Accessorise and get the most out of your hearing aids

 

 

 

Accessorise and get the most out of your hearing aids

 

Most manufacturers offer a wide range of complementary accessories that can be used to assist in hearing aid management as well as improve the performance of hearing aids.

Want to discreetly adjust your hearing aids without touching them?  Want to take phone calls through your hearing aids?  Don’t want to have to change batteries? 

All this is possible with the correct accessories.  There are generally four different categories of accessories: 

 

1/ Remote controls

Want to discreetly adjust your hearing aids without touching them? A remote control may be for you!

Remote controls enable hearing aid wearers to adjust their hearing aids without having to touch them.  Wearers can:

  • Easily adjust their hearing aid settings without needing to manipulate the small controls on their hearing aids. This is particularly useful for users who have reduced dexterity or want to discreetly adjust their hearing aids without people knowing.
  • Access a wider range of features and controls (than can be accessed via the controls on the hearing aids) to enhance the performance of their hearing aids.

Currently on the market there are remote controls available in a wide range of styles.  In fact, you can get remote controls that look like writing pens or others that look like key chains.

More recently manufacturers are offering remote control Smartphone apps.   Hearing aid wearers do not need to purchase separate physical remote control, but rather their existing smartphone can turn into a remote control via free downloadable apps.

An example of a remote control app is shown below:

https://www.signia-pro.com.au/apps/

 

 

2/ Audio streaming

Want to take phone calls through your hearing aids?  Wish you could stream music wirelessly into your hearing aids?  Then Bluetooth audio streaming technology may be for you!  

To enhance sound quality and listening enjoyment, many hearing aid models now feature the ability to wirelessly connect to different audio devices including:

  • TVs and MP3 players – high quality stereo sound (e.g. music) can be wirelessly streamed from these devices through the wearer’s hearing aids.
  • Mobile phones –wearers can converse in a hands-free manner (without even removing the phone from their bag or pocket) with the hearing aids becoming a virtual phone headset.

Many hearing aids support wireless audio-streaming from audio devices (e.g. phones).  This is achieved either directly or via a secondary streaming device (usually worn around the neck or in a pocket).

Direct Wireless Audio Streaming (without an additional body-worn device)

Some hearing aids now feature technology labelled Made for iPhone™ (e.g. Signia Nx, Resound Linx, Starkey Halo).  Wearers can directly stream audio wirelessly from their Apple iPhone to their hearing aids without an intermediary or secondary device. Using low energy 2.4 gigahertz wireless technology the audio can be streamed from a significant distance, at least ten metres.

For non-phone use, for specific applications (e.g. watching television) many hearing aids offer additional accessories (e.g. television transmitters). These accessories use similar wireless technology as the iPhone and enable direct wireless audiostreaming to the wearers hearing aids without any intermediary body worn accessories.  The main disadvantage of direct wireless audiostreaming is that it requires high battery consumption and for most hearing aids is only available on Apple devices.

 

Wireless Audio Streaming (with an intermediary device)

Most hearing aids on the market are compatible with wireless audio-streaming via Bluetooth-enabled secondary devices which are body worn (normally around the neck).  This Bluetooth device receives streamed audio (via Classic Bluetooth) from most Bluetooth enabled devices (e.g. phones, televisions) then streams this audio wirelessly to the hearing aids using magnetic near-field induction.  The disadvantage of this type of audio-streaming is that wearers must wear an extra device on their body.

 

3/ Remote Wireless Microphones

Wish you could hear the teacher better at university?  Wish you could hear your friends better when at dinner amongst background noise?  Then remote wireless microphone technology may be for you! 

A remote microphone can help a hearing aid wearer hear better when the person they want to hear is at a distance and/or there is a lot of environmental noise making it hard for them to hear this person.  The remote microphone is worn by the person that is speaking (e.g. lecturer).  Their voice is picked up by thewireless microphone and then wirelessly transmitted directly into the hearing aids.  Even though the speaker is at a distance, it sounds like they are right next to the person with the hearing aids.

 

4/ Battery chargers

Tired of regular battery changes?  Concerned about the environmental impact of disposable batteries?  Rechargeable hearing aids may be for you! 

Many hearing aids sold today offer rechargeable options.  Rechargeability can make managing hearing aids easier as it does away with weekly battery changes.

There are generally two types of rechargeable batteries currently used in hearing aids:

Silver-zinc or nickel-metal hydride

Silver-Zinc and Nickel Metal-Hydride batteries are available in the same sizes as disposable batteries (10, 312, 13) and simply fit into the hearing aids like normal disposable zinc-air batteries. Wearers can simply insert their hearing aids directly in an appropriate charger without having to take the rechargeable batteries out.   Hearing aids using this type of rechargeable technology have the option of using either rechargeable cells or normal zinc ear disposable batteries.  Generally, this type of rechargeable battery needs to be replaced annually.

 

Lithium-ion

Lithium ion batteries are integrated into the housing/case of the hearing aid and cannot be removed by the wearer.  This means the housing of the hearing aid does not need a battery door improving its moisture and dust resistance.  Lithium-ion chargers have several advantages over the silver-zinc and nickel-metal hydride technologies, including much greater longevity (3-5 years), the ability to inductively charge and also rapid charge the hearing aid battery (e.g. a 30-minute charge give 6 hours of battery life).

 

Interested in some accessories to enhance the performance and your experience with hearing aids?  Speak to the Sound of Life team who can advise you on the most appropriate technology to achieve your communication goals.

About Sounds of Life

Sounds of Life Audiology is a leading, independent hearing aid specialist.  We offer affordable hearing aid pricing on quality hearing aids (including virtually invisible hearing aid technology) from the world’s leading brands including Siemens, Signia, Phonak, Starkey, Unitron, Resound, Bernafon, Oticon and Sonic Innovations.

Contact Us today on 1300 744 432

 

 

 

Super-charge your hearing with rechargeable hearing aid technology

 

 

 

Super-charge your hearing with rechargeable hearing aid technology

 

Most hearing aid manufacturers now offer a range of rechargeable hearing aid options.  The main benefits of rechargeable technology relate to convenience and ease of use.  Battery changes can be very fiddly due to the small size of hearing aid batteries.  For a typical hearing aid user, disposable non-rechargeable zinc-air batteries need to be replaced fortnightly. Rechargeable hearing aids make management must easier and more convenient.  At night, wearers simply need to place their hearing aids in the charger and overnight the hearing aids are recharged and ready in the morning for the busy day ahead.

Currently due to the relatively high cost of the re-chargers and rechargeable batteries, they do not provide significant cost advantages over the cost of disposable zinc-air battery replacements. However, there are environmental advantages with rechargeable hearing aids reducing battery waste by using roughly 1 pair of batteries per year instead of nearly 52 batteries or more.

Currently rechargeable hearing aid technology is predominately used in behind-the-ear (BTE) and receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid styles.  Most manufacturers offer rechargeable solutions where the batteries are recharged via direct contact with gold pins on the side or at the bottom (integrated into the battery door) of the hearing aids.

Signia recently released an inductive charging rechargeable hearing aid model that does not require any external pins or contacts. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery is charged by a magnetic field.  The advantage of this technology is that it is much easier to use and improves the reliability of the hearing aid.  Wearers do not need to line up contacts in a charger, they simply need to place the hearing aids on the charging station.

We believe this inductive charging technology is the future of rechargeability and opens the door for future rechargeability options for custom styles such as in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC) and completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids where battery contacts would be difficult due to integrate into the custom shell.

 

Types of rechargeable batteries

Currently there are three different types of rechargeable technology on the market: (1) Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), (2) Silver Zinc (Ag-Zn) and (3) Lithium-ion.

 

Nickel Metal Hydride

Nickel Metal Hydride rechargeable technology has been the main rechargeable battery technology used in the industry until the last couple of years.  In fact, the Signia brand (formally Siemens) has had rechargeable BTE and RIC models using this technology in its range for over a decade.

rechargeable hearing aids caboolturePros

  • Wearers can choose whether to use rechargeable or standard batteries (zinc air)
  • Relatively cost effective – $20 to $30 per battery

Cons

  • Expected life is 500 cycles so the rechargeable battery needs to be replaced every 1-2 years
  • Relatively low capacity compared to the other rechargeable technologies so for power hearing aids or hearing aids that use Bluetooth, wearers may not get a full day of use before the battery goes flat

An example of a current hearing aid using this technology is the Signia Pure primax.

 

Silver Zinc 

More recently Silver Zinc rechargeable hearing aid technology has been grown in popularity.  The main reasons for its popularity is that, compared to Nickel Metal Hydride technology, it has a much higher capacity and therefore can provide a full day’s use, even with Bluetooth hearing aids as well as power hearing aids.  In addition, the technology can be retro fitted to many existing hearing aid models in the market with the addition of a special battery door with pins.

Pros

  • Wearers can choose whether to use rechargeable or standard batteries (zinc-air)
  • Can be retrofitted to many different hearing aid models

Cons

  • Expected life is 400 cycles so the rechargeable battery needs to be replaced every year
  • Annual replacement can be quite expensive ~$100 per battery
  • Retrofitted versions add size to the hearing aids as the battery door incorporate external pins.

Some examples of current hearing aids that can be retrofitted to use this technology include the Oticon Opn, Widex Beyond and Resound Linx 3D.

 

Lithium-ion 

Lithium-ion rechargeable technology is commonly used in consumer electronics due to its high capacity (relative to size), minimal memory effect and low self-discharge.   Only recently has this technology been utilised in hearing aids.  So far two manufacturers have released hearing aid models using lithium-ion technology.  In 2016, Phonak launched the Audeo B-R RIC and Signia launched the Cellion RIC.  The Phonak Audeo B-R RIC’s lithium-ion battery is charged via contacts, while the Signia Cellion RIC’s lithium-ion battery is charged inductively (no requirement for contacts).  In early 2018, Signia released a smaller version of its Cellion hearing aid called Pure “Charge&Go”.

As hearing aids improve in performance and utlise Bluetooth more and more, the requirement for a high capacity battery is critical.  Due to the significant advantages of Lithium-ion technology over the other rechargeable battery technologies, we feel more manufacturers will be releasing models using lithium-ion over the coming years and it will be the dominant rechargeable technology in this industry.  .

Pros

  • Highest capacity and suitable for more powerful hearing aids inc models using Bluetooth.
  • The batteries last at least four years and can be replaced by the manufacturer.
  • Low charging time means a full charge can be achieved in 3-4 hours
  • Having no battery door that opens and closes means the housing is designed with less gaps improving water resistance and general reliability.

Cons

  • If the user forgets to charge the hearing aids, there is no option to use disposable batteries.

Some examples of current hearing aids that use this technology include the Phonak, Audeo B-R, Signia Cellion and Signia Pure Charge&Go.

At Sounds of Life we are an independent hearing aid clinic and have access to all the different types of rechargeable hearing aids on the market.  If you are interested in rechargeable hearing aid technology, we can discuss with you the wide range of options available so you can make an informed decision on which technology is best suited for your individual needs and circumstances.

About Sounds of Life

Sounds of Life Audiology is a leading, independent hearing aid specialist.  We offer affordable hearing aid pricing on quality hearing aids (including virtually invisible hearing aid technology) from the world’s leading brands including Siemens, Signia, Phonak, Starkey, Unitron, Resound, Bernafon, Oticon and Sonic Innovations.

Contact Us today on 1300 744 432

.

 

 

Signia Pure Charge&Go Nx Hearing Aid Review

 

 

 

Signia Pure Charge&Go Nx Hearing Aid Review

 

 

Lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids are increasing in popularity in Australia.  In April 2018, Signia (formally Siemens) will launch its new Lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid: Signia Pure Charge&Go Nx RIC (receiver-in-canal).  The Signia Pure Charge&Go uses Signia’s latest impressive audiological platform: Signia Nx and will be available in three performance levels:

  • 7nx (Premium)
  • 5nx (High-end)
  • 3nx (Mid-range)

 

Why Lithium-ion Rechargeability?

There are several advantages of lithium-ion hearing aids:

  • Ease of management and convenience – the wearer never needs to change fiddly zinc-air batteries. The hearing aids are designed so that they are charged every night, so they deliver a full day’s hearing.
  • Reliability and robustness – Doing away with disposable zinc-air batteries means there is no need for a battery door that opens and closes. This means the housing is designed with less gaps improving the hearing aid’s water resistance and general reliability.

Signia is very experienced in the rechargeable space producing rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride hearing aids for well over a decade.  However, the Signia Pure Charge&Go RIC will be Signia’s second generation lithium-ion hearing aid replacing the popular Cellion primax RIC released in 2016 (see review of this model here)

Pure Charge&Go uses an inductive rechargeable system doing away with the need for battery contacts on the hearing aid’s housing.  By using an inductive charging system, the Pure Charge&Go is designed to be extremely easy to use as there is no need to plug it in to be charged.  When the hearing aids are placed in the charger cradle they turn off automatically and when removed, they turn on automatically (no need to fiddle with the controls).  The inductive system also means the hearing aid can be designed as one piece with less openings reducing the risk of moisture or dust/dirt entering the hearing aid.  In fact, the Pure Charge&Go has been certified as achieving an ingress-protection rating (IP) of 68.

The Signia Pure Charge&Go battery takes 3 hours to charge and delivers 19 hours of use.  Signia advises that this time is reduced slightly if the wearer does a lot of wireless audio streaming (e.g. listening to music or taking phone calls).  Signia indicates that wearers can expect 17 hours of use if wearers audio stream for 5 hours.

Pure Charge&Go is considerably smaller than its predecessor Cellion, In the past many wearers were disappointed in the size of lithium-ion hearing aid models as they were comparable in size to traditional 13 size battery models.  The new Pure Charge&Go is considerably smaller and comparable in size to traditional 312 battery models.

 

 

Audiological Performance

Pure Charge&Go uses Signia’s latest audiological chip platform: Signia Nx.  In our opinion this one of the most advanced hearing aid platforms on the market delivering superb sound quality and speech clarity even in challenging situations.  More information about the Signia Nx audiological platform can be found here.

One of the standard out technologies is Signia’s Ultra HD e2e wireless system.  This technology is used to connect the two hearing aids when worn together ensuring the hearing aids act as a binaural “system” rather than independently.  The advantage of this “system” is that each hearing aid processes sound not only from the two microphones on its own hearing aid, but also from the two microphones on the other hearing aid.  This binaural processing technology forms the basis of some very powerful audiological features:

  • Narrow directionality – for improved hearing in background noise (Signia has shown that this can out-perform normal hearing in challenging situations with a lot of background noise*)
  • Own Voice Processing – a unique feature that improves the perception of the wearer’s own voice but independently processing the wearer’s own voice from all other sound in the environment.
  • 3D classification – the hearing aids are able to determine the type of environment the wearer is in and optimally adapt their performance.

 

Wireless Audio-Streaming

The Pure Charge&Go also features direct wireless audio streaming technology.  Wearers with Apple (Made for iPhone) devices can audiostream phone calls, music or any other audio input directly into their hearing aids.  Effectively their hearing aids become wireless headsets.  Signia offers a device called StreamLine mic that will enable wearers to wireless stream audio from other non-Apple Bluetooth devices.  The StreamLine mic can also be used as a remote microphone.  Wearers can give the Streamline mic to the person they want to hear (e.g. lecturer) and their voice will be wirelessly streamed into their hearing aids at a distance of up to 20 metres.

 

Our Conclusion

At Sounds of Life we are very excited about the Signia Charge & Go.  We believe the lithium-ion technology will improve the wearer’s experience by offering a hassle-free and convenient way of managing their hearing aids.  We have fitted many of the non-rechargeable Signia Nx hearing aids and feedback from our clients has been excellent.  Certainly for active wearers that are regularly in challenging situations with background noise, they benefit significantly from the advanced noise reduction technology in the Signia Nx platform.  Wearers also appreciate the direct audio streaming capabilities for phone use.

 

Sounds of Life offers the Pure Charge&Go hearing aids at Brisbane’s lowest prices:

Signia (Siemens)

  • Premium: Pure Charge&Go 7Nx RIC – $3890 (+ $299 for the charger)
  • High-end: Pure Charge&Go 5Nx – $2990 (+ $299 for the charger)
  • Mid-range: Pure Charge&Go 3Nx – RIC – $2200 (+ $299 for the charger)

Special Launch offer – For the month of April, Sounds of Life is offering the charger free-of-charge for all binaural purchases of Pure Charge & Go.

 

*http://www.hearingreview.com/2017/05/comparison-study-speech-recognition-using-binaural-beamforming-narrow-directionality/?ref=fr-title

 

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:

 

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