I guess I’m going to bullet list this to keep it organized.
The entire package with the small behind-the-ear design and the open plug earpiece is so comfortable that I forget I’m wearing it. So much better than my previous in-the-ear hearing aids. This is probably a “duh” observation to anyone who has compared both behind-the-ear and in-the-ear hearing aids.
Since this is a new product, I saw the audiologist struggling with the configuration software. She turned her monitor towards me so I could see how she configured the hearing aids…But she struggled a bit. She didn’t even have a spare USB cable ready for the Phonak myPilot remote control.
I questioned her about how many Excelia fittings she had done, and she nicely dodged the question. She said had attended a Phonak training seminar, but I think I was her first.
- After my audiologist connected my Excelia’s to a special base via small standardized connector plugs built into the aids…She entered in my hearing test profile graph into the hearing aid configuration software, a point-and-click process on a grid, to program the Excelia.
During the process, I noticed a “volume” window which was labeled “New User” to “Advanced.” My configuration was just above “New User.”
I have to wonder if they keep the volume low just to have users come back each week over the 30-day evaluation period…And jack up the volume each time to create the illusion of an improved configuration.
- When my audiologist first fitted my Excelias, she asked me how I heard her voice. Personally, I found little difference.
I did hear more upper-range details like the rustling of paper, the clicks of a keyboard, or the chirps of birds…But they’re tinny and artificial. I also hear them only in my right ear, which either may be a function of adjustment or that my left ear is just more damaged than my right.
I don’t think my language comprehension has improved too much. We shall see in the follow-up when they increase the volume.
The audiologist enabled three software options on the Excelia’s: “Automatic” which is some sort of adaptive program, “Speech in Noise” and “Comfort in Noise.”
There are many more software options…
Part of the marketing I presume is, again, enabling more options with each evaluation visit to encourage consumers to keep the hearing aids.
The remote-control is nicely convenient…But not worth the $6-8k for the option.
The Excelia’s do not have Bluetooth built-in. The Bluetooth functionality is in the wearable iCom fob (which is back ordered and I don’t have an evaluation unit until next week.)
The iCom negotiates Bluetooth communications (and also FM signals via an add-on component) and transmits the information through the wire loop “necklace” which is picked up via induction through the Excelia’s built-in t-coils/Tele-coils. (edit: According to Hearnow: “I also don’t believe the t-coil is employed for wireless functionality as the chip responsible for the body area network (One of 3 dual core chips in the CORE platform) has it’s own digital induction antena vs the analogue coil used for t-coil.”)
- The Excelia’s do communicate with each other via their built-in t-coils…So if you push the program button on one hearing aid (and not use the remote control) it communicates the change on the other. A nice detail I was missing on my Widex in-the-ears where I had to poke each hearing aid button to coordinate the settings. It’s a subtle change than can be disguised by one swipe to one ear for those who are vain about changing their hearing aid modes.
Personally, I think it’s a nice change instead of having to poke the in-the-ear buttons on both sides of my head.
1st week evaluation: Unless I get better spoken word comprehension on week 2 and/or some decent cell phone integration with the iCom…The cost/benefit curve is too small and I return the suckers.
However…There’s still the 2-3-4 weeks left in my evaluation period where my audiologist also fiddles with the earpieces (open vs. closed), behind-the-ear tubes (mini vs. large) and device volume.
I will update after the next appointment!