Up to £5,000 per pair Manufacturer ReSound, resoundlinx.com
Works with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch Connectivity Bluetooth 4.0 We’re used to millimetres being shaved off new iPhones, iPads and iPods, but for years, the stigma of NHS hearing aids meant wearing large beige devices over the ear. This has all changed thanks to miniaturisation, meaning the modern private hearing aid is not just discreet but packed with technology. Not only that, but they have companion iOS apps that can be used to control streaming and other functions over and above volume levels, something we’ll look at a little later on in our review.
Starkey and ReSound currently only offer iPhone integration with the receiver-in-the-ear style, which consist of a tiny unit behind the ear, with a thin plastic tube feeding into a receiver embedded within ear buds. The ReSound LiNX is the smallest of the two, managing to also allow room for a removable battery inside its black interior. Starkey’s Halo is slightly larger but is by no means obtrusive – the size is mainly thanks to the battery, meaning the Halo lasts for around eight days depending on usage, while the LiNX averages six days.
The banner feature of both aids is the iOS integration. iOS 7 brought a lot of new features, including native support for Bluetooth hearing aids. This is configurable within Accessibility and, when paired, a triple click of the Home button accesses the native iOS interface, from where you can access volume controls, select programmed presets and enable what Apple calls Live Listen, which lets the iPhone mic act remotely for your hearing aids.
The apps (Starkey’s TruLink Hearing Control and ReSound Smart for the LiNX) provide a much greater level of customisation. TruLink is by far the most in keeping with iOS 7, with its flat user interface. You’re greeted with a slider control for volume, and the ability to fine-tune each ear. Smart automatically links both aids so you have a single slider. You can split the channels if you want, but we found the single slider to be just fine. The Smart app also shows a level indicator so you can understand just how finely you’re adjusting the volume levels.
Both apps allow you to further adjust treble and bass levels and you
Miniaturisation means the modern private hearing aid is not just discreet, but packed with technology
can set geofences, so programmed settings activate automatically when you enter their defined area.
The big draw for both aids is the ability to stream sound from your iOS device – this includes calls and music. Taking a phone (or Facetime) call is as simple as tapping Answer on the iPhone – it takes a couple of seconds to switch to the hearing aids and then your caller is piped straight into both ears. The same is true of listening to music.
For a first iteration of iPhone integration, both hearing aids offer a great experience. Neither device is absolutely perfect, though. The Starkey Halo could perhaps do with better bass, while the ReSound Smart app needs some further refinement. However, both aids are tiny technological marvels. Andrew Hudson
For their size, the ReSound LiNX aids
pack an audiological punch.