Upgrade options - seeking opinions

I’m currently sporting a pair of Starkey Halo 2 i2400s. So far I never had any issues with them, but because they were my first foray into modern digital hearing aids, I’m thinking about getting an upgrade of sorts. Problem is, I don’t really know where I should be looking, so any tips for suitable models would be nice.

I am also concerned about the actual performance differences between older and later models of hearing aids. Sure, every release of a new hearing aid model is marketed as “revolutionary” and other buzzwords, but I’m really not that sure whether or not I will actually hear the difference betwen the new and older model. And let’s be honest, the manufacturers aren’t exactly consumer friendly.

Some requirements and limitations I have:

  • Made for iPhone. This is a dealbreaker.
  • I will be able to program the hearing aids myself. Also a dealbreaker.
  • A way to stream audio from my PC and other electronic devices. This is what I’m currently missing the most from my Halo 2’s.
  • I live in Europe, so not all brands are available, but the major ones should be.

So, what models should I be looking at? Will the upgrade even be worth it?

Sounds like the main thing you need is a TV connector that would allow streaming from TV, PC or anything else you can plug it into. I would think Starkey would offer one for your current aids, but I must admit I don’t see one after a quick search. With your loss, I’d be tempted to look into a Super Power BTE. Oticon Xceed and Resound Enzo Q or 3D are made for iPhone aids that should have a TV streamer. Assuming you can get the software, they are also self programmable. Those are the one’s available that meet your criteria. Phonak’s Naida M will work with iPhone, but is not “Made for iPhone.” There may very well be a Starkey model that meets your criteria–I’m not very familiar with Starkey. Widex and Signia may also offer suitable aids–for sure Made for iPhone. Will it be worth it? Only you can tell. If it were me with your loss, I’d also want an eval for a cochlear implant.

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After extensive search, I think the dedicated streaming media for my aids is Surflink Media 2, but I couldn’t verify if it will work with my model and I’m slightly concerned about the ergnonomics (basically how easy will it be to switch from iPhone to it and back), but I digress.

Thanks for the recommendations, I will research them. Though, I’ve also found about the upcoming Bluetooth LE Audio and it doesn’t seem like the current lineup of aids will be compatible with it, as it requires a dedicated chip on the aid, so it looks like I will just wait for that. Pre-COVID estimates were for first products with this technology to release in 2020, but because the spec isn’t even final yet, it could be years before a hearing aid supporting it gets released. Decisions, decisions…

I think you’re right about the Surflink Media 2. It says it’s compatible with any 900 sync hearing aids and according to what I can find about yours, they are. I can’t say for sure about Starkey, but most people report using a TV streamer is very simple and straight forward. They’re kind of pricy, but you could likely pick up one E-Bay for a better price. Could offer a lot of flexibility.

So I’ve got the Surflink Media 2 and unfortunately it does not work. I don’t see any settings to turn it on in the Starkey Inspire fitting app. Upon closer inspection, it seems like the Halo series is compatible only wit the “TruLink” series of accessories, not the “SurfLink” ones.

The only TruLink accessory is the TruLink Remote, which is only for remote control of the aids. So basically what the iPhone can do out of the box.

Anyways, this keeps me searching for new aids.

The price of hearing aids varies wildly based on the channel count. How important is it? Even when self-fitting, I’ve never felt the need to adjust individual channels – frankly, getting an audiogram using the fitting app, pressing the best fit button and then doing slight “easy-fit” adjustments did it for me.

So, what’s the real difference between, say, an 8 channel hearing aid and an 20 channel one? Is it just locked in software and the underlying HW is the same? Does this matter at all or is it just another tactic to gouge the customers?

Sorry SurfLink didn’t work. Everything I’ve read is that channels is largely marketing. 8 Channels should be plenty.

Personally I don’t believe you’re going to be well served by anything but a BTE and full earmolds. I’m not aware of any current superpower devices that are MFI. I don’t know why that’s such a significant consideration though. They won’t be rechargeable so monitoring battery life is pretty irrelevant. I’m having good luck with the Resound Enzo Q in my left ear these past couple of days. It streams just fine from my Android phone, and that’s far more challenging than streaming from iOS. I know some folks are using the Phonak Naida Marvels as well. Either of these you can get the software from folks here on the forum or on the manufacturer website, and then you just need a NoahLink Wireless, but you’ll need to get earmolds from someone, unless there’s a mail-order place that can do it for Europe.

@MDB - Don’t worry about the SurfLink thing, the marketing materials are almost deceptive in this regard. And yeah, it does seem like the channels are yet another marketing nonsense.

@phobos512 I already have BTE hearing aids with full earmolds, so I don’t mind that. I use the audio streaming feature literally every day, from YouTube videos to phone and video calls and it has been priceless. My current understanding is Android phones have only a limited version of streaming and it’s on an individual phone model basis, as it’s not integrated directly in Android. The advantage of Made for iPhone in my eyes is the integration into the OS and I know it will work even if I upgrade the OS/my phone model.

The Phonak Naida Marvels are a good tip, I will look into them - thanks!

The Android Bluetooth stack is arguably more sophisticated than that of iOS because it’s standards based where iOS is using multiples means to get around the standards to make it “easier” to use. I have nothing against iOS; I might have an iOS device again this fall if it’s compelling enough, and Android isn’t. These past couple of years are the first where I haven’t upgraded my phone on a yearly basis (since the Pixel 2; I’ve only had it and the Galaxy S10+).

Your perception of streaming on Android being only on a device by device basis is due to Google not requiring phone OEMs to provide updates on a regular basis for a set period of time like Apple is easily able to do since they’re vertically integrated. Hearing aid and audio streaming is very much built into Android with Android 10, which has been out for a yearish. It’s easier to work with iOS because you can guarantee that every device for the last 4ish years will pretty much support whatever you’re trying to do. That’s not currently possible with Android, and that’s unquestionably Google’s fault.

And since I’ve sufficiently diverged from the topic at hand I’ll just say good luck and be on my way…lol…

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This is a concern of mine. I’ve been leaning toward Phonak Marvels, but they are not MFI. Has anyone that is wearing Phonak and uses an IPhone had issues with integration with HAs and Phone? Thank you.

My wife wears the KS9 aids which are basically the Audeo M90 aids. She uses an iPhone and has had zero problems using it.
The Marvels aids work fine with both iPhones and Android phones.
No intermediate devices needed.

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@focusandearnit uses an iPhone with his Marvels and is quite pleased.

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Thank you and MDB for information.

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Channels, but more importantly handles you have available for adjustments IMO become valuable for those rare losses - extremely sloping, reverse sloping, cookie bite and other bizarre ones.

Flats and mild slopes are IMO built in in current HAs performance, so people with those (majority) probably won’t see benefit of 20 compared to 10 for example.

And also, it depends by the manufacturer where exactly they’ve put handles, they have a bunch for mids, then some have bunch for high and marketing then pushes that fact a lot, but I haven’t seen so far those who have bunch for lows. Yet :joy: that might be next ‘revolutionary improvement’ - we give you bass

My question is, How much bass can you push through those small drivers?
It’s not like IEM’s that have dynamic drivers or balanced armatures that can get down to 20hz.
Part of the problem with HA’s is they don’t go deep in the ear canal to form the seal needed to bring out the lows, but the best they can achieve is 100hz.

My earmold would like to have a word with you…

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All hearing aids receivers are balanced armature.

The reason why receivers cannot achieve lower frequency outputs is a physical limitation of the resonance of internal beam/reed that carries the drive coil.
That response is optimised for speech.

It’s possible to marry several drivers/receivers together in one device, but that requires more battery power, is more expensive, bigger and more likely to go wrong.

So you can do it in a set of music monitors, but there’s a raft of reasons why it’s not the best answer for hearing aids.

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That is the best explanation I’ve seen.
@um_bongo, thank you for that!