Switching Bluetooth-capable hearing aids between sources

I ‘did an Internet search’ and also asked a knowledgeable associate using the same hearing aids so I doubt there is an easy answer that I may have missed. But hope springs eternal!

I have bluetooth compatible hearing aids (Resound but probably not too relevant). I also have an iPhone 8 running iOS 13.2.2 and an iPad Air stuck at iOS 12.4

I have successfully “paired” the hearing aids to each of the iDevices

Almost all of the time the live connection is between my iPad and the hearing aids. While not fully accurate visualize watching movies on the iPad.

Occasionally, however, I would like the iPhone to be the live connection so I can do a cell phone call with the audio going to the hearing aids.

The ONLY way I know to change the connections is to

  • Break the original connection by
    Killing BlueTooth on the active iDevice, then
  • Open the battery doors on each hearing aid, then
  • Start a new connection by
    Activate Bluetooth on the new iDevice, and finally
  • Close the battery doors on the hearing aids

This seems to be a complex process

I’m hoping there is some way to do it easier

Perhaps some Settings options to turn off the 1st device and then turn on the 2nd device.

Probably I’m hung up on the opening and closing of the battery doors but since I have clumsily damaged the battery door twice I hesitate to touch the battery door

Does anyone have working alternative?

Thanks in advance


Jerry, I am in a similar situation with similar experiences, also with Resound.

Opposite way to you I want my iPhone (XsMax) to be the mainly live connection, with occasional iPad (12.9 gen3) use, but sometimes I find my HAs have connected to the iPad when I didn’t want them to.

I sometimes have to do what you describe, and have sometimes had to do even more…adding the step “forget this device” to completely start over.

But most of the time I can avoid these steps by keeping bluetooth connection temporarily turned off (from the control panel) on my iPad, and only turning it on when I want to use it. Turning it off again when finished. This is probably the nearest to your requested option to “turn off the 1st device and then turn on the 2nd device”. It does not turn bluetooth completely off, only the connection temporarily. I sometimes find it has turned itself on again later.

There doesn’t seem to be any great consistency about what I have to do.

I also use the Resound app Smart 3D, which is another complication as it doesn’t always connect, even when the built in Accessibility controls are working.

Sorry not to be more help.Will be interesting to see if anyone else chips in.

When you turn on /. off the BlueTooth service do you still have to open and close the battery doors?

I would be happy managing BlueTooth but am hoping to get away from the battery doors on my hearing aids

No, I don’t have to open battery doors when turning on and off the BT connection in the Control Centre…usually.

Mine are Phonak, and rechargeable so there’s an on-off button instead of opening and closing the battery door. Otherwise, my experience is the same

I do have to go through the steps of “forget device” on iOS device 1, “make connection” on device 2.

The “make connection” step requires turning the hearing aids off and on again, apparently because they’re only promiscuous for the first couple of minutes after turning on again. That makes sense and helps to reduce my frustration at the delay. I pretty much just live with it now.

(I’ve nearly given up using the hearing aids for phone calls. The sound is lovely for me, but less than ideal for the person I’m talking to. To some extent, I think this is reasonable revenge for their better hearing, but mostly I take the high road and suffer for them.)

Thanks Jim for your response. I’ve about decided that what I want can’t be done with today’s state of technology implementation

Since I don’t use my iPhone except for an occasional text message and only a few people know the number I will stay iPad tethered and rarely try to pair to my iPhone

There’s always the next time – that is, in a few years when we both need new hearing aids, they’ll have stuffed so much more into them that something’s bound to have improved.

This isn’t a very Apple-related conversation, I guess, though I’ve always felt wearing hearing aids is a bit like walking around with a laptop in each ear, at least from a financial point of view.

Happy Bluetoothing where possible, anyway, and may the hearing gods speak clearly to you.

I can’t speak from experience, but it does look like the battery door trick is common, to judge from this Phonak support page and Apple’s support page:

Apple’s page does seem to suggest that MFi devices should, once paired, switch more or less seamlessly:

When you pair your hearing devices with more than one Apple device, the connection for your hearing devices switches from one device to the other when you use audio. The connection also switches when you receive a call on your iPhone. If you make changes to your hearing device settings on one device, they’re sent to your other devices.

What we really need, I think, is for Apple to license the W1 or H1 chips used in the AirPods to hearing aid manufacturers so they could take advantage of Apple’s proprietary technology for switching better. Whether the hearing aid manufacturers would do that if given the opportunity is a different question.

I have 3 year old resound hearing aids, and am greatly bothered by Bluetooth. I turn off Bluetooth when there is an incoming call so can answer by phone because the quality of the sound in my ear is not as good as when sound is from iPhone. I understand the quality of these hearing aids has improved. Try this experiment: play a song with Bluetooth directly through your hearing aids, then turn Bluetooth off, and play the same song again without Bluetooth, and see which is better. For me, it is without Bluetooth. I do not use Bluetooth for hearing aids at all with iPad to avoid complications.

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Oh, man, I wish it were that simple.

It probably is that simple if all you want to connect to your phone and iPad is your hearing aids. But I want to connect my car to my phone, so Bluetooth on the phone can’t stay turned off. And the Phonak app on my phone, which tells me about battery levels and allows some other controls, keeps a totally separate probably subversive Bluetooth connection of its own that the phone Settings app only sort of knows about. Phonak is breaking things on the iPhone.

I think I am at peace with the acrobatics I have to perform to deal with this, but I look forward to Phonak’s getting its act cleaned up, and maybe talking to Apple.

And the other complication is what kind of hearing loss you have. It can vary considerably, and it sounds as if Chris Engst’s is quite different from mine. For me, speech is hard to decipher, and Bluetooth from either the phone or the TV is magical: it’s as if I’m inside the head of the speaker! No closed captions, no “I didn’t catch that” … thank you, mythical Danish king, thank you Apple and Phonak, I’m a human being again.

And the futzing with Bluetooth is worth it. For now.

I also have ReSound hearing aids and it drove me crazy that the default was to stream everything to the hearing aids. However, I found a solution I am comfortable with without having to turn Bluetooth off. I am in Canada and that might matter. When I got these hearing aids I also got an App that I can control them with as well as create new sound levels depending upon my circumstance. I can also temporarily adjust the default sound levels that were added to my hearing aids as a result of my hearing test.

Once the App was installed on my iPhone it also added Accessibility controls here:

Settings -> Accessibility -> Hearing Devices -> Audio Routing

I have Audio Routing set to “Never Hearing Devices” for the entries for Call Audio and Media Audio.

Hope this helps but if I have misunderstood then my apologies.

Thanks. Will check it out

Is the App “Smart” from Resound? (That is what shows on my iPad / iPhone screen). I use it to adjust the parameters of the hearing aids but haven’t found a way to switch the source.

Mine is called ReSound Smart 3D

However, you should note that link is for the Canadian Store. Perhaps the same one is not available where you are or perhaps for all of us it has to do with the hearing aid model.

Sorry i can’t be of more help.

Oy! Don’t get me started!

I have brand new Phonak Marvels, and they ARE marvelous… however…
BlueTooth is flakey as hell. When it works, it’s miraculous - sometimes they even switch seamlessly without me doing anything! Other times nothing I can do helps. Grrr…

FWIW I was at my audiologist today and he spoke to the company who told him new firmware was on the way to ‘address the known BlueTooth issues.’ 2 or 3 months away, he assured us… :frowning:

Adam is the only one who mentioned MFi and it should be the answer for us iPeople. I did test some (ReSound?) before settling on the Phonaks but think those were even flakier. The Phonaks are ‘classic bluetooth’ and more ‘universal.’ They connect via the Settings app - whereas the MFi goes via a more deeply buried Accessibility conduit.

Bottom line for me is not to have to fiddle about too much - especially in those inevitable bad situations (I am talking to you, noisy restaurants!) or get stuck, as I have one time too many. Today I had my audiologist program my preferred settings for those situations directly into my hearing aids - no App needed! I lose some flexibility this way, but will not get stuck as this route bypasses all the not-ready-for-the-real-world options.

Good luck!


You can change the “ca” in the URL to “us” or another country code to see if it’s in other stores (it is in the US App Store).

Personally, I have Optimize Mfi connection disabled because when it is enabled it stops tracking the location of my hearing aids in real time. If I have misplaced them, which has happened a couple of times, I need to know where they are right at that moment. Also, there has been odd behaviour because I have a Series 4 Apple Watch and I can’t seem to control the hearing aids from my watch unless the App is open on my iPhone.

You obviously have a way to change your settings via the hearing aids. Perhaps by tapping a button on them? I don’t even know if I can do that with my ReSound hearing aids but I do know it would be a physical challenge for me so I am appreciative I can make quick changes via the companion App. My audiologist programmed 5 separate sound settings into my hearing aids. I have the App in the Dock on my iPhone and it only takes me a few seconds if I am in a noisy restaurant or other venue that requires a change to my hearing aid settings so I can hear better.

AFAIK any programmable aids can switch between multiple programs using a simple press on the physical buttons - once that option is enabled by the audiologist.

I think some of the problems stem from physics (the impossibility of mimicking 500 musicians on stage and that magnificent organ in SF’s Davies Symphony Hall at the end of the Mahler 2nd and 8th symphonies from “drivers” < 3 mm in diameter).

Some of it stems from physiology. I love my AirPods Pro, but I basically need to choose between them and my BT Phonaks (which are about 4 years old now). Until an audiologist can program hearing assist devices with all the goodies of AirPods Pro into a pair of noise-canceling “Hi Fi” hearing assist devices, I think those of us with typical hearing loss will remain stuck with not knowing what we’re not hearing at concerts OR while listening to streamed music, except for what we remember from when we didn’t have the hearing loss.

However, I am amazed by the progress in sound quality in hearing assist devices. Just about a year ago, I left my Phonaks in a hotel room at a medical meeting, and by the time I realized where I’d left them I’d returned home, and the hotel couldn’t find them. My audiologist gave me a pair of the latest Phonaks to use for a week while I waited for replacements (thank God I had a Phonak replacement insurance policy that would get me “brand new” 3 year old technology for $500, but the improvements (no need to wear anything around my neck to get stereo sound to my ears from my TV, etc.) made me consider buying REALLY new ones (until I learned how much they would cost). The happy ending was that just as I was about to take delivery of my insurance replacements, the hotel called and reported they’d found the ones I’d left behind.

I understand that this year’s CES featured some discussions about the merger coming between prescription hearing aid devices and consumer headphones/in ear BT earphones.

Assuming we all get through the next 6 months without our entire society melting, I think good days are ahead for those of us who love immersive music, but the target audiences (people with normal hearing who already can experience private awesome sound reproduction without bothering their neighbors, and people with extraordinarily limited hearing who will be able to get something of the same sound quality from their hearing ASSIST devices) are so different, as are the price points for marketing the two types of devices, that the economics will be as muddy as the sound those of us with impaired hearing must accept for now.

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