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Using Widex Beyond Fusions Hearing Aids For 6 Months - Reviewing Direct Streaming Sound Quality & Function

June 8, 2017

(Author: Dan Tibbs – 06.08.2017)

 

Background on Dan’s Loss: Severe Bilateral Sensorineural Loss. Over 35 Years of Hearing Instrument Experience with Multiple Vendors. 

 

Current Audiogram - Measured with Headphones (10/2016)

 

Phone in Use: iPhone 6s

IOS Version: 10.3.2

Hearing Aid in Use: Widex Beyond Fusion 440 – with Power Receivers, Soft Mold with Trench Vent – Effective Vent Size after Feedback Test = 0.8 mm (R) & 0.6 mm (L)

Other Accessories in Use: TV-DEX (Used Frequently) & UNI-DEX (Used Sporadically/Situation Dependent)

Experience with Current Devices: Widex Beyond = 6 Months of Use

Hearing Aid Firmware Version: 4.00

App Version: 1.1.0 (20097.18.3)

 

Favorite Takeaways of Device: Sound Quality of Streaming, Performance in Wind, IP68 rating and firmware updates pushed to end-user through Widex App. Dan also enjoys the function of the Universal program being sophisticated enough to not need to change programs. (While a technocrat, Dan prefers ease of use and “set and forget” performance from electronics.)

 

Battery Life on a 312 Battery – After several battery changes, Dan is getting 4 to 4.5 Days with frequent streaming and significant of gain output with power receivers. (Dan would get 6.5 Days of battery life with his previous non-direct streaming hearing device – also 312 Battery)

 

Discussion: I could spend a lot of space discussing the various options, features and background of the devices, but for today’s discussion, I will focus on the streaming quality.

 

I find the Widex Beyond offers an excellent sound quality. Producing sound in stereo, I also find the function of the devices is consistent.

 

Mentioned above, I use an iPhone 6s. I’ve not had a desire to upgrade to the iPhone 7 for several unrelated reasons, but have heard some issues with connectivity to the iPhone 7. The issue doesn’t seem to be related specifically to the Widex Beyond but to the architecture/software of the iPhone 7 as you can find sources describing iPhone 7 issues with other Bluetooth headset platforms.

 

You can read about iPhone 7 Bluetooth issues here:

http://gizmodo.com/the-iphone-7s-bluetooth-is-totally-screwed-up-for-some-1787276957

http://www.macworld.com/article/3122614/iphone-ipad/iphone-7-review.html

 

It is completely reasonable that hearing aid manufacturers may not be able to control the architecture on smart phones, particularity considering how often updates seems to get pushed through to our phones. However, the net effect to the end-user that a phone model doesn’t “work well” may, in their mind, reflect more on the hearing aid than the phone (even if the phone is the culprit). I suspect that education on this issue may help both the dispensing professional and the end-user. At the end of the day, end-users have a level of expectation regarding how the hearing aids and their features/accessories should perform regardless of where the original "issue/problem” may be generating from. It is because of this, I like that the Beyond can receive firmware updates directly and not need a visit to the dispensing office.

 

The only time I have an issue with a drop off in sound quality is when I'm streaming DirecTV Now or YouTube and the network connection slows and the picture pixelates. At that point, the audio may get temperamental and drop in one ear or get static. When I play music stored on my phone or use Pandora, it works flawless for me. That being said, interference in your environment and what stage your battery is in their life cycle can impact streaming performance. When a battery gets low, many features, including streaming range may start to weaken. We see this in many electronics when battery life gets low, performance doesn’t remain optimal. Staying on top of battery changes will help ensure consistent performance and streaming.

 

In all, the Widex Beyond offers me a consistent, high-fidelity performance that is equivalent or superior to other direct to iPhone streaming devices I’ve listened to.

 

Most challenges end-users experience with a direct 2.4 GHz connection, will likely be related to: the battery, network strength, environmental interference, or system architecture issues that likely impact many 3rd party vendors interfacing with that architecture.

 

Future phone and hearing aid firmware updates from the manufacturer and appropriate expectations from the end-user should help. (End)

 

Author’s Note: All observations and comments are the author’s experience and opinion.

 

A previous discussion on some practical observations of Direct 2.4 GHz streaming vs. an Intermediary (2.4 GHz/10.6MHz) accessory and can be found here:

(https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/direct-24-ghz-streaming-vs-intermediary-ghz106-mhz-accessory-tibbs)

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