Invisible Hearing Aids 2017



Smallest Hearing Aids

Virto V Nano

Invisible hearing aids are always popular, there are absolutely tiny hearing aids and many consumers love them. We did a post last year outlining what was available in the market at that time and updated as we learnt of new products. The article was always a firm favourite, so we decided to write one in the same vein for 2017. Again, we don't really understand what the obsession is with the smallest hearing aids available, but there you go. At this stage, really the only new thing to report is the introduction of the new Phonak Virto B-Titanium and possibly the Signia Silk. So let's talk about what's available in so-called hidden hearing aids. Again, as things change we will continue to update this post during the year.

Discreet Hearing Aids

Invisible hearing aids or IIC hearing aids are the most discreet hearing aids available. However, that discretion often comes with trade-offs. They are placed deep in the ear canal which leaves all of the components open to moisture and wax ingression. So it is important that they are well taken care of. Because if you don't follow a daily clean and care routine, they will fail. It is also important that you ensure you follow a drying routine with these devices. Moisture will kill your hearing aids, so make sure you don't allow it to build up inside the case.

Invisible Hearing Aid Prices

In general, invisible hearing aid prices are similar if not the same as other devices within the level of technology chosen. Where once custom hearing aids were more expensive than BTEs, that has generally changed and they are usually the same price. Just to be clear, we don't set prices here and they differ from Practice to Practice across the World so our expectations aren't binding, they are just a guess and some research. Always remember, we all like to shop around, but always be clear about what is being delivered. You will need care and support, make sure you will get it. You will also need your hearing aid validated or verified to get the best experience, paying a little more to ensure your experience is good, is not wasted money. That's our price rant for the day over, let's talk about the devices.

Phonak

Virto B Invisible Hearing Aids

Meet The New Phonak Virto B Range

Phonak have now introduced the full range of their new Virto B in the ear products. They say that they are custom-made to perfectly fit in your ear, Phonak Virto B is the world’s first hearing aids with Biometric Calibration, which take your individual ear anatomy and hearing needs into account. That's an interesting description.

They say that they will identify over 1600 biometric data points in and on your ear, and the unique calibration settings are calculated for each Virto B hearing aid. In this way, Virto B is able to more reliably sense where sound is coming from, thereby giving you access to better hearing performance.

What does that all mean? Well, we think that Phonak is the first ever hearing aid manufacturer to carefully map the outer ear to take advantage of its natural abilities. They say that the new process will deliver a 2dB signal to noise ratio improvement. Basically, it means it will make the signal (what you want to listen to) 2dB higher than the noise.

2dB doesn't sound like much but combined with all the other strategies that Phonak use it will be a marked improvement. Phonak Virto B is available in six models to match your hearing needs. It is also available in the usual four levels of technology, the 90, 70, 50 and 30. 

Virto B-10-NW O

Virto B-10 NW O

  • Custom Product
  • Mild to severe hearing loss
  • Battery: 10 zinc air
  • Truly invisible
  • Non Wireless
  • Omni-Directional

Resound

Resound LiNX 3D LTIIC (Invisible In Canal Hearing Aid)

Linx 3D IIC Prices

We would expect the range depending on technology level, to be sold at prices from £1200.00 to £2200.00 in the UK depending on the Practice and location. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from €1200.00 to €3000.00 in Ireland. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from $1200.00 to $3200.00 in the USA.

Resound LiNX 3D LTIIC

Resound have just introduced a brand new platform called the LiNX 3D. It is an upgrade to their exceptionally popular LiNX 2 Made For iPhone hearing aids.

The platform is a full range of hearing aid styles with one being an invisible hearing aid. The LTIIC is the smallest of the LiNX 3D custom hearing aids. Because it is so small you will lose some of the benefits of the technology.

However, that is always the trade-off for discretion. The device is available with only one level of receiver power, the LP. It will only cover hearing losses to a max 70 dB in the low frequencies and 85 dB in the high frequencies.

Suitability

The suitability of this device is also based on the size of your ear canal. If your canal is too small, you won't be able to avail of it. If your hearing loss is close to 70 in the lows and 85 in the highs, you won't be able to avail of it.

It can not have a push button or volume control, but the devices all have smart start which gives you a couple of seconds to get it in your ear before it comes on. But you lose out on the direct audio streaming, no ear to ear communication, and no wireless accessories. The battery size on this aid is size 10.

By choosing discretion you do lose out on a lot of features and benefit. Firstly, there is no telecoil, something that many like. You also miss out on the new Resound smart 3D app and the remote assistance. You lose all the directionality functions because you only have one mic, no Wind Guard and you lose all the wireless functions. That is a lot of benefits gone because you wanted it small, really think about this, because honestly, no one cares that you are wearing a hearing aid.

Feature Set

The feature set of the device is as follows.

  • Up to 17 channels of compression depending on tech level
  • Environmental Classifier
  • Environmental Optimizer II
  • Noise Tracker II
  • Expansion
  • Sound Shaper
  • DFS Ultra III with Music Mode
  • Auto DFS
  • Acceptance Manager
  • Tinnitus Sound Generator

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Phonak

Virto B-Titanium Invisible Hearing Aids

Virto B Titanium Prices

We would expect the range depending on technology level, to be sold at prices from £1500.00 to £2200.00 in the UK depending on the Practice and location. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from €1800.00 to €3000.00 in Ireland. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from $1900.00 to $3200.00 in the USA.

Phonak have just introduced this device across the world. As part of a raft of introductions, Phonak announced that they were introducing a new Virto hearing aid type as part of their Virto Belong range. The Belong range is Phonak's latest platform.

Virto B-Titanium

A Titanium Shell

They named the hearing aid as the Virto B-Titanium and said it will be the most discreet in-ear device they have ever made. It is a fascinating device that uses titanium for the shell instead of the usual hard acrylic. This is the first time that titanium has been used in the manufacture of a custom hearing aid.

Will Fit More People Than Ever

The material is exceptionally strong, which allows Phonak to make the shell much thinner than ever before with even more strength. This combined with new component design allows them to deliver an invisible hearing device that they say will fit 68% more ears.

The deep position in the ear canal of the device will allow the hearing aid to use the natural shape of the ear to funnel sound to the microphone. This strategy has always proved to deliver excellent directional hearing.

Who will the Virto Belong-Titanium be suitable for?

While invisible hearing aids can be a bit hit and miss for suitability, Phonak says that their new designs and materials will, in fact, make the hearing aids suitable for more people than ever. While that will most definitely be the case, there will still be some limitations on the ability to fit. I would imagine if the bends in the ear canal are too tight, it will preclude this device from being suitable.

Other contraindications are the same as every other invisible hearing aid such as excessive waxy ear canals, history of mid-ear infections or perforated eardrums. If you face these issues, this will not be the product for you. In these cases, other discreet hearing aids may be more advisable to consider.

The device will offer three receiver levels which means that it will cover more hearing losses than ever before. The device will only be available in the V90 and V70 technology level.

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Phonak

Virto Venture Nano Invisible Hearing Aids

We spoke about the Venture Nano last year, it is the invisible hearing aid option available on the Venture platform from Phonak. It will remain available this year for some time so we have included it here. The Phonak Venture Nano was and I suppose still is the latest Nano invisible hearing aid from Phonak until the device is replaced by the Belong range. It is a typical invisible hearing aid which sits deep in the ear canal.

As I said before, the deep position in the ear canal allows the Phonak Nano to use the natural shape of the ear to funnel sound to the microphone which delivers excellent directional hearing, as well as virtual invisibility.

The Nano sits very deep in the ear canal, they manufacture it in order that the front of the hearing device is in permanent shadow because of the depth it sits at.

Who is the device suitable for?

The Nano Venture is typical of hidden hearing type devices, it is not suitable for everyone for two reasons. Firstly, the device will only fit certain shapes and dimensions of the ear canal, if your ear canal is too narrow or has too tight a bend it might not be suitable. The other contraindications are things such as excessive waxy ear canals, a history of ear infections or perforated eardrums.

Outstanding features of the Phonak Nano include:

  • Perfect fit: each IIC hearing aid is custom made to ensure a perfect fit
  • Better localisation: tight fit means users can better determine where sounds are coming from
  • All-purpose use: can be worn in all listening situations
  • Durability: all components are contained in one unit making it extremely durable
  • More comfort: no joined parts mean there are no hard edges

Oticon

Oticon Invisible Hearing Aids

Oticon invisible hearing aids

Oticon introduced a new type of invisible hearing aid that had wireless communication. We spoke about them last year and we expect them to update them this year. They have introduced a new range of hearing aids called the Opn. At present, the devices are only behind the ear hearing aids at present, however, they have already indicated that they will introduce a range of in the ear hearing aids this year.

The introduction of Oticon's IIC instruments with wireless technology meant that for the first time choosing discretion did not mean you would lose out on the benefits of wireless technology. It meant that for the first time it was possible to combine the discretion of hidden hearing aids, with wireless access to communication and entertainment and an optional remote control.

The device is shaped to fit so snugly deep inside your ear that no one will see it, or even realise you are wearing it. The placement also means that the hearing aid will not affect your use of headsets or telephones, nor how you wear your glasses. As it is placed deep inside the ear, Oticon IIC captures sound in the same way that your ears were designed to do. The devices available currently, are based on Oticon’s Inium Sense technology and are available at three technology levels to suit all budgets.

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Starkey

Starkey SoundLens Synergy

Starkey SoundLens IIC Prices

We would expect the range depending on technology level, to be sold at prices from £1200.00 to £2200.00 in the UK depending on the Practice and location. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from €1200.00 to €3000.00 in Ireland. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from $1200.00 to $3200.00 in the USA.

Starkey SoundLens

Starkey introduced the original SoundLens several years ago and updated it last year making the device even smaller and they added a second wireless invisible hearing aid to the lineup.

Wireless Invisible Hearing Aid

The wireless version of the SoundLens is no bigger than the older SoundLens type, so it will be a discreet deep-fitting hearing aid.

Technology Levels

The Soundlens is available in three levels of technology

The Premium i2400

The Advanced i2000

The Standard i1600

Let's Talk Styles

The Starkey SoundLens Synergy comes in two styles

Starkey SoundLens Wireless

Wireless (invisible-in-canal) device, only available in the premium range i2400

Starkey SoundLens Non-Wireless

non-wireless (completely-in-canal) available in all tech levels

Signia

Signia InsioInsio Primax IIC

Signia Insio IIC Prices

We would expect the range depending on technology level, to be sold at prices from £1200.00 to £2200.00 in the UK depending on the Practice and location. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from €1200.00 to €3000.00 in Ireland. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from $1200.00 to $3200.00 in the USA.

The Insio has bragging rights for the being the most powerful invisible hearing aid. Siemens / Signia introduced the Insio Primax IIC last year as part of the Primax introduction. As I said, it is, in fact, the most powerful invisible hearing aid available covering hearing losses well into the severe range which is quite unusual for an invisible hearing aid. It is available in three levels of technology the 7px, the 5px and the 3px.

Wireless Invisible Hearing Aid

The Insio Primax is also a wireless invisible hearing aid.

The invisible hearing aids are pretty decent hearing aids, but they have their pros and cons. We have general details about hearing aid types including the hidden hearing aids and other types of devices in our consumer hearing aid buying guide. It also details technology levels and features of hearing instruments in clear and easy to understand language. You can read more about the smallest hearing aids available here.

Signia

Insio Primax Silk

Signia Insio Primax Silk Prices

We would expect the range depending on technology level, to be sold at prices from £1200.00 to £2200.00 in the UK depending on the Practice and location. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from €1200.00 to €3000.00 in Ireland. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from $1200.00 to $3200.00 in the USA.

Signia says that Silk is the first completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aid that’s both almost invisible and ready to wear. The devices are powered by Signia’s latest primax chipset and are designed to fit up to 80% of all ear canals. While the device is labelled a CIC, for some people it is actually an invisible hearing aid.

The device is a modular type hearing aid that uses a flexible Click Sleeve to provide an immediate and comfortable fit. In essence, Silk allows the possibility that you can walk into the Audiology office and walk out the same day with a new hearing aid without having to wait for a custom-built device.

Signia Silk Primax

Instant Fit Invisible Hearing Aid (almost)

The Click Sleeves are made of soft silicone and are available in six different types which allow the device to fit in the majority of ear canals and to fit the majority of hearing losses. With the right Click Sleeve in place, the hearing aid sits quite deep in the canal making the device either invisible or almost invisible.

Because Silk is powered by Signia’s primax platform, users of the device can benefit from all of the outstanding features of that platform including their binaural OneMic directionality system and all of the other features that the Primax chipset offers. The device is also wireless so you can use your smartphone to adjust your hearing aids via the Signia touchControl™ app, and wirelessly stream virtually any audio device with the optional easyTek™ accessory.

The devices are built on fantastic foundations, the Primax and Binax chipset before it has been responsible for a turn around in the fortunes of Signia/Siemens. The concept behind the device is also good and it aligns with a lot of the conceptual ideas that Signia are bringing to the table right now like the remote fine tuning capability. It will be interesting to see if this idea has finally come of age and what the uptake of the devices will be both professionally and more importantly by Users. Knowing what I know about Signia devices I think these wil be pretty good devices, if you give them a try, let us know what you think. You can read about all of the hearing aid types and their pros and cons here. You can also read about the top hearing aid manufacturers here

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Posted by

Geoffrey Cooling

Geoffrey Cooling

LinkedIn Twitter Facebook GooglePlus Amazon Author Page Co Founder geoff@audiologyengine.com
Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling has been involved with the hearing aid industry for over ten years. He has worked in private practice dispensing hearing aids and as a manufacturer's rep. He has written two books and they are both available on Amazon. He loves technology, passing on knowledge and is legendary for many other things, primarily the amount he curses, his dry and mischievous sense of humour and his complete intolerance of people who are full of themselves. Please feel free to connect with him

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