Thinking aobut the Bernafon SoundGate

I got Bernafon Verite HAs from Costco in Dec 2010 and have generally been pretty happy with them. They do have a tendency toward feedback that repeated visits haven’t fixed and I found the various “programs” didn’t make much difference so had mine set up so that the programs are basically three different volume levels (I’m not using the fourth setting).

I really miss listening to music or podcasts at work. I’ll occasionally take the HAs out and put in the headphones but it’s a pain, especially when someone walks up or the phone rings and I’m scrambling to switch between headphones and HAs.

I’m curious as to how well the SoundGate works and some details about it. I have no desire to wear the thing around my neck. I’m enough of a dork already so no desire to start wearing a HA necklace around the office. :slight_smile: Unfortunately what little info I’ve found makes it look like the microphone is on the SoundGate so using it with a phone won’t go well without the neck loop. If I set it on my desk so I can listen to music on the iPad or laptop is that going to work?

Thanks

I have the Resound Future with the phone clip. I could clip it to my shirt or pocket but it is pretty finicky so if I have it clipped to a pocket on the left side the right side HA will drop out of the call.

So, I wear it on the supplied lanyard, under my shirt (between my t-shirt and dress shirt). It works fine like that. The shirt material doesn’t really affect the operation of the microphone. The phone clip has a really hot mic that picks up everything in the background anyway.

It feels a little safer under my shirt because it doesn’t hang down if I bend over. With the clip, you just squeeze the side of it to answer or hang up. For the soundgate you would have to make sure you had the buttons memorized.

Thanks, Don. Under the shirt hadn’t even occurred to me though it seem pretty obvious. I’m thinking I’ll give it a try.

Does it have any major impact on the battery life?

I’ve got the Phonak iCom. I wear it under my shirt and that works great. The range from device to HA’s, by design, is generally very short, so you’ll likely need to have it around your neck.

These devices do affect the life of your HA batteries, though not overtly so. With moderate use, you may lose approximately a day of battery life. But batteries aren’t that expensive, so not a big deal.

I’d go for it…makes life so much easier…and much less risk of something bad happening to your HA’s when you aren’t wearing them.

I would expect battery life to be affected, depending on number of calls and duration. I have about 10 calls a day for a couple of minutes each so I don’t really see a difference.

I don’t normally get the published battery life anyway, even not using the bluetooth feature. I get 4 to 4.5 days no matter what hearing aid and no matter what battery.

SOUNDGATE with VERITE HEARING AIDS: GRADE C- (up from F)
Where do I start? How about 10 months ago when I first bought the Soundgate control unit with Bluetooth adapter through Costco.

I was a 75 year old using HAs for the first time. As a classical musician, I have never been happy with the Verite HAs. After months of attempting to stop the squeal in the right ear, plus other problems, I was finally able to consider the Soundgate.

I was warned by the Costco audiologist (who had 6 years training) that “Bluetooth has its problems.” Well, I already knew this.
But, as a former computer tech, I thought that we could work through the problems and reach a basic level of functioning which would be useful.
I didn’t expect it to be perfect. Bluetooth tends to drop out every so often for 2 seconds. Why? I don’t know. All of my BT stuff does that. However, I really expected better support than I got from Soundgate.

HANDS FREE PHONE USE: With my Blackberry Tour mobile phone or my Samsung Fascinate, Soundgate had the same 2 problems:

  1. Only worked in the ear HA toward which my head faced; if I looked left, the right HA went dead, if I looked to the right, the left HA went dead.

  2. Every time the phone connected, it switched to full amplification, no matter at what level it was previously set.

These 2 problems together made Soundgate unusable for cellphone use. The combination of terribly loud crashing background sounds over the top of the phone conversation, with either ear dropping out, made me not even wear the thing. It took me some time to pursue the issue, because the feedback problems which I had with the Verite HA lasted for months before a simple fix was found.

Finally, I returned the Soundgate and my Verite HAs to Costco, who sent them to Bernafon for analysis and repair. I then received an email from Joan at Bernafon, who gave me more help in a few days than I had received in months.

Problem 1) While previous reports from my audiologist said that Bernafon had not heard of this problem of dropouts when turning the head, Joan replaced the neck antenna cord with a shorter one. This immediately fixed the dropout problem. It doesn’t happen anymore. (It should not have happened at all. I see that others have had this problem, despite Bernafon/Costco “never hearing about it”.

Problem 2) Joan gave me this quick workaround:
“If you hold the Volume button (down arrow) for about two seconds it turns the mics off. So then you will only be hearing the caller.” This works, but requires accessing the Soundgate controller and requires taking your attention from the road or whatever, This is just bad programming. There is never a reason to blast up the sound from the mikes, because you have received a phone call! This is just the opposite of what should happen.

CUSTOMER SUPPORT FROM COSTCO/BERNAFON = GRADE D
I had to do my own analysis and push for help. There is no real support function. Be advised that you have to push for assistance. I finally got help after returning everything to Bernafon, and then emailing back and forth with “Joan”, who solved the issues.

(I’ll leave a separate comment about using Verite/Soundgate/Samsung Galaxy Android phone together.)
Bob

Thanks, bobbowhale. I’m curious about how your feedback issue got fixed. Mine isn’t too bad and has an obvious cause like warning beeps and bells in the car but man is it annoying.

Awfki, my right ear canal was much larger and vertically elongated. Finally, using a 12mm double cup plug worked. It got rid of the ongoing feedback problem, although I must really push it in hard. Also, I now have my usual springtime allergy problems, in which my right eardrum develops a hole, and the middle ear drains out. When it is like that, the HA just won’t work. Also, both ears are producing a lot of wax lately, which causes feedback. The Verite HAs have such a tiny speaker hole that it is extremely difficult to see wax in it, even with a magnifying glass. Yesterday, I used a sharp plastic tip to carefully move around in both the tip and the HA tube. Guess what? Although I couldn’t see any wax at all previously, I did get wax out of both places. After that, the Verite worked much better. P.S. I am still having strange issues with the Soundgate. Every time I walk through our hall, next to the heater/ air conditioner with its sheet metal, my HAs switch programs, ending with beeping up to 4 times. This happens if I have a phone, if music is playing via Soundgate, or if I have no phone, and nothing is happening. In that particular area of the house, my cellphone also drops out, so Soundgate might be trying to keep contact with my phone in the other room (although it is only paired and not connected).
As a general rule, my Verites have always resonated with certain tones, so that playing the piano is a real horror. Various tones continue to resound, long after I am in another key. Also, the volume changes are extremely dramatic. If I hit a key slightly harder, it comes out of the Verite so loudly, that it often shocks me. So, I usually take off the HAs when I play.
Best of luck to you.

I had some sounds I would describe as persistent, that the sound of sh or ch would persist through the entire word. The audiologist adjusted it out in about 5 minutes, but I’m not sure what she did. It was a manual adjustments to some levels and not clicking something on or off so maybe it was compression and she lowered it for some frequencies.