Thoughts on the Bernafon Zerena 9 at Costco?


#1

The Bernafon Zerena 9 is supposedly the model closest to the Oticon OPN-1 available at Costco. I demo’d the OPN1 and was very happy with it but it was far out of my budget.

I liked the Zerena 9 during my brief time with them, but I have seen little feedback on them. Does anyone have them?


#2

I don’t wear the Zerena 9, I wear the OPN 1. From what I can tell, they may have the same frequency lowering technology for better speech understanding, but the Zerena 9 doesn’t share the “open” paradigm and the associated OpenSound navigator sound processing that comes with the OPN.

If I have to guess, I would guess that the Zerena 9 is probably similar to the Sonic Enchant 100. You can search for the Enchant 100 review that I wrote on this forum and maybe infer things about the Zerena 9 from it.


#3

My wife has the Zerena’s from Costco and also trialed a different aid from her Audi. I don’t remember any more what that was but she is absolutely happy with here Zerena’s. For her they have been life changing.


#4

I’ve had the Zerena’s since February and like them very much. They replaced a pair of Brio IIs that I purchased because I got tired of waiting for Bernafon to come out with new aids. I loved the Brio’s sound but wanted to listen to books on my iPad and iPhone without something clipped on me that I constantly misplaced. The Zerenas fit the bill. I like the sound, they connect with my devices and since I got the ones with the telecoil, I can understand the dialogue of,our resident theater performances.
The only negative is that they come in boring colors unlike my earlier Bernafons which were available in apple green, blue, red and my personal favorite red with fire breathing


#5

I’ve had mine for about a month. Had Phonak Audeo q90’s, with the ComPilot previously.

The good:
“Live Music” setting is far superior for hearing what is going on when I play acoustic guitar. The Audi was never able to fix the terrible sound I was getting in that situation with the Phonaks.
The “Music at home/tv” does work well for just that - much better clarity while watching TV without a remote mic.
Better “in noise” performance - noisy restaurants, etc. Just last night I was pleased to hear my wife clearly at dinner, while she was the one asking “What?” all the time, for once.

The not-so-good:
I hear a slight background “hiss” in all settings (except Auditorium - see below) if there is even faint ambient noise, louder as the volume is increased. Techs at Costco are stumped. My theory is mic gain is too high, while the amplifier to the speakers is too low, but that doesn’t seem to compute with what the 2 different techs seem to understand about how to configure the HA’s. Maybe I am just hearing even more than I did before with the Phonaks.
Streaming volume and reproduction is terrible, except in the “Auditorium (Telecoil)” setting, where it is acceptable. Not as good as the Phonaks, but I accept that no HA can be the equivalent of good headphones. The Auditorium setting turns off the mics, so poor for hearing the outside world, and can produce an electronic humm in some situations. I’ve been told it is not really for use except with a telecoil. Unknown whether there is a program like it that is optimized for streaming.


#6

I have experienced this hiss on the low frequencies when I set my OPN and the Sonic Enchant 100 that I reviewed when I set them in directional mode (to focus on the front sounds). My audi has no idea why either. But I read up on it and apparently this is a well known drawback of using strong directional settings for hearing aids. It’s been covered in published papers on hearing aids.

You don’t show what your audiogram is, but I’m guessing that you have good enough hearing in the low frequencies to be able to hear this hiss.


#7

I assume that you wear open domes due to adequate hearing in the low frequencies (just a guess). This will cause the low frequency sounds from streaming to leak out of the open domes, making the audio sounds tinny. One way to improve it is to wear a more enclosed dome with much smaller vent(s).


#8

I have fitted a lot of the RICs (still waiting to fit the ITE’s). No complaints about the aids. Only issue reported is having the app connected to the aids can cause higher battery drain on the phone. This has meant the remote has been popular. The TV Streamer also works well.
Fantastic service from the manufacturer (in England)
Agree with the colour thing although only one patient has wanted anything not in the current colour palette.


#9

Just purchased a pair of ‘Capto’ aids (evidently what Zerenas are marketed
as in Canada), and while I’m generally quite pleased with the clarity of speech
processing, I find when streaming audio, generally podcasts, there is frequent
intermittent noise associated with the recorded speech, and sometimes quick
partial echos going from one ear to the other. I use an iphone SE for streaming,
and I’ve tried the various adjustments available (mono audio, ‘hearing aid
compatiblity’), and while turning on the second does improve the tinny sound
a bit, neither get rid of the constant low popping sound (it sounds a bit as though
everything is coming through a mic which someone is constantly handling in synch
with the speech). Is this noise an artifact of bad processing (e…g. compression to
get the info to fit into the 2.4khz signal sent to the aid), or are these hearing aids not
adjusted properly, perhaps out of synch somehow, hence the echos? Or have I just
been sold a pair of hearing aids which are defective somehow?
I’m not sure what it’s like in the states, but here in Canada it can take a month or more
to talk to someone at Costco, so while I’m waiting for my next appointment I’d appreciate
any insight from anyone who’s had a similar experience.


#10

I suspect that the streaming functionality of the Zerena is similar to that of the OPN since they’re from sister companies. The OPN used to have lots of streaming issues before, but after a few firmware updates on the OPN side, and with iOS 12.x on the Apple side, the streaming quality has become quite stable by now.

I would suggest making sure that you’re on the latest iOS 12.x and the latest Zerena firmware if not already. For the Zerena firmware, however, your going to have to rely on Costco to do the update for you, unless you are a DIY’er and have the hardware and software to do the update yourself.


#11

Thanks for the advice, Volusiano. I will have to wait for my costco appt to find out whether
I have the latest firmware; while I can see what firmware the aids are using on the app, Bernafon
hasn’t seen fit to make the identity of the most up-to-date firmware available, or if it has,
I can’t find it.


#12

Yesterday at Costco I trial fitted the Bernafon Zerena aids. We gave up trying to get them to not feedback, even after running through their test a couple of times.

So far, I am staying with my Kirkland Signature 8 aids.