I have been wearing a set of the Styletto Connect for close to a week now and I have put them through their paces. I have to say that I have been impressed with them although I expected them to work well. I have experience with the Nx platform before while wearing the original Styletto and the Pure 312 Nx. They are good hearing aids and they deliver pretty strongly. The connectivity on the Pure 312 is excellent, so I was interested to see how the smaller Styletto Connect would handle Bluetooth connection. I was also really interested to see what the battery life would be. To be honest, they weren't too bad, let's talk about my experiences.
The devices are light enough and they sit on the ear well, wearing them isn't a major inconvenience. For some reason the left receiver kept sliding out, I definitely need to look at a custom tip for the left ear. The right receiver stayed in place most of the time without issue. All in all, put them on and pretty much forget them really.
During the last week, I have fielded many questions from different people about the devices. Generally, someone notices them and asks what they are, they seem to be always surprised when I say hearing aids. When I show them the case and explain they are rechargeable hearing aids they are fascinated. They always and I mean always, say something about fancy earphones or Apple products. It was fascinating to watch their reactions during the week and I think it is the first time I have had to field so many questions about my hearing aids.
Rechargeability & The Case
This is probably a strange thing to start with but it's worth talking about and I will explain why. I spent the week, more or less in Copenhagen working. I was there from Tuesday to Friday and I purposely didn't bring the cable for the charger case with me to test it. The charger works as designed and it really is an attractive little thing. I used the aids over the few days just throwing them into the charger every night before bed.
To be honest, I hammered them on the first day, I streamed an audio book for slightly over seven hours. I didn't put the hearing aids on until just after nine that morning before I went for my flight and the low battery warning kicked in at about half ten that night. As I was in Copenhagen, it was half eleven Danish time, and I was ready for bed. Taking the time difference into account, it means that the battery delivered thirteen and a half hours with over seven hours of streaming. During the rest of the week, the hearing aids were put on at about eight am and came out at about eleven pm.
I am a heavy user of streaming, I listen to audio books and music quite a lot. I always listen to a book when travelling and I nearly always listen to music when I am writing. For this reason, I want a stable connection and a really strong battery life from the hearing aids I use. The Styletto Connect handled much of what I wanted very well, The battery life wasn't bad considering the abuse I threw at it. One night during the week after some heavy use during the day and nearly constant streaming I got a low battery warning at about nine pm. I threw the aids in the charger case for about twenty minutes and then just put them on again until I was ready to go to bed.
In my experience, the overall sound quality of Signia hearing aids is excellent in general, they are crisp yet full sounding. High-frequency sounds are clear and the clarity is excellent. The own voice experience still surprises me every time I set up the feature. Hear your own voice, train the aids, don't hear your own voice, amazing. Streaming audio is generally really good quality. I played more than a few tunes during the week and I had a marathon session of "Debt of Honour" by Tom Clancy on Audible.
The audio reproduction is pretty solid and phone calls were really great. I was wearing open domes because they are the most comfortable for me. It means the sound could be better, but the hearing aids try to make up for it. If you are looking for really high-quality earphone type sound, ask your professional to give you closed domes as well. Then you can switch to them if you are going for a marathon streaming session.
The connectivity is really solid, during the week I never once had a full drop out while streaming audio and I never had any problems with a call full stop. There are the usual Bluetooth issues with the streaming (all of the Made For iPhone hearing aids have them) which I will explain later, but overall they don't suffer any more problems than I expected. Considering their small size, I was pleasantly surprised.
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 and several untypical situations during the week, in quiet reading a book, on a plane, one to one conversations, a noisy food hall, many train stations a busy urban situation, a noisy cafe and in the car.
The Styletto Connects just did their thing delivering the ability to hear without fuss or fanfare. As with the rest of the Nx range I have tried, quiet was quiet, and as I moved from situation to situation the differing features worked seamlessly without audible changes in the sound.
The hearing aids handled wind noise pretty well during the week. In the car with the window open and the wind whistling through the window, there was no cavitation across the microphones. When I was out and about during the week it was really quite windy and again, I had no real problems. Signia devices seemed to handle the wind pretty well, the wind sounded no louder than it should and it didn't intrude upon my ability to hold a conversation.
What About Noisy Situations?
I was in a fair few noisy situations during the week and the hearing aids performed well. They delivered the ability to understand speech in all of the situations I found myself in. I ate in the Tivoli Food Hall on Wednesday night and it was pretty busy, I could hear the guy taking my order very well without much issue. It was a good night, I scored free Quesadillas, whoop whoop (a story for another time). Any night you score free Quesadillas is a good night.
On Thursday night, I was back again at the Tivoli Food Hall meeting a young analyst for a chat. Again it was pretty busy. This time I went for the chicken place, I could hear the girl behind the counter clearly without issue. I sat down at the counter with my companion and chatted while we waited for the food. The chap is Norwegian, but he has spent so much time in the US that he has an American accent.
Usually, the biggest problems you have understanding speech are with people you aren't familiar with and accents that you may not hear regularly. Throw in background noise and you tend to be all over the place. The noise in the background was kept there, in the background. His voice was clear and easily understood. In fairness, I think he had more problem understanding my accent than I did understanding him.
Because the Styletto Connect is Bluetooth enabled, you can use the myControl app which you couldn't on the original Styletto. The app delivers fantastic power over your experience with the devices. Signia have given you the ability to control the focus of the hearing aids, in fact, they give you the power 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 first used the app while testing the Pure 312 Nx a while ago and I was really impressed, I said and I quote "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."
The feature works as advertised with the Styletto Connect, another reason why Bluetooth connectivity rocks so much.
It is important to point out that Styletto Connect has the twin radios onboard, and they are able to deliver all of those amazing Signia 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. As I said, the audio is pretty good, my tunes were excellent, full and clear and phone calls 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. 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.
Bass Boost & Changing Volume of Streaming Audio
As I said, I am wearing the Signia aids with open tips, however, the streamed audio sounds pretty good. The devices give an automatic bass boost to streamed audio which means you get a full and pleasant sound. As with the Pure 312 Nx, the volume of the streamed audio increases as the external sound increases. I noticed this several times in particular when I was on the platform of the different train stations and trains were coming in. 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 pretty solid connection to the phone, good streamed audio, fantastic own voice experience and surgical focus with the app. The battery life is respectable although if you are a heavy user like me, well then you need to know that you will probably be throwing them in the case for a quick charge every now and then.