I really don’t know where to go next with this, other than ditch the system completely and go back to using the induction loop, which has always been reliable.
Has anyone out there had this problem and found a successful solution?

In fairness to Starkey, this is their first go at getting a bespoke in-house ‘Body Area Network’ device to function properly in the field, after being dissatisfied with the earlier versions that they were involved in developing.

The benefit IMHO of the other manufacturers taking the product to market sooner, was that they had lots of constructive feedback (look at the stuff about the Oticon Streamer battery/mic level on here) which has enabled them to apply changes to the software and hardware both on the devices themselves and the hearing aids.

So, to answer your question: firmware upgrades my improve the performance of what you have, though it’s still a ‘first time to market’ device, so you might have to put up with a few ‘glitches’ at least initially. This is why we call product like this (b)leading-edge.

This feature should be bulletproof before it is released. Starkey is supposed to have 500 scientists on the payroll right ? This is not the first time a manufacturer released a technology that was not “right” but what the heck…send it out into the field , charge big $$$ and let the H.A. dispensers deal with the grief. Meanwhile we’ll get to work on improving things.

My .02

I think you might be jumping the gun a little here. Just because a tiny handful of people have not been too pleased with the SurfLink on this forum, doesn’t mean the product is a flop.

Starkey has sold thousands of these units with enormous success, and will be expanding the product line in time. Since their aids are flashable when ways can be found to improve the sound further, software updates will be possible to help people even more.

When Starkey tests its products prior to launch they have massive study groups and extensive testing. So to claim that this is a flop when it is not, and then berate the company for not pleasing 100% of the people 100% of the time seems a bit much.

I’ve personally been involved with patients who have had this device, and of about 30 or so I’ve seen go out, I believe one was returned because they were not happy.

Thanks for all the feedback. I have now purchased the Starkey Wii and so far I’m very pleased with the hearing aids.

As far as the SurfLink, I had several visits where we tried to make adjustments and a representative from Starkey attended the last one. My setup has the left ear button control volume and the right ear button choose the program so no remote is needed. As suggested earlier in this forum, streaming was only enabled for program 3 which we adjusted for use with the SurfLink. We set the fit to “closed fit” which allowed us to boost the bass. This made the sound from the SurfLink acceptable but I still would not call it “Amazing”. Further it defeated the purpose for having an expensive surround sound system in my home.

I would think that the surflink solution would be wonderful for someone with a profound hearing loss. My loss is not so profound so it was overkill for me. Given the expense, I opted to not purchase the SurfLink. This decision can be revisited at any time.

I have heard that this fall, Starkey with introduce a device that lets you stream your cell phone to the ear pieces and use the microphones on the ear pieces so there is no need to wear anything around your neck. I’ll check that out in the fall.

Again, thanks to all.

I have had my Nuear Look aids with the Surflink feature for a month now and have exactly the same symptoms as jimbrownsmart.
The fidelity is not even close to MP3 player earbuds even after a couple of adjustments by the audi. The reception is tinny and words have a lisp sound to the S type words It is tolerable for about a half hour at the most.
During the evening, one will cut out for some reason and on returning it will be on Mem 1 (Mem 4 is for streaming). On changing channels they will reverse each other and can only be corrected by Home and reset to Stream.
The normal operation is satisfactory, but I feel that something is amiss in the Surflink unit. The TX unit compares to the demo one when setup at the audi location.
I also can and have been using a SONY RF headset before the LOOK purchase and there is plenty of bass from them so the outputs from the TV are satisfactory.
I’m open to any suggestions or listen to other experiences if it will make these high priced units work. It would appear that I do not have a return option even within 30 days of purchase.

I’ve has some issues with Surflink as others have mentioned here. Biggest problem, for me, is the intermittent cut out. Also experienced only one side (usually right) turning on. Try off then on a few times then both L and R work. This seems to have gotten better after Wi f/w was updated recently.

Only a few feet from and in plain sight of the Surflink BTW.

When it does work, it’s OK. Not great but OK. It does allow the others watching TV to listen at their comfort level while I’m listening at mine.

Pleasing people 100% of the time is the ONLY acceptable level of performance.
Do you feel that flying does not rate a 100% level.
The Surflink option is not a life or death situation but in this day and age of six sigma process control, all units should be able to meet expectations or they should not be promoted as doing so.

I am getting the Audibel Range version of the Wi. Any update on this device and when it should come out? Will it work with my Ranges?


I was issued Starkey Wi aids yesterday by the VA hospital… this will be a learning experience to say the least. I have a temp Surflink remote, new will be in next week. I have noticed a much higher level of sound from these over my old tiny internal Starkey aids. The multiple programs helps and will be fun to learn. But after only 12 hours, these appear to be superior to the last ones. I will call today and ask if they will order the Media Streamer. That would be the ultimate toy for a deaf man, plus folks in my media center at home would like if the tv was not turned up so loud. I like the NASCAR races on loud. :slight_smile: