Oticon Ria Review
For this hearing aid review, I wanted to switch up the style a little bit to make it a little easier to read and pick out just the information you may be looking for. This last week I had the opportunity to conduct an email-based Q & A with one of our frequent readers who just purchased a set of Oticon Ria hearing aids and was willing to answer a few of my questions that I thought the readers here may be interested in seeing. Without further adieu, the transcript of that discussion:
Jeff (moderator): Thanks for giving me the opportunity to ask you a few questions today Tina, I think many of our readers will really benefit from your experiences. Since hearing aid reviews can be a bit subjective because they are so personal, give us a brief background- age, occupation, hearing health history, etc.
Tina (wearer): So I am just barely 64 years old, a recent retiree from the public school system here in Maine, and a first time hearing aid user- and if that doesn’t make me feel old, I don’t know what will! I still can’t believe I am using hearing aids, for the longest time I thought they were just for “old people”, but the more I I talk to people about my hearing aids, the more I’m realizing that really people of all ages are wearing them. In fact I have since met many, many people wearing hearing aids who were quite a bit younger than me. I first started noticing hearing loss at board meetings for the school district I work in. For the last 5 years of my career I was assistant to the superintendent of schools for one of the most well-respected districts in Maine. This job required lots of meetings, 10-30 people sitting around a large table, people talking over each other, whispering, etc- it was a dynamic environment, and one where I started really seeing myself as being at a social disadvantage because I was no longer picking up on the nuances of people’s speech, their inflection, and so forth. I was able to hide the hearing loss (I think), for the last few years of my career and just did OK. Or I thought I did OK, but looking back I should have purchased hearing aids years ago, it would have made the end of my career much more fulfilling.
Jeff: What led you to choose the hearing aid that you did?
Tina: Nothing in particular really. I didn’t know the first thing about hearing aids when I first started noticing my hearing loss, so of course I took to Google. I ultimately landed on this blog (and many other helpful sites), and gobbled up all the information I could. Basically I came to the determination that there wasn’t much difference in technology from one manufacturer to another, they all seemed to do the same thing and use the same buzz-words, and based on the recommendations from you, and many other people, I set out to find the best hearing provider I could, and just entrust them with my care. So I interviewed quite a few, and ultimately ended up going with a dispenser that came on the recommendation of a close friend- you can’t beat that. But I guess the biggest reason I chose to go with the Ria was because the dispenser highly recommended it, I had read that Oticon was a respected brand, and cost was an important factor for me.
Jeff: What can you tell us about the aid you picked as far as it’s physical appearance/design/durability/ease of use, etc?
Tina: Following the recommendation of my dispenser I chose to get the black miniRITE model, as it is the smallest open-fit hearing aid available in my price range and the black blends in with my dark brown hair, though the majority of the hearing aid sits behind my ear where it is completely hidden anyway. I am using the open rubber domes, and like that in the future if I need to I can go to power domes and get more volume out of my hearing aids rather than just buying entirely new units. There is a small button on the back of the aids which I can use to change the volume, I have three volumes with low, medium and loud, and if I hold the button down for 3 seconds I can mute both hearing aids, which is something I have actually started to use quite a bit, especially in the movie theatres where it is so loud you just want to yank the suckers out.
Jeff: How much did you pay for the Ria and the provider’s services, etc?
Tina: So for the set of Rias, I paid just under $3,000. It’s a ton of money and I was not prepared to spend that much, though I had heard that many people spend much more. I was able to finance with a 12 month interest-free plan which makes it a bit easier to swallow, but nonetheless, they have been worth the expense. Included in that price was whatever warranty came from the manufacturer, and service appointments at no cost in the future.
Jeff: What has been your impression of the hearing aids so far?
Tina: It’s been a mixed bag. At first I hated them, but slowly I am adapting to them, as I was told I would. I have now worn them pretty consistently for more than 12 hours a day for about the last 2 months, so I feel like I can finally make a few intelligent observations here. So one one of the things I am not thrilled about is the microphone-y sound of the hearing aids. They do not really sound very natural, they sound tinny, like there is a little microphone in my ears, which of course there is, but I didn’t expect it to sound this way. I suppose if I had bought a better hearing aid I may not have this problem, but I have nothing to compare them to so I’m not sure if it’s just me or not. Another thing I don’t like about them is I cannot seem to get the little ear domes to stay in my ears. Throughout the day I am constantly fiddling with my ears/hair/hearing aids to make sure everything stays in place and this causes me anxiety because I would hate for the aids to be very noticeable, but also don’t want to lose them. As far as what I like about the hearing aids, well, I wear them sometimes up to 16 hours a day, so I do like much more than I dislike about them. Although the sound is not 100% natural, it is good enough to really help me hear the parts of speech which I struggled to hear for so long. I can now hear the “s” sounds and the “v” sounds, which I haven’t heard for years. Although the aids do tend to work themselves out, they are very comfortable in my ears and I forget there are there all day long until I get a little tone that means it’s time to change my batteries. My batteries are lasting about 10 days if I wear them all day long. I forgot to mention that also included in the sale was (12) batteries.
Jeff: Did you buy any accessories for the hearing aids?
Tina: No. The accessories seemed like an unnecessary additional expense, and based on my dispenser’s recommendation, I am waiting a while to purchase any so I can hash out what I really need and don’t need. I will probably end up getting the device that sends the TV sound directly to my ears, as I still cannot hear the TV very clearly.
Jeff: If you have to start the hearing aid buying process over again, what would you do differently, and would you recommend the Oticon Rias to a friend or family member?
Tina: Well I think the best thing I did was slow down and not just go out and buy hearing aids. I took my time with this purchase and new what I was getting myself in to, and had read stories of people paying $7,000+ for hearing aids and not having good luck with them. So I made sure that any hearing aid I tried came with a risk free trial period and a 100% money back guarantee, because I had no idea what to expect and even $3,000 is a lot of money. I can’t say that I would do anything different. I try to be very meticulous with things and am quite the planner, so I feel confident in my decision to buy these, and to buy them from the provider I bought them from. I could, and have recommended these aids to many people, I believe I’ve already sent my dispenser three referrals. It’s funny, I thought once I got hearing aids it would be something I would try and hide, but more often than not I end up showing them to people and saying look, it’s not that big of a deal to wear hearing aids, and you know, they make a big difference!
If you have worn the Oticon Ria or Ria Pro hearing aid, please feel free to post a comment below with your experience!
If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.