“I have been wearing hearing aids since my mid fifties and have a moderate loss in both ears. Over 20 years, I have had NHS aids periodically replaced, and also hearing aids purchased from a well known high street chain. During that time, I would describe the hearing improvement provided by most of the aids to be “at the low end of my expectancy level”.
Generally, NHS aids are “OK” and always “behind the ear”. Their main problem is the difficulty in obtaining appointments for problems, adjustment, etc, and life is desperate when my hearing aids are not functioning correctly. As a result, I have always had a pair of privately purchased aids, with my NHS aids providing backup.
Appointments with the high street chain were not generally a problem, but there was very little proactive action from the audiologists, so I was never confident that the supplied aids were operating at their best with regard to my particular hearing loss, and I always felt I was a “customer” rather than a “patient”.
In July 2017, I decided it was time for a change. Coincidentally, that month, I took delivery of a new pair of NHS Phonak aids, which were much better than I had ever had previously, and this convinced me there must be a better solution for me out there somewhere! Also, coincidentally, RJ Donnan had opened a branch in York where I live, and it was just a 5 minute cycle ride away. I researched them on the internet and there was enough positive information out there to suggest a visit might be worthwhile.
It’s now October 2017 as I write this and the process for acquiring my new aids is coming to a successful close – and all thanks to Robert Donnan for that. During the last 3 months, I have tested four pairs of hearing aids and from the initial appointment, which was spent exploring my hearing history and checking my hearing, Robert has been patient, encouraging and adept as we finally arrived at my choice of aids. I know I will never find hearing aids that will restore my hearing to A1, but at last I have some that provide a good level of hearing in a mix of environments.
It’s a matter of fact, that the quality of service received will be largely determined by the audiologist you deal with, and as a founder of the company, and from my experience with Robert, I would expect and hope his ethos, his standards, and his commitment, have been implemented throughout the company.
One final point, my choice of hearing aid was a Phonak Virto B30 and although I also tried the top-end B90 in the same range, I found the latter, for me, did not offer any useful improvements over the B30….so bigger isn’t always better!”
“Over the last couple of years my wife and I had realised we were not hearing as well as we should. Because I had seen other people with hearing aids apparently struggling with them, I did not want to spend a lot of money and find I was not happy. My wife had a friend, who had been advised, and had bought aids from Rob and who was very pleased with the outcome.
Our friend lives in Cleckheaton we live in York, but we subsequently discovered that Rob has consultancy rooms in both places. We saw Rob the week before Christmas 2017. We were extremely impressed by his knowledge and his expertise in translating the extensive hearing tests.
Rob explained in detail about the elements of our hearing loss. He gave his recommendation for the type of aids he thought would be suitable and advised the cost.
He was very clear that once fitted we could use the aids without payment until we were completely satisfied, and that he had many options including adjusting our aids or even supplying another make, if we were not completely happy.
I had done some research, and one factor that persuaded me I had a need for aids was the experts’ opinion that reduced hearing can impair the ability of the brain to interpret the sounds I was supposed to be hearing. A lack of correction can be a contributory factor to dementia!. I also discovered that the pricing of the aids was very competitive.
Both my wife and I were fitted with Phonak B50-R aids on the 17th January. From day one we were hearing each other with clarity and were hearing sounds that had obviously diminished over time. Important sounds like the noise of cyclist approaching from behind, the clarity of the bird sounds, TV speech being very much clearer and the clarity of hearing in noisy environments.
Incidentally we did not consider our hearing was all that bad, but the improvement is significant. Rob advised it could take some months to have the full benefit. In our case it was excellent from day one, although Rob says it could improve further over the coming months. We have seen Rob today 1st February 18 when Rob listened to our experience and provide us with our cleaning kits and explained his after care service. We have another appointment in 4 weeks so that our aids can be fine tuned further.
We are delighted with our aids, we opted for the rechargeable lithium aids. We just pop them in their charging units overnight and this provides 24 hour use. We recommend Rob and his team very highly indeed. Our meetings with him has been a real pleasure”
“I cannot recommend Rob at York Hearing Practice highly enough. I went to see him after my NHS hearing aids had been sat in a drawer for 3 years as I found them uncomfortable and annoying.
Rob tested my hearing and suggested a free trial, I have to say he did his best over a number of weeks to find a solution for my mild hearing loss and tinnitus. There was never at any time any hard sell or signing on the dotted line, he was happy for me to trial the hearing aids which were far superior to the NHS ones for as long as I wanted.
I didn’t end up purchasing the hearing aids nothing to do with york hearing clinic, I just felt that they didn’t make enough difference to my everyday life.”
By RobertApril 23, 2018 No Comments
An excellent contribution from one of our patients – Thanks to Rob
As a long term user of hearing aids, there are two main areas of listening that still prove a challenge – group conversations and TV programs. These notes refer to the latter of the two and document my efforts to find a solution.
There are a number of “TV listening devices” on the market and research narrowed my preferences down to two; these were the Geemarc 7350 OptiClip and the Amplicomms TV 2510-NL. I found supply of the latter to be very limited and even when apparently available, it was flagged as “Pre-Order”.
As it happens, I have had a Geemarc telephone for many years and their product seemed more freely available, so it was my choice to go for the Geemarc version.
I purchased the CL7350 from “actiononhearingloss.org.uk”, firstly because I have had experience of this organisation having participated in some of their “hearing campaigns” and also because they had the item in stock. Interestingly, if you have a genuine hearing loss, you can purchase these items free of VAT.
My Personal Specification
Knowing what you want from this type of equipment isn’t always obvious, but I had some very specific selection criteria…..
1. The device should accept audio output from the TV via a digital(optical) link (most modern TV’s have one) as it produces a clearer and cleaner sound.
2. Most TV’s also have a headphone output, however if you use this the TV usually mutes it’s own speakers….bit inconvenient for other people in the room.
2. No wires trailing across the room and the ability to get up and move freely without getting tangled up. There is a downside to this, as it involves batteries, which have to be kept charged (more on this later).
3. The ability to use the device and still hear conversations in the room – and equally not have conversations in the room drowning the TV sound.
Geemarc 7350 OptiClip
It should be noted that most of the information conveyed here is probably also true of most other brands of this type of hearing accessory – but I cannot guarantee this.
There are two parts to the device:-
1. The transmitter sits near the TV, connects to the TV via a digital audio cable (supplied), connects directly to a mains power socket, and has a cradle to house and charge the receiver when, the latter is not in use. This can sit hidden behind the TV and be unobtrusive. Once connected you can pretty well forget it’s there.
2. The receiver is wire-free and travels wherever the carrier goes until they want to take it off. Included as standard, are a pair of ear bud headphones and these two components are all you need for improved TV listening. When not in use, the receiver sits in it’s cradle on the transmitter where it’s battery can charge.
The receiver also has a built-in microphone so that it can pick up room conversations through the headphones, and a large toggle button on the front that enables the user to cut-out TV listening during a conversation.
3. The audio output on the receiver provides the user with alternative listening options. In addition to the headphones mentioned in (2), a locally positioned battery powered speaker on for example, a coffee table at the side of the listener; can be used instead of headphones – however, this may not suit some people.
Other options specifically for hearing aid users with aids that have a telecoil option are to purchase one or more additional items (as I did). These are a neckloop and/or ear hooks and either connect to the audio output on the receiver. These are fully mobile, offer good quality audio, and the telecoil on most hearing aids these days also picks up general conversation and audio.
I purchased a Geemarc Iloop+ neckloop and also Geemarc CL3 ear hooks, both of which are discussed later.
Setting Up The Geemarc 7350 TV-Link
1. First of all, a good read and study of the instructions and diagrams…..not always the clearest, but these were fairly detailed and some of the detail is just repeated here (in a better sequence I hope!).
2. Connection of the transmitter to the TV was my first action. I had already checked the TV to ensure it had a Digital Audio (Optical) Out connector. This is a small squarish socket on the TV and on my TV had a little flap. I had to rotate the plug round to get the correct alignment, but then it connected to the TV easily enough.
If the TV does not have a Digital Out, but has AV out sockets (Red & White). This is also a good quality output that does not affect the TV speakers and for a few £s, you can get an AV to 3.5 jack plug cable (both ends should be male pins) which you can connect to the Audio In socket on the transmitter.
3. Whichever cable you use, connect the other end of the cable to the rear of the transmitter. The Digital Audio cable connects to a similar squarish socket, or if using the AV adaptor cable, the 3.5 jack plug connects to the blue AV In socket.
4. Connect the power plug to the mains and the transmitter , switch on the transmitter (switch at rear), and that’s the basic setup complete and you can now more or less forget about this part of the technology.
5. The receiver can now be dropped into it’s cradle on the transmitter to be charged up (check it is switched off). When the charging light has changed from red to green, the receiver is ready to use.
Using The Geemarc 7350 TV-Link
1. First of all, some operating specifications. The transmitter has a range of upto 25 metres so you can wander away from the TV (to make a cuppa!) and still listen to the audio from the TV (I found this very useful).
Secondly, the battery life of the receiver (between charges) is upto 6 hours (which easily gives me an evenings viewing).
Thirdly, the transmitter supports multiple receivers (which can be bought separately) – so multiple people can benefit from improved audio quality.
2. Supplied in the box, is a small (about 6 inches long) 3.5 jack plug cable. Plug this cable into the audio socket on the receiver, and then plug your chosen listening device into this cable. Without going into a detailed explanation, it provides a more reliable connection.
3. The simplest use is to just plug the headphone jack into the receiver, switch it on, insert the earbuds, and away you go. I used a pair of cheap headphones (I already had) that sit over the ears as I have never cared for ear buds.
My headphones fitted over my ears with my Phonak Virto in-the-ear hearing aids still inserted and on the standard listening program. This actually provided a much improved TV listening experience and I was able to listen and follow a full episode of the “Good Karma Hospital” (no mean feat).
I was also able to hear conversations in the room reasonably well.
4. One need go no further than option (3) if the audio improvement is OK. It involves the minimum of battery charging (one battery in the receiver that will charge when housed in the transmitter cradle)
5. Note that with multiple receivers, although the transmitter allows the connection of two receivers at the same time, which may be very useful to some people – you can only re-charge one at a time.
Headphones vs Neckloop vs Ear Hooks
I have tried out one of each of these options and there are a range of manufacturers and products all very similar. However, my comments here relate specifically to those I have tried myself, and other versions may provide better or worse results.
Firstly, all three work well and provide a much improved TV listening quality:-
1. My marginally overall preference is the ear hooks. I had some concerns about these before purchasing as there were customer comments about the fragility of them, with either the hooks breaking or the cord snapping. The design and construction is very lightweight, but they do not feel as if they will break if I treated them for example, as one might treat a pair of wire framed spectacles.
They sit comfortably behind the ear, the sound quality is good, they take their power direct from the receiver, and they are unobtrusive. Only time will tell about their reliability, but I am prepared to test it out.
2. Difficult to say which comes next as both have pros and cons. There is a vast range of headphones available. Mine were cheap and cheerful and the sound quality was good. The main benefit of this option is that it does not require a telecoil or hearing aids. The downside is they are not as unobtrusive as the other two options.
3. So….that leaves the neckloop in third place, which seems a bit harsh as it works as well as the others. The biggest downside on this particular loop, is that it is battery powered, whereas the other two options only have the battery in the receiver. I suspect from my research, that there are neckloops that do not need the battery but their descriptions tend to try and push you to each manufacturers version of the TV-link and for me, what I have tried works.
I am pleased with my choice of the 7350, and all the add-on options. They all definitely improve my TV listening, and while I prefer the ear hooks, I have two backup options that work well. I would just caution that there are still some TV programs that defy understanding regardless of your hearing quality….and sadly this is only going to be resolved by the program producers.
The total costs (Vat free) were £83 for the 7350, £33 for the Iloop+, and £18 for the Ear Hooks. A postage charge needs to be added (about £7).
There is an alternative neckloop at £16 which I may be tempted to try out in the near future.
I quite like the locally attached speaker concept, but the sound obviously comes in at your side rather than from the TV direction, which is a bit off-putting (and it irritated my wife).
For anyone interested in following this path, I suggest starting off with the just the TV listening device and then considering the alternatives as a possible next step if required. I suspect that the first upgrade maybe to dump the ear buds and replace with some “proper” headphones!”
Phonak Virto B user