Upgrading from Starkey Destiny 1200, looking at Costco Kirkland S6 and Rexton Trax 42

Hi all. New to the forum, but I’ve been lurking and trying to get a handle on things. My current aids are approx 6 yr old Starkey Destiny 1200 BTE (and actually only one now that my dog chewed one up), and they were my first, and only, HAs. They have hard acrylic molds, which are almost entirely open except for the small hollow tube from the HA. My hearing loss crept up on me over time, and is likely created, at least in large part, from exposure to the overhead sirens and target practice in my career as a police officer. I frequently have to crank the volume control way up on my Starkeys in order to hear speech in noisy situations.

Now that I’m retired, and having no HA insurance to boot, I’ve taken the advice of many on this forum and just last week had an exam at a Costco located an hour from my home. After my exam I spent about 1 1/2 hours walking around Costco alternating between the Kirkland S6, the Rexton Trax 42, and a pair of Phonacks (model unknown, but the same price as the Trax 42). All were used with a semi-open RIC.

What I found was that Costco is a sucky environment to demo HAs, given the poor accoustics and the inability to recreate the same voices/conversations for each HA. I tried to follow customers around and catch snippets of conversation, usually not continuously staring directly at them (didn’t want to appear a weirdo), and instead having one ear towards them.

For the most part all three HAs sounded approximately the same generally, with one notable exception involving a group of six men and women located to one side of me, and a few feet away. I was able to swap between the Kirklands and the Trax before they dispersed, and the Speech from the Trax was notably clearer and more understandable to me. On the other hand, using my cell phone was clearer with the Kirklands and Phonacks.

I have an appointment at Costco later this week to demo the Bluetooth functions, and hopefully make a decision and purchase. I’m leaning towards either the Kirklands (lower price) or the Trax 42 (due to that one clearer conversation, it’s IP67 moisture resistance, and the forum’s discussions about the microphone directionality tech and possibly clearer speech in noise capabilities). The Costco HIS thought that she might be able to adjust the Trax’s telephone clarity.

I am currently a volunteer firefighter, and clear speech in a noisy environment is critical. When I am operating the fire engine’s pump control, I am exposed to a roaring Diesel engine while trying to hear the speaker of my microphone hooked to one shoulder, as well as nearby verbal commands. If we are doing an auto extrication, there is the sound of the power tools and gas motor of the Jaws/spreaders which drowns out speech around me. Of course the usual noisy restaurant environments and hearing my wife while driving are also very important to me.

So, my initial questions would be;

given my audio gram, moisture resistance, and speech-in-noise needs, is there really a clear preference between the Kirkland or Trax 42 ? Is there something else I should be considering?

Using a cell phone (without Bluetooth) the Trax was somewhat garbled. do you think that will adjust for clearer reception ?

Are there attachments for the Trax and Kirklands that will connect to your TV and transmit the sound directly to the HAs? I have spent hours trying to research the Trax’s relationship to the Rexton Emerald 4c and Siemens Pure 7bx that some have said were related, and my head is spinning from trying to find a clear answer in the websites for each. It looks like the Siemens has a TV device called a Tek that links to a neck device called an Easy Tek – which looks similar to the Trax’s Smart Connect neck loop, yet the Costco site and Rexton Trax and Emerald sites make no mention of it.

Thanks for any insights you might provide me.

Corey

Hi Corey,

I am a hearing aid specialist with Costco. The best way to demo hearing aids at Costco is to bring a familiar voice with you, a family member or friend. I like that it is a very noisy environment, that way you can really test it out. Every hearing aid will sound great in the sound proof booth.

I have been recommending the Trax to most of my patients do to the automatic features and how it performs in back ground noise. The Trax will handle speech in wind without you having to press a button. The Phonak you would have to change to a manual program to do the same. The KS6 does not have any special wind noise program and has a wind noise setting that is on or off in all of its programs. None of the hearing aids are water proof, its best to think of them as water resistant.

Both hearing aids have options to stream your TV. The Trax you will need 2 pieces, the Smart Connect Bluetooth Streamer and TV transmitter for about $320. This will allow you to connect to your cell phone hands free as well as use the app for a smart phone. The KS6 will require a TV transmitter for about $260 and would not require the Bluetooth adapter to steam the TV. The KS6 will pair directly to an iPhone but would require a Bluetooth adapter to link with an Android phone.

Also I would ask for the Trax to be programmed with the NAL-NL2 fitting formula. I have much better luck using that over Rexton’s formula.

pip

I would add that the Trax’s IP67 rating means it’s dust-tight, but the water protection level is the same as the KS6. ReSound doesn’t certify their hearing aids, but they do test them under IP57 conditions.

Thanks Pip! I did have my wife with me at Costco, and all three HAs did a decent job of letting me hear her clearly: I imagine the average person would be satisfied with any of them. I’m sure I embarrassed my wife, because for a long time I had us sitting on an outdoor sofa near the noisy checkout lanes with my wife repeatedly reading a bread wrapper as I swapped out between the three HAs!

thanks for the info about the TV adapter for the Trax-- it wasn’t shown under ‘accessories’ on the Rexton websites.

I forgot to mention it, but my phone is a recent model android (LG G3).

Thanks for your insights into the different wind reduction and noise capabilities of the Kirkland and Trax 42, as that is important to me on the FD.

I’ll be sure to discuss the NAL-NL2 with the Costco HIS.

corey

Thanks Rasmus-Braun. I hope to avoid direct water spray, but I have a big problem with sweating-- made all the worse when I’m wearing the insulated firefighter gear. My Starkeys have survived it, except for drowning the batteries occasionally. I’ve used the jar of dessicant nightly with my Starkeys. Hopefully the new nano-coatings on the Kirklands and Rextons will help even more with the sweat issue.

Are there preferences for Things to keep these new HAs dry? The $90 rechargeable battery option for the Rextons incorporates a dryer of some kind, although I’m not sure of its effectiveness.

Corey

I wouldn’t worry about sweat unless your ears are covered with any protective equipment. I got in the shower with my Resounds before I realized I still had them on and got them completely soaked. I took the battery out, dried them off as best I could, and put them on the dryer for 24 hours, and they were fine. Costco gave me an open top dryer with the purchase. Not sure if they still do that.

Make sure you take them out and use hearing protection on the range to protect what’s left of your hearing!

I use a cheap pair of Walmart earmuff style electronic hearing protection. It has batteries and transmits sound up to a point so you can have conversations without taking them off. Maybe you could use something like that on a call, until you get on the scene?

— Updated —

I wouldn’t worry about sweat unless your ears are covered with any protective equipment. I got in the shower with my Resounds before I realized I still had them on and got them completely soaked. I took the battery out, dried them off as best I could, and put them on the dryer for 24 hours, and they were fine. Costco gave me an open top dryer with the purchase. Not sure if they still do that.

Make sure you take them out and use hearing protection on the range to protect what’s left of your hearing!

I use a cheap pair of Walmart earmuff style electronic hearing protection. It has batteries and transmits sound up to a point so you can have conversations without taking them off. Maybe you could use something like that on a call, until you get on the scene?

Thanks Don,
I’m religious about hearing protection now when I shoot, but in the 1970s we were very lax about it on the department ( plus being young and full of ourselves didn’t help matters). Sirens mounted directly above our head on our squad cars, windows down for the summer heat, as you raced for minutes across town ( many minutes on a chase) probably did a lot of damage too. Luckily the primary fire engines I ride in now have over- the- ear comm sets which reduce exposure while enroute. Biggest exposure now occurs on scene, and I have to have the HAs in to hear speech properly.

I’m somewhat leaning towards the Trax 42s if I can get clarity on cell phone conversations. The $90 Rexton rechargeable battery option then becomes a consideration because the charger has some kind of dryer built in. My Costco HIS expressed some reservation about its effectiveness, but I assume it must pass muster with Rexton as far as effectiveness and warranty coverage. I should probably start a separate topic on it, although given the newness of the Trax, I’m not sure how many are in service yet. I’ll also price standard dryers.
Corey

Cory the Rexton dryer does absolutely nothing to dry the aids out. I constantly see Rexton aids that have corrosion in the battery compartments. I tell all my patients to skip the charger unless they cant handle inserting batteries on their own.

Costco sells a nice little dryer for about $40. Well worth it.

pip

— Updated —

Cory the Rexton dryer does absolutely nothing to dry the aids out. I constantly see Rexton aids that have corrosion in the battery compartments. I tell all my patients to skip the charger unless they cant handle inserting batteries on their own.

Costco sells a nice little dryer for about $40. Well worth it.

pip

Pip, thanks for the heads up on the dryer function of the Rexton recharger/dryer. Your opinion echoes that of the HIS at my Costco, so I’ll just get the $40 dryer. I still have no trouble changing my own batteries, so the recharger function is not really needed at this point.
Corey

Had a second visit to Costco today and tried the Bluetooth functions of the KirkIand S6 and Rexton Trax 42.

I used the clip-on lapel phone attachment for the K6, and the Smart Connect neck loop of the Trax 42. The Kirkland was a little scratchy and static, and at first I thought maybe it was interference from the electric lights, but the HIS was able to adjust most of it out.

The sound of the Trax 42 was clear, but the max volume wasn’t as loud compared to the K6. The HIS looked in the settings and it looks like there are adjustments that can be made to reduce background noise volume increase the speech volume.

The K6s lapel mic/ phone control functioned OK, but not being used to the button locations, I had to unfasten it in order to see the buttons and labels. Pressing a button allowed voice activated dialing of people in the Contacts of my phone ( Android LG G3). I was a little concerned that ( compared to a neck loop) I might accidentally catch a coat on it or something , and be able to knock it off my shirt and lose it.

The Smart Connect neck loop of the Trax 42 system hung long enough that I could twist it up to see the controls and labels. Having it hanging outside my short sleeve cotton shirt or hidden under my shirt didn’t matter much in the sound quality my wife heard when I called her, and she felt it had a clearer sound than that of the K6 when I called her. The neck loop allowed me to answer an incoming call by just pressing a button, but we could not find a way to make a voice dialed call, and it may not be possible with the Smart Connect. My HIS is pretty new to the Trax, so we will both be learning.

Both the K6 and Trax 42 have small transmitters available to hook up to a TV and stream the sound via Bluetooth to the HAs.

Both the K6 and Trax systems worked OK, but for me the Trax system had the slight edge for call clarity to myself and the person I was talking to. I wasn’t looking for them this afternoon, but the similar Siemen’s Easy Tek has audio input jacks, so it is likely the Smart Connect has them too.

I walked around Costco again, switching between wearing the K6 and Trax HAs. The K6 sounded a little less shrill/harsh to me, but the Trax 42 did give me an edge in understanding speech, and this was especially true when I stood in the aisle between the noisy frozen foods coolers and had my wife read food labels to me from various distances. I could always make out what my wife was saying with the Trax in that noise, and I couldn’t with the Kirkland K6.

In the end, I decided that my brain will quickly adapt to the slightly sharper sound of the Trax, and that the increased speech clarity in noisy situations was worth the extra cost compared to the Kirklands. If not for my noisy fire department needs, I probably would have given the Kirklands a try, given the much lower cost. Instead I decided to pony - up the extra money and I ordered the Trax. I will be back at Costco in two weeks to get them. I also ordered a Smart Connect and a TV transmitter. I’ll post about my impressions after I get the HAs.

Corey

With it likely being a work related loss, you should check with the state for a program to provide/reimburse for your aids.

CoreyF
thanks for the write up. it’s slowly becoming clear that the best technology for hearing in noise is available at costco via the rexton trax 42.

I would have your audi turn “Bandwidth Compression” off as your loss flattens out in the higher frequency. This feature compresses sounds to the lower frequencies but can effect your ability to discern sounds. great for people who can’t hear in the higher frequencies but for others you are needlessly processing sounds.

Also you might want to get sweat bands for you aids.
http://hearingaidsweatband.com/

Ken, it’s been years since I retired from the (city) police dept. I think trying to file a work comp claim at this late date would probably be futile, but I’ll try to research it a little-- claims would be through the city, and they usually fight them to avoid setting precedents. My health insurance is still on the city’s group plan, but there is no HA coverage.
corey

Doubledown, thanks for the tip on bandwidth compression-- I’ll make a note to ask the Costco HIS about that.

thanks also for the tip about the hearing aid sweatbands. I think I recently saw a recommendation from doc jake about them also in a different post, and in looking at their website it looks like they will definitely be worth looking into: maybe some neon green ones to make them easier to spot if if my fire helmet were to knock the HAs off my head.

corey

Corey if you have them use the NAL-NL2 fitting formula I mentioned earlier it will better control that sharper sound you are hearing. Trust me on this, there is no reason the sound should be harsher on a Trax than on a KS6. Rexton’s proprietary fitting formula causes the harshness.

pip

Thanks pip ! I’ll bring your post to the attention of my Costco HIS when I pick up the HAs in a week and a half. I mentioned it to her last week that you preferred NL2, but she didn’t indicate one way or the other if she had a preference/opinion on NL2 vs Rexton formula. She did say that the Rexton Trax 42 are relatively new to Costco and her, and I’m also not sure of her overall experience level with the Rexton line. I appreciate your input.
Corey