We had a recent contact from a lovely lady about using a Bluetooth streamer with a set of NHS provided Oticon Zest Plus hearing aids. So we decided to do some research. Turns out it is a little confusing, while some people said they were happily using the Connectline streamer from Oticon with their NHS provided Zests, others said that it couldn't be done. So, as is our want, we investigated further and had a chat with Oticon. We found out was that the answer is yes, but no but maybe. Some Zests won't connect to a streamer, however, you may still be able to sort out streaming to the hearing aids. Let's look at how. Let's talk about streaming to Zest aids.
Two Zests, Not One
Unfortunately, the reason for the confusion is that there were two Oticon Zest types of hearing aids provided to the NHS. The older one which is called Zest is not compatible with the ConnectLine streamer. The newer one which is called Zest Plus or Zest C is compatible with the ConnectLine streamer.
If you have a Zest Plus hearing aid from the NHS, you should have no problems with using a ConnectLine Streamer and any of the other ConnectLine accessories to stream audio to your hearing aids. If you have the older Zest, you can't use the streamers, but all is not lost.
Streaming to The Older Zest
All is not lost though, if your older Zest has a telecoil programme, or if it is suitable for an FM boot, you can still sort out streaming to the hearing aids. There are many commercially available telecoil streamers available and we actually wrote an article a while ago about cobbling together a system. You can read the article "Bluetooth Streaming or Compatibility With NHS or Old Hearing Aids", but come back when you finish and I will cover some of the options for the Zest in particular.
First, you need to make sure you have a telecoil programme or ask your NHS department to put one on. Make sure you inquire about the availability of a telecoil programme before you buy a telecoil transmitter. Don't waste money unless you know you can use it. If you have a telecoil programme or you definitely can get one, start considering the next products.
The Widex T-Dex
The T-DEX from Widex is a hands-free, wireless neck loop for use with any hearing aids with a telecoil. Doesn't have to be a Widex aid, but it can still use some really solid technology and sound quality from Widex. The device allows you to easily connect with Bluetooth mobile phones. The T-DEX comes with a built-in rechargeable battery, as well as a charging cord.
Because it amplifies the sound from the mobile phone, the T-DEX is perfect in situations where there is a lot of background noise. And its hands-free operation means that it is easy to talk on the phone while driving for example.
Of course for it to work, you have to have a t-coil programme activated on your hearing aids, if you do, it is pretty simple. Simply place the T-DEX around the neck and activate it. The sound is transmitted wirelessly to the hearing aids so you can hear and converse directly. Calls can be easily answered and ended by means of a single push button. You can listen to music and other audio on your phone or another compatible device with a Bluetooth connection. When the T-Dex is connected to the device, start playing the audio using the controls of the device.
HearIt Mobile from Phonic Ear is a user-friendly, wireless neck loop for use with Bluetooth mobile phones not unlike the Widex T-Dex. Its a hands-free solution with superior sound quality that wirelessly transmits the sound from your mobile telephone to your hearing aid (with telecoil). The HearIt Mobile has an integrated neck loop that allows you to hear your conversations or streaming audio directly via a hearing aid.
As with the T-Dex, You can listen to music and other audio on your phone or another compatible device with a Bluetooth connection. When the T-Dex is connected to the device, start playing the audio using the controls of the device. In fairness, the device looks very similar to the Widex T-Dex and perhaps Phonic-Ear is the company who makes the T-Dex under licence.
Many of the NHS Zest devices are FM compatible so you could use an FM system to stream audio. Considering the cost of those systems though, it might be overkill. In order to use FM, you would have to buy an FM Boot for your hearing aid and then purchase an FM transmitter and compatible ear level receiver. Something like the Roger Pen and Roger Receiver and an Oticon Direct Connection Boot.
As I said, if you just want it to stream audio, it is probably overkill. However, if you wanted it for all of the benefits it provides and you think you really need them, well then it is something worth considering. Of course, you could also consider some of the cheap but effective Bluetooth hearing aids now on the market. Like us on Facebook by clicking the image below to keep up with our articles.