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My experience with America HearsAugust 2006 to January 2012. I'm on sixth year and happy.
America Hears updated my controller at no cost.
Note: it may be that some of the America Hears information here is out of date.
In 1972 I noticed a persistent faint tinnitus and read my audiogram by means of my Heathkit audio generator (my son's ear as reference). I was losing highs above 2000; at 6000 about 25db in left; 15db in right. This has progressed to its 2006 audiograms:
The tinnitus is at one with my toes: still small, still there, and not a problem.
Why I chose AH(1) Money.
(2) My wish to be able to adjust the program.
(3) The advantage of better understanding what's going on.
Warning: personal bias and I have no experience with other aids priced above $37.
What is right for me may not be right for you. I'm certain that many people will be more comfortable with a personal dispenser advising them, fitting their aid, and adjusting it (again and again?). I would find that a terrible annoyance.
I was a hearing-aid repairman the summer of 1941 for Aurex Corp., the maker of the first pocket vacuum-tube aid, so I knew nothing about 2006 digital hearing aids.
I have a little $20 amplifier (a modified Whisper 2000 "hearing assister") lying beside my TV speaker and permanently powered. The ear buds are at my chair. This is perfect, beats any at-the-ear hearing aid, so I am spoiled in that regard. (there are gadgets called "TV Ears" or similar. I have tested none, so can't comment.)
What I have is their "Freedom AD BTE MP"
My original, in August, was "Freedom Vtec (slimline) BTE MP". I upgraded to the ADRO in September.
My family is happy that I don't talk so loud and that they do not need to be "shouting" for me. I am happy that now I hear the jokes and don't have to laugh in pretense. But now I have to hear the jokes.
There are four memories including the one for using the telecoil. The factory settings are "General", "Telecoil", "Noisy Environment", and "Music." AH asserts that 60 percent of their hearing aids never need adjustment. I can accept that. They say that 70% of the users prefer the ADRO. I suspect that the other 30% have a personal adaptation problem.
It is very easy to select among memories 1,2,3,4 by a push-button.
There are three ways to program:
I have taken the liberty of displaying a screen here. There are good Help screens. I think using the Wizard may be the best way -- you select from many possible "complaints" and it gives instructions and helps make the appropriate adjustments. Like having a built-in robotic audiologist who doesn't require an appointment. I like to tinker so I have fun making manual adjustments.
America Hears support
America Hears support by e-mail and phone has been excellent.Before buying, I made e-mail inquiries. They were promptly and well answered. The ordering by phone was simple: a helpful person to talk to immediately (!).
The ear-mold kit was sent overnight DHL and was easy to use. The ear-mold fits well -- it took a little practice installing it and a little getting used to having it in my ear. Now I often reach up to touch it to see if it's there, so it must be reasonably comfortable. It has an adjustable vent; - easily selected for balancing occlusion vs feedback. (It is a good idea to use a tiny dab of Hard-As-Nails on the edge of the vent so it won't fall out.)
The aid was also shipped overnight DHL and in a large elegant box with a good user's manual, a big supply of batteries, a battery tester, a neat case, a key-chain spare battery holder (good idea) and I forget what else...
They offer an alternative called a "Comply tip" which is soft and not long lived. - I have experimented with it to test the aid in my left ear. I found it hard to put in -- not recommended by me. Another user might like the Comply tips. I find the acrylic mold easy to insert, comfortable, it creates a well-defined sound structure.
I found the first mold a bit too tight. AH sent a looser one (no charge).
Note that I have only one aid. The need for two is controversial -- I think this is very much user dependent. I have bought a mold for my left ear -- to try the aid there for one reason or another. First trials have left me with the aid in my right ear. As a passenger in the right seat of an auto on a long trip, the left ear (facing the driver) might be advantageous.
ADRO - a new system
The ADRO system was developed by:
It is difficult to judge improvements in sound, not having both to compare directly. My feeling now is that ADRO is definitely a superior way to adjust as well as an improvement in feedback management and sound quality. Adjustment is for "comfort" level at each frequency rather for the minimum detectable sound given by the usual audiometer. The aid does its best to adjust itself to that comfort level. This seems superior to most other compression schemes.
There is an excellent power-point Tutor which should be viewed by any beginner, me included. In addition, there are numerous Help screens that are very good.
The software is designed to be "user friendly." America Hears wants the user to be able to make changes without tinkering with the technical aspects (and without needing to call them). For that purpose the Wizard replicates a visit with an audiologist. Questions are asked, the answer leads to an adjustment. The adjustments are made in small increments. The equivalent would be numerous visits to the audiologist.
As received from the factory, my aid was programmed for the telecoil to be on Memory 2. I chose to rearrange the memories: activating the telecoil on Memory 4,. adjusting for music on Memory 3 (less gain and no feedback cancellation). Memory 1 is normal and Memory 2 experimental --exaggerated compensation today. Switching memories during use is a simple button-push on the aid.
First major success: I met cousins in the cafeteria of the De Young Museum in San Francisco. Without the hearing aid I would not have been able to converse with them while having lunch. The cafeteria is noisy -- flat hard walls everywhere.
The aid adapts to the sound level of the environment. If I encounter a noisy place the gain is reduced (at a rate I now have set at 9db per second). I touch the manual volume control. Also, having made some adjustments, I play the piano and it sounds great -- except that now it must be tuned.
The ability to make adjustments and alter the system without an audiologist appointment is a great advantage. And "the price is right." I strongly recommend America Hears.. I have no connection with America Hears.
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