Upgrading Bernafon Symbio XT100s

My current HAs are 3.5 yrs old which I purchased at Costco. I really like the channel free and automatic functionality of these HAs. I noticed I was not hearing as well for quiet sometime so had my hearing retested at the hearing center associated with the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. This was the 3rd time I have have had them perform the testing and have been very satisfied. Based on my test they recommended the Phonak Exelia (the iCom has caught my attention). I have searched this forum for posts regarding bluetooth HAs and thought it would be wise to post the results of my search for new HAs.

This week I went to Costco and free of change they replaced the tubing and open bulbs on the Symbios. I had them reprogram them according to my new tests and I must say that has really made an improvement from what I was hearing before.

While there they programmed a set of the new Kirkland Signature HAs. They are what I would call a hybrid Siemen’s Pure 700/500. The form factor is exactly the same and for a $1000 HA the features were pretty impressive. The show stopper for me is that it is not a totally automatic HA, ie you have to change programs based on the environment you are in. Also it does not work with the TEK. The great thing I have found about Costco is that they will reprogram the aids as long as you own them for no change as well as replace the tubing. I did walk around for about 20 min and other than noticing a slight difference in my own voice was pretty impressed. I have to admit I had no idea what listening program I was in so for all I knew it could have been voice in quiet which Costco at noon is anything but.

For those that might be interested here is the features of this aid:

Analyzes the listening environment and automatically adapts noise mgt, mic directionality and feedback control, automatic multichannel adaptive directional mic, sound location,automatic feedback cancellation, wireless binaural communication with one button program selection, soundsmoothing for rustling paper, etc, wind reduction, data logging and aquaprotection with nano coating and mic gore protection. So for a $1000 buck not a bad deal.

I have an appointment next week with another hearing center to see what they recommend. Also I may stop in at another center that is having an open house tomorrow.

So far in the running is Exelia (plus iCom) $5375, Bernafon ICOS $3200 and for comparison the Kirklands for $2000.

Here is my test:

Current Test Results:

250 L15,R20- 500 L20,R25- 1000 L25,R30- 1500 L35,R45- 2000
L55,R65- 3000 L65,R65- 4000 L60,R65- 6000 L50,R55- 8000 L45,R50

These results are generally no change or +5-10 db additional loss since
Aug '06. The exception is at 8k Hz where it is R +20 and L +15 db loss.

roger

As mentioned when I was tested earlier this month and the Phonak
Exelia M’s were recommended. I have found good and bad posted on these aids, especially on this site. The comments on the iCom generally seem positive.
I was quoted $5k for a pair and $375 for the iCom (myPilot is another $500). The issue is that the center does not do trials. Also it seems that after the 2
yrs they charge for further adjustments, etc. So you have to buy them
and restocking fee is $300 if you do not like them.

Last Friday I went to a local Dispenser that was holding an open house.
I have an appt with her next week. But what I got was that she is a
HOH person that wears Oticon Epoq’s with the Streamer. During the
conversation I was having with her across a small room I noticed she
was having trouble hearing me, a voice in noise situation. That seems
to be the big complaint I am seeing on this and other boards about that
HA.

So today I had an appt with another local hearing center and they also
recommended the Epoqs or a step down to the Vigo Pro ($4560). Their
pricing was $5470 for a pair and he would throw in the Streamer ($250)
for no cost. They do adjustments for life of the HA. The nice thing is
that they will let me test drive a pair for a week.

I guess the other thing I looked into was the old Genesis website, now
called something else. I called them and mentioned the Exelia’s were
recommended to me. They recommended the Unitron Yuu’s for $3400 a
pair and the Artone bluetooth neckloop for $195. I have not found many
good things about these HAs.

Bottom line is that it looks like it is coming down to the Exelia M’s and
Epoq XW’s. At the moment I am thinking of the week trial of the Epoq
and then, unless I am totally satisfied with them buy the Exelia’s and if I
don’t like them eat the $300.

I have been reading all the posts I can find regarding these HAs.

roger

This past Tues I had my appt with the local hearing center that had the open house. I was impressed with her and the level of care she puts forth. With the other local hearing center I got pretty much what I asked for, i.e. his fitting/trial policy and pricing. Both have recommended the Oticon XW RITE. She did ask me if I had my current HAs adjusted based on my latest audiogram. I told her yes so she conducted a Live Speech Mapping. This was the first time I experienced this type of test. My hearing really starts to drop at 1.5k Hz, bottoms out at 2k-4k Hz at 65dB and then starts to improve. What we found out is the the Symbio XT100s currently are not hitting my target gain from 1.5k - 4k Hz at 58 and 70 dB input. At 90dB they are fine. But that is really loud input. So I told her I would get back to her for a trial of the Epoq XW and Streamer.

Based on this test I call the hearing tech at Costco that I am now working with (I wish my old one was still there) and spoke to her about the Live Speech Mapping results. Basically she said that because we upped the gain that I should give myself more time to become adjusted to this new level. She asked if it was better and I stated that yes I am hearing better but it is still now the level of understanding in difficult situations that I want. So she said give it more time and then we will do further adjustments. I mentioned to her that I think that even though the HAs were adjusted for my current HL they are still set in the “Intermediate” user level. From all the literature that I had read from Bernafon they always stated that to get the full benefit of their HAs they should be progressed to the “Experienced” level. All the techs kept telling me that that was not necessary. More than ever I think they are and wrong! She tried to tell me the same thing. Because I will probably keep my Bernafon’s as a backup to any new HAs I get I will got back to her and insist that they make that adjustment.

The other thing I did this week was write a letter to the people who handle patient comments and complaints at the large medical center that operates 3 hearing centers here in the Seattle area where I got my most recent audiogram. I complained about their business practices in dealing with the HOH community. They do not do trials and there is a $150 restocking fee if you do not like the HAs after 30 days. I referenced the policy of a hearing center in TX that I came upon based on my recent post of “Informative Article”. This center in Tx works anywhere from 1-8 weeks, trialing competing technologies until the user is completely satisfied. There is no expense to the user for molds/batteries etc. When I first asked about trials they stated that they order new HAs for a user as required so they do not have any available. I find it hard to believe they can’t talk a vendor into giving them HAs for trial or at a very reduced cost to the center. I told them that I may come back to them but it would be as a last resort after researching other options. I also stated I had no issues with the audi and felt very confident that she would do a very good job of working with me.

Because I want to find somebody that is a Phonak rep so that I can trial the Exelia’s I have another appt this coming Wed at another hearing center.

My concerns and likes with the Epoq XW is that they do not have lots of gain available and I think with my 65 dB HL would be near the bottom of the curve on their fitting range. Although they say they are for mild to moderately severe HL. From reading posts and observations I wonder how they do with voice in noise. I am not completely sold on RITE HAs as far as how well they hold up and the amount of care they require. They have 4 programs but are not completely automatic as my Symbio’s are. The 312 battery makes for a HA that is smaller than my current Symbio’s which have a size 13. The Streamer is not really stereo bluetooth. I currently have a stereo bluetooth receiver that I can insert in my ears while still wearing my open fit HAs. I have a 2 gig memory card full of music on my cell phone that I listen to often.

The Exelia M is fully automatic and a newer technology than the Epoq. Whatever programs that it has in memory it shifts and blends based on the environment that you are in. Offer more gain and greater fitting range. The iCom does stereo bluetooth. They do have a mini but the specs are not quiet as good. Size 13 battery in both but they draw lots of power with accessories.

All for now.

I am bummed! Had a visit with another Audi that I got off of the Phonak
website. She does dispense Phonak, Starkey, Unitron, Siemens. She
does not do test drives. She quoted me $6k for a pair of Exelia’s…so
much for that. I will try a few more and ask up front if they do Phonak
test drives.

On Tuesday I was suppose to do a week trial with a set of Epoq XWs with streamer. After some more consideration I decided to forgo that and just commit to the Exelia’s. What played into my decision is that the Exelia is newer technology, the pricing was several hundred cheaper comparing the Exelia/iCom and Epoq/streamer, the SoundFlow automatic feature is very similiar to my current Bernafon HAs I wear. I have never had to go through the process of switching programs. The iCom bluetooth is stereo. And the hearing center I am purchasing them through also dispenses Oticon and the Audi felt the Phonak would best meet my needs. So on Wednesday I had an appointment to discuss the merits of the M and the Micro Exelia. She felt that the difference in the positioning of the mics on the M would increase my satisfaction (wider apart). The M has a slightly greater fitting range (my HL in 2 years increased in some frequencies by 10db). The volume control is there is I want it (never had VC on my current HAs). The M is slightly longer than my current HAs (both use size 13 battery). Also I will be using the open fix dome which is what I also currently have. The features of the iCom played a big part in my decision and I told her that. She was very insistent that up front she did not want me to purchase the iCom. She wants to iron out any fitting issues first and then add it. She also offered an iCom I can trial to see how I like it before purchasing. I pick them up this coming Tuesday.

roger