So, I have a mild bordering on moderate high frequency hearing loss. It never really causes me much grief except if I am tired and in noise. Then it causes me grief, however, I have been wearing differing hearing aids for the last few years when I am in these situations. Recently, I tried out the Halo 2 from Starkey, I am not sure what I was expecting really, but I was pleasantly surprised. Let's talk the Halo 2 Made For iPhone hearing aids.
Halo 2 i2400
So the aids I was given were a set of black and sterling silver Halo 2 i2400s which are the top of the range Made For iPhone hearing aids from Starkey. The devices were the 312 configuration (they took a 312 battery). They are small enough, they also have a nice curve on the inside edge of them which allows them to sit on the ear very nicely.
They are pretty discreet RIC (Receiver In Canal) device and sit well on the ear, the design of the ear wire means they sit tight to the face. I had sport locks on mine and at first I found them a pain in the ass. Not used to them, but, after a while they were easy enough to tuck into my ear.
Interesting Instant Tips
So, the Starkey's came with some interesting instant tips. They call them comfort tips and I think they are probably unique in the hearing aid business. I certainly don't ever remember seeing anything like them before. They are reminiscent of typical tips to be found on earphones, except they are designed as open tips with pieces cut of them.
They are very comfortable, but, I believe they are more occluding than the typical open tips I am used to. Let me explain, I have really good low frequency hearing. So if i block up my ear canals I suffer with the effects of occlussion. I feel reverberation in my ear canals when I speak or eat. Pretty damned irritating to be honest.
This unhappy situation is usually dealt with my fitting any hearing aids with open fit tips which allow a lot of the low frequency energy to escape from the canal. The Starkey comfort tips are really comfortable and the sound quality of streamed audio or music through them was really good.
But, they irritated the life out of me and I eventually changed them for a set of open tips. I am sorry I had to, because the streamed audio suffered for it. It wasn't as bassy with the new tips. However, it was still pretty good. If you don't have problems with the comfort tips, use them, they deliver excellent sound balance.
Stream Boost Memory
So the Halo 2 enters a memory called Stream Boost when you begin to stream audio from a phone or tablet. This is a nice feature because the sound quality is pretty good, delivers a nice bit of bass and makes music well rounded. The problem with streaming for many people with typical high frequency hearing loss is that audio streamed through the hearing aids sounds tinny. This is because the low frequency amplification there might be typically escapes the canal. Starkey deal with the problem by automatically boosting the bass of the streamed audio.
The App is pretty Cool
The companion app is cool enough, it seems to have endless opportunities to save your own custom memories. Changing the settings on a memory is a bit un-intuitive though, it involves an x and y axis system where one access is intensity and the other is sound quality. I mean it is easy to use, but it takes a bit of thinking about. Most of the other manufacturers use a bass mid and treble set up that you manipulate. The Starkey system is actually a bit more incremental than others and probably suits audiophiles much better. However, it takes a little while to get a handle on.
Performance in noise
So, having got that all out of the way, how do they perform? I have to say they perform pretty well, they delivered a little more high frequency emphasis than I was used to, but that was okay. I never found it uncomfortable in any way and it made things very distinct, delivering pretty good clarity.
I have to say general performance was pretty good, the automatic programme was excellent and any changes that were happening seemed to be seamless. They delivered excellent clarity in all of the situations I found myself in.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to really put them through their paces when it came to Made For iPhone. I am not an Apple Fanboy and I wasn't buying a phone for the test. I did pair them with an iPad and I was pretty happy with the sound quality delivered. The connection also seemed to be quite robust. There was the occassional issue, but no more than I would expect with Bluetooth.
For instance, when I went out of range of the iPad and then came back into range, the right hearing aid would refuse to connect. I opened and closed the battery doors to re-connect but it refused. So, i turned the bluetooth on the iPad on and off. Hey presto, they both connected just fine. Like I said, I would kind of expect this from Bluetooth, so I wasn't really phased.
Occasionally if i moved the iPad suddenly, the audio being streamed got a little garbled. Not hugely, it was still understandable, but a little garbled. Again, I think this is a combination of Bluetooth and antenna technology in the hearing aids and the iPad. I would like to emphasise again, this isn't any more than I would expect with Bluetooth.
I have to say I was pretty happy with them, their performance was excellent, sound quality was good and clarity was there in all the situations I was in. If you are looking for a set of Made For iPhone hearing aids, the Halo 2 i2400 seems pretty solid. You can take a look at the full range of Starkey hearing aids here.
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