The Tinnitus Specialist Blog
Thoughts and inspiration from a Harley Street tinnitus specialist.
Effective Tinnitus Treatment With The New Phonak Audeo Q90
Flagship Tinnitus Product From Phonak
The Audéo Q90 with Tinnitus Balance is the flagship tinnitus product from Phonak, and I have been getting my feet wet with this impressive piece of kit over the last few weeks. I say impressive, not because of its massive size. On the contrary. The Audeo Q90 is impressive because it fits so much power and technology into such a small, neat and tidy package. But with great power comes great responsibility... and with great technology comes great clarity of speech, even in difficult listening situations! The Swiss design is apparent in how easy the hearing aids are for me as an Audiologist to adjust and fit. My patients keep telling me how clear the sound is, even in extremely noisy places like restaurants or at parties.
Great Technology Means Great Clarity
In a tiny package, the Audéo Q90 manages to squeeze in 20 channels for sound processing. Now, when I say the words "20 channels" I can usually see people's eyes glazing over. It's like on the shampoo adverts when they say "Now here comes the science bit", but please stay with me for around twelve and a half seconds more and I'll explain why it's important...
The channels in a hearing aid processor are like keys on a piano keyboard. All manufacturers' hearing aids , with a few notable exceptions, have roughly the same range of pitch, from low pitch to high pitch, in order to accurately reproduce the human speech range. The width of the piano keyboard in this analogy equates to the human speech range. The more keys we have on the keyboard, the narrower each key, and the more accurately we can fine tune the hearing aid to correct your hearing loss to clearly hear what you want to hear.
Great Clarity In Background Noise Too
Having 20 channels means that the Phonak Audeo Q90 can very accurately distinguish between speech and background noise and zap the background noise without greatly affecting speech. The Q90 monitors each of its 20 channels (or piano keys) and detects whether each channel contains speech or background noise. If it's speech, it gets amplified to a level that you need, according to your hearing test results. If it's background noise, it gets turned down. That's how noise reduction works, on the whole, and the more channels, the more accurate and therefore the stronger the noise reduction.
No More Head Tennis
"Head Tennis" as I like to call it, is the tendency of people in a group conversation to turn their head alternately to the left and to the right as they focus on each person speaking. The Audeo Q90 has a clever feature where the left and right hearing aids are linked wirelessly, allowing both instruments to have a 360 degree "picture" of the sounds around you - something that Phonak call "UltraZoom Premium". Rather than you having to keep turning your head to follow the conversation, the hearing aids can use an array of four microphones to electronically listen in any direction while they focus on the speech source as it moves around you, or from one side to the other. The hearing aids react much quicker than you can turn your head, so you won't miss a beat! Not only that, but they can also monitor background noise as it moves around you and actively suppress it. For you as the wearer, this means you're able to keep up with the conversation and participate much more in social situations, such as having coffee with friends, at a family reunion dinner, or a festive party.
It Doesn't End There
When the going gets really tough, the Phonak Audéo Q90 really gets going. It uses a feature called "Auto StereoZoom". When background noise gets above a certain level, most multi-directional microphone systems get overwhelmed. The Q90 gets around this when the noise level gets too high by using all four microphones to create a very tight beam pointing directly in front. The assumption here is that if you are trying to have a conversation with someone in a very noisy place you will be looking directly at them, and this assumption works very well. The old Audéo S9 had this feature, but you had to manually activate it. The Audeo Q90 just does this automatically for you - just another way that the Q90 makes listening effortless.
Sound - Just The Way You Like It
The Q90 utilises "Soundflow Premium" , which automatically recognises five quite different situations:
- Speech In Noise
- Speech In Loud Noise
- Noise Only, and
The Audéo Q90 can then apply different strategies that are appropriate for each situation. For example, in Speech In Noise, the multi-directional microphones are activated as well as the noise reduction. However, when you are listening to music, you want the noise reduction and the multi-directional microphones switched off so that you can hear all the sound as the composer intended. Each of these situations can be adjusted by your Audiologist at your follow-up appointment in the light of your experience after wearing the hearing aids for a few weeks.
Not only that, but you can override the automatic volume control yourself, and the Q90s will remember your preference in each of the five situations above. Over time, the automatic volume control customises itself automatically to your preferences so eventually you don't need to adjust the hearing aids at all. The Q90 can be set so that the left aid's button makes both aids quieter, while the right aid's button makes both aids louder. Alternatively, you can choose a remote control so you don't have to fiddle with the hearing aids while they're on your ears.
Connect To The World
As well as the optional remote control, with the ComPilot the Audéo Q90 can connect wirelessly to televisions so you won't miss a word of that movie you've been waiting ages to see, and it can connect to mobile phones, allowing you to have a handsfree conversation while the other person's voice goes directly into your hearing aids - meaning that other sounds won't distract you from your conversation. It sounds complicated but it's really easy as pie and it's as natural as talking to the person right in front of you. The ComPilot can also connect to Bluetooth-enabled music players, and even has an input socket that allows you to connect a tape player if you want to, so you don't need to wear headphones as the sound goes directly into your ears in beautiful Hi-Fi stereo. The ComPilot can also connect to a remote microphone that your friend or partner can clip to his or her lapel and talk to you from up to 30 feet away!
Stay In The Loop
New to the Audéo format, the Audeo Q90 312-T incorporates a loop telecoil that allows you to clearly hear what's going on at the theatre, cinema, bank, post office or place of worship. I use the loop on my hearing aids when I go to conferences and even though I might be forty feet away from the stage, it's like I'm right next to the person who's addressing the audience. If you like going to the theatre or struggle to hear the sermon, and you don't mind the hearing aid being a fraction of an inch longer, then I'd really recommend getting the new 312-T variant as the T-coil can really make a big difference.
Phonak Audéo Q90 With Tinnitus Balance
You might have been wondering so far why I've been extolling the virtues of a high end hearing aid on a tinnitus blog. Well, for a start, most tinnitus is caused by hearing loss, and correcting the hearing loss will reduce the tinnitus to imperceptible or acceptable levels in most people. Directional microphones and noise reduction reduce listening fatigue, and therefore reduce stress levels. Being able to participate in a greater variety of social situations increases life satisfaction and can help take your mind off any residual tinnitus. But that's not the end of it. The Q90 has a feature called Tinnitus Balance, which can play a soothing sound - especially helpful when you are in a very quiet room with no other sound to distract you from the tinnitus. Over time, this kind of sound therapy, especially when combined with some kind of counselling can be very effective in reducing the perception of tinnitus.
Surely All This Technology Is Really Expensive?
Actually, no. Our price is comparable with the best internet prices and represents great value for money when you compare it to what you'll pay on the high street. You'll have one of the best hearing aids around, and it has the specialised Tinnitus Balance function if you need it. We'll even include one free session of tinnitus counselling or hypnotherapy, which is normally £170. Our price for the Audéo Q90 is just £1695 each, or £3390 for a pair.
You can add the ComPilot and TV-Link S bundle for £375, including pairing with your Audéo Q90 hearing aids. Connecting it up to your TV is an additional £95 or to a mobile phone £45, but the package includes simple instructions if you would like to do it yourself. The RemoteMic is an additional £195.
Get Your Hands On The Audéo Q90 Now!
If you'd like to book an appointment to experience the Audéo Q90 for yourself, please call my office on 020 7467 8473. I'll be happy to introduce you to Phonak's world of clarity and tinnitus relief.