Time for new hearing aids, help me choose

My current hearing aids are Phonak Nadia S IX UP (BTE) and I am looking to buy new hearing aids. I am looking for the following.

  1. Must be water and dust Resistant.
  2. Prefer if the device has direct streaming
  3. Digital + Programmable

Cost is no issue.

water proof nowadays is rather moisture proof, no shower, bath or swimming.

Oticon OPN have the best hardware/chip hands down, and direct streaming.

they offer 100 and 105 db receiver, dunno if you really need that up the naidas had…

Resound/Rexton and Starkey have direct streaming to iPhone, as does Oticon. Siemens-Signa, Phonak and the KS7 don’t have direct streaming to iPhone. All except Oticon currently have streaming to Android using an accessory. The Resound/Rexton has a clip-on accessory. Siemens is a necklace device using the cord as an antenna.

All are resistant to moisture-dust. All are programmable.

It’s amazing what has happened the last couple of years with water resistance. It’s quite nice. Widex also now has a new offering that is supposedly IP68 rated and streams direct to iPhone without external devices.

When you say “streams to ifone w.o. hardware”, exactly how do you get the phone to communicate directly to the HA? Doesn’t this rapidly drain HA battery?
I am not a fan of the Apple eco system (phone or computers). Do use high end Android.

Resound, Starkey, Oticon and Widex all offer direct iPhone/iOS connection but most need an intermediary device for most android phones. Some offer direct to some high end Samsung phones if that is any use to you. The websites tell you the IP rating but most are IP 68 - water and dust resistant.

I’m trialing the OPNs myself. They’re fairly new, just released a few months ago, so they’re state of the art like Gery R said.

I think you can wear them in the rain or while exercising and perspire a lot. But you can’t shower in them or dunk them in the water.

You can stream direct to iPhones and Apple iPads, etc. But no streaming direct with Android (not in the future either without a streamer). Their streamer (called ConnectClip) for Android is not available until Q1’17. But if you’re looking for direct streaming just to watch TV, you can stream direct from their TV Adapter 3.0. But I guess in a way, the TV Adapter 3.0 is basically your streamer.

They can hold up to 4 programs.

I have the exact same aids and will also be in the process of getting new one’s. Have you decided on what brand yet?

I think Apple developed their own proprietary 2.4 GHz low energy protocol which are implemented in their phones and pads. The HA manufacturers got their HAs to work with this Apple low energy protocol to enable direct streaming from the phone to the HA without draining a lot of HA battery power.

The question I have is that I thought Bluetooth 4, aka Bluetooth Smart aka Bluetooth Low Energy is already on a lot of the Android phones. So why don’t the HA mfgs support this Bluetooth protocol for Android as well? Unless they decided to support the Apple proprietary protocol first for some reason…

Android phones use a lot of different versions of android operating systems. They all implement different systems/versions of Bluetooth also. Apple set out to standardize their approach to the problem and worked with hearing aid manufacturers. They do try to make their devices accessible to people with various disabilities.

A new international standard for Bluetooth communication with HAs has recently been agreed upon by a working group and this is discussed in another thread if you wish to search for it. Now that a standard has been agreed upon manufacturers can start to implement this in phones. It will obviously take quite a while until all new devices with Bluetooth incorporate the standards into their designs and all new hearing aids adopt the same system. In the long run it will benefit all but the chances of any HA being able to communicate directly with every Bluetooth enabled phone ever invented are negligible.

Thanks for this explanation, that makes a lot of sense!

I agree that direct streaming has value only if you listen to music a lot, not having to wear a streamer around your neck. But for phone conversation, its value is diminished if you have to hold the phone to use as a mic anyway. Holding the phone for mic is probably even clunkier than wearing a streamer that has a built-in mic. I spend more time on work conf calls (via Lync/Skype on my laptop) than personal calls, and direct streaming is not supported on the PC anyway. I don’t listen to music as much as I watch TV, and the Oticon TV Adapter 3.0 does provide direct streaming to my OPN when I watch TV, so that works out well for me when I truly can take advantage of direct streaming. Otherwise I’ll just wait for when Oticon comes out with the ConnectClip streamer with built-in mic in Q1’17 for my overall need.

Bottom line is that even if you don’t want a streamer for streaming, you may end up wanting one for the mic anyway. I’m not so sure how good of a voice quality you can get even if you can use the mic on your HA for phone conversation like with the Starkey. I think the right location for the mic is crucial to get optimal quality pick up of your voice. I think using the HA mic for your own voice would be a compromise. I would rather wear a streamer that has a built-in mic designed for best quality voice pick-up in the optimal location.

Regarding my OPN trial, you’re right that Oticon did an excellent job with their marketing. I was really hyped up before my OPN trial after having read their marketing materials. I felt a bit let down when I started my trial just because I set my expectation so high. But it doesn’t mean that the OPN is a bad HA. It’s actually an excellent HA. It delivers more clarity on the highs and also more lows as well compared to my previous Rexton Insite+ CIC. I think it’s this excellent low that leads many people to say that it sounds more natural. But the more favorable comparison to my Rexton is to be expected because my Rexton is 5 years old technology and probably not top of the line anything even back then.

I was thrown off about how the OPN handles noise reduction compared to my previous HAs. It seems like the OPN only reduces background noise in the presence of speech. If there’s no speech then it lets the background noise through. I think that’s because this approach is consistent with their new “open” paradigm. If there’s no competing noise sources, then it lets you hear everything, background noise included. But if speech comes in, then it will reduce background noise to let speech shine, regardless of where speech comes from. In this sense it’s impressive because apparently it has enough speed and power to analyze what’s speech and what’s noise simultaneously and let speech come through while suppressing the noise.

I think the old paradigm for noise reduction is more crude. You just turn on the directional mic to pick up sound in front and suppress everything else. Which is OK but then you don’t hear anything else around you. With the new OPN open paradigm you can hear everything around you and noise reduction/suppression is managed judiciously only as needed. Of course the drawback is that in simpler environment where there’s only background noise, then you have to hear it all. But then there’s always the volume button on the HA to manually suppress the background noise yourself.