Better option then I expected but still not as professional as seeing an audiologist.
I suffer from major hearing loss. My high range is almost obliterated so sounds like birds, door chimes, some car alarms and other beeps, dings, etc. — you get the drift. Needless to say, I have done it all. I have seen an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor and I have had all the tests so I know just how bad my hearing loss is. There are multiple options out there for people who suffer from hearing loss and not just the high-end hearing aids from audiologists. There are amplifiers that you can acquire over the counter and, what I like to consider, the ‘starter’ level hearing aids.
I have tried each level of hearing device and find that they just don’t work well for me. The low-end amplifiers increase volume, but they only increase what I can already hear. They don’t improve my brain’s understanding of the sounds I’ve lost over the years. I have also tried the middle-ground hearing aids, which did more for me than the amplifiers, but the term ‘you get what you pay for’ really seems to be true.
I finally ended up with the best company around for hearing aids, ReSound. They truly know how to take care of a person when it comes to making sure what you get is best for you. With that said, those high-end hearing aids can be quite cost-prohibitive. Fortunately, there are new alternatives for people who might not be able to afford the insane cost of hearing aids since insurance does not cover them. To those people, the LifeEar CORE hearing aids might be a godsend.
The LifeEar CORE is a flexible, personalized hearing aid that you can fine tune yourself using a mobile app. The logic behind their design is that ‘ears are like people, no two are exactly the same.’ LifeEar allows you to customize the CORE for your ears based on a set of tones you hear. The hearing aids will then create a profile and calculate your personalized settings. This is an amazing feat that you can accomplish without the aid of an audiologist. They are 100% over-the-counter and the fact that they can be fine-tuned without you leaving your home — or consulting a doctor — is quite revolutionary. In addition to the fine-tuning option, the LifeEar hearing aids come programmed with a few automatic programs that you can manage within the app. This makes it easy to adjust between environments — like busy restaurants and quiet meeting rooms.
The LifeEar hearing aids are designed to be comfortable and practically invisible. They are the behind-the-ear style hearing aids and the tubing is clear with an ear-shaped tip. They are lightweight so it’s easy to forget you are wearing them. LifeEar is a product of MDHearingAid and as such, it uses their proprietary MDSound processing to detect speech and focuses on human voices. The hearing aids also take advantage of adaptive listening through dual directional microphones, which improves the quality of the sound you hear based on your surroundings.
The LifeEar hearing aids can accommodate mild to moderately-severe hearing loss. They are not rechargeable and each ear requires a single Zinc Air 312 battery (a package is included with each hearing aid). According to the LifeEar website, a battery can last 4-8 days depending on use. The hearing aids are compatible with iOS version 9.3 and higher and Android version 4.4 or higher. A Bluetooth connection is required.
When you order the LifeEar hearing aids, you can purchase them as a single piece or a pair of hearing aids. Each single hearing aid comes with:
- Open & Closed ComfortTIPs™
- Thin & 13PLUS Tubing w/Earhook
- Cleaning Tool & User Manual
- Carrying Case
And, if you order a pair, you also get a year’s supply of batteries and 2 MD Shield protection plans. When you order a single hearing aid, you do have to specify which ear it will be used for so that the proper wire and tip are provided to you.
The LifeEar hearing aids come packaged in a very nice box. It’s heavier than standard cardboard which is good because things can be damaged during shipment and there are a lot of accessories that accompany the LifeEars. The first thing you will see when you open the box is the hearing aid and its batteries. It’s displayed in the top plastic layer of the box. If you order one hearing aid instead of a pair, there will be a paper sleeve that reads “Two is better than one. Contact us to learn more.” I actually received a pair of these hearing aids, but they were packaged separately so I got to see this interesting marketing technique.
When you remove the top layer you will see the sleeve that holds the manuals next. You actually receive three manuals: a quick start guide, a manual for the app, and the user manual. I actually recommend that you read through these thoroughly before you really get started using your hearing aids. Having a good understanding of the devices will only help to serve you while you use them. That said, using the quick start guide, you can get the hearing aids up and running in just a few short minutes.
The first step is to download the app for your mobile OS. Next, you will want to insert a battery into the CORE. You will need to remove the activate battery tab from the battery and wait a full minute before inserting it into the battery compartment. Close the battery door to turn the CORE on. You will then follow in-app instructions to connect the CORE to your device. From here, you are ready to begin customizing your listening experience with the app.
I actually found the LifeEar hearing aids to be incredibly easy to set-up. The only issue I ended up having concerned the fit of the ComfortTIP into my left ear. As I noted, the earpieces arrived separately and both COREs were set-up for my right ear. That meant, I had to replace the wire and tip so that it would fit properly into my left ear. This isn’t a particularly difficult task, but I found that the tip did not want to stay attached to the wire. At one point during my testing, I removed the hearing aids and the tip actually staying inside my ear canal. My fiancé had to remove it using a set of tweezers.
Even though the LifeEars are quite comfortable and lightweight, they do feel a bit bulkier than my ReSound pair does. I didn’t end up having any real discomfort from this and never noticed any headaches because they were larger than I was used to.
I found the app control to be quite a nice feature. As I mentioned previously, I have tried the middle ground hearing aids before and they just so happen to be by MDHearingAid, too. I had a similar experience with them as I did the LifeEar as far as how well they enhanced my ability to hear, but the one big difference between the two models is that the LifeEars are app controlled. The other ones only have a dial on the back of the hearing aids that you have to crank each time you change environments. I had trouble with those because I was never sure if I had them each on the same setting unless I removed them completely to look at what the dial was set to. The app takes that factor out of the equation so the LifeEar model is a much better choice in my opinion.
Now as far as audio enhancement goes, I did notice a difference in the way I was interpreting sounds while I used the LifeEars. Again, the sound enhancement wasn’t up to the same level as my ReSound pair, but they are definitely a big step away from a standard amplifier. When I watched TV, I noticed I could distinguish voices better than without the hearing aids. Conversations were also easier to understand with the LifeEars in my ears.
As these do work and seem to work very well, they are not a full replacement for seeing an audiologist. You always want to know just how bad your hearing damage is before getting sticking anything into your ears. You never want to risk causing more damage then what you have as hearing loss is not something that will heal or be truly corrected. LifeEar is super nice for the price. The only downside to them is that they take batteries instead of being rechargeable. Aside from that, they work better then I expected and even though they won’t take the place of my ReSound hearing aids they are a wonderful option as a backup.