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Wireless Microphones for Hearing Aids

In my  last blog post, I wrote about using an FM system in a yoga class.  Although it can be very effective in some limited situations (and certainly was for me!) in general, it is too cumbersome to use in an exercise class.  So, now I want to share with you some information about wireless microphones that send the sound to your hearing aids or streaming device.  As far as I know, GN Resound and Starkey are the only brands that send sound directly into the hearing aids.  If you know of others, please leave a comment!
All the other wireless microphones need an intermediary device such as a neckloop or FM boot.  I recommend buying these devices from an audiologist, as most of them need to be programmed to work with your hearing aids, but I have listed prices I saw online, just to get an idea of the cost.

Phonak Wireless Accessories

Phonak is the “King” of wireless!  They have developed a new technology called “Roger.”  See this website for more information about the Roger technology. http://www.fmhearingsystems.co.uk/phonak-roger-vs-phonak-fm/

Roger uses digital modulation (DM).  DM is a type of FM system and according to one company, using DM they “…. can get a much larger dynamic range, which makes the sound quality much better and improves intelligibility.”  Phonak claims a 54% improvement in listening in noise with the Roger Pen compared with traditional FM systems.

The Roger Pen is expensive! $1,500 on Amazon but it is both an FM system and a Bluetooth Streamer…and more.  This video explains more about the Roger Pen.

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In addition to the Roger Pen, Phonak has 2 other wireless microphones:  the Roger Clip-on Mic. (≈$420), and the Phonak Remote Mic. (≈$200).  Phonak also has a whole line of Roger for Education devices.
The Roger Pen and Roger Clip-on Mic must be used with either small Phonak Roger receivers that attach to the hearing aids or cochlear implants (CI’s) or the Roger MyLink neckloop.  Some Roger receivers are designed specifically for Phonak hearing aids, but the Roger X is a universal receiver that will work with most hearing aids and CI’s.  The Roger MyLink neckloop is a universal Roger receiver compatible with all hearing aids with t-coils.  The Phonak Remote Mic works with the ComPilot (neckloop).

GN Resound Unite Mini Microphone ($260 on E-Bay)

The Unite Mini Microphone is a wireless mic that sends the sound directly into the Resound hearing aids. No neckloop or receiver needed.  The Unite Mini Microphone is small and can easily be clipped onto the user’s shirt.

Starkey Surflink Mobile ($550 on Amazon) ($650 on ebay)

The Surflink Mobile is a cell phone transmitter, wireless microphone, media streamer, and hearing aid remote all rolled into one.  It has built-in directional and omni-directional microphones that send the sound directly into Starkey hearing aids.  The Surflink Mobile can be worn around user’s the neck with a lanyard.

Oticon ConnectLine Microphone ($279.99 on Amazon)

The Oticon ConnectLine Microphone does not send sound directly into the hearing aids.  The Streamer Pro (neckloop) must be worn with it.  The ConnectLine Microphone is small and can easily be clipped onto the user’s shirt.

Siemens VoiceLink Microphone ($175 – $199 online)

The VoiceLink Microphone does not send sound directly into the hearing aids.  The MiniTek Streamer must be worn with it.  The VoiceLink Lapel Microphone can be clipped onto the user’s shirt, but the attached transmitter would also need to be clipped to a shirt or belt.

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Now, the real question is………..how well do these devices work?  I tried the Oticon ConnectLine Microphone about 2 years ago.  I was terribly disappointed and ended up returning it as the sound quality was so poor!  I recently decided to order it again and give it another try.  Maybe mine was defective…or the technology has improved.

Although I became interested in learning more about these microphones to find a good solution for a yoga class (without having a neckloop flopping around during “Downward Facing Dog”!) my real need (and the need for all hard-of-hearing folks) is to find a good solution for noisy restaurants.  So, if you have experience with any of these or other wireless microphones, I would LOVE to hear from you.  Please write a comment and share your experience!  Thank you!

 

Yoga for the Hard-of-Hearing

4-corpse-pose-savasana

In practicing Yoga, Savasana (or Corpse Pose) is supposed to be a time to fully relax and rejuvenate.  For a hard-of-hearing person, it can be very stressful while straining to hear the instructor’s guided imagery.

Relax. Let go. Imagine a _______ moving up __________ and slowly __________. Breathe deeply. Release any tension from ______. Start at ____________ and imagine a warm __________ radiating……..

I’ve never asked a yoga teacher to wear an FM transmitter.  It would be too cumbersome and if the teacher is demonstrating postures, it would get in the way.  Also, I didn’t want to have a neckloop dangling from me while doing the Downward Facing Dog pose and other yoga poses.

HC-CONVERSORPRO

However, last week, I decided to give it a try using the smallest FM system I have, the Conversor Pro Personal FM System.  (I wrote about the Conversor Pro in my last blog post.)  I asked the teacher to just put it on at the end of class during Savasana as she would be sitting up and not moving.  I placed the receiver/neckloop around my neck and settled comfortably on my mat. Suddenly I heard the teacher’s voice, loud and clear, sent directly into my hearing aids!  My reaction was startling!  Tears began to flow from my eyes!!  I’m not a person who cries easily, so this really surprised me!  The joy of hearing so clearly was overwhelming!

The next class I attended was taught by a man who sat in a chair while directing the class.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to try out the system during the entire class, but since he played the guitar during part of the class, it would be impossible to wear the microphone around his neck.  I set the microphone/transmitter on a small table close by.  I wore my neckloop for the entire class without too much inconvenience.  Once again I was so moved by being able to hear clearly.  For once, I could do yoga with my eyes shut, rather than looking all around to see what we were supposed to be doing!  So nice!!

As effective as this solution was, it is NOT an ideal solution.  The ideal yoga solution would be completely wireless such as:
#1. Hearing loop installed in the yoga room.
Wireless microphone that could be placed near the teacher or worn in a body pack.
Hearing aid wearers all knowing to get a t-coil in their hearing aids!

#2. For those wearing hearing aids that have a wireless microphone available (Resound, Phonak, Oticon…) it would be simple to clip the microphone onto the teacher’s shirt.  At least one of these microphones sends sound directly into the hearing aids.  Others require the listener to wear a neckloop, FM boot, or other intermediary device.  More on wireless microphones in my next blog.  OM…….

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