Songbird Hearing Aid Review
In this past week I received two emails from individuals who were asking about Songbird hearing aids. Up to this point, Songbird hearing aids have never been featured on this site, nor have I written about them before. Because Songbird hearing aids are sold online and are not dispensed as “traditional” hearing aids, I have never worked with them, and before this post knew very little about them. However, I intend to direct all future inquiries about Songbird hearing aids to this post, so this post will provide an overview of Songbird’s product offerings and a collection of user reviews available online. Note: At this time there are not many user reviews on Songbird’s hearing aids. I will add more as they are made available.
Songbird Hearing is a privately held company in Tulsa, OK, which was founded in 2000. Since the year 2000, ownership of Songbird Hearing has changed several times, and Songbird has taken several stabs at creating products with strong consumer demand. However, throughout the past 14 years many of the Songbird products have failed to gain widespread consumer adoption. In fact, in 2011, Songbird pulled out of the hearing device market entirely. In 2012, Songbird Hearing changed owners once again, and Songbird now offers two products marketed as hearing aids- a low profile behind-the-ear device and a discreet completely in-the-ear device. Below I will provide a brief overview of each of these products as well as a few user reviews found online.
Songbird Ultra 2.0
Taken straight from Songbird’s website- “With 100% digital processing, dynamic feedback suppression, more channels for clearer audio processing and a full six month warranty, the Songbird Ultra 2.0s are discreet behind the ear hearing aids that are comfortable to wear whenever and wherever you need them.” For starters, this is a digital hearing aid, unlike it’s predecessor the Sonbird Ultra, which was an analog hearing aid. However, the Songbird Ultra is not a digital programmable hearing aid, which means it’s not going to be programmed for your hearing loss specifically, so you won’t get the full benefit of digital signal processing. So, unlike other online hearing aid retailers like Audicus, Songbird will not review your audiogram or program your hearing aids for you.
In short, I think this is a decent all around hearing aid if you have a mild to moderate loss, but there is room for improvement. It would be nice if this aid had a volume and program control, as similarly priced aids on the market do offer a program control. As far as the warranty, I think 6 months is a little short in comparison to a lot of other products on the market. Songbird’s website says repairs are about $100 after the warranty is up, and repairs will be necessary (as with all hearing aids), so that additional outlay of money is something to think about.
If you buy a set of the Ultra 2.0s, you’re looking at $940 up front- which is incredibly reasonable for hearing aids. Of course, you have to consider what you are missing out on by not having them custom programmed for your loss, and not getting them custom fitted or serviced from a local provider. For more on this, you might want to read this post- “Should I buy hearing aids online?” As far as user reviews for this product, there is a very thorough review on the Songbird Ultra (the predecessor) here. Although that review is based on an earlier model, I think many of the comments will apply to the Ultra 2.0 as well. The takeaway from that post is this- “it’s a great first step for those who think they might need hearing assistance but aren’t yet ready to take the plunge with a visit to an audiologist that will most likely end up costing several thousand dollars or more.” I would agree with this synopsis. Over-the-counter hearing aids are not really ideal for anyone, but for the relatively low price they can be a great first step.
The Songbird AIR is the discreet option, for those individuals that want their hearing aids to remain completely invisible. If you have the right sized ear canals, this product may in fact be invisible, but you can never be sure until you try it on. Personally, if I were to wear this hearing aid you would be able to see it, because I have very narrow ear canals. So don’t bank on it being completely invisible without trying it on. In many cases, open-fit hearing aids like the Ultra 2.0 will actually be more discreet than aids like this.
Since this hearing aid was released in early 2014, there are not many reviews of this product yet. If you view the user guide here, you’ll see how it works. Like all completely in-the-ear hearing aids, the AIR uses a size 10 battery which should last 4-6 days. The body of the hearing aid (for most people), will fit entirely in the ear canal. In addition, an optional retention cord is available which will sit in the bowl of the ear and provide resistance for the aid and keep it in place. To change the volume on this hearing aid, all you do is tap on your ear in a particular way, and the Songbird will automatically adjust. In theory this sounds neat, but in practice (with other hearing aids) I have rarely seen this work consistently. It’s also worth noting that volume control on all tiny hearing aids is always difficult and rarely user-friendly, even on the most advanced hearing aids, so it wouldn’t be too big of a shocker or a big deal if this wasn’t the most elegant solution and it didn’t work 100% of the time. Like the Ultra 2.0, the Songbird AIR also has 100% digital signal processing and dynamic feedback cancellation.
So the AIR seems like a decent nearly invisible hearing aid to me, but it falls apart at the pricing. At $1,650 a pair, I think it’s hard to justify spending that kind of money on hearing aids that are not custom programmed. When you consider the fact that Costco (and many independent hearing providers) will sell you custom built, programmable aids for $1,650 or less, and you’ll get all the benefits of local service, it really doesn’t make sense to me to invest in the AIRs.
The bottom line
If you have a mild loss, are on a tight budget, and don’t lead a very active lifestyle, I believe the Songbird Ultra 2.0 is not a bad option (for a first hearing aid). However, I do believe that for only a few hundred dollars more, a local hearing provider would provide you with hearing aids of the same or better technology, and also be able to fit and program them to your ears and hearing loss specifically- and I think the benefits you would receive from that would far outweigh the few hundred dollars in extra expenses. As far as the Songbird AIRs, unfortunately at that price point I cannot recommend them, and again, I think you can find a better value from a local hearing provider.
If you’ve worn Songbird hearing aids in the past, please post a comment below for the benefit of all our readers.
If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.