Phonak Hearing Aids: Independent Brand Review

Phonak hearing aids

The Background And History Of Phonak Hearing Aids

Phonak, a well-respected hearing aid manufacturer, traces its roots back to 1947 in Switzerland, making it one of the oldest hearing aid companies out there. In 1994, it transitioned into a publicly traded entity. By 2007, Phonak evolved into Sonova Holding, which not only oversees Phonak but also other notable hearing aid brands such as Unitron and Hansaton.

Expanding its reach, Sonova acquired the consumer electronics company Sennheiser in 2021 and this strategic acquisition enabled Sonova to venture into the over-the-counter hearing device consumer market. As for its operational bases, Phonak’s global headquarters stand proudly near Zurich, while the U.S. operations are anchored in Naperville, Illinois.

Dominating the industry, Sonova holds an impressive 30% market share, positioning it as the largest hearing aid manufacturer. Phonak, under Sonova’s umbrella, offers a diverse range of hearing aid styles. Some of these styles are exclusive to Phonak, such as the acquisition of Lyric in 2011, renowned for its unique extended wear options.

Catering to various needs, Phonak hearing aids are versatile, accommodating everything from mild to profound hearing loss. Furthermore, Phonak has collaborated with Advanced Bionics, a cochlear implant producer. This partnership has resulted in the creation of Phonak hearing aid models that are compatible with Cochlear Implants, specially designed for bimodal patients who use a hearing aid in one ear and a cochlear implant in the other.

Keep reading on for a comprehensive overview of Phonak’s latest product offerings, Phonak hearing aids cost, brief hearing aids review, and how their line of advanced hearing aids may benefit you.

Phonak’s Latest RIC Devices On The Innovative Lumity Platform

Phonak’s newest platform, Lumity, features an extensive collection of RIC (receiver-in-canal) rechargeable hearing aids. Compared to traditional hearing aids, RIC models are celebrated by users thanks to their discreet design and comfort.

The RIC design has a component resting behind the ear that is linked to a small speaker inside the ear via a subtle thin wire. For the piece that sits inside the ear, users can opt for either disposable rubber domes or petite custom ear molds, making the RIC style adaptable to most hearing impairments, including profound hearing loss.

Phonak Audéo Lumity Life (Waterproof Hearing Aids)

Phonak Audéo Lumity Life (Waterproof Hearing Aids)

Phonak has recently unveiled a groundbreaking addition to its renowned Audeo line: the Audeo Lumity Life. This RIC (receiver-in-canal) hearing aid style stands out for its waterproof capabilities, powered by rechargeable batteries. With an IS68 rating, the Audeo Life doesn’t just meet, but surpasses the highest waterproof standards set for electronic devices.

Perfect for those with active lifestyles or those residing in humid environments, the Lumity Life premium hearing aids can comfortably endure showers, heavy perspiration during workouts, and moisture-rich conditions. However, it’s worth noting that the Lumity lineup exclusively offers rechargeable battery options, with no disposable alternatives available as of this article’s writing, which might be a limitation for some users.

Custom Ear Mold Options For Phonak RIC Hearing Aids

Phonak’s RIC (receiver-in-canal) line boasts a diverse range of rubber dome options to fit the hearing aid snugly into the canal, making wearing Phonak hearing aids easier than ever. These options include:

  • Open domes: Suitable for those with mild to moderate high-frequency hearing loss.
  • Vented domes: Designed for individuals with pronounced hearing loss in both low and high frequencies.
  • Power domes: Tailored for those with significant hearing impairments.

These domes are durably crafted, ensuring a secure fit for patients.

Phonak offers custom earmolds for patients who may not be suitable for domes due to the severity of their hearing loss or potential retention issues. These earmolds, featuring varying venting options, seamlessly integrate with Phonak’s devices to help provide a rich sound environment for users.

Interestingly, Phonak produces its own custom molds intended for RIC devices, termed cShell. These are available in two materials: the frequently chosen acrylic, and the more robust titanium. These ear molds, renowned for their comfort and precision fit, employ acoustically optimized venting. This design considers the wearer’s hearing test results, ensuring enhanced audibility of crucial high-frequency speech elements, minimization of one’s voice occlusion, and elimination of acoustic feedback.

Understanding these key factors is essential:

  1. High-frequency hearing: Many individuals with hearing loss struggle with discerning high-pitched sounds, such as word consonants, making speech sound muffled and unclear.
  2. Occlusion: Some hearing aid users may perceive their voice as overly loud or hollow, leading to discomfort.
  3. Acoustic feedback: This phenomenon arises when the hearing aid’s microphone re-amplifies an already amplified sound, resulting in an irksome whistling noise.

Phonak’s earmolds, combined with their state-of-the-art hearing aid devices, proficiently address and often eradicate these issues.

An added perk of custom molds is their enhanced acoustic response during music playback. Unlike speech, fully enjoying music demands a broad frequency range, especially the lows. Using a custom mold ensures a richer musical experience by preserving low pitches.

However, there’s a slight hitch with RIC rechargeable hearing aids paired with custom molds. Many practitioners and patients have noted compatibility issues when trying to fit these aids into the Audeo chargers. The charger’s docking area isn’t spacious enough to accommodate custom molds like cShells or other intricate designs.

Phonak’s Proprietary ActiveVent Feature For RIC Hearing Aids

Phonak's Proprietary ActiveVent Feature For RIC Hearing Aids

Phonak introduces a unique feature to its RIC (receiver-in-canal) lineup: the ActiveVent receiver. This specialized speaker/receiver stands out for its dynamic venting capability. Slightly larger than the standard receivers, the ActiveVent can adaptively open or close based on the surrounding auditory environment. In noisy settings, it can seal off, filtering out excess background noise and enhancing speech clarity. Conversely, in tranquil environments, it opens up, ensuring increased comfort for the wearer.

The functioning of the ActiveVent can either be automatic or manually controlled by the user. To operate most efficiently, this receiver mandates a custom ear mold, ideally the cShell mold. Compared to domes, these molds guarantee a snug fit in the ear canal. This ensures that when the ActiveVent is sealed, there’s no unintended sound leakage around the mold. For the optimal use of ActiveVent, a slim tube earmold is recommended, which requires the hearing care provider to take an ear mold impression.

Phonak’s recent technological innovation has resulted in them introducing an optional ActiveVent receiver for their RIC hearing aids. This adaptable receiver can actively modify its venting mechanism based on the user’s environment. It opens in quieter settings to prevent the user from feeling “clogged up” and seals in noisier situations to enhance noise reduction.

Phonak Hearing Aids For Significant Hearing Losses

Phonak CROS Hearing Aids

Phonak CROS Hearing Aids

Phonak has established itself as a leading manufacturer in providing advanced hearing aid solutions, particularly for individuals with profound hearing loss. Among their offerings is the CROS device, specifically designed to address single-sided deafness (SSD). The CROS system, which stands for “contralateral routing of signal,” captures sound from the individual’s impaired ear and transmits it to their better-hearing ear. This mechanism ensures users can perceive sounds without needing to reorient themselves or turn their head.

Phonak has recently introduced a rechargeable variant of the CROS device. However, some users might find its battery longevity slightly limiting, as it lasts approximately 11 to 12 hours before necessitating a recharge. For those preferring disposable batteries, CROS hearing aids based on the earlier Paradise platform still provide a size 13 battery option.

One current limitation is the incompatibility of CROS devices with the Phonak app. Consequently, users can’t control their device via the app or engage in remote consultations with their hearing care professionals through the platform.

Phonak Amp CROS

Phonak’s Amp CROS distinguishes itself from conventional CROS hearing aids. It allows for two hearing aids to be programmed to not only amplify sound in both ears but also to transmit sound to the better-performing ear. This unique feature is unmatched by any other hearing aid manufacturers. However, utilizing this feature may lead to a reduced battery life, particularly if extensive audio streaming is involved. For those concerned about battery longevity, opting for the disposable battery variant might be more suitable. To use the CROS with a disposable battery, one would need to select from the previous generation of Phonak hearing aids, specifically those on the Paradise platform.

Phonak’s Traditional Behind-The-Ear BTE Hearing Aids

Phonak's Traditional Behind-The-Ear BTE Hearing Aids

Phonak’s BTE (Behind-The-Ear) hearing aids are traditionally designed for individuals with significant hearing loss and for children. These models are integrated into Phonak’s latest Paradise platform. Within this range, the Naida P-PR is a rechargeable power hearing aid tailored to offer ample amplification for severe hearing loss. Conversely, the Naida P-UP is an ultra-power BTE hearing aid equipped with a disposable battery, catering to those with profound hearing loss. Notably, the Naida P-UP is powered by the size 675 battery, which is the largest in hearing aids.

For individuals exploring bimodal hearing, which merges acoustic amplification from a conventional hearing aid with electric stimulation from a cochlear implant, Phonak’s power BTE models are an excellent choice. Specifically, the Naida link hearing aid by Phonak is designed to be compatible with cochlear implants. A standout benefit of such compatible aids is the ability to stream audio seamlessly to both ears.

Phonak Custom Hearing Aid Models

Phonak boasts a specialized line of in-the-ear hearing aids tailored for individual users. To ensure a precise fit, these custom aids necessitate an ear mold impression. Phonak’s custom hearing aids range in size: from a larger design that fills the ear’s bowl to the discreet invisible in the canal (IIC) style, which nestles deep within the ear canal. As of this update, Phonak’s premier custom series is the Virto P, anchored on the Paradise platform.

One standout feature Phonak offers for its custom devices is a titanium shell, ensuring enhanced durability. Beyond its robust nature, titanium allows for sleeker in-the-canal designs compared to the conventional acrylic, as the shell can be crafted thinner.

Phonak’s Lyric Extended Wear Hearing Aids

Phonak's Lyric hearing aids

Phonak’s Lyric hearing aid stands out as the sole extended wear hearing aid available today. Designed to sit close to the eardrum within the ear canal, a trained hearing care expert places this device, which can be worn continuously for up to two months. For any replacements or removals, patients must revisit their hearing specialist.

Unlike Phonak’s other offerings that utilize digital technology, Lyric operates on analog technology. This means that it lacks some of the advanced signal processing features found in digital models. However, its unique placement deep within the ear canal leverages the ear’s natural acoustics, which many believe offers distinct auditory advantages.

Despite its allure as a discreet, maintenance-free option, the Lyric might not be suitable for everyone. It’s not ideal for those with narrower ear canals, and individuals with a history of frequent ear infections, diabetes, or those on blood thinners might be advised against it. Activities like skydiving, scuba diving, and medical procedures like MRIs also pose compatibility issues with the device.

One significant perk of the Lyric is its capacity for uninterrupted auditory stimulation. Without the need for nightly removal or charging pauses, it offers constant sound. This is especially beneficial for tinnitus sufferers, as consistent sound, particularly during quieter periods like bedtime, can make the condition less intrusive.

Phonak Hearing Aids And Bluetooth Connectivity

Phonak’s latest Lumity platform boasts Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids that can seamlessly connect with up to eight devices. Impressively, they can actively alternate between two devices simultaneously. This means users can stream audio directly to both hearing aids from a range of devices, including iPhones, Android phones, computers, iPads, and TVs. For instance, if you’re streaming a show from your TV and receive a phone call, the different hearing aids will prioritize the call and then smoothly transition back to the TV once the call concludes.

Phonak Hearing Aid Accessories

Phonak produces an array of accessories designed to enhance the listening experience for those with hearing challenges, which is something to keep in mind when considering purchasing Phonak hearing aids.

Phonak Hearing Aid Accessories

These tools are particularly helpful in difficult listening environments. Hearing aids from Phonak, specifically those on the Lumity, Paradise, and Marvel platforms, can directly stream audio from these accessories using Bluetooth technology.

1. Phonak Roger FM System

Phonak has long been recognized for catering to the needs of children with hearing loss, particularly with their renowned Roger FM system designed to enhance classroom listening. The FM system comprises a microphone-transmitter used by the teacher, which wirelessly connects to a student’s hearing aids or cochlear implants.

This direct connection allows the student to clearly hear the teacher’s voice, minimizing background distractions. Phonak’s Touch Screen Mic can be paired with multiple Roger FM devices in a classroom setting. While the Roger system is invaluable for children, many adults with hearing aids also find it beneficial in group settings, especially amidst background noise.

2. Phonak Partner Mic

Phonak’s Partner Mic employs a concept reminiscent of the FM system, wirelessly transmitting a conversational partner’s voice directly into the user’s hearing aids, acting as a speech enhancer. This enhances speech clarity and overall sound quality. Specifically designed for one-on-one interactions, the Partner Mic is particularly useful in settings like restaurants. A person with hearing loss using Phonak hearing aids can simply hand the Partner Mic to their conversational companion, ensuring clearer communication.

3. Phonak Roger Pen and Roger On

Phonak presents two multifunctional wireless microphone options: the Roger Pen and Roger On. Designed to resemble a pen, the Roger Pen offers a discreet way for those with hearing loss to enhance speech comprehension in noisy environments or from a distance. Whether placed in the center of a dinner table to capture surrounding conversations or handed to a specific speaker for clearer communication, the Roger Pen’s directional microphone lets users focus on specific sound sources. Meanwhile, the slightly larger Roger On also doubles as a remote microphone.

Both Roger devices can be paired with cell phones through Bluetooth, allowing users to stream calls directly to their hearing aids. Furthermore, they offer TV connectivity and an audio input for multimedia listening.

4. Phonak Roger Select iN

The Roger Select iN is a tabletop microphone that functions similarly to the Roger Pen. Designed to diminish background noise and bridge distance gaps, it enhances the clarity of conversations. Additionally, it can be paired with Phonak hearing aids to serve as a TV connector or as a partner microphone.

5. Phonak TV Connector and Remote control

For individuals who are primarily seeking enhanced TV and media audio, the Phonak TV Connector is an ideal choice to consider. Meanwhile, patients preferring remote adjustments to their hearing aid settings, like volume or program changes, without using an app, can opt for a remote control.

Phonak Remote Hearing Aid Care

Remote care can be carried out for Phonak hearing aids that currently support the My Phonak app.

Phonak Remote Hearing Aid Care

Phonak Hearing Aids Review – The Bottom Line

Phonak currently holds a significant share of the hearing aid market, and many people choose to purchase Phonak hearing aids because of the many advantages that they offer, including the following:

  • The domes are comfortable and stay well in the ears
  • An excellent waterproof hearing aid option
  • CROS hearing aids are high quality hearing devices.
  • Well-made custom earmold options (C-shell) for RIC devices
  • Proprietary Active Vent for RIC hearing aids, which may improve hearing in noisy environments.
  • Unique extended-wear hearing aid with the Lyric.
  • Hearing aids compatible with Cochlear Implants.
  • Excellent accessory options, such as the Roger Pen.

There are a few disadvantages worth mentioning, such as:

  • No disposable battery option in the Lumity line of hearing aids.
  • Short rechargeable battery life in CROS hearing aids.
  • CROS hearing aids cannot be connected to the Phonak app.
  • Chargers do not fit larger custom ear molds.

Overall, Phonak hearing aid models and Phonak hearing aid technology offer a wide variety of excellent solutions for patients with different degrees of hearing loss, from mild to severe loss, as well as various hearing needs and preferences.

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