Widex Evoke Fusion 2 RIC Review – Delivering a Personalised Hearing Experience
In this post we review the new Widex Evoke Fusion 2 receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid which was released in Australia in July 2018. The hearing aid is well-featured and includes the latest “Made for iPhone” 2.4 GHz Bluetooth technology for connectivity and direct streaming of audio from Apple smartphones and tablets.
Widex is at the forefront of sound processing technology and they have a good reputation of releasing hearing aids with excellent sound quality. However, as good as objective sound processing technology can be, sound quality certainly has a “subjective” element to it. What sounds good for one person, may not sound good to another!
Widex addresses this “subjective” element with the new Evoke Fusion 2 RIC hearing aid. It features a new technology called “SoundSense Learn” offering wearers a more personalised hearing aid listening experience by learning the wearer’s sound preferences in specific situations and environments. In addition to this, the hearing aids take advantage of the experience from “other similar” wearers, in “similar situations”, from across the globe. Using this “cloud sourced data”, the Widex Evoke Fusion 2 RIC hearing aids are able to learn from other wearers’ experiences, so they can adapt and improve their performance over time.
Why is personalisation important?
We all know that hearing aid technology and performance is improving rapidly. With every new generation of hearing aid technology, we see improvements in sound processing as well as new and improved features and functionality. Who would have thought 10 years ago, hearing aids could be used as a wireless headset to directly stream music and phone calls?
However, every individual has different needs, preferences, lifestyles and of course hearing loss. For wearers to truly benefit from these technological improvements, the hearing aids need to be highly customised and optimised for each wearer. The audiologist has a challenging role in fitting hearing aids, ensuring that the hearing aids are optimally programmed and customised to satisfy these unique hearing needs and preferences. This customisation includes ensuring that the basic sound amplification (e.g. frequency response, compression) appropriately compensates for the wearer’s hearing loss and ensuring hearing aid programs, features and settings match the wearer’s lifestyle needs and preferences.
How do audiologists personalise hearing aids?
The audiologist may begin with case history to understand the wearer’s lifestyle needs and preferences, then measure and quantify their hearing loss. The hearing aids will then be programmed to precisely amplify sound correctly at each individual frequency (as hearing loss varies across the frequency range). In addition, hearing aid features and functionality will be set-up to meet the wearer’s lifestyle needs and preferences.
A follow up appointment is usually scheduled some weeks after the fitting, once the wearer has experienced the hearing aids in their everyday environments. Based on the wearer’s feedback, if the hearing aids were too loud or too soft in certain situations, the audiologist would fine tune the hearing aids to optimise the hearing aid performance for the wearer. More details about this process can be found here.
There are some challenges in this process. Firstly, the audiologist not having the first-hand experience in the wearer’s hearing situations, may not be able to comprehend the factors contributing to their hearing difficulties (they are making assumptions). Neither is it easy for wearers to accurately communicate their sound preferences for a host of hearing situations. F inally, the hearing clinics are usually soundproofed for conducting hearing tests, bearing little resemblance to real world listening situations. A hearing aid that is optimally fitted in a quiet soundproof room may not always perform adequately in real life noise-filled environments.
“Sound-Sense Learn” hearing aid learning technology
Now imagine having an audiologist by your side constantly adjusting your hearing aid settings to best match your hearing needs in different situations? This is what Widex’s new learning technology is all about, except you can leave the audiologist back in the clinic.
Widex Evoke Fusion 2 RIC hearing aids feature a new technology called “Sound-Sense Learn” that automatically learns the wearer’s sound preferences in specific situations/environments, but also by using the collective listening preferences of “other similar” wearers, in “similar situations”, across the globe.
How does “Sound-Sense Learn” work?
Wearers adjust their hearing aids using the “SoundSense Learn” smartphone app. In situations where the wearer feels the hearing aids do not sound as good as they would like, they use the app to guide them to improved sound quality.
The app lets wearers listen to two different settings: A and B. The differences between A and B is frequency response (adapted via an equalizer). After listening to both A and B settings, the wearer can determine which one they like best (in the app, the slider can be moved to select the options like: “moderately better“, “a lot better“, or “a little bit better“). Once selected, the wearer will listen to another A and B sample. They can go through a number of samples until they are happy and select the option: “Yes, this is my intention in this environment, my needs are being met right now.” In addition to wearers being able to save this setting as a favourite (to be used again when they are in the same situation or environment), over time, the hearing aids learn the wearer’s sound preferences and they adapt automatically.
One of the interesting things about this “learning” is that the information can be uploaded into the “Widex cloud” where Widex analyses the data from thousands of users across the world. If Widex sees a trend from this “crowd-sourced data pool”, they can provide the option of remotely updating the hearing aids’ firmware (via the user’s smartphone), of all the Evoke hearing aids in use around the world.
Widex has always been at the forefront of sound processing technology and they have a good reputation of delivering excellent sound quality. The Widex Evoke Fusion 2 RIC hearing aids offer the ability for an even better experience for wearers, through advanced learning technology that adapts the sound quality for the individual wearer. The hearing aids will be particularly helpful for clients who previously may have had difficulty achieving satisfactory settings in their hearing aids (many fine-tuning sessions). If they are willing to spend the time “teaching” their hearing aids they can achieve highly personalised settings.
The Widex Evoke Fusion 2 RIC hearing aids are available in four performance levels (440/330/220/110) from Sounds of Life and are priced from $1750 each.
Premium – Evoke 440 RIC – $3890
High-end – Evoke 330 RIC – $2990
Mid-Range – Evoke 220 RIC – $2100
Entry-Level – Evoke 110 RIC – $1750
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: