Hearing aids and iPhone

I’m planning to write a TidBITS article on the integration of “Made for iPhone” hearing aids into iOS. While the primary focus will be on my experience in setting up and using a hearing aid for myself, on Adam’s suggestion I’m posting here to ask what questions or comments you have on that topic.

I’ve already found the posts


and

More ideas are welcome!

Klaus

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Thanks, Klaus!

For anyone who’s using hearing aids with an iPhone, or who helps someone who does, please let us know what questions and problems you have.

Be glad to answer any questions. Still not comfortable going from hearing to iPad link or iPhone link.

Mostly works but often have to open battery container

Jerry

I mostly use iPad to hearing aid to listen to internet music while reading overdrive books :books:

Jerry

I have Resound hearing aids and their Smart app works just fine on my up to date 10s Max. The only thing I wish also worked is connecting to whatever device I am currently using 5rough the iCloud login as my wife’s AirPods do. I do not use them with my iPad or MBP…unpairing and repairing is just too hard…so I plug in earphones when needed.

I would have thought that I could airplay from the iPad to the iPhone and then to the Resounds… it couldn’t see how to do that…looked through all the screen mirroring and sound options in Control Center on the iPad and didn’t see anything.

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Be sure to look into Hearphones made by Bose. They were mentioned on a podcast and seemed to be interesting.

I purchased KS9 hearing aids at Costco in November. They are blue-toothed to my iphone. There is also an “app” for choosing a ‘program’ and adjusting the volume. The hearing aids themselves are very good. The app is fairly primitive and looses bluetooth sync with the right hearing aid frequently. I’ll have to go back to the Costco Hearing Center in a couple of months after the world reopens. In the meanwhile, they are ok.

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I use Oticons and have no problems with iPhone SE (iOS 11-13)and pairing or linking.
But pairing works well and even the built in sys. pref of the iOS works well even if you don’t have a dedicated app for the brand of hearing aid one wears. The live listen though is really problematic as it doesn’t really block ambient noise. If anybody has had good experience with live listen-please come forth.
I dunno I think it’s another outrageous governmental regulation in this country for hearing aids purchased only through health providers. Glasses are one thing (except readers) but the ability to hear is so important. Especially for older people that are prone to dementia- tuning out as they say was required in the '60’s but for those folks it just speeds up inattention and unawarenness. I think it’s just another capitalistic lobbying attempt to keep the status quo for the providers and the makers. But I stand corrected.
Off the topic-Thanks

I assist my wife in using her iPhone and her Oticon hearing aids. One things she has trouble with is using the Oticons with her iPhone X in combination to her 7+ year old Lexus RX. If she pairs iPhone X to the Oticons, it works. But then if she pairs her iPhone to her car, it disconnects the Oticons from the phone. She then is using hearing aid audio to hear the car’s handsfree over the speakers. When she parks the car, the phone does not reconnect to her hearing aids. If she reconnects hearing aids to the phone, the next time she gets in the car the phone is not hands free anymore.

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I use Oticon hearing aids. They are Bluetooth enabled. I like that I can listen to music through them and also phone calls. What is sometimes difficult is switching between them or switching them off. Why can’t the hearing aids work like the AirPod? So that I can switch between the different modes by either tapping or by using Siri. I can change by going through the iPhone app, but that requires me to take it out, to open the app, etc. Life should be more simple.
And why do I need to go through Accessibility Settings? It’s OK to do it one time, but it seems I need to go in periodically to make changes.

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I use top-of-the line Resound hearing aids, bought from Costco for $2,717.97, a fraction of what they’d cost from an independent audiologist. I got them because I listen to a lot of classical music and had found cheaper hearing aids lacking. They work well controlled with the Resound Smart 3D app on my phone which has adjustable settings for ordinary use, noisy environments like restaurants, and music. There are even three-band adjustable equalizer settings to tweak the sound in particular instances. I’m a long-time audiophile with high-end loss which so far can be mostly compensated for by the aids, so I can enjoy my SACDs on my 5.1 surround sound system and other high-fidelity sources, including live musical performances.

One of the ironies of life is that a lot of people with enough money to have high-end audio systems are old enough to need hearing aids.

No feedback problems such as I’ve had with other hearing aids.

When out walking or working in the yard I can pair them with the iPhone and stream podcasts directly to my ears with no telltale cord dangling.

However, I would not use them to stream music directly from the iPhone. Unless you have something like ear protectors covering them they will sound terribly tinny, and even with ear protectors they will scant low midrange and below frequencies. In normal use they are set only to amplify upper midrange and high-range sound.

iPhone calls route the incoming sound directly to my ears, but I have to remember to speak into the phone to convey the sound outward.

Also I learned the hard way to be extra-careful using noise-cancelling earmuffs with them on. I was blowing leaves on our lawn last spring, wearing a pair so I could listen to a podcast while the noisy leaf-blower was going, and when I temporarily pulled them off to attend to something one earpiece caught hold of one of the old aids I was wearing, pulled it off, and blew into the pile of flying leaves, to be lost forever.

Fortunately we have a lost-property rider on our home insurance which paid for all but $1000 of the cost of the new aids, plus another sum from our health insurance. That’s how I wound up with these super aids.

But this morning, I did vacuum the whole house listening to a podcast while wearing the muffs, being extra careful not to snag the aids.

To sum up: hearing aids are not a substitute for high-end earphones or even earbuds, but they can be great aids for those of us with hearing loss for listening to live or recorded music coming through the air to our aids and ears, understanding speech in noisy environments, and low-fi listening streamed from iPhones,

Paul Brians
Bainbridge Island, WA

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Paul…did Costco conduct an isolation booth hearing test and then customize your Resounds for your particular level of hearing loss at various frequencies? This is part of what the audiologist does for their higher price. Sure…I paid more for my Resounds than you did…but that was 3-1/2 years ago and I’ve had another booth session each year, replacement of both aids (2 different incidents) under warranty for internal failures, and annual readjustment of the amplification profile based on my actual hearing.

Mine sound fine when listening to live orchestral concerts…our local symphony hall has the T-Loop technology installed which mixes both sound from the mikes on stage that is then bluetooth transmitted to the T-Loop enabled aids with the actual sound as received by the mikes on the aids. The resultant output sounds exactly like it should and after 40odd years of season tickets it’s like the old days before I spent too much time in submarine engineering spaces.

When streaming music from the phone…it is true the the default setting for treble is a little lacking…but I just checked and it is fairly easily adjustable to get good output…one has to remember that the sound elements are very small and a bit of bass boost helps a lot.

Have you figured out an easy way to use them with iPads or your Mac without un and re pairing them continuously? Mine are paired normally with my iPhone and while doing the pairing shuffle works it is not nearly as seamless as my wife’s AirPods in shifting to whatever device she is using now. I understand that they can’t do exactly as the AirPods do since there’s some special Apple sauce in the software…but would certainly like to be able to easily get them to pick up from the iPad or whatever I’m using for a video at the time. As it is…I just keep a pair of earbuds in the drawer and pull them out for the other devices.

One other thing you might want to look into is the double domes that Resound has. Mine originally came with the 2 flat rubber pieces attached to the end of the ear tube style but the last time I was in my audiologist gave me the double domed ones. These have two domes naturally but both are fully circular and as a result seat more fully into my ears which also improves the classical music sound as well as cutting down on wind noise.

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Costco provides all this service—for free—when you buy their hearing aids. Licensed hearing aid specialist does initial test in soundproof booth, customization at all frequencies—much better and quicker job than I’ve had with independent audiologists. Free follow-up tests, servicing. Domes installed at beginning, better than I’ve ever had before. Free warrantee. Regular checkups to adjust aids to changes in hearing loss every six months. Everything you mention Costco provides at no extra cost. Bit of a wait for appointments, but if you need simple servicing they’re open 7 days a week. I don’t know whether all Costco outlets offer this service, but the one nearest me does.

Before prescribing my aids, the technician had me make an appointment with a full-fledged audiologist with my regular health service for a thorough work-up to make sure there were no unusual medical features interfering with my hearing. The visit was extensive, thorough, called for no special treatment. Cost covered by my insurance. No pressure to buy aids from them.

For live concerts I just switch on the “music” mode and listen. Sounds great. The aids just supplement the frequencies my natural hearing lacks.

I’ve found if I keep my phone in my front pockets the aids stay connected by bluetooth better than if I put it in a rear pocket. I’ve only had to re-pair the devices once or twice when I first had them after I tried to pair them with something else. Now I never stream anything to my aids except my iPhone—there’s nothing else I want to use them with. I could see it could be a problem if you were switching sources a lot.

I got the rechargeable model, so I never have to buy batteries.

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I have a pair of older Phonaks from Costco. They use a separate Bluetooth adapter (ComAir Pilot II) that then talks to the aids by radio signal. The Bluetooth codec is an old one, but it works fine with my iPhone 7, and it rarely disconnects. What I wish it could do is pair with more sources. It can only pair two at a time. Personal iPhone, work iPhone, and I’m done. To connect to laptop I have to disconnect one of the phones. Capability of connecting a higher multiple of sources would be an important convenience feature for me.

Sorry I was imprecise. It can pair with at least the three sources I mentioned, maybe more. But it can only connect two at a time. But I don’t ever need to re-pair them. Once paired, the adapter always recognizes the source. So it’s just the inconvenience of switching connections.

I have a Costco Signature 8 hearing aid. Very professional frequency loss analysis by their audiologist. Free service for life. Every 3 months they give me new eartips and a free cleaning. Works perfectly with iOS 13 iPhone XS, I hardly use the Signature software - the Control Center volume and profile settings are all that I really need day to day. Fair price, $1600, paid for by my heath insurance. My doctor told me to go to Costco because the Audiologists are often into over-inflated pricing. My wife paid twice what I paid for a more-specialized hearing aid from a specialist that does not even work with her iPhone. She cannot control the profile, only the volume.

Regarding sound quality, the hearing aids are fine for voice and low range audio but for music I prefer to listen through speakers with the Music profile or with my AirPods.

Overall, my take is that the Signature hearing aids are a great value, have improved my hearing differentiation and intelligibility and the aids worked invisibly with my iPhone.

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Unrelated comment: Tried to forward this page to friend who was having trouble with his bluetooth hearing aids on a recent tele-conference and the formatting was a mess and Reader view was unavailable.
His problem was that we were all hearing a lot of “noise”. Not sure if it was feedback. I think he was on his iMac.

I’m not sure what you did, but the best way to share a discussion here is to click the link icon under the first post (or the appropriate reply to scroll to that one) and then send that link. It looks like this: image

Thanks. Looks like an add a link, but of course you can’t do that while reading. But that would take more brain cells than I have.

I used Safari’s Cmd-I. I use that a lot, because then the recipiant can see the article and not have to click on a link which they may be reluctant to do.

Ok - I had similar problems.
1- Oticon has firmware updates - check it out with your audiologist. I did and have no problems now.
2- I also chose to let the car 'forget the aids" then re-paired.
Worked like a charm.