Widex Dream 440 Review

widex-dream-440-review
Note: The Widex Dream 440 is now an outdated hearing aid. It has been replaced by the Widex Unique 440.

This is part 1 of my Widex Dream 440 review. This first review will be from the perspective of a hearing instrument specialist (myself), and my experience fitting and playing around with this aid and its accessories. Part 2 will come in a few weeks once I have fit the hearing aids to the client I ordered them for, at which time I will detail his experience with them in that post. So I’d read some good things about these hearing aids online and really wanted to give them a try. A handful of dispensers said they considered the Dream 440 the best open-fit, behind-the-ear device on the market. In reading through reviews from patients as well, it seems the overwhelming majority is very positive. For these reasons and more, I really wanted to fit these aids and see how they performed.

I ordered these for a client who didn’t have luck with my first recommendation, the Starkey 3 Series i110 RICs. This client has a moderate-severe high frequency hearing loss. He hears the low frequencies very well, but really struggles with the higher frequencies, and getting that much needed clarity in speech. I am much more familiar with the Starkey 3 Series i110, but I just couldn’t get him satisfied with them for a few reasons, (though many people absolutely love those aids), myself included. So our next pick was the Dream 440. He wants to wear an open-fit if possible (without custom earmolds), so we chose the Fusion style which is a small RIC device powered by a 312 battery. The hearing aid has a small button on it which can be used to change programs.

Widex Dream 440: M-DEX

Widex M-DEX

My client needed a little bit more flexibility in terms of user adjustments, so we ordered the M-DEX remote control as well. This remote can adjust the volume of the aids (independently or binaurally), change the program of the aids, and stream music and phone calls wirelessly via Bluetooth. Probably the coolest thing about this remote (if you look on the bottom right corner of the picture to the left), there is a button which allows you to control which direction the hearing aids are focusing in on. This means that the user will be able to choose whether they want the hearing aids to focus in on sounds to the left, right, front, or back of them, all with the simple push of a button. I love this idea and am eager to hear feedback from my client on this. I know Phonak users report great success with a a similar technology which Phonak calls Zoom Technology.

I paired that M-DEX device with my iPhone a few days ago, and everything worked really well. I made several phone calls, and the quality was perfect for myself and the person I was speaking to. It’s really simple to pair the device with your smart phone, and using it with your phone is a breeze. When a call comes in, you are notified on the display screen, and can accept or decline the call using the M-DEX or your phone. Additionally, your smart phone will also display the incoming call and you can choose to accept the call and speak using your phone or the M-DEX. When I was using the M-DEX for phone calls I got the best results by simple holding the M-DEX to my ear like I normally would with a phone, just because that’s what felt natural and it resulted in the microphone of the M-DEX being right next to my mouth. You can hold it right in front of you if you want, or have it around your neck using the lanyard that comes with it. It’s just a matter of preference- but the sound quality is perfect no matter which way you decide to use it. When streaming phone calls, the caller’s voice comes through both aids, so you have stereo sound and it’s very easy to hear clearly- I really liked it.

Once I tested out the phone quality, I wanted to see how well it streamed music. So I went to Pandora on my phone and at first was disappointed with the sound quality- big time. Lots of treble, very little bass, just a very tinny and poor sound. However, I then checked out some of the settings on the M-DEX, and when you are streaming music, you can check or un-check a box which focuses more on “speech” or “music”, and when I did that, the sound was much better. The sound wasn’t quite as good as headphones (not as much bass), but it was still very good, and I really enjoyed streaming music. As I continued to work in the office that morning, I listened to Pandora for the next hour while wearing the aids and everything worked flawlessly. I also ordered the TV-DEX for this client, so he can stream sound from his TV to his aids, but since he will set that up in his home, I can’t report on that yet- but will.

As far as working with the aids, getting them adjusted, their look and feel, and usability, I can’t find any flaws at all. I love the sleek design, they look very clean, modern, and very well constructed. A lot of hearing aids feel flimsy in certain areas (battery doors and push buttons), and both of these have a solid feel to them on the Dreams. They come in a beautiful black box with white stitching- a very clean and attractive presentation. Programming the hearing aids is a bit tricky, since at the moment I’m not very experienced with these aids, but after speaking with a support specialist from Widex for nearly 30 minutes, I think I’ve got it down. The software is incredibly thorough, with options to adjust every imaginable feature of the hearing aid- and it comes packed with all the latest features. The user experience of the software is exceptional. It’s very intuitive and beautifully designed. The speech mapping and gain handle screen in particular is very aesthetically pleasing and allows for a great level of control of individual bands and a great overview to see what the hearing aids are actually doing in terms of amplification. The aids can be programmed wirelessly, the client will simply wear a small plastic device around their neck at the time the aids are programmed. Aside from that, it’s a cordless process.

As far as the physical fit, I think these fit better than any RICs I’ve ever fit- at least they do on me. The receiver cord which goes down inside your ear is very well constructed and conforms to the natural contours of the ears very well, allowing for an incredibly discrete fit. I have tiny ear canals and no other RIC product fits me as well as these, they were really a joy to wear and so comfortable. In all, thus far I am very impressed with these aids, though I have yet to fit them so we’ll see! They have a very luxurious feel to them, great build, and so far seem very user friendly. I will report back with my client’s impressions on these as soon as they have been fit and worn a week or two. Stay tuned!

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