One of the Best Beamforming Hearing Aids I have Ever Worn
My everyday experience with the Signia hearing aids has been excellent. They seamlessly meet the needs of different sound situations as you move through them. Always delivering excellent speech understanding even in noisy situations. These are beamforming hearing aids, basically, that means they use differing levels of focus with their directional microphones to deliver a better speech understanding. There are many beamforming hearing aids on the market and I have worn a few of them. I have to say the Signia is at least as good as, if not better than the rest.
The overall sound quality of the Signia hearing aids is excellent, they are crisp and full. High-frequency sounds have that nice zing I have come to expect. Clarity is excellent. The own voice experience is fantastic, I mean really fantastic. Your sense of your own voice is pretty much natural. As an experienced user, I have to say that is pretty unusual. It should mean that people find it easier to wear the hearing aids.
Streaming audio is fantastic, really good quality. I played more than a few tunes during the week and I have to say I was impressed with the audio reproduction. I didn't try phone calls, I am not an apple fanboy so I use an Android phone, however, I have an iPhone that I use for music and my audiobooks. There are the usual Bluetooth issues with the streaming (all of the Made For iPhone hearing aids have them) which I will come to later, but overall they don't suffer any other problems than that.
As you move through different sound situations the hearing aids react seamlessly. There is no obvious change or switch, they just seem to work. I found myself in several typical situations during the week, in quiet reading a book, one to one conversations, a noisy shopping centre, a busy urban situation, a noisy cafe, in the car and down the pub.
The aids just did their thing delivering the ability to hear without fuss or fanfare. In quiet situations where there was no speech, they were quiet. That might sound strange, but it isn't always the case. Sometimes quiet can be louder than you think. As I moved from situation to situation the differing features worked seamlessly without audible changes in the sound. Sometimes as features kick in you can perceive the change. It is a small thing, and it doesn't cause any issue, it just is. However, there was no sense of it with the Signia devices.
In The Car and Outdoors
I like to have the window open in the car, no matter how cold it is. My wife is probably going to kill me for it one day. What it means is that wind rushes through and across that open window. The many hearing aids I have worn have handled this in different ways, some better than others. The Signia devices seemed to handle it pretty well, the wind sounded no louder than it should and it didn't intrude upon my ability to hold a conversation.
Overall I have to score them highly for the car experience. In the outdoors, the experience was similar, although I was in the wide open and it was windy, the wind was not overpowering. Nor did it cause me any issues with understanding the conversation.
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What About Noisy Situations?
So as I said I was in a fair few noisy situations during the week and the hearing aids performed admirably well. They delivered the ability to understand speech in all of the situations I found myself in. In a particularly busy cafe I could hear the server very clearly, even though she was pretty soft spoken.
The noise in the background was kept there, in the background. Her voice was clear, obviously a little soft, but clear. Speaking about the noise in the background, most of the hearing aids I have worn, with the exception of one, are the same, Steve described it as a wall of noise. I remember thinking to myself, that's a great description.
The Signias are similar, they keep the noise in the background, but it is like a wall of noise. There is no nuance to it, it's just blah. Don't get me wrong, that's not a bad thing, you get to hear what you need to hear, it just is.
The Pub & The myControl App
I have been bursting to tell you this, hahaha. I think this is what makes these hearing aids different, apart from the own voice feature of course. The addition of the myControl app delivers fantastic power over your experience with the devices. Signia have given you the ability to control the focus of the hearing aids, hey that ain't special, many brands do it. What is special is the ability they give you to surgically target the focus.
Using the myControl app you can narrow the focus of the directional microphones to a narrow beam. It means that the hearing aids are focused narrowly on what you are pointing them at. Giving you outstanding levels of hearing in even the most complex of situations.
I had to try this out, I was practically bursting with anticipation. So, in the interest of science, and of course you the readers, I went to the pub. See, I even kept a straight face while I wrote that. Anyway, you know the story, busy pub, several drinks in, everyone is loud, at the bar, talking to your companion, and it starts to get difficult to hear.
Whipped out the iPhone, started up the myControl app and got the Spatial Configurator warmed up. So, I placed the emphasis on the front of me and then I narrowed the beam, surgical focus. It rocked, I mean truly rocked! It doesn't sound natural, in fact, it sounds a little odd, but who cares, I could hear what my companion was saying. Considering I had several drinks on, the whole room was shouting and my companion had begun to slur at that stage "you know I love you right!!!!" I think I was doing okay.
All hilarity aside, the feature is pretty cool, like I said, it doesn't sound natural, but it gives you the ability to focus on one voice in the maddening crowd. I have to say that this feature rocked.
The Signia devices have twin radios onboard, like the Oticon Opn and the Widex Beyond, they are able to deliver all of those amazing ear to ear features while they are receiving streaming audio from an iPhone. It means that the own voice feature continues to work while you stream audio as does the directionality features. Basically, it means the hearing aids aren't hobbled in any way while you are streaming audio. The audio is pretty good, my tunes were excellent, full and clear, as I said, I didn't use it for phone calls but music and audio books were excellent.
The Usual Bluetooth Problems
As I said earlier, I had the usual Bluetooth problems, Bluetooth signals don't pass through water very well. As the body is mostly water, they don't pass through the body very well. So, from time to time, the audio drops out, usually to one ear only. Oddly enough, it seemed to be the right ear mostly. Shifting position or taking the iPhone out of my pocket usually sorted the problem out. This is just what you need to expect with Bluetooth and iPhone. Bluetooth is a bit hinky, but to be honest I think the iPhone protocol is a bit hinky as well. Which means that this is the small irritation you have to put up with.
Bass Boost & Changing Volume of Streaming Audio
So as I said in the first article, I am wearing the Signia aids with open tips, however, the streamed audio sounds pretty glorious. The devices obviously give an automatic bass boost to streamed audio which means you get a full and pleasant sound. The other thing they do is increase the volume of the streamed audio as the external sound increases. I noticed this several times. That there, is a pretty cool feature for a man that likes to listen to audiobooks. Features like this just make life easier, it means that you have to spend less time trying to hear better, it just happens.
In finishing for this article, pretty good overall sound, easy and solid connection to the phone, great streamed audio, fantastic own voice experience and surgical focus in the boozer, what's not to like right? The next article will be a round-up of the devices, the features, the apps and why you should consider them as a weapon of choice if you want to hear better.
You can read more about the Own Voice feature on our first article here: Signia Pure 312 7 Nx Hearing Aids, Here is What You Need to Know
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Posted by Geoff
Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling is an Irish hearing aid blogger and 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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