What is the advantage of a hearing aid having more channels?

For instance, there is lots of discussion about two of the aids sold by Costco- the Rexton Trax 42 and the Kirkland Signature 6.0. The Trax, as it’s name indicates, has 42 channels. The Kirkland’s has only 17 channels.

What other specifications should I be comparing and which ones are worth paying more for?

Thanks for any information you can offer. I am new to this and this is a big decision both financially and emotionally for me. I want to get it right.


I have had both, Grouper. I see no difference between 16 and 42 channels beyond advertising. I am wearing the Trax now and will likely return to the KS6. So many here were promoting the Trax that I figured I’d always kick myself for not trying them. In my ears sofar, the KS6 seem marginally better, ymmv.

Thanks for responding Ken. I am researching buying an Iphone 5s on the secondary market so I can use it paired with my new KS6’s when I buy them. I decided tonight that is the way i want to go.

your priority should be finding an aid with a wide frequency range.

This frequency business seems like the old audiophiles arguing. Even with young ears I never saw much difference. We are worried about speech and not the high vibrato of a violin. I don’t see a difference in speech – although above 7Khz I may not have hearing. The KS6, for me, did a marginally better job in noise.

I guess what I am saying is that at this point you need to try the aids out and see what they can do for you and then decide if the added cost works for you. You could actually go into Costco and tell them to order both and put it on plastic. If you get the American Express when you do, you get 6 months interest free, so you could trial both for a month and have it not cost you. You should figure out which is best for you in a month or so.

Ken, Great advice and very good perspective too! Thanks for sharing. Ron ♫

lol, this is so very sad

Well, I am glad we could provide a laugh for you. Not sure what the punchline is though.

I do recognize that you feel that the Trax is the hearing loss cure-all. You are emphatic about that.

In my situation they sucked. I just sent a note to the audi that I wanted an appointment to go back to the KS6 where my speech recognition is much better as is noise control. So, one size doesn’t fit all.

Ken, I’m afraid I’m going to have to call you out on this again. Now you are advocating not only gaming the system to try multiple HAs in your home for months and get a ‘free’ membership, you are also figuring out how to use someone else’s money to do it ( the credit card company).

you stated in an earlier post in this thread that you were basically satisfied with the K6 that you tried, but decided to buy another pair (the Trax) because you’d ‘kick yourself’ if you didn’t try them because some other people liked them better than the k6. From day one you planned to return a pair, and in this case you plan to go back to the k6 because you found them ‘marginally better’.

Costco will let a person use their demo HAs to spend as much time as they want IN THE STORE comparing various brands and models of HAs. Start when they open at 9am and go all day. Listen to people talk, watch TV sets, try the various Bluetooth functions, sit in the cafeteria section to hear people talk in a ‘restaurant’ setting, etc… Come back as many days as you want, and do it till you feel that any differences between the HAs is truly marginal and that you have a good feeling about purchasing them.

I don’t believe Costco (someone correct me if I’m mistaken) has set up their return policy with the intention that everyone that wants to can custom order multiple sets of hearing aids, have them each adjusted by the staff, and then have you return one or more sets months later after your ‘in home’ trial. Unless your Costco operates much differently than mine, I had my initial evaluation (and I spent hours over multiple days – not including an hour drive each way— comparing several aids)), and I had to order the aids. They arrived new, in a new box with all the manuals.

Under the method you are recommending to others, what is Costco to do with the HAs you return because they are marginally inferior-- in your opinion. They are no longer new, and I would imagine that they cannot be sold as such unless they were returned to the factory and reworked---- if that is even possible (unlikely).

It has been speculated in other posts in this forum that the aids Costco sells for $1700 - $2600 might have cost Costco $650 given their bulk buying. How long is Costco or any other vendor supposed to suffer these losses until they are forced to reduce their generous return policy, raise prices, charge for exams or for (currently) ‘free’ supplies, etc.?

Would you advocate charging the purchase of a Mac computer and a Windows Computer, in both laptop and desk top versions, and after trying them all for a few months you would then keep the one that fits your needs the best and return the others for a refund?

I will repost the post I made for you a few days ago. Society pays the price when people thinks it’s OK to game the system for their own advantage-- a price both monetarily and in an overall reduction in honorable behavior. It’s not OK to engage in bad behavior ‘because everybody does it’, because ‘others have more money than me’, or because somebody else foots the bill (we all will pay the bill eventually). Corey

Kens previous post on 7-23-2015 in the GN Resound section under ‘Costco testing policy’ ;

“So, what I and others said about free tests isn’t correct. But, anyone can get it for free by just asking for a membership refund. You can even get the aids without a membership by just asking for a membership refund as Costco will service their aids after purchase to non-members. I’m not that cheap but it may help those on a real budget.”

Coreys previous post in response;


I would just like to add my two cents worth regarding what I would consider an ‘abuse’ of Costco policy by deliberately using the refund process to save $55.

Considering the cost of hearing aids, even at Costco’s reduced pricing, the membership fee is insignificant and a small price to pay for a comprehensive test and the ability to spend as long as you like trying out multiple sets of hearing aids within the store. If a person truly can’t afford $55, then perhaps they should be exploring Medicaid or other social welfare assistance.

I spent a lot of time on the AVS forum (audio visual) a few years ago while researching the purchase of a new flat-screen TV. At that time there were a number of people who were using Costco’s generous return policy to essentially indefinitely demo various TVs and almost act like they were professional technology reviewers. They would demo a new TV for several months, enjoying it and reporting on their impressions of it, then return it and try out another TV. Other people would do multiple returns just because a newer and ‘better’ technology came out, and they felt that since this was a big dollar purchase, that they were somehow entitled and justified in these actions.

No thought was given to the cost to Costco in terms of labor and material (sales, restocking, what to do with a TV that now can’t be sold as new, etc). Actions were justified by the fact that Costco is a huge, wealthy company, and through the thinking that it’s Costco’s policy (Costco’s own fault so-to-speak) so who cares. Costco eventually changed their return policy on electronics, making it much less generous.

Technology is constantly improving, whether in TVs or hearing aids, and there will always be another latest and greatest technology. Most products of a similar price and technological level would be equally as good. At some point a consumer must do basic research, make a choice, and then live with it.

I see similar dangers with Costco’s hearing aid policy. If it becomes common place to try out multiple hearing aids ( even though it means initially purchasing them) and then return them for a refund so you can keep a different set for some small perceived benefit, it would eventually force a change in Costco policy. If it became common to take advantage of membership refunds in order to save $55 for a hearing aid test/in store demo, then Costco might be forced to start charging everyone for the hearing test, increase their prices, etc…

Just my opinion, and no, I am not employed by Costco or any other merchant

Corey, I don’t know when you were appoint the morality police or by who When I run into to you folks, I always check my wallet.

You don’t have a clue. Aids are trialed and return across the spectrum. Several members here have trialed two brands at the same time. Trialing is a common business practice. The manufacturer accepts the return for full credit and then service them and sell them again.

So get the twist out of you knickers and go grab a soap box and find a corner where people can avoid you better.

P.S. The “free” membership possibility was explained to me by the Costco employee that originally enrolled me. They want satisfied, happy customers.

More than a dozen channels has not been proven to have any benefit at all. 7KHz to 10Khz is about 4 notes on the piano.

Not sure where you got that info but it’s not correct. The highest note on a piano is C8, with a fundamental frequency of 4.186 KHz. Everything in the 7KHz to 10KHz range on a piano would be harmonics- which is important because it’s what makes a piano sound like a piano. But you’d hear the key even if the response of your HA only went to 5 KHz.

I’ve been hesitant to respond to this thread because even though I know a lot about audio processing in general, I don’t know much about how hearing aids specifically process the audio.

That being said, each channel on an audio processors takes a slice of the audio spectrum and amplifies, compresses, or expands it independantly of the rest of the spectrum. So if the refrigerator motor is in one part of the spectrum and Uncle Otis’ voice is in a nearby part of the spectrum, the trick is how to reduce the refrigerator noise while maximizing Uncle Otis. The more channels there are, the more capable the processor is of isolating a particular sound.

So in theory- the more channels there are the better it will do what it’s supposed to do. The big question is how well the processor interprets the sound and manipulates the processing in each channel. That part I can’t tell you.

Interesting discussion, Greg. UmBongo is an audiologist with two shops serving Wales, UK. For most of us understanding conversation is the priority. Musicians and audiophiles want more but the emphasis is voice. I am reminded of the old POTS telephones that were lower in bandwidth than the meanest spec for a current aid yet provided good voice understanding… I think your empirical view is correct. But, user response to various aids and features is highly subjective. UmBongo’s expertise is fitting aids and his experience seems to say or confirm his point. But, certainly some can discriminate beyond the norm.

There’s no manufacturer that resells returned hearing aids. They’re almost always scrapped. Hearing aids are classified as medical devices, and no company would risk a potential defective product liability claim by selling used or refurbished equipment.

I stand corrected on that. It is unfortunate they don’t donate them into the third world or to the poor.

I completely agree, and didn’t mean to disparage UMBongo’s expertise in the least. He probably didn’t mean to leave the impression that a KS6 user can’t hear the last 3 keys on a piano, but by saying it the way he did one could easily get that impression.

The frequency response of the POTS phone lines were from 300hz to 3 KHz and that’s all you need to hear people well. But what about the tea kettle, microwave beeper, etc? It’s nice to be able to hear those things as well.

We have an alarm at my work that my Oticon Acto Pros didn’t seem to amplify. The frequency is somewhat high, though I never bothered to see what it is. But the only way I could hear that alarm was that it would cause my HAs to go into feedback. I could heard the feedback, but couldn’t hear the alarm that caused it.

The the Trax 42s I can hear that alarm. And I don’t get the feedback. That’s probably due partly to the greater frequency response, and I suspect it’s also somewhat due to the larger number of processing channels.

This article discusses some of the pros and cons of increasing the number of processing channels, and the effect on speech recognition.

That’s a good article, thank you for posting it.

I have been of the opinion that group delay is a significant issue in the Trax 42. I’ve been looking forward to getting my custom ear molds in hopes that issue will be somewhat improved.

I really wish the group delay graph in figure one gave the manufacturers and model numbers. Why do I suspect the Trax 42 is the blue line? :stuck_out_tongue:

Both of the authors works for starkey which explains a lot.

The point about the piano keys is the illustration of the octave scale in relation to frequency. There is one octave between 8-16khz, so 8 white notes.

7-10 kHz would be about half an octave.

The argument about wider frequency ranges seems to rely on subjects with particular hearing losses rather than the people we actually see. Plus these studies will tend to use reference headphones to ‘prove’ the benefits of wider HF reproduction. If you look at the actual gain produced by a receiver at 10 kHz relative to the hearing loss you’ll find it’s pretty meaningless. Factor in the wasted energy in making bat noises and the fact that we don’t test at over 8khz and you might get an idea of the pointlessness of the exercise.

If you need to prove this to yourself, try listening to a talk radio show through a desktop transistor/digital radio vs a big stereo with multiple speakers and full orchestral response. The Difference between sound quality and speech clarity should be obvious.