September 25, 2019 TECHNOLOGY

What Did You Say?

By Jeffrey M. Allen and Ashley Hallene

A few years ago, I wrote a review of the first generation of the ReSound hearing aids for the Voice of Experience.  ReSound’s claim to fame?  That it built the first set of made for iPhone legitimate hearing aids.  (Also, that it also built a darned good hearing aid).  As a confirmed Apple User (I have had an iPhone since they first came out and regularly upgrade to the latest and greatest [same thing for iPads]), and an elder lawyer (meaning I have reached the age of mandatory withdrawals from my retirement accounts, not that I practice elder law) who has experienced some hearing loss, I could not resist the combination and arranged to review the hearing aids.  The original ReSound made for iPhone hearing aids worked pretty well, but had a few problems (for example, they regularly fought with my car for control of phone calls to and from the iPhone when I traveled in my car). 

Time went by and, as happens with most things electronic, things changed. ReSound became a GN company (now GN ReSound) and replaced its made for iPhone hearing aids with newer models. After a couple of upgrades, I ran into the GN ReSound folks again in connection with this year’s CES (Consumer Electronic Show). They told me what they had done with the hearing aids to develop the new generation called the LiNX Quattro, and we worked out a review of the newest iteration. As good as I thought the originals were, the current generation makes the first generation look older than me. The LiNX Quattro hearing aids simply work better, providing a clearer ability to hear a conversation in a crowded room (such as a restaurant) and offering a lot of options to fine tune the hearing aid to your personal tastes/needs and the current environment. They introduced a rechargeable battery and a recharging case that holds enough power to recharge the hearing aids several times, but still will easily fit in a brief case or purse (it will also fit in most coat pockets, but may be a bit large to carry there with some coats or jackets). They solved the Bluetooth problems and in several months of use, the LiNX Quattros have not once fought over a phone call with my car or any other Bluetooth speaker or phone device. In short, they solved all the problems I had with the original version and noticeably improved the hearing aids and their operation. In fairness, the process was evolutionary. Some of the problems were resolved in the intermediate generation that I did not personally try, so I cannot report on which problems got fixed when, I can only report that they do not exist in the current generation.

Overall the clarity of sound using the LiNX Quattro has proven excellent. The directionality and its adjustability make it much easier to hear and understand conversation in a loud environment. If you need additional help beyond what GN ReSound built into the LiNX Quattro, you can get a special linked microphone that will enhance the directionality and make it even easier to hear someone across the table from you in a crowded restaurant or other noisy environment.

GN ReSound has used the same basic physical design for the new units as it did for the older units, meaning that the works fit nicely behind your ear and a clear plastic tube runs over the top of your ear to allow you to place a hearing piece inside of your ear to carry the sound to you. Having tried numerous brands of hearing aids, including those that fit completely inside of your ear, this design has proven far and away my favorite. I prefer this design as it does not replace all external sound and a significant amount ambient sound travels directly to your ear. Those that go inside the ear tend to  block out all external sound making my ears feel stopped up and rendering virtually all the sound artificial and often a bit flat. The GN ReSound hearing aids augment external sounds rather than consuming and replacing them. The design is not completely invisible, but makes it quite hard to tell if you are wearing a hearing aid, particularly if you have hair that goes over the top of your ear, as that will completely hide the hearing aid.

What exactly does “made for iPhone” mean in the context of a hearing aid? It actually encompasses several things. First of all, you can control, program, and fine tune the LiNX Quattro using your compatible iPhone as a remote-control device (more on that in the  paragraph below dealing with the ReSound App). It also means that the hearing aid works with the phone, so that you can make and take calls using it as you would a telephone compatible earplug. Speaking of earplugs (and headphones), it also means you can stream music or audible book, or podcasts and hear them through the hearing aid. The sound reproduction is quite good and I found it very satisfactory in almost every case. Another improvement that I noticed over the first generation is that the sound remains pretty constant. In the original version, I experienced occasions when the sound would not come through. That happened mostly in phone calls and occasionally while I streamed music. While that problem is, I suspect, endemic to Bluetooth devices, I noticed very little or that in my use of the LiNX Quattro.

As noted above, the current iteration adds rechargeability to the list of features. The hearing aid will hold enough juice for a full day of use and then some. The amount of use you get per charge depends on what you do. If you use them to stream music, for example, they will burn the charge faster. If you connect to a Bluetooth device (such as your iPhone), same thing. If you do nothing with them other than wear them to hear what goes on during your day, the charge may last up to 30 hours. The recharging case holds enough power to fully recharge the hearing aids three times. Recharging requires only that you place the hearing aids in their charging case and close the case. The case recharges through a USB port.

A review of the LiNX Quattro would not be complete without talking about the ReSound App that allows you to control the hearing aid’s functionality using your iPhone. You download the App to your iPhone from the iTunes App Store and connect your hearing aids to the phone using the App and the iPhone’s built in Bluetooth capabilities. Once set up and paired, you can use the iPhone to change programming (moving from one pre-programmed setting to another); you can also use it to fine tune the programming to adjust to different environments, improve directionality,  or to turn your hearing aids on or off. One of the features that I particularly like in the App is the wind noise reduction setting. It really works and gets rid of most (but not all) wind noise.

For those of you who suffer from Tinnitus (a condition in which you hear a noise (often a buzz or a hum) in one or both ears, which noise your own brain has generated. Those with severe cases may find it almost disabling. Those with more minor cases will likely find it annoying. I have suffered from a mild case of Tinnitus for the last 15 years as a result of receiving too much of a particular antibiotic prescribed to me for a bone infection. My Tinnitus is intermittent, meaning that I do not hear the noise constantly, but it comes and goes. I have found that using hearing aids helps relieve the Tinnitus and that when I have them in I am far less likely to hear the noise and when I do, it annoys me less than when I do not have hearing aids in place.  

I have used hearing aids continuously since my early 60’s. I have owned several sets and tested numerous others. I have no issue with telling you that the new iteration of the Resound are my personal favorites and recommending that you give them a try, if you have hearing loss. Many professional hearing aid providers will work out a trial of new hearing aids that you do not have to buy if you find unsatisfactory. Those trial periods usually run about 30 days. Because of the very personal nature of what sounds better to each person, I strongly recommend that you try any hearing aid before you finally buy one. If it does not work for you, try another one.

That brings me to another point that I made in connection with my review of the original Resound hearing aids. Most people have some hearing loss by the time they reach their late 50’s (and often earlier). While they can still hear and may think that they need no assistance, their friends and family may not agree. If you have to ask people to repeat things with increasing regularity, you have a noticeable loss and should see about getting your hearing checked. If your spouse, children, friends, or partners have suggested that you have a hearing problem, you should probably listen and not just ignore them. While it is important that you hear in general, it may be critical to you if you still practice law. You do not want to miss something important in the course of a court appearance, a trial, or even a meeting with a client or opposing counsel.

I have often wondered why many people find it acceptable to wear glasses to correct age-related vision issues, but balk at wearing hearing aids, even hearing aid that are virtually invisible. From my perspective, function carries more weight than vanity and I have no issue with the fact that I now have to wear glasses to see properly and hearing aids to hear properly. If you think wearing a hearing aid makes you old, get over it. Getting older may make you need a hearing aid, but the hearing aid won’t age you a day! Besides that, these days it seems that almost everyone walks around with some form of earphone or headphone in, on or around their ears.

Authors

Jeffrey M. Allen is the principal in the Graves & Allen law firm in Oakland, California, where he has practiced since 1973. He is active in the ABA, the California State Bar Association, and the Alameda County Bar Association. He is a co-author of the ABA books Technology Tips for Seniors and Technology Tips for Seniors Volume 2.0

Ashley Hallene is a petroleum landman at Alta Mesa Holdings, LP, and practices Oil and Gas law, Title Examination, Due Diligence, Acquisitions and Oil and Gas Leasing in Houston, Texas. She frequently speaks in technology CLEs and is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Technology and Reviews Department of the GPSolo eReport.  She is co-author of the ABA books Technology Tips for Seniors and Technology Tips for Seniors Volume 2.0