What's all the BUZZ about Open Fit Hearing Aids?

The new trend has been the new open fitting hearing aids. What are they, what are the benefits and who are they best designed for?

I would like to discuss the answers to these and other questions in this article.

First, it is important to determine what open fit hearing aids really are. They are hearing aids that sit on top of the ear, similar to a BTE hearing aids, yet smaller in design. Yet, the biggest difference is that the part that goes into the ear does not occlude or “plug up” the ear. Thus, low frequency sounds can pass through naturally through the small tip that goes into the ear. It also allows sound pressure to relieve out of the ear, sounds such as your own voice, chewing sounds, coughing sounds, etc.

What happens with the usual hearing aids that plug up the whole ear is that the low frequency sounds are not allowed to escape out of the ear, thus your own voice and chewing sounds become exaggerated. In fact, simple sounds such as your own voice or chewing can become as loud at 85-90 db sound pressure level when completely plugging the ear with a hearing aid. Thus these sound can be come unbearable, particularly for patients with very good hearing in the low pitches.

This is why the open fit design has come about and become very popular, particularly for people who have good hearing in the low tones and poor hearing in the high pitches, which is the most common sensorineural (nerve deafness) hearing loss confiruration, particularly for persons who have worked around lots of noise in the past.

Most of the top manufacturers offer open fit hearing aids, many with some of their top of the line DSP circuitry in them. The most common are:

Receiver (speaker) in the Ear:

  • Oticon Delta 6000 and 8000
  • Vivatone
  • Phonak Micro Power (not exactly open fit, but can be made to be one)
  • Sebo Tek (can also be fit on flat hearing losses and not always open fit)
Receiver on top of the Ear (routes sound through a thin tube into the ear):
  • Phonak Micro Savia, Micro Eleva, Mini-Valeo
  • HearPod III
  • Sonic Innovation Ion
  • Siemens Centra
  • Oticon Safran
  • Micro-Tech Seneca Plus
  • Magnatone money Shadow
Although this may not cover all of the available models, this does encompass the majority of the open fit hearing aids available commercially this year. The new draw to these hearing aids have been that the instruments have become tremendously smaller, thus even though you may think a BTE hearing aid would be visible, these new open fits can often be more concealed and invisible as compared to in the ear models.

In addition, for most users, these open fit devices are much more comfortable to wear. Many of my patients tell me that they often forget they even have them on. Others say they are so light and doesn’t feel like you have your fingers stuck in your ear all day.

Clinicians like myself have also enjoyed using these new instruments, as patient satisfaction is higher, these products do not require taking molds of the ears and waiting 2 weeks to get the hearing aids and patients can get help right away.

Costs:

The costs of open fit hearing aids range from $695 (HearPod III) to upwards of $3,000 or more for the top of the line instruments.

My favorites, based on performance are:

  • Sonic Innovaitons ION ([www.sonici.com](http://www.sonici.com/))
  • Phoank Micro Eleva ([www.phonak.com](http://www.phonak.com/))
My favorite based on design and cosmetic appeal:
  • Oticon Delta 8000 (not the 6000) ([www.oticon.com](http://www.oticon.com/))
My favorite based on cost and value:
    [*]HearPod III ([www.myhearpod.com](http://www.myhearpod.com/))
Should you have any quesitons or if you would like to add anything on this subject, please feel free to post or PM me.

Hello, I just goit a pair if Opticon Delta open air hearing aids. I really like them. I can get wonderful batteries from 808local battery and save 2/3 off the local price, but I haven’t found a source for the ear buds that attach to the end of the tube that goes into the ear. Can anyone help me please? I’d really appreciate it. I have two friends who have Opticon aids as well, we all got them within a month or so, having reached the “golden years” ~ which in reality seem more like the “rusty years”!!
Thanks in advance,
Daniel Fish

Yes, Oticon Delta’s are very good and a “cool” choice. I love the fact that you can change the color of the outer casings in office, which is pretty neat and they are so comforbable for users.

As far as the tips go, they are hard to come by. You almost have to go back to where you purchased them to get more, as you really don’t find too many people just selling the tips.

You may want to try EBAY, but I have my doubts.

Glad to hear you also have found a place for batteries too. The pricing can be hugely different place to place, so it always pays to shop around for a great deal.

I have high frequency loss and was fitted with my first hearing aids 31st July this year. Oticon Tego Pros BTE’s with Corda sound tubes and GN Resound tulip domes. I have just changed over to skeleton molds (#2?). Result: I LOVE them. The molds are much more comfortable; no itchiness. The sound is about the same; they are more rugged; (I kinked the tiny sound tubes more than once on the Corda system); The molds offer a visual cue that I have a hearing problem to others, so that they speak more clearly. So I guess I am going against the flow to open fittings. :o

That is interesting.

My ear tip keeps falling off too and I have had to replace them once already.

I might ask my audi about making those custom molds. Do you get any of the plugged sensation with the custom mold you got?

I know my Audi mentioned custom initially, but since they worked fine out of the box until now, we never pursued it.

As I only have mild to moderately severe high frequency loss, they were able to make the molds such that they do not fit tightly; it seems the main problem with mold discomfort is due to the tightness needed to prevent feedback. As far as occlusion is concerned, in the case of my hearing perception, I was very surprised to find that although there is a SLIGHT increase in occlusion meaning the low frequency sound coming from my voice box, I am not troubled by it. Although one must be prepared for a definite change in the sound of ones own voice that is for sure. The most difficult annoyance is when I am chewing food the noise is very apparent, to the point of cutting down on my speech recognition of others talking. The occlusion effect seems to diminish when I turn the gain up. I experimented with the supplied orifices to reduce the size of the vent and it made everything worse, as would be expected. I will get my audiologist to increase the gain in the 6000Hz range the same as she did when I was wearing open fitting; this will improve speech recognition. About the “vent” mentioned earlier; in case you are not aware, a vent (hole through the mold beside the sound tube) is added to allow low frequency sound pressure waves to escape. It also makes the sound more natural, the mold fitting therefore simulates the performance of the open ear fitting.

This is a followup to my previous message:
My hearing skill at understanding speech is getting better. The occlusion effect is much less noticeable. My major concern at the moment is with using the cell phone in noisy places. I simply can not hear anyone on it. I have even tried the loud speaker mode on the cell phone; it is really hard. It is as if the gain is not high enough. When I try using T coil I get a lot of buzzing noise after the other person picks up the phone to answer me. When I had the open fitting the cell phone was okay; still not okay with T coil though.:frowning:

What is meant by “good in the lows” and “poor” in the highs" ?

I’ve got a loss of around 20 dB in het lower and around 40 dB in the middle range (mainly the 3000 and 4000 Hz frequency). According to my audiogram and his 20 year experience the audiologist suggested me hearing aids with closed fittings. I nearly went crazy with them in noisy environment. Now I am trying out hearing aids with open fitting. See also http://www.hearingaidforums.com/showthread.php?t=135

My audiologist still thinks that I do not have the “exact” profile for hearing aids with open fittings, but yes of course the choice is up to me. So I am rather confused, and don’t know what to do …

If you hear about 20 db’s in the low tones and have greater hearing loss in the mid to high tones, you are a great candidate for open fit hearing aids.

They are super comfortable and easy to get used to.

Thanks, good to have 2nd opinion from a professional :slight_smile:

My greatest, although at - 40 dB still moderate, loss is mainly concentrated in the middle range. In the low & highs I have only a mild loss. The only thing I can not foresee is how my hearing will evolve in the coming years in the lows. My audio says that with open fittings I don’t have any reserve left if the “mild” loss in the lows gets worse. Nevertheless the physician told me, that despite my age (I am 48 and female), it can be expected that my hearing loss will remain relatively stable in the coming years.

I still do have a question concerning HA with open fittings : what’s the greatist difference in benefits between the open fitting with thin-tube HA or with in-the-ear-reciever ?

Although what you have been told up till now may be true with the thin tubes, there are new tubes that an attach to the current instruments to increase the output in the low tones as the hearing loss progresses.

It is true that hearing tends to decrease in the low tones with time (I like calling it “time” instead of age).

Yet, the instruments have tremendous capabilities to amplify all tones if used with proper tubing and eartips.

Thus, you should be able to comfortably use open fits now and in the future.

Splendid ! Next week I have an appointement with my audi and I intend to speak him about it :slight_smile:

Hi all. This is my first post to the forum. This is a great resource.

My question is does anyone have any experience with the Hearpod III open fit?

I’m most concerned with performance on the telephone since I’m on the phone a lot during the day.

Any other comments about the Hearpod line (especially how they fit) also appreciated.

Thanks

I have had the HearPod 3 for about 2 months now. I have no trouble on the phone with them.

I have a high frequency hearing loss and had no trouble hearing on the phone prior to getting them. I find that I can just put the phone right over my ear like I normally do and use the phone just fine. The Hearpod has a mode for telephone, but I have never had to use it.

I am a very busy person, so I liked the convenience of having them delivered to my office and not having to take off 1/2 a day to get fitted, etc and the price was really reasonable too.

I haven’t tried any other hearing aids, so I can’t give you a comparison…but I am please so far with them.

I am looking at the Oticon Delta. Can you tell me why you recommend the 8000 but not the 6000? What about the 4000?

Thanks for any input!

Michelle

It is just that the 8000’s are much more configurable and the professional can fine tune it much better for you and allow you to hear and understand better and more comfortably in more situations and also accomodate more types of hearing losses.

Since the cost difference is quite minimal, if you are investing in hearing aids, you really should go for the very best.

Well, I just had a hearing test completed to tell me what I already knew, my hearing was going south. This is all very new to me but you all have been very helpful.

Test Results
right Left
250 40 40
500 35 35
1k 30 35
2k 30 50
4k 40 65
8k 20 45

Top that off at 46 years old with ringing in my ears. I am now the poster boy for not ever hunting ducks without hearing protection.

So anyway I have been reading this forum and was able to go to the audi and make an informed decision on my very first set if aids. I went with the Phonak Savia Art with the watch remote. It seems a good fit for my lifestyle. I get them next Thursday. I have no idea on what a good price is since the three local stores were all about the same price. I paid $5300 for the pair with watch?? I live in Midland, MI and we really have 3-4 choices. The audi who did the testing wanted to sell me the Centra for $5150 but I really like the features and flexibility of the Savia Art. Only one store Audio R/X had a sample of the Savia Art, it was nice to actually see the piece prior to buying them. I actually have what sems to be a standard 30 days to wear them at actually no cost. I guess from what you are all saying that should be expected. I am a bit nervous about this whole thing but need to be able to hear better. Oh, the warranty is 3 years for anything that happens so they say. Is that reasonable?

Thanks again for this forum; it has helped me make an informed decision. I will keep you all posted on how they work.

Thanks again,
Mark

$5,300 for Savia Art with watchpilot is really a great price.

I think you made the right choice with the Savia Art’s versus the Centra in the long term.

It may take a little time to adjust to wearing hearing aids, but with the watch (remote), you can adjust them to match just about any situation and the auto features of the Savia Art are really good.

Let us know how you do once you get them.

I just got fitted today with the Art. Since I have no previous experience to draw from - this is different to say the least. It seams as though I can hear voice better but I am going to put them to the test tomorrow at work. I spent about an hour with my Audi and everything seemed to go well. I got home and the left ear was too quiet and really sounds like mush, I think it need an adjustment. It is my worst ear also.

I am really not sure what to expect, as I type the keys are a bit loud but a couple of clicks on the watch and it helps a bit. Paper and keys are interesting and when my daughter clapped her hands, ouch!! Music and tv sounds very good and wind is not really a bother. It has only been about 5 hours so I am far from an expert but I need more volume in my left ear. Speech sounds all mushy.

The watch works very well, one thing though - if you don’t keep it centered it will work only one ear and not the other. Put it back near center and you will hear the beep meaning a change of program and it is in each ear. This too will take a bit of getting used to but well worth the $200 they charged me.

With my hearing loss I have a difficult time hearing soft talkers from a distance - 6 to 10 feet or so. What type of an adjustment should I ask for?

Close conversation I don’t need hardly any amplification at all. Humm.

Thanks again, this is a very, very helpful place.

I will let you all know how it goes.

Mark

Mark:

Those ART’s are great, especially when combined with the Watch Pilot. Yes, you do have to center, as the watch remote is not as powerful as the full sized remotes, thus if you do it on one side, it will only switch one side as the head blocks the other side.

If you have the remote, I would suggest you have the audi program them with both automatic and manual modes and you can use the “prog” button to manually change the modes to match the current environment.

Automatic is nice, yet it is always nicer to have the best of both worlds.