Remember the Bose Sound Control hearing aids that got discontinued in early '22? Well, they're back. Hi guys. Cliff Olson, Doctor of Audiology and founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona, and in this video I'm doing a detailed review of the Lexie B2 OTC hearing aids powered by Bose. Coming up!
Bose was the pioneer of the over-the-counter hearing aid market as the first hearing aid manufacturer to receive De Novo classification from the FDA back in 2018. When I reviewed the original Bose Sound Control hearing aids back in 2021, I was very impressed by their ability to meet a mild to moderate hearing loss prescription. Were they perfect? No, but they were better than any other direct to consumer hearing aid available on the market at that time. Unfortunately, Bose as a company has been struggling for years, so when they received the recommendation from McKenzie and Company to drop their hearing aid division, they went ahead and did it. This happened in early 2022 and it absolutely devastated the diehard Bose Sound Control hearing aid users. The good news is Bose partnered with Lexie Hearing, giving them access to this Sound Control technology and they rebranded their Sound Control hearing aids as the Lexie B1's, and they even created a new line of hearing aids called the Lexie B2's that are both powered by Bose.
The new Lexie B1 hearing aids are essentially the same thing as the Bose Sound Control hearing aids, and I will have a separate review of those devices that I will link in the description. The Lexie B2's are their newest model that I will be reviewing in this video, but before I get into my detailed review of these new OTC hearing aids, if you could do me a huge favor and click the like button, it really helps out my channel because it gets these videos in front of a bigger audience. And while you're at it, if you have not yet hit that subscribe button with notification bell, go ahead and do that as well because that ensures that you never miss one of my newly released videos and it encourages me to make more videos just like this one. That being said, I really appreciate it.
Now let's get into some of the disclaimers for this video. Disclaimer number one, the Lexie B2 OTC hearing aids are in fact over the counter hearing aids that are intended for adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. So if you're not at least 18 years of age and you have any hearing loss that is more significant than a mild to moderate level of hearing loss, these devices will not work for you. Disclaimer number two, even if you do have a perceived mild to moderate hearing loss, your success with these devices depends on how well you can self program them or have a hearing care professional program them for you. Disclaimer number three, if you have any of these following red flags, then you need to immediately consult with an audiologist or a physician that specializes in the ears because it could be the sign of a serious medical condition.
These red flags include visible congenital or traumatic deformity of the ears, history of active drainage from either ear within the previous 90 days, visible evidence of significant earwax accumulation or foreign body in the ear canal, pain or discomfort in the ear, acute or chronic dizziness, history of sudden or rapidly progressive hearing loss within the previous 90 days or unilateral hearing loss of sudden or recent onset within the previous 90 days as well. And disclaimer number four, if you attempt to use the Lexie B2 over the counter hearing aids or any other over-the-counter hearing aids for that matter and you do not see significant improvement in your hearing ability, it does not mean that hearing aids will not work for you. It just means that you will likely need prescription hearing aids set up by a hearing care professional who follows best practices to easily find an excellent hearing care professional in your area who follows best practices, go to my website HearingUp.com and search for a HearingUp network member near you.
Each HearingUp member is committed to following comprehensive best practices to ensure you receive the maximum amount of benefit from your hearing aids. Alright, with that out of the way, let's go ahead and get into my detailed review of the new Lexie B2 OTC hearing aids powered by Bose. As far as what these hearing aids look like, they are a bit thicker than the original Bose Sound Control hearing aids from back in 2021. In fact, they're about nine millimeters thick and that is because of one major feature upgrade that I'll be telling you about here in a minute. Now let me show you what they actually look like inside of my ears. Go ahead and get the right one in here and the left one. Now the thing is that if you don't have a whole lot of space behind your ears, having this much thicker hearing aid back there could be a problem.
I think they look pretty good. This is pretty much the only color that they come in, so hopefully you're okay with that color. I mean, they fit very similar to any other receiver in canal style hearing aid out there. The one thing that I actually just don't like about them though is that they're not uber comfortable. I mean, when you look at this receiver wire, let me see if I can get this on camera here. Do you see how the tip of that receiver angles up? You can feel it pressing, or at least I can feel it pressing up against the top of my ear canal and it makes it rather uncomfortable to the point where you might have to order a longer receiver wire if you have an issue with that. Now, I suspect that they angle the receiver wire this way because it aids in retention, meaning it keeps the hearing aid in and on your ear, but I'd prefer if they actually use a retention filament that curls in the bowl of your ear right here and acts like a kickstand so that way it would be much more comfortable.
Now these receiver wires are interchangeable. It takes a good amount of force to pull these ones off. Apparently I got a model that had this be a little bit stiffer, but the newer ones that are coming out that are being manufactured right now, this problem should be resolved, but you can get different length receiver wires. Like I mentioned before, you can get a length of one, two, or three. They do come with a default length of two, but then they have an ear wire measurement tool that you can use to identify which wire length would be most appropriate for you and you can order those through the app. Lexie also includes more dome sizes and types, so the one that I have on here right now, if you can see that, that is a large size closed dome. Since the domes you use have a significant impact on the acoustics of these hearing aids, it's very important that you identify if you need an open dome or a closed dome, and I will show you the difference between these two when I verify this with real ear measurement later in this video.
Lexie also includes cleaning supplies and wax traps that you can use to prevent wax from clogging up the hearing aids. The Lexie B2 hearing aids also have an IP57 rating, which is not the highest rating you can get from debris and moisture resistance. I wish they did have an IP68 rating, which would be more in line with other prescriptive level hearing aids that are out there, but really these are over-the-counter hearing aids, so I'm not expecting all of the features to be the same as a prescriptive level device. Anyway, you can purchase the Lexie B2 over-the-counter hearing aids as a one-time purchase for $999, or you can pay $49 per month for 24 months with a $249 startup fee, and they both come with a 45 day money back guarantee. I will have a link to these exact devices that I'm reviewing down in the description as well as in the comment section so you don't accidentally purchase a counterfeit device.
Now when you look at what the one time payment option comes with, you get a pair of Lexie B2 over the counter hearing aids, a charging case, ongoing realtime support from Lexie, Lexie's rewards program, and a one year warranty. If you elect to choose the monthly payment option, you get all of this, plus you can cancel any time after the 45 day trial period. You get a care kit which has extra supplies and an extra protection plan during the 24 month payment period. The protection plan covers you against loss and damage if replacement devices are needed, for a deductible of $360 to replace the pair of devices. There is no option for a single device replacement. You can also get this 24 month protection plan for an additional $180 if you choose the one time payment option as well. Like I mentioned, you can get some additional virtual support through the Lexie app, whether you go with the one time payment option or whether you go with the 24 month payment option and you even have access to customer support just by calling them.
Alright, now on the good stuff, let's go ahead and get into some of the main features and the performance of these Lexie B2 over the counter hearing aids. In my original review of the Bose Sound Control hearing aids back in 2021, the two biggest issues that I had with those hearing aids is that they were not rechargeable and they did not have direct Bluetooth connectivity for streaming audio. Well, the Lexie B2's got a nice upgrade because they are now rechargeable with the use of lithium ion battery technology. This is why the Lexie B2's are so much larger than the original Bose Sound Control hearing aids as well as the Lexie B1 hearing aids. The Lexie B2's will give you 16 to 24 hours of battery life on a single three hour charge inside of their charger case.
These do use contact charging. Let me see if I can show you that here. They have battery contacts that are located down in the bottom of the charger as well as the bottom of the hearing aids themselves, which means that you do have to keep these battery contacts clean. Now the charger does have to be plugged into the wall in order to charge your hearing aids. I wish they would've made these with a power bank internally so you could unplug it and charge them on the go, but that is not a feature that you'll get with this charger. As a side note, when you put the hearing aids inside of the charger, they magnetize into place, which is great because they're easy to insert, they're easy to remove, and like I said, it takes three hours to get a full charge and when you put them inside of the charger, it automatically turns them off so they don't end up whistling on you, but when you take them out of the charger, you have to make sure that you press the bottom button on the back of the hearing aid because that is what will turn them on.
You have to press that button for three seconds and let go and you'll hear a little startup chime meaning that they're turning on, but then it takes an additional three seconds for you to get amplification from them. While the Lexie B2's clearly state on their box that they are Bluetooth compatible, this is only for app controls. You cannot stream any audio from a smart device into your hearing aids, so if that's a feature you're looking for, you cannot get it from them at this time. One issue I ran into with the Lexie B2 hearing aids is that I could not connect them with the Lexie app and I was trying to figure out what the heck I was doing wrong, but as it turns out, because I had used the Lexie Lumen hearing aids from a couple years ago, that prevented me from connecting Lexie B2 hearing aids, so I actually had to call customer service and had them tell me that I had to delete my account completely reset up a new account, and then I was able to connect the B2's up with the Lexie app.
As far as what app controls are available inside of the Lexie app, it is virtually identical to what you had inside of the original Bose Sound Control app. This means that you can adjust the world volume, which is your volume control, the balance between treble and bass, the microphone directionality to prioritize sounds coming from in front of you with front focus, and the ability to utilize several program presets given to you or the ability to customize and save your own program quick keys. Now, there are not a whole lot of customizations that you can do with the Lexie B2 hearing aids using this app, but how well did the customizations they give us work? Well, fortunately we could test that using real ear measurement. Now, if you still do not know what real ear measurement is, then I highly recommend you check out my video that I will link in the description because real ear measurement is the only way to know how well your hearing aids are programmed for your hearing loss.
Basically, real ear measurement is a verification technique that allows us to measure the amount of amplification that you are receiving from a hearing aid to determine how well it is meeting your hearing loss prescription. And since my assistant Bri has the perfect mild to moderate hearing loss that will allow us to evaluate the performance of the Lexie B2 over-the-counter hearing aids, we'll be able to see how well these hearing aids are capable of meeting her hearing loss prescription. To set this up, we had to insert probe microphone tubes into Bri's ear canals approximately five millimeters away from her eardrums. Then we play calibrated sounds from a speaker in front of her and measure the sound using the probe microphones inside of her ear canals. First, we need to measure her ear canal resonance, which is the natural amplification effect that her ear and ear canal create without using hearing aids.
This is indicated by the solid pink curve. The solid black curve is the sound coming out of the speaker in front of her. Anywhere you see the solid pink curve above the solid black curve is the natural amplification effect of Bri's ear canal called the ear canal resonance. The pink hash mark curve is the prescription for Bri's hearing loss. Ideally, we would want the solid curve to overlap with as much of the hash curve as possible indicating that she is receiving access to enough sound to meet her prescription for her hearing loss level. For those of you out there who understand hearing loss prescriptions, we are using an NAL-NL2 prescription for Bri. This hash prescription curve will change colors throughout the testing, but our goal of matching the hash curve with the solid curves remains the same. Now that we know that our goal is to match these hash prescription curves, we can take the hearing aids and see how well we can customize them using the app with the different rubber domes.
Unfortunately, the Lexie app with the Lexie B2 hearing aids does not allow us to do a hearing test through the hearing aids, so any customizations that you're going to be doing with your devices is 100% your responsibility to do inside of the app yourself. The first measurements that we'll do with the Lexie B2 hearing aids will be using the open rubber domes that will allow open passage of natural sound coming into Bri's ear canals, but it also might allow some leakage of amplified sound coming out of her ears, so let's go ahead and see how they did. The default app settings for World Volume and Treble/Bass adjustments measured inside of Bri's ear canals is indicated by the solid green curve. While this does increase amplification between 1800 hertz and 8,000 hertz by approximately one to six decibels, you can see that we are still pretty far below her NAL-NL2 prescription for average level speech, meaning that average level sounds are not being amplified well enough to overcome her hearing loss.
After identifying these default settings, I wanted to see what our maximum and minimum amplification levels were using the world volume controls. The max world volume of 100 is indicated by the solid red curve and allows us to significantly exceed the prescriptive targets, which means that we would be over amplifying sound for her mild to moderate hearing loss if we increased it all the way up. I also wanted to evaluate how low the volume could go by turning the world volume to zero indicated by the solid turquoise curve, and this effectively turns the hearing aids onto mute matching the ear canal resonance levels. Next, I wanted to evaluate the max treble settings by turning the world value back to the default levels and increasing the treble adjustment to the max of 50. This is now being indicated by the solid red curve. This shows us that the treble adjustment increases amplification levels above 1500 hertz all the way up to 8,000 hertz, anywhere between one and 15 decibels above the default setting.
Of course, now that I understood the treble setting, I wanted to evaluate the max bass setting, which is indicated by the solid turquoise curve. Since the treble and bass adjustment is a balance adjustment, when we increase the bass, we would expect treble to reduce and vice versa. Since we are using an open dome though, we would not expect to see an increase in amplification below 1000 hertz, but we would expect to see a reduction in the high frequencies returning us back to the ear canal resonance levels. This is why potentially using a closed dome is a better option because it would allow you to increase bass tones relative to the treble tones instead of just leaving them unaffected completely. Now, I also wanted to evaluate the default program settings inside of the Lexie app as well. This includes the Noisy Indoor setting that is set at the original default settings, the Outdoor setting, which is set at plus 10 treble, the Music setting, which is set at world volume of zero, and the Everyday setting, which is set at a world volume of 30.
Of course, the real ear measurement outcome of these depends on if you're using an open or a closed dome as well. The next thing I wanted to see is probably the most important thing to see, which is how well I can match Bri's hearing loss prescription targets using an open dome and the app controls. The solid red curve represents as close as I could possibly get to Bri's hearing loss prescription using an open dome and these adjustments. As you can see, we were significantly under amplifying sound between 700 hertz and 1800 hertz and over amplifying sound between 2000 and 3000 hertz. Overall, for Bri's mild to moderate hearing loss inside of her ear canals using an open rubber dome would not be a good option with the Lexie B2 hearing aids, which led me to believe if we switched to a closed dome that we might be able to do a better job of matching her prescriptive targets, so I went ahead and switched her out and I reran these measures and customizations.
You can see the difference in the seal that was obtained using an open dome on the left and a closed dome on the right. This had a significant impact on our ability to match Bri's prescriptive targets. Now, I'll save you some time and just jump to the optimal setting, but using the closed dome, adjusting the world volume to 40 with a plus five treble setting, the solid red curve now illustrates how well we were able to meet her hash mark prescriptive target. Now, if you ask me, that is about as perfect of a prescriptive match as anyone would ever hope to achieve from a hearing aid. Again, for comparison, here is a prescription hearing aid using an open dome illustrated by a solid purple curve. If you compare the two, you could even make the argument that the Lexie B2 over the counter hearing aids do a better job in the high frequencies.
Of course, this did require the use of a closed dome to achieve, which could cause other issues such as occlusion effect. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with our ability to match our hearing loss prescriptive target using a closed dome even though we had limited app customization capabilities. However, I did not want to stop there. I also wanted to test the compression settings of these devices, the Front Focus feature and the noise reduction capabilities. Now, if you're unfamiliar with what compression is, basically it's our ability to customize the amount of amplification given to soft level sounds as well as the amount of amplification given to loud level sounds. That way we can make sure that soft level sounds are amplified enough and loud level sounds are not amplified too much. Prescription level hearing aids give us independent adjustments for this compression, which we do not have inside of the Lexie app, but let's go ahead and see how well the Lexie B2 over-the-counter hearing aids do with a soft level input as well as a loud level input.
The turquoise hash mark curve illustrates the prescription for soft level sounds. While we were able to get pretty close to the hash curve with the solid turquoise curve, this required us to over amplify sound for average and loud level speech inputs indicated by the solid red curve. Ideally, what we would like to see here is all of the solid curves overlapping with the hash curves as closely as we can possibly get them, and what we're identifying here is that when we are matching the prescriptive targets for average level speech in red and loud level speech in green, we are under amplifying soft level speech in turquoise. This indicates that we do not have enough soft level compression to make soft level sounds audible enough to meet our prescription without risking over amplifying average and loud level sounds. What this means is that on occasion you may need to increase the world volume inside of the Lexie app or using the push buttons on the back of the hearing aids if you end up talking to someone with a soft voice.
Now, the Front Focus feature I'm a little bit more concerned about because I'm not quite sure that it's doing what it's intended to do. The whole concept of the Front Focus feature is to prioritize the amplification from sounds coming from in front of you and reduce amplification given to sounds coming from behind you and from your sides. When in Front Focus mode, we would expect to see sound originating from the front indicated by the solid red curve to be close to the Everywhere mode level indicated by the solid green curve. While the Front Focus mode is slightly below the Everywhere mode in the high frequencies, it is relatively close, which is a good thing. What's confusing is that the Front Focus setting when measured from the rear of the hearing aid, which is indicated by the solid turquoise curve, indicates a reduction in amplification levels between 1000 and 3000 hertz, but actually shows an increase in amplification above 4,000 hertz, which is not good.
What we should be seeing here is a solid turquoise curve that is completely below the solid red curve indicating that we are reducing amplification coming from behind the hearing aid user and we are not seeing that. Essentially, this means the sound that's coming from behind you could be amplified more in certain frequency ranges that could interfere with your ability to understand speech coming from in front of you. Now, I did test this multiple times just to make sure that I wasn't messing anything up in my measurements and consistently I saw the exact same thing, which makes me worry that either the devices I was testing were a little bit faulty or this is just how they process sound in this Front Focus mode. And just to clarify, I was using the closed dome, which we would expect to create more of a directional effect that we did not see in this test.
The final thing that I tested was the noise reduction capabilities of these devices when using a closed dome as well. Noise reduction is a hearing aid feature that reduces the amount of amplification given to a steady state sound. Think of a sound like a car engine or a fan or even restaurant noise. This feature will not improve speech intelligibility, but it will help you get more auditory comfort in a noisy environment. To test this, I ran a steady state pink static noise to see how much noise reduction could be achieved in 15 seconds. In that time, the Lexie B2 over the counter hearing aids were able able to reduce amplification given to that steady state noise by a very respectable 10 decibels. Alright. Now I know that that's a lot of stuff to digest because there was a lot of things that we could test with these hearing aids.
I probably could have went into much more intricate details on the different things that I tested. I just wanted to give you the really big stuff that I found with these particular hearing aids and the reason that I used the closed domes for a lot of this testing was to illustrate the biggest difference that we could possibly get. Anytime that you use an open dome on a hearing aid, it's much harder to evaluate some of the performance characteristics. Overall, I was very impressed with the performance of the Lexie B2 over-the-counter hearing aids. From a verification perspective, do these devices have all of the capabilities of a fully featured prescription level hearing aid? The answer to that is clearly no, but with over-the-counter hearing aids only costing around a thousand dollars, I wouldn't even expect them to. Now, the other thing that you are going to sacrifice for an over-the-counter hearing aid at this price point is any in-office services and custom programming.
If you want to have those done, you're gonna have to seek out a local hearing care professional, hopefully one that follows best practices and have them program them for a fee. If you ask me, the Lexie B2's are some of the best over-the-counter hearing aids currently available on the market right now, assuming you can get them programmed properly and assuming that you do not want Bluetooth connectivity, so if you cannot find prescription hearing aids that are at a price point that you can afford, or if you just don't have access to a hearing care professional, the Lexie B2 over-the-counter hearing aids powered by Bose might be the perfect over-the-counter hearing aids for you. That's it for this video. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below. If you like the video, please share it, and if you wanna see other videos just like this one, go ahead and hit that subscribe button. Also, feel free to check on my website HearingUp.com.
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