The following is a guest post comes from Kelly Wycoff, a longtime hearing aid wearer and Connect Hearing Hearing Care Professional. With her personal experience and professional expertise, we thought she was the perfect person to kick off our new series of hearing aid reviews. Thanks, Kelly!
Having worn hearing aids since age 4, I’ve seen the advances in hearing technology firsthand and have been really impressed by what’s come out of the last few years. The new Audeo V line from Phonak is no exception. I’ve been wearing Phonak Audeo V90s since January, after 5 years with wearing different manufacturers’ receiver-in-the canal (RIC) hearing aids and have found them to be truly different level of hearing aid technology than what I’ve worn in the past.
About the Phonak Audeo V
Before I get started on my experience, let's take a quick look at the technical details!
First off, the V in Audeo V stands for Venture, the newest technology platform from Phonak. The keystone of this platform is its operating system, AutoSense OS. The "brain" of the hearing aid, it automatically senses your listening environment and instantly changes to the best of 200 pre-programmed listening modes. The platform also uses new chip technology which aims to increase battery life by 30 percent or more.
All hearing aids in the Audeo V line are receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) models. They are designed for people with mild to severe hearing losses and come in four performance levels: basic (V30), economy (V50), advanced (V70), and premium (V90). The models differ both in price (there’s around a $1,000 per two hearing aids increase in cost each time you increase performance levels) and the number of programs and channels they offer.
My Experience Wearing Phonak Audeo V90 Hearing Aids
I've been wearing Audeo V90s for the last four months and long story short: I love this technology - I'm hearing things I was never able to before and think about my hearing aids a lot less.
To give you a little background, I have about a 32% hearing loss. It’s a sloping hearing loss, meaning it is worse in the higher frequencies. In everyday terms, this means things sound muddled, and I have the most trouble with high-pitched noises, like female voices.
Here’s what I’ve noticed:
The first thing I noticed when I put them in is how there was no white noise within a quiet room. There is very little feedback with these hearing aids. Just the crisp sounds of speech were a little overwhelming! I've simply never heard these sounds before.
Overall, the sound quality is great. I’m hearing a lot more high pitched noises and consonants like t and s come through more clearly. It’s a lot easier to hear in busy, noisy places like when I’m out doing hearing screenings in the community. My own voice sounds more natural too – not “barrel-like.”
Listening to music with these in is also a whole new experience. The instruments sound clearer and more distinct. I’ve been re-listening to songs from the 80s and 90s and am just amazed at what I’m hearing. Sometimes they sound like entirely different songs!
You know how people say they take their hearing for granted? Lately, I’ve started saying I take my hearing aids for granted. I hardly ever touch them, except to insert them and take them out. They really do automatically adjust to the listening situation seamlessly. With other hearing aids I’ve worn, I’ve noticed the programs changing and it was really annoying.
Comfort & Insertion
I find these hearing aids very easy to insert and comfortable to wear. There are a variety of custom earmolds to suit different patients. I opt to wear them with the domes, which I find more comfortable than acrylic hard shells, while patients with dexterity issues may want to look at the cShells.
In my experience, claims about battery life have stood up. I’m getting 8 or 9 days per battery vs. 5 or 6 days from my old hearing aids.
You can stream your phone, computer or TV directly to your hearing aids through the ComPilot II. The new smartphone app from Phonak also lets you control volume and programs with new precision, including the ability to adjust volume in the right or left ear separately.
Is Audeo V Right for You?
From a professional perspective, one of the best things about this hearing aid is the wide range of people it works for. It will fit patients with mild to severe hearing loss and can be reprogrammed should your hearing loss change. It’s easy to use for people who want something simple, but has a lot of advanced features for people who are technology savvy. And should you ever run into trouble with it, many repairs can be done in the center, meaning you won’t have to have it sent away.
Choosing Between the Audeo V90, V70, V50 and V30
The biggest difference between the performance levels is the different number of channels each offers. I tell patients it’s like shopping for a TV: For better resolution, choose a television with more pixels per inch. For clearer hearing, choose a hearing aid with more channels. (This can be especially important for people with “ski slope hearing loss” because some areas that might sound too loud or not loud enough with fewer channels.)
I’ve been lucky to wear the premium V90s and that’s what I’d recommend if you want the best sound. The V90 does amazing in the car or in places that echo like the museum even when compared to the V70. There’s still a lot to offer in the lower performance levels for patients looking for something more in-budget though. I recommend trying the different models out to see which performance level works best for you.
Try Audeo V Hearing Aids Free
You can try the Audeo V line of hearing aids absolutely free at any of our 300 nationwide locations. Simply fill out the form or call 1-888-426-6632 to schedule your free hearing consultation.
About Kelly Wycoff
Kelly is the Hearing Care Professional in Connect Hearing’s Bloomington, IN hearing center. She holds a B.S. in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences from Purdue University and has a professional license for the state of Indiana.