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Thread: Looking for Best HA and Source for Me

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    15 miles East of Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    7

    Default Looking for Best HA and Source for Me

    Hi Everyone, I'm new to this forum, and new to the world of HAs. I had my hearing test on Jan 26, 2017 and have published the result in my signature at the end. Since then I've had one interview with an AuD in Columbus, OH, and have 2 more set up for this coming week (one through HearUSA and one through HearingPlanet. I also have been doing as much reading on this forum and other places as I can to understand how to get the best HA for my hearing loss. I have also talked to Mark at BuyHear.

    The first AuD (independent) that I talked to recommended the Phonak B90 to me, but the price was $6300 and I have no insurance to cover any of it. Since the cost was so high, and I knew so little about the subject, I contacted the other people (retailers rated in Consumer Reports), who gave me much lower prices on the same hearing aid ($4900 by HearingPlanet, $3298 BuyHear, unkown price HearUSA). I checked out CostCo (I am not a member), but they don't even carry the high-end HAs that I had been looking at.

    So I have several questions based on where I am now:
    1. Of the 3 hearing aids I have read about (Phonak B90, Signia (Siemens) Primax 7 Cellion, and Oticon OP1:
    A. Which might be best for me, and why?
    B. Is there any way to generally characterize each of them compared to each other? (i.e., best for windy situations, hearing voices in noisy backgrounds like restaurants, etc.)
    C. Are there other HAs that I should consider that I don't know/haven't heard about?
    D. How do I decide which one to try first?

    2. I hate paying $6300 for an independent AuD pair of Phonak B90R (I was initially looking at the rechargeable unit, but have since changed my mind after reading more to the replaceable battery version), when I can get the same unit for as low as $3600 from BuyHear.
    A. Is it really worth the difference in money?
    B. Do the AuD's at HearUSA and HearingPlanet do just as good a job as the independent?
    C. I have not heard any bad words anywhere about BuyHear, and their price is the lowest, but everything is done long-distance. For a first time user like me is this advisable, with my hearing loss chart?
    D. All 3 of these HAs are in the same price range as far as I can tell. Is this correct?
    E. Should I look into anyone else to get pricing/service/fitting for me in my area?

    If I've missed some threads/posts on this site that might answer any of these, someone can just point me to them instead of repeating what they might say. But, otherwise, I could use some advice from some of you who have MUCH more experience than I on these topics. This is a bit scary for me, yet exciting to think that I might be able to hear things I have been missing in the past few (or more) years.
    Thanks for your help,
    Jerry
    Looking for correct HA for me:

    L 19 24 24 29 43 69 74 74
    Freq 250 500 1000 2000 3500 4000 7000 8000
    R 35 30 28 16 35 55 70 70

    R SRT(25) dBHL(65) 100% Masking(45)
    L SRT(25) dBHL(70) 72% Masking(50)

  2. #2

    Default

    Jerry, I'm no expert - just someone who's worn several brands of aids for more than 30 years. I can't tell you how Oticon would compare to Phonak or Primax either. But I AM impressed with your level of research, enthusiasm and questions you pose here. I have no doubt that you'll get some more precise answers from folks here who've gone the route of BuyHear, etc., or who may even be wearing one of these aids you're interested in.

    Minor point: your audiogram seemed a bit different in the number range! Do you really hear at 19db for LEFT ear at 250 freq range? I guess I'm just used to seeing the whole range of numbers rounded up or averaged somehow. In any case, it seems your hearing loss is quite mild till you hit 4000+.

    Being new to buying aids, and with no insurance coverage, I can totally understand why you balk at paying $6300 for a pair of aids from an indi audi! However, if you look at wearing aids as a lifelong choice going forward, it may make sense to form a good relationship with an audiologist. I've had a couple excellent aud-guys over many decades, and maybe just a couple who were utterly lacking in any patience or customer orientation. I can tell you that my paying $6000+ for my latest pair of Oticon Opn miniRITE aids is a very good investment. I bought these from an aud-guy I've been seeing for a decade now. He not only knows my health issues, but my listening preferences. He and his staff are like family to me - they fit me in ANY hour to accommodate a rare emergency. He gives me incredible trials of 90 days - no questions asked! Even told me to try out a pair of aids on a month-long vacay I had last fall (I demured, saying, "This is NUTS! I'd have to at least put a deposit down!") He's even helped out other family members, loaning devices and fitting them in for appointments. In that respect, the price I pay for aids repays itself many times over.

    It's hard to grasp that kind of value when you're a first-time buyer. Aids are not like a car that costs a lot, but is ultimately replaced or driven into the ground at your choice. Aids are purchased electively for health reasons, and to improve one's safety and quality of life. If you can trade that off for a one-time savings of a few thou, that's your call. But I look at aids as an investment that requires ongoing maintenance and upgrades, so it's like owning a classic car that you only entrust to the family mechanic! (and believe me, I've had some Bimers that fit the bill there)

    The only way to see which of three nearly identical aids (in terms of price and performance) is BEST for you is to trial each one. That may sound like a ridiculous amount of time and hassle, but it is SO worth it! I tried out the Widex Unique for a month, then a pair of awful Resounds for 2 minutes, then decided on my Oticon Opns. When all was said and done, I felt I got THE BEST aids for my listening preference in terms of sound quality, speech clarity and enjoyment of music. Consider what external devices are critical to you: TV streaming, phone streamer, what-all, and toss that into your final decision.

    Good luck with the *winner* and be sure to let us know which you decide on, from what source and WHY! You'll have some great input at the end of your journey here.
    HAs from 1985>Starkey>Phonak>AGX>Oticon Agil Pro ITE>Oticon Opn miniRITE

    KHz 0.25...0.5...1.0...2.0...3.0...4.0....6.0...8.0

    Left ..65....80....80....65.....65....60....65....90
    Right 65....80....80....75.....75....70....65....90

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    NW Indiana
    Posts
    2,502
    Blog Entries
    11

    Default

    I can direct you to the one person who can determine what is best for you. That person is you. That might sound like a snide remark but it is a fact. The previous poster said, " then a pair of awful Resounds for 2 minutes" but I wear Resound aids happily. Each ear is different. Loss causes differing problems. Trying and aid for two minutes doesn't work. As a new wearer, you are a month from knowing how you do with an aid. At first it will be -- GUARANTEED -- horrid. Your brain must acclimate to sounds you have been shut away from and will now sound impossible to live with.

    You are in Columbus, I suggest you start at Costco. The prices beat everybody else. But the real reason is you get a 6-mo trial and can get a full refund. Compare that to a clinic's 30 days and triple the price. You may decide on the clinic in the end but you will be a better informed client.
    Hidden Content
    KS6's w. Phone Clip +
    There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. -- William Shakespeare





  4. #4

    Default

    First of all, your audiogram looks kind of odd, because most of the times it's rounded off to the nearest 5. But I'm guessing that you're looking at your chart and visually eyeballed off of it so that's why the numbers are not rounded off, which is fine.

    Costco doesn't carry the most current top of the line HAs like the regular audiologist channel or online channel do, but you do get very good pricing on their offering, very long trial period, and non-commissioned unlimited on-site service combined.

    I doubt that HearUSA or HearingPlanet or Hear.com, etc, use their own exclusive local audi or HIS. They probably just sub out the job to local providers and take a cut from them, so there's no need to compare their providers against the local providers because they're usually the same anyway. For example, I went through Hear.com originally and they referred me to a local provider. And although it didn't work out with Hear.com due to insurance coverage pricing, I continued to work directly with the same local provider anyway (independent from Hear.com afterward), and this provider worked directly with my insurance company to get me the Oticon OPN fitted. And it's probably better for her to deal with me directly as well because she doesn't have to pay Hear.com their cut.

    If you want top of the line, most current HAs, but don't want to pay a premium for it, then online places like BuyHear.com has the lowest prices compared to your local audiologists. The drawback there is that you're a first time wearer, so you don't know exactly what you want, and the online route is more efficient if you know what you want. But it doesn't mean that online purchase won't work for you, though. Many folks on this forum have bought from buyhear.com and reported very good experience with them. I haven't heard much about any bad experience with buyhear.com on this forum so at least that's also a good thing. On the other hand, paying a premium for a local audiologist/HIS service doesn't always guarantee higher satisfaction either. There are enough share of posters on this forum who are not happy with their local audi as well.

    I would say that if you decide to go the buyhear.com route, pick a top of the line HA (that's why you go that route in the first place, right? to get the most advanced HAs not available at Costco, but for reasonable cost because you have no insurance coverage for HAs) that generally requires the least programming and adjustment effort, so that it will only take a few tries to get it right instead of taking several tries to get it right. For more experienced HA wearers, they know what they want so they can minimize the adjustment cycles using their experience to get the programming done right the first few times only. For a newbie like you who don't really know what you want yet, a HA that's more automated and requires the least amount of programming and decision making from you would probably work out better for you when you go the online route.

    The long distance thing with Buyhear is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you can get things adjusted during your trial period which is still not bad at 60 days, although not as generous as the Costco 180 days. I believe if you need further adjustments during your trial period after the original adjustment (that they do for you before shipping you the HA out), they send you the programming device/kit and they remotely make further adjustments for you. This is actually better in my opinion because you get to do it at the comfort of your own home without having to drive to a local appointment. On top of that, you probably won't have to wait too long between adjustments like with a busy local provider (Costco is really bad with appointments because they're usually very busy) because BuyHear will probably want to take care of you quickly so they can get their programming kit returned to them asap. I'd imagine that with BuyHear, you can probably make several online adjustment appointments within a week time frame and be done with it and return the programming kit to them before you know it. With Costco or a local provider, you may need to wait a week or two before you can even get your next fitting appointment scheduled in. But on the other hand, having enough time in between adjustments to try out different listening environments is better than being rushed. You may want to ask Buyhear how long they're willing to let you hang on to the programming kit so you can take your time trying things out between adjustments.

    As far as the 3 options you mentioned (Phonak B90, Signia Primax 7 Cellion, and Oticon OPN1), it looks like you're leaning toward wanting to try out the 3 top-of-the-line most recent technology HAs available on the market today, instead of going the Costco route which doesn't have these offerings?

    I can't speak for the first 2, I can only speak for the OPN1 because that's what I wear. I can't say which is best for you, I can only say how I think the OPN1 can be good for you based on your situation:

    1. The OPN1 actually only requires 1 program setting in general to work with all listening environments, although you can have up to 4 programs if you want. That's because it's designed to transition seamlessly from one listening environment to the next automatically. So you don't need a program for restaurant, a program for music, a program for phone, a program for car, etc. and remember to manually switch programs yourself. This is not because it's necessarily better than the other HAs, it's just because it has a different strategy on hearing (what they call the "open" paradigm), so the single seamless program is just a natural extension of this strategy. This is good for you as a newbie because you don't need to be an experienced HA wearer who knows that they want. So there's a good chance that it may work for you right out of the box when you receive it in the mail already pre-programmed for your loss without further adjustments. And even if you need further adjustments, it may be minimal compared to other HAs. Another important aspect in getting successful programming adjustments is the skill of the audi/HIS. And I'm not even saying that the BuyHear audi has lower adjustment skill than the local ones. For all we know, the Buyhear audis can be very qualified, too. But the point here is that if the programming is designed to be easier to do in the first place, then dependence on a good/experienced audi to give you successful programming outcome can become a less important factor.

    2. The second reason the OPN can be good for you is because as a first time HA wearer, your brain may adopt more easily to this "open" paradigm/strategy that the OPN is designed for, because your brain hearing is already functioning without the help from HAs before, so it's used to processing sound in the unaided way. What I mean is that with people transitioning from a traditional HA to the OPN, they have to deal with hearing everything in noisy environment, and the extra noise can be overwhelming for their brain. The OPN expects their brain hearing to relearn to tune out the noise and focus on the speech. But your brain hearing probably is already used to managing noise, so the OPN will help you hear better without your brain being overwhelmed in a noisy environment from the get-go.

    3. I think all 3 of these HAs can handle your hearing loss profile just fine. If you like to listen to live music (or loud music), which can have a very wide dynamic range, you want to pick out an HA that has very good input dynamic range to avoid clipping and distortion. I think the Signia Primax and the OPN have 114 db SPL input range. Not sure what the Phonak B90's is (not obvious from their brochure).
    Last edited by Volusiano; 02-11-2017 at 08:38 PM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

    KHz 0.25...0.5...0.75...1.0...1.5...2.0...3.0...4.0... 6.0...8.0

    Left ...10...10....10.....30.....70....75....80....95.. ..90....80
    Right .25...30....40.....55.....75....85....90....90...1 00...100

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    516

    Default

    I agree with Ken that ultimately you have to decide what is best for you. I'm relatively new to hearing aids (November) and will share my opinion. I don't think there's anything about your audiogram that suggests one hearing aid over another. Regarding whether it's "worth it" to pay extra to an independent audiologist. Impossible to know. If you prove challenging to get your hearing aids just right for you and he's really good, it could absolutely be worth it. My thoughts: Don't rule out Costco. Although they don't have the exact models you mentioned, they have ones similar to a couple of the ones you are considering. The Kirkland Signature 7.0 (KS7) is similar to the Signia Primax and the Phonak Brio 2 is similar to the B90, but is an older model. They are notably less expensive. The KS7 is $1700 and the Phonak Brio2 is $2800. My take is that money seems to be an issue for you. I'd go to Costco and join (membership is refundable if you decide you're unhappy) You'll get a thorough hearing test (or they may decide to use at least some of the one you have) If you decide you'd like to try one of the models they carry, you have 6 months to make up your mind. This is the route I went and am quite happy. (I got the KS7s) Whichever route you choose, I'm convinced you'll do well. You approach things methodically and thoughtfully.
    .25 .5 1 1.5 2 3.0 4.0 6.0 8.0

    15 15 20 30 30 55 75 90 NR ​KS7
    10 10 20 15 25 35 65 85 95 WRS 100/92@45/40

  6. #6

    Default

    I notice one thing, that you mentioned the rechargeable version of the Phonak and Signia, which run $300-$400 more than the regular battery version.

    My opinion is that if you don't have dexterity issues with your fingers that prevent you from easily replace small HA batteries on a regular basis, I would steer away from the rechargeable battery option. That's because if you do the math, there's no financial incentive to pay extra for rechargeable battery options. If anything, in a few years when the rechargeable battery goes bad (which is inevitable), you'll most likely be charged with a full repair price to get it replaced, which can be pretty expensive. And if the HA is too old, the mfg may not even service that model anymore. At least with the regular HAs, you can use them for as long as they work without having to worry about the servicing issue. If you buy HA batteries from Costco, they run around $0.18 per battery. If you need to change batteries every 4 days even, that's only $33/year on regular battery cost.

    Environmentally speaking, regular battery is too small to cause any significant environmental impact compared to the amount of waste one person generates a day.

    Beside the likely higher cost to replace rechargeable batteries (if the mfg still service that model), there's also a convenience issue of having to remember to recharge it every night or every other night, and lugging around the charging base with you on travel.

    If I were you, I'd just go with the regular version and save the $300-$400 up front, as well as potentially expensive full repair/replacement costs that's inevitable in the future.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 02-11-2017 at 08:39 PM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

    KHz 0.25...0.5...0.75...1.0...1.5...2.0...3.0...4.0... 6.0...8.0

    Left ...10...10....10.....30.....70....75....80....95.. ..90....80
    Right .25...30....40.....55.....75....85....90....90...1 00...100

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by MDB View Post
    I agree with Ken that ultimately you have to decide what is best for you. I'm relatively new to hearing aids (November) and will share my opinion. I don't think there's anything about your audiogram that suggests one hearing aid over another. Regarding whether it's "worth it" to pay extra to an independent audiologist. Impossible to know. If you prove challenging to get your hearing aids just right for you and he's really good, it could absolutely be worth it. My thoughts: Don't rule out Costco. Although they don't have the exact models you mentioned, they have ones similar to a couple of the ones you are considering. The Kirkland Signature 7.0 (KS7) is similar to the Signia Primax and the Phonak Brio 2 is similar to the B90, but is an older model. They are notably less expensive. The KS7 is $1700 and the Phonak Brio2 is $2800. My take is that money seems to be an issue for you. I'd go to Costco and join (membership is refundable if you decide you're unhappy) You'll get a thorough hearing test (or they may decide to use at least some of the one you have) If you decide you'd like to try one of the models they carry, you have 6 months to make up your mind. This is the route I went and am quite happy. (I got the KS7s) Whichever route you choose, I'm convinced you'll do well. You approach things methodically and thoughtfully.
    I just wanted to point out that he Brio 2 sold only at costco is $2600 not $2800, minor difference. Also you are correct the Brio II is based on the v/b 90 Phonak unit. Specifically, from what I have been able to find it is a slightly modified Audeo V90. It does not have the tinnitus noise generator. The V series HA's are a little over 2 years old, the newer b series came out in late August 2016. The major difference is the rechargeable battery feature and I think they tweaked the Auto Sense OS and the Sound Recover features. It will be interesting to see when Costco starts offering the b series, I would guess next fall. I just hope it is in my trial period but that may be wishful thinking.
    250 500 750 1K 1.5K 2K 3K 4K 6K 8K
    R 55 50 55 55 60 65 85 85 80 70 SRT 60 WRS 84%@85 dB
    L 60 60 60 70 75 65 65 75 70 65 SRT 70 WRS 88%@85 dB

    Phonak Brio II 312T
    ComPilot II Air

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    516

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    I think Costcos in different regions may vary pricing a little. For mine, in Fresno, California, the Brio 2 is $2800 and includes a free "device", usually bluetooth.

    Quote Originally Posted by jtl View Post
    I just wanted to point out that he Brio 2 sold only at costco is $2600 not $2800, minor difference. Also you are correct the Brio II is based on the v/b 90 Phonak unit. Specifically, from what I have been able to find it is a slightly modified Audeo V90. It does not have the tinnitus noise generator. The V series HA's are a little over 2 years old, the newer b series came out in late August 2016. The major difference is the rechargeable battery feature and I think they tweaked the Auto Sense OS and the Sound Recover features. It will be interesting to see when Costco starts offering the b series, I would guess next fall. I just hope it is in my trial period but that may be wishful thinking.
    .25 .5 1 1.5 2 3.0 4.0 6.0 8.0

    15 15 20 30 30 55 75 90 NR ​KS7
    10 10 20 15 25 35 65 85 95 WRS 100/92@45/40

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MDB View Post
    I think Costcos in different regions may vary pricing a little. For mine, in Fresno, California, the Brio 2 is $2800 and includes a free "device", usually bluetooth.
    I am in FL. The price included the Phonak ComPilot Air II, which according to some users is of questionable value. The KS 7.0 is $1700. I have a friend who is a first time user like myself and he purchased the KS 7.0 and seems to like it although I have been told he doesn't wear it much. I have another friend who has been wearing a Phonak HA for 5 years and she just purchsed the Brio 2.
    Last edited by jtl; 02-12-2017 at 11:30 AM.
    250 500 750 1K 1.5K 2K 3K 4K 6K 8K
    R 55 50 55 55 60 65 85 85 80 70 SRT 60 WRS 84%@85 dB
    L 60 60 60 70 75 65 65 75 70 65 SRT 70 WRS 88%@85 dB

    Phonak Brio II 312T
    ComPilot II Air

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    15 miles East of Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    7

    Default

    Well, I just spend 45 minutes crafting a reply to everyone only to find when I went to post it that there was an error. Long story short, it dumped EVERYTHING I had written somewhere without posting it. So, I'll start over and hope I have better luck this time.

    First, let me thank everyone who took the time to respond to my post and help educate me. You've been invaluable, and are the reason why I took the time initially to post my inquiry. Since I took so much time in crafting my first response that got dumped on the floor, I'll shorten it this time in some summary that I hope still makes sense.

    I'm a Computer Science major by trade (graduated in 1967 from Ohio Sate and Purdue with a Masters Degree), so this taints my view of HDs in the following sense. Based on what I've read from blogs, and literature elsewhere, the world of HDs is evolving as fast as everything else, and in somewhat the same direction. That is, devices are becoming smarter and faster, or is it faster and as a result can be programmed to be smarter -- probably the latter. In any event, what used to be true relative to the need to be hand-held through selection and programming of an HD is being reduced due to the automatic switching of the newest HDs between pre-stored programs based on the ability to smartly sense the environment that they are in. Since they are not yet "perfect", there is still the need for someone to be able to provide feedback on the suitability of the device (that is the user of the HD), and someone who can do something about it (the AuD or HD Technician) to be able to tweek it by developing a new program, or to allow the user to override the automatic environment/program selection and to put in their view of what is around them to best choose the program that will help them in that environment. (This is the Computer engineer in me talking).
    In any event, the dawn of a new means of deploying and supplying smart new HDs is emerging with the online retailers such as BuyHear. The probability of a properly set up smart HD device to work for a user out-of-the-box based on their Hearing Test results is increasing. And certainly, the need for many tweeks based on an educated HD user is diminishing. Hence, I am leaning toward choosing someone like BuyHear for the extreme cost savings. This trend has obviously already started with so many people choosing to use CostCo, who I believe do NOT emply AuDs, but instead use technicians trained on the HDs that they supply to work with the user. The use of Online HD Technicians is the next evolutionary step.
    There will ALWAYS be a need for AuDs who work with users with special needs, whether these be for the user's personal reasons, or for their necessary medical reasons. However, I believe there are a lot of "normal" hearing loss patients whose needs can be met by well-trained technicians with such smart HD devices as are now showing up from suppliers.
    If I've made some invalid leap-of-faith conclusions, please let me know where I have gone wrong so that I and others can learn.
    I'll be taking my next steps starting tomorrow by visiting several other suppliers of HDs in my area and talking with their AuDs. I'll keep you all informed of my findings and progress. I also hope that those of you who read this and want to contribute and help me in my understanding will continue to do so, and PLEASE correct me where ever you feel I have gone wrong, or off the deep end. You all are the REAL eyes, ears and contributors to the education that we seek on this site.
    ALSO, I did indeed interpret the lines and marks on the GRAPH that I received that was my hearing test result. If it would be more beneficial to all of you, I will try to post a copy of the actual chart/graph on this site. Please let me know.
    Thanks,
    Jerry
    Looking for correct HA for me:

    L 19 24 24 29 43 69 74 74
    Freq 250 500 1000 2000 3500 4000 7000 8000
    R 35 30 28 16 35 55 70 70

    R SRT(25) dBHL(65) 100% Masking(45)
    L SRT(25) dBHL(70) 72% Masking(50)

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