Phonak Releases New Audéo V Hearing Aids
Update 6/30/16: Phonak has just announced they’ll be releasing the next generation Audéo hearing aids, Audéo B and Audeo B-R (rechargeable hearing aid) on August 29, 2016.
It seems that so far 2014 has been the year of the widespread, “effortless” cell phone integration of hearing aids. In February we had ReSound release the LiNX, and then just a few months later Starkey released their Halo hearing aid. Both of these products are what are called “Made for iPhone” hearing aids. That is- they connect directly with iPhones to stream phone calls, media, and more- all with no intermediary device. This was a groundbreaking advancement of hearing aid technology. It has been speculated that other manufacturers would shortly follow suit and release their own Made for iPhone hearing aids before the close of 2014. We’ve just learned that yesterday at the annual EUHA congress in Hannover, Germany, Phonak released their solution for hearing aid wearers that demand greater mobile connectivity.
How much does the Phonak Audéo V cost?
Our prices for the Audéo V hearing aids are as follows (per hearing aid):
Our prices include a full manufacturer warranty, 1 year supply of batteries, and local service from a licensed hearing provider. To learn more about how our nationwide program works and how you can get an excellent deal on an Audéo V hearing aid, please see this page: How it Works.
Unlike Starkey and ReSound, Phonak has not released a Made for iPhone hearing aid, but did release a new family of RICs called the Audéo V, with an optional accessory which makes all cell phones compatible with any hearing aid in the Audéo V family. While early headlines from the EUHA conference suggest that investors were not dazzled by this product release (since the new hearing aids are not Made for iPhone), we think it’s a great move by Phonak and a solid alternative for folks who don’t use iPhones or just aren’t sold on the reliability of Made for iPhone hearing aids at this point. There have been a good number of complaints launched at the Made for iPhone products currently on the market- from compatibility to connectivity issues, and (ostensibly) the Audéo V products will not have these problems since they are not based on the 2.4 gigahertz wireless technology that Made for iPhone hearing aids are. This new optional accessory is called EasyCall, and we’ll get in to that in just a minute, but first, let’s look at what sets the new Audéo V family apart from all other Phonak hearing aids.
Almost exactly 1 year ago today, Phonak released the Quest platform, which is the platform that powers almost all of the hearing aids in the Phonak product portfolio. However, yesterday in Germany they released their Venture platform, based on a new chip technology which powers the new line of Phonak Audéo V hearing aids. According to Phonak, this new chip can provide twice the processing power while reducing battery consumption up to 30%. Phonak has leveraged this new technology by introducing the next generation of technology automation: AutoSense OS. AutoSense OS is the new operating system, which is (in layman’s terms), the “brain” of these new Phonak aids. This OS captures and analyzes incoming sound and can draw on over 200 settings to match the sound environment exactly and to seamlessly provide the best setting for any given environment – all without requiring any manual interaction. This means that Audéo V hearing aids can react faster (and automatically) to your acoustic environment, output a cleaner sound, and save you money on batteries- win, win, win.
At this time, the new Venture platform is only available in the new Audéo V family of products. These new models have a sleek brand new housing design which is reinforced with high-tech composite materials for extra durability. The aid pictured to the above left is the Audéo V-10 (which means it has a size 10 battery), and is the smallest hearing aid in this family. Due to this hearing aid’s bluetooth compatibility and the battery drainage that goes along with that, this probably won’t be the most popular model since size 10 batteries usually only last 3-6 days. In looking at the battery drain data for the other models which use size 312 and 13 batteries, I would expect these aids to last (respectively) between approximately 8-12 days, and 10-16 days.
Earlier I mentioned the new EasyCall accessory available on these hearing aids, and that is probably going to be the biggest pull for a lot of people. This is really a cool new feature Phonak is offering, and they are also releasing it on older platforms like Spice and Quest. When you buy a new Audéo V hearing aid, you have the option of purchasing the separate EasyCall II accessory (EasyCall I is for the older spice or Quest aids). This accessory connects the hearing aids to any Bluetooth enabled cell phone- even non-smartphones. This accessory is attached to the back of the phone and streams conversation directly to both hearing aids in unmatched sound quality. After picking up the phone, it automatically and wirelessly streams the call to both Phonak hearing aids so you can hear the phone call in both ears, resulting in a much easier listening experience. Picture to the left you can see just how this accessory connects to your phone, and it appears to be an elegant and unobtrusive design.
So it’s not a completely seamless mobile integration like the Made for iPhone products- but I think you can make a strong argument that for a number of patients, it is the right way to go about mobile integration at this time, and for a few reasons. First, this solution works with all phones- not just iPhones, so it’s a solution for a much larger number of people. Second, it’s plug and play- there really is no learning curve here, unlike some of the functionality that comes along with the Made for iPhone hearing aids. Third, because EasyCall is not using the 2.4 gigahertz wireless technology that Made for iPhone hearing aids are, I don’t think users will suffer from connectivity issues. Lastly, some Made for iPhone users have complained that any time Apple does an upgrade to their OS, they have issues with their hearing aids not playing nicely with their iPhones- which again is a problem Phonak has avoided going this route. And if EasyCall isn’t for you, these new aids are backwards compatible and will work with all accessories currently available.
The Audéo V hearing aid is available in four performance levels (Premium – Audéo V90, Advanced – Audéo V70, Standard – Audéo V50, Essential – Audéo V30), and in three power levels (xS, xP and xSPplus). Phonak’s tinnitus solutions are also available in all technology and power levels. To learn more about these products, please visit Phonak.com or check out the Audéo V brochure.
Since these hearing aids are brand new, we have no user reviews at this time, but if you have any experience with them (either as a professional or patient), please post your comments below.
If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.