Saturday, July 23, 2011

Product Demo Review: Phonak CROS

Since this was my first exposure to this technology, I'm going to do a little recap information in addition to my actual demo review.

A little bit of information about the theory behind Cros hearing aids.


There are 3 kinds of Cros Aids:

1. Wired CROS -- hard wire from transmitter microphone to hearing aid on other ear

2. Transcranial CROS -- This is only possible in people with one entirely dead ear

3. Wireless CROS - Use of wireless frequency to send sound from transmitter microphone to hearing aid


There are currently 2 manufacturers producing Cros aids and transmitters, that I could identify. For my source, click below:

http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/hearing/hearing-aids/CROS%20Manufacturers.htm



I tested the Phonak model... so the rest of my demo review will be off of Phonak's CROS. For more info from Phonak click here:

http://www.phonak.com/com/b2b/en/products/hearing_instruments/cros/overview.html



Most of my hearing aids have been Phonak models. The first thing that was pointed out to me was that my current Perseo model was not compatible. So, in order for me to take advantage of this technology I would have to get a new aid AND the transmitter.

Anyone familiar with digital hearing aids will not be shocked that the sticker price for the aid is several thousand dollars, and the transmitter is about half of that.

The Phonak rep was upfront about the battery life. Currently, I can get 10-14 days out of my batteries depending on whether I am sleeping with them in or having them out for extended periods of time. Both the transmitter mic and the aid use batteries, and their average battery life for each is 3-4 days. An 8 pack of hearing aid batteries averages about $10 so $260 per year (average of 1 battery every 2 weeks x 52 weeks) will now be $1,040 (2 batteries per week x 52 weeks) which is a quadruple increase in battery cost.


Based on my demo fit experience... it is worth the cost, both in aid and in battery cost. I had the baseline with the hearing on and the transmitter off. When the transmitter is turned on, there's a signal beep to let you know. Sound localization isn't at all trustworthy on just 20 minutes exposure. However.. sound on my left side where I am 100% deaf, was picked up and sounded quality wise as if someone was standing a comfortable near distance to me on my right side.

My doctor and the rep went outside the building where there was a construction site nearby, road traffic, and wind. The rep walked on my left side the entire way out of the office and it felt completely comfortable after I stopped trying to turn myself so that he was on my right side. The sound filter is a little more advanced in this aid, and if the noise was behind me it was filted our significantly more than if I was facing the sound.

Using this setup will be a retraining both of my ears, as well as my habits and way of interacting with the world. Now to start saving...

9 comments:

  1. Hello. I stumbled across your blog this evening as I was looking for reviews of the Phonak Cros hearing aid. I have been to the audiologist and ENT twice in the past two weeks. I have about 80% loss in left ear due to nerves not connecting at birth and 100% good hearing in Right ear. I was initially told my main option was the surgical BAHA system but I was nervous about surgery and when I went in today I was told about the new Phonak cros system. They are scheduling me for a 24 hr trial in the next two weeks. Excited to give them a try. I have no clue what it is or will be like to be able to hear sounds from the left side. I have never had an aid as amplification alone wont help. Your blog has excited me even more about the trial. Thanks so much for your review.

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  2. Jessica - Glad to hear it!

    MY hearing loss is 100% deaf on left side and about 70% loss without aid on right side due to meningitis.

    For me, there was an immediate WHOA moment as soon as sound on my left side that I would normally not ever hear was being picked up.

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  3. I too have a near total loss on one side and a roughly 50% loss on the other side. I am going to be trying these out for 2 months starting Nov 7th. I tired the old technology about 5 years ago and they were not all that great. I was hearing lightning, light dimmers and store security systems.

    I then tried the BAHA. It was OK, but because of my loss on my good side, it was never great. The BAHA was also very bad at filtering out noise.

    This new technology sounds really good and I can't wait to try for myself. i will update you if you want.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi! I stumbled across your blog as I was also looking for a review of the Phonak CROS. I am 100% deaf in my left ear (since birth) and I have normal hearing in my right ear. I am trying the CROS starting in about a month... and that will be the first time I have ever worn a hearing aid even though I am 25. From reading the BAHA pages I was actually kind of nervous to try the CROS (they stress how many people don't like them, but that is probably based on the old models), so I am excited to hear your positive review! It will be worth a shot at least! And since it is a non-surgical option I think it's a better starting point than BAHA (at least for me). I will try to remember to come back and comment when I get it next month. And thanks for your review!

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  5. I have 80% had loss left and no hearing loss right (nerve damage) for 15 years. Started wearing the Phonak Audeo CROS last week. Overall, not a huge change in hearing, but I am already learning that I don't have to turn my head to hear things. They are a big help playing hockey, I can hear players on my left. Biking, I can now hear traffic better, with no wind noise problem. In the band, the drummer sounded like he was hitting a box of rattlesnakes. I just had my aud readjust to reduce levels above 6 KHz, and change the buttons to switch between music and noisy room programs. HUGE difference, sound is very natural now. I am also getting a fuller sound in general, the improvement is now more than just better left side hearing. I'll find out tonight how the drums sound. Overall, very pleased so far. But I'm only getting about 30 hours out of my batteries - good thing I get free lifetime batteries from my aud!

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  6. Wow, thank you for the comments folks!

    It is always interesting to hear what others have experienced.

    Pete - my aud also stated battery life was siginficantly reduced. I wish I had lifetime free batteries! It also sounds like your experiences mirror what my current Aud told me - that it is not always a huge "let there be LIGHT!" change, but anything that makes hearing easier is a plus for me.

    Shayna - I'm excited to hear how your CROS experience goes!

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    Replies
    1. I've been wearing my phonak cross for about 1 year and they are the best so far. I have 100% loss in the right ear from nerve damage and 50% in the left. Thank goodness I have batteries for the lifetime of the aids as I go through 2 batteries every day and a half. I do not sleep with the aids in and I always open the aids at night to conserve the battery life.

      I've noticed that in some geographic areas, my aids do not work. It's very consistent and I wonder what would interfere with the transmission. I doesn't last too long, maybe 3-5 minutes.

      Does anyone else experience this?

      thanks, Eileen

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