Phonak Audéo vs. Bolero
Update June 30, 2016: We’ve just learned that on August 29, 2016, Phonak will be releasing the new and improved version of the Audéo V hearing aid, the Phonak Audéo B and Phonak Audéo B-R rechargeable hearing aids.
In Phonak’s family of Venture hearing aids there are two behind the ear hearing aids which are built specifically for patients with mild to severe hearing loss. The hearing aids look almost identical, have the same features, and are often priced the same. So what’s the difference between the Phonak Audéo and Bolero models? Why would someone choose one over the other? In this post I’ll outline the major difference between the aids and hopefully get you closer to deciding which one may be right for you.
There are 4 main differences between the Audéo & Bolero models.
Size: As you can see from the image above, the Bolero is a slightly larger hearing aid overall. Why the size difference? The Bolero model has the receiver (speaker) encased inside the hearing aid, while the Audeo model has an external receiver which sits in the ear canal (more on this below). This additional component inside the Bolero necessitates a larger design.
Durability: The Audéo V is a RIC (receiver-in-canal) hearing aid. This means that the receiver (speaker) actually sits in the ear canal and is connected to a wire which leads back to the hearing aid. Because the receiver is in the canal with the Audéo model, this means that delicate electrical components are exposed to the oily, waxy environment of the ear canal. For this reason, receivers usually need to be replaced about once every 2 years at a cost of around $100.
The Bolero model on the other hand keeps all the electrical components protected inside the actual hearing aid (located behind-the-ear), and the sound then travels down a hollow tube into the ear canal. For patients with sweaty or draining ears, or patients who work outside, this makes the Bolero a more durable hearing aid and more suitable choice. In addition, due to the receiver being protected inside the hearing aid, the Bolero achieves a higher IP rating, of 67 vs the Audeo’s 57. This means the Bolero is better equipped to handle cerumen, dust, and moisture.
However, there is a downside to having the receiver encased inside the hearing aid as the Bolero does. If the receiver needs repair, the entire hearing aid needs to be sent in to the repair lab. With the Audéo, your hearing provider can replace the external receiver in a matter of seconds and have you out the door with a working hearing aid. Since receivers are prone to breakdown, this is a significant advantage for the Audéo.
Usability: The models pictured above both come with a single push-button which can be programmed to change the hearing aid volume and program. For some, having a single button which controls two different functions can be tricky. In the case of the Bolero V-S and V-SP models, there is a separate volume control built-in, which some users prefer for easier control of the hearing aid.
Frequency bandwidth: One of the primary advantages to choosing the Audéo over the Bolero is the Audeo’s expanded frequency bandwidth. In the simplest of terms, the Audéo will provide a richer and clearer sound quality than the more restricted bandwidth of the Bolero. This means that wearing the Audéo, you’ll be more likely to hear high frequency sounds like birds chirping.
In almost all cases we’d recommend purchasing the Audéo model, and I think most hearing providers would agree that it’s a better fit for the majority of patients. However, if your ears drain due to infection, or simply sweat, or you have dexterity issues, the Bolero is probably a better fit. Discuss the above points with your hearing provider and together you’ll be able to come to a solution that works best for you!