Phonak Audeo B Direct hearing aid review

 

 

 

Phonak Audeo B Direct hearing aid review

 

The Phonak Audeo B-Direct hearing aid was released in Australia recently to much fanfare.  The B-Direct is the world’s first hearing aid supporting new technology, Phonak calls “Made for All”.  The new technology allows direct wireless audio-streaming (without additional hardware) to both Apple and Android phones.  Using the technology, the new Phonak Audeo B-Direct hearing aids act like a wireless headset when using the mobile phone during phone calls.  Sounds of Life reviews this new technology.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen a shift in hearing aid wireless audio-streaming technology.  For many years, hearing aid manufacturers have supported wireless audio-streaming via additional Bluetooth hardware (intermediary devices).  This hardware provided a classic Bluetooth connection to consumer electronic devices like mobile phones, tablets and televisions.  This Bluetooth hardware then transmitted the audio signal to the hearing aids via a special low-energy proprietary (manufacturer-specific) wireless technology.  The main challenge typically in providing direct audio-streaming with classic Bluetooth without additional hardware is high battery consumption.

Approximately fours years ago the first hearing aids were released that offered direct wireless audio-streaming with Apple products without an intermediary device.  This was possible using Apple’s support of low-energy Bluetooth which is much more energy-efficient than Classic Bluetooth.   Since this time almost all manufacturers now support such technology labelled “Made for iPhone” specifically for Apple devices.

Most smart phones sold in Australia are Android-based.  Unfortunately, due to lack of standardisation of low-energy Bluetooth across the Android platform, until now direct wireless audio-streaming has not available for Android.  That is until now ….

Phonak invested heavily in R&D to bring what Phonak calls “Made For All” (MFA) direct wireless connectivity technology to market.  They have developed in-house a new chip called SWORD which offers unified 2.4 GHz Bluetooth with a single antenna.  The ultra-low power chip supports Bluetooth 4.2 in both classic and Low Energy modes and offers direct wireless connectivity to Android, iPhone and even traditional mobile phones.  Phonak calls this new technology “Made for All”.

Phonak’s new “Made for All” technology offers significant benefits, including for the first-time true hands-free voice calling.  Hearing aid wearers can use their mobile phone without ever having to physically touch it.  Wearers hear the phone ringing in their ears and once the phone is answered, the conversation is streamed directly into the hearing aid.  In fact, the wearer’s voice is picked up by the hearing aid’s microphone and transmitted to the mobile phone.  Wearers can also answer or reject a phone call by simply pressing the push button on their hearing aid.  The new Phonak Audéo B-Direct hearing aids can also be used as wireless TV headphones.  Using the optional AirStream accessory, wearers can stream TV audio directly into their hearing aids.

Range of hearing aids

The Phonak Audeo B Direct is initially being released across three performance levels in a receiver-in-canal (RIC) model.

 

Phonak Audeo B Direct, discreet fully-featured RIC hearing aids with direct streaming to both Android and Apple smartphones.

The Phonak Audeo B Direct RIC device uses a 13 battery and uses an elegant design and are an ideal solution for wearers who want high performance, full connectivity, and complete discretion.  They are IP68 rated offering excellent water resistance.

Available performance levels: Premium (B90), Advanced (B70), Standard (B50)

 

Our Conclusion

The new Phonak Audeo B-Direct really solves one of the big problems for hearing aid wearers that regularly use mobile phones.  Now even Android users can experience the convenience and sound quality of direct wireless audio-streaming.  Additionally, wearers can purchase a TV Connector accessory to connect to their TV or stereo system.   This plug and play solution turns wearer’s hearing aids into wireless headphones so wearers can enjoy their favourite TV programs and movies in stereo sound quality.

Since its introduction we have fitted a significant number of these hearing aids.  Clients have reported that the hearing aids are easy to use and offer excellent sound quality.  However, it should be noted that streaming from all phones is monaural (one side only).  The reason for this is that the hearing aid microphone on the non-streaming ear acts as the talk-back microphone.  At Sounds of Life we are pleased to offer the new Phonak Audeo B Direct at Australia’s lowest prices.

 

About Sounds of Life

Sounds of Life audiology is a member of Audiology Australia and Independent Audiologist Australia. We adhere strictly to Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics.   We pride ourselves on:

  • Being fully independent – We are not owned or operated by a hearing aid manufacturer or large chain.
  • Ethical Practices – We are focused on providing the highest level of care and do not pay commissions.

We also follow the Australian Government Hearing Services’ protocol for hearing services.

 

If you feel hearing loss is impacting your life contact Sounds of Life.

Contact us today on 1300 744 432 or via our contact form below:

 

    Your Name (required)

    Your Phone Number (required)

    Your Message

     

     

     

     

     

    Signia Nx hearing aid review

     

     

     

    Signia Nx hearing aid review

     

    In November 2017, Signia (formally Siemens) released its new hearing aid range called Signia Nx to the Australian market.  Signia’s marketing around the new range focusses on new innovations that “replicate nature” (the name “Nx” stands for “Natural Experience”).  The main new technologies of note are Own Voice Processing technology, “Made for iPhone” wireless audio-streaming and an improved Telecare remote support solution (coming soon).

     

    Own Voice Processing (OVP™) 

    It is common for hearing aid wearers when they first get hearing aids to find that their own voice sounds unnaturally loud.  Of course, having hearing loss means that the volume of one’s own voice is perceived as softer than it really is and when fitted with hearing aids, wearers naturally report that hear their own voice sounds louder.  However, this perception is magnified by the fact that hearing aids are worn on the ears and their microphones are very close to the wearer’s mouth.  Consequently, for many hearing aid wearers, their own voice is perceived as artificially too loud.  To address such a complaint, audiologists would turn the hearing aid volume down to make the wearer’s own voice sound more natural.  Unfortunately this has the undesirable impact of also reducing the volume for sounds the wearer wants to hear reducing the benefit of the hearing aids.

     

    Signia’s new Own Voice Processing (OVP™) technology eliminates this problem by processing of the wearer’s own voice, completely independent from all other sounds, including all other voices.  The benefit for the wearer is that their own voice sounds more natural without the audiologist having to turn the hearing aids down for all the other sounds the wearer wants to hear.  During the initial fitting (under guidance by the audiologist), the wearer conducts an “own voice” training exercise which simply involves counting   Once trained the hearing aids will then be able to identify the wearer’s own voice.  At the recent Brisbane launch event we had the opportunity to test the new OVP™ technology and found it worked very well and certainly made one’s own voice sound more natural.

     

    “Made for iPhone” for wireless audio-streaming to Apple devices

    “Made for iPhone” technology enables direct wireless connection (without additional accessories) to Apple devices during phone calls and audio-streaming.  This means the hearing aids become virtual wireless headsets, so wearers do not need to hold the phone up to their ears.  This technology is fantastic for watching movies from iPads and televisions, with high quality sound, conveniently being streamed wirelessly into wearer’s hearing aids.  Although direct wireless audio-streaming is currently only available for Apple devices with  the new Nx range, Signia advises that an Android solution will be available early next year.

     

     

     

    In addition to supporting “Made for iPhone” wireless audio-streaming technology, the new Nx hearing aids feature an upgraded full audio wireless link between the hearing aids (a technology Signia calls Ultra HD wireless e2e technology).  This wireless link enables binaural sound processing which is the basis for binaural features like narrow directionality which markedly improves hearing in background noise.   Signia promotes that they are the only manufacturer that offers both direct Bluetooth audio-streaming and full audio binaural sound processing in the one device.

     

    Telecare with full live remote fine-tuning and video chat – Coming Soon

    Signia TeleCare is a tele-audiology solution that allows audiologists to remotely fine-tune hearing aids.  The new Signia Nx hearing aids feature Telecare 3.0 which allows full fine-tuning with video chat via the hearing aid wearer’s mobile phone.  No matter where the wearer is in the world, as long as they have a mobile phone connection, the audiologist can program and fine-tune their hearing aids.  The video chat feature provides a visual tool so the audiologist can check that the hearing aids are not damaged and are being worn correctly.  This is a great feature for busy hearing aid wearers (particularly travellers) who may find it difficult to visit the clinic.  Although Telecare 3.0 was not available in Australia at the launch of Signia Nx, Signia advises that it will be rolled-out in February 2018.

     

     

     

     

    Range of hearing aids

    The Signia Nx is initially being released across three performance levels in two “Pure” receiver-in-canal (RIC)  hearing aids and one “Motion” behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid.

     

    Pure, discreet fully-featured RIC hearing aids with direct streaming.

    The Pure RIC devices are available in both 312 and 13 battery models.  They have an elegant design and are an ideal solution for wearers who want high performance, full connectivity, and complete discretion.  They feature new state-of-the-art silicone microphone technology.

    Available performance levels: 7Nx (Premium), 5Nx (High-end), 3Nx (Mid range)

     

    Motion. Versatile stylish BTE with excellent battery life

    With its high capacity 13-size battery, the Motion 13 offers wearers excellent battery life when streaming.  The Motion can be used with a normal earhook and mould or a thin-tube.  The Motion Nx features new state-of-the-art silicone microphone technology.

    Available performance levels: 7Nx (Premium), 5Nx (High-end), 3Nx (Mid range)

     

    Our Conclusion

    The Signia Nx suits active wearers who require high performance hearing aid technology to ensure they hear well in challenging situations with background noise.  One of Signia Nx’s features that we are really impressed with is the hearing aids use of the iPhone motion sensors.  Although not a focus of Signia’s marketing, the hearing aids use the smartphone’s Motion sensors to identify when the wearer is on the move so hearing aid features like directionality are activated and adapted appropriately.  This ensures audibility is optimised even in rapidly changing environments.

    The Signia Nx also suits wearers who require wireless audio-streaming.  Wearers that rely on their smartphones will enjoy the convenience and sound quality experience of direct wireless audio-streaming without an additional accessory.   Wearers can also optionally purchase a Streamline TV transmitter and wirelessly stream Dolby quality stereo sound from the television directly into their hearing aids.

    At Sounds of Life we have had the opportunity to fit a number of the new Signia Nx hearing aids since launch.  So far the feedback from clients has been very positive with reports that the hearing aids offer very good sound quality, especially when audio-streaming.  At Sounds of Life we are pleased to offer the new Signia Nx at Australia’s lowest prices.

     

    About Sounds of Life

    Sounds of Life audiology is a member of Audiology Australia and Independent Audiologist Australia. We adhere strictly to Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics.   We pride ourselves on:

    • Being fully independent – We are not owned or operated by a hearing aid manufacturer or large chain.
    • Ethical Practices – We are focused on providing the highest level of care and do not pay commissions.

    We also follow the Australian Government Hearing Services’ protocol for hearing services.

     

    If you feel hearing loss is impacting your life contact Sounds of Life.

    Contact us today on 1300 744 432 or via our contact form below:

     

      Your Name (required)

      Your Phone Number (required)

      Your Message