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 Starkey Evolv Ai Hearing Aids, coming up!
Approximately three years after Starkey's release of their Livio line of hearing aids, we now have a completely new line from Starkey, called Evolv Ai. Starkey claims that this is their "smartest hearing aid ever" with the most "exceptional sound quality" that they've ever had. So I wanted to go ahead and check these devices out to see how much better the Evolv Ai line of devices are, compared to their predecessor. But before I get into my detailed review of the Evolv Ai line of hearing aids, if you could do me a huge favor and click the like button, it really helps out my channel, and it lets me know that you want me to keep creating more of these detailed review videos. And while you're at it, if you have not yet hit the subscribe button with notification bell, go ahead and do that as well, because that ensures that you never miss one of my new videos. That being said, let's get to the review. Now, just a quick disclaimer about the Evolv Ai hearing aids, as well as any of the other hearing aids that I review on my channel, is that it doesn't matter how awesome any hearing aid is that you get, if you have not had it fit and programmed properly by a hearing care professional who follows best practices. Now, if you do not know what best practices are, I highly recommend that you check out my video on best practices that I will link in the description. Okay, with all of that out of the way, let's go ahead and check out the new lineup of Evolv Ai hearing aids.
The full range of Evolv Ai devices goes all the way from an Invisible In Canal, or IIC, all the way up to a Power Plus Behind-The-Ear, or BTE. However, the key addition to the Evolv Lineup is the new Wireless Completely-in-Canal hearing aid that is now the smallest wireless hearing aid on the market but more on that here in a little bit. First, we need to go ahead and talk about the different technology levels of Evolv Ai hearing aids and the different features that come in each level. Previously, Starkey had multiple versions of their Livio Hearing Aid. These included the Livio Edge Ai, the Livio Ai, and the Livio. The Ai versions, which stands for Artificial Intelligence, had all of what Starkey called the Healthable features like Brain & Body Tracking, Fall Detection, and Heart Rate Sensors, that were only available in their Premium 2400 technology level. The only difference between Livio Edge Ai and Livio Ai was a feature called Edge Mode which I will give you a demonstration of later in this video. The Non-Ai version of the Livio, without all of the Healthable features, was available in 5 different tiers of technology including the Premium 2400 technology level, the 2000 level, the 1600 level, the 1200 level, and the very basic 1000 technology level. Fortunately, you no longer need to be a rocket scientist to understand the differences in Starkey's product line, because they have simplified things greatly with the Evolv Ai devices. To start, the entire line is just called Evolv Ai instead of separating them like they did with the Livio Ai, the Livio Edge Ai, and the Livio. This also means that all of the technology levels now use Ai, and the top 3 technology levels have at least some access to Edge Mode. Starkey also eliminated the 1000 level devices and are now sticking to 4 technology levels instead of 5. However, as you can see on this chart, you do lose access to numerous features and programming customizations as you drop down from the Premium 2400 top tier level, with the biggest drop happening at the 1200 bottom tier level. The benefit being, of course, that the lower in technology level that you go, the more it reduces the cost of the hearing aid. Like I recommend to all of my patients in my clinic, you should be going with the highest level of technology that you can reasonably afford. That way, you never leave any potential benefit on the table.
However, if you cannot afford it, you need to drop down to a technology level that you can afford, and it is the job of your hearing care professional to maximize the performance of whatever that technology level is. As far as the ability to customize the Evolv Ai hearing aids, I love that in the top tier level, they give us 24 adjustment bands, so we can customize the audio very specifically to someone's hearing loss prescriptive targets as we're verifying them with Real Ear Measurement. Now, if you don't know what Real Ear Measurement is, I also recommend that you check out that video that I will also link in the description of this video. Because if you have not had your hearing aids programmed using Real Ear Measurement, then you're not going to get the full benefit out of these hearing aids. Nonetheless, with the higher level of technology, you also get the ability to do more things like noise reduction. This includes reducing machine noise, reducing noise that is mixed in with speech, reducing noise that can be transient, like someone's slamming a door shut, or reducing wind noise. Their Premium 2400 technology level also gives you access to Edge Mode with a simple double tap of your hearing aid, and it also gives you access to Voice Ai, both of which I'll cover in more detail later in the video. All right, we're finished with talking about the technology levels. Now let's go ahead and talk about the different styles of Evolv Ai hearing aids. As you can see, the Evolv Ai lineup is rather extensive. Chances are, there's an Evolv Ai hearing aid model that is perfect for you. But let's go ahead and take some time to identify some of the more unique and popular ones, starting with the IIC. If you want a hearing aid that is 100% invisible and your hearing loss falls within the specified fitting range, then this model is for you. It is not wireless, so you cannot stream audio from your smart device into your hearing aids, but you can still use headphones over these devices. Starkey is really good at making custom products. Just be aware that in my experience, these small devices that live in your ear canal all day every day will likely go back to Starkey for repair more frequently than other hearing aid styles. During my most recent trip to Starkey, I think it was in 2017, I remember mentioning that, you know they should make the removal strings of their in-the-canal hearing aids in antennas so you can make them Bluetooth compatible. Well, four or five years later, lo and behold, that's exactly what they did.
This makes the Evolv Ai Completely-In-Canal, wireless hearing aid, the smallest hearing aid that still has wireless capability. The only problem is they had these absolutely ridiculous antennas sticking outside of your ears. I'm sure that you guys can see them right there. Now, I've tried to tuck them back into my concha bowl, like tuck them back into my ear, but after a minute or so, they just end up popping back out and it looks like you've got these two little antennas sticking out of your ears, because that's exactly what you have. And it looks like you're trying to talk to aliens or something. I truly believe that they could have designed these substantially better to where these antennas actually curl around your concha bowl and become relatively invisible, which is exactly why I tell all hearing aid manufacturers to run all of their clever ideas by me and I'll tell them if it's a good idea or not. In my opinion, this is an incredible feature with an absolutely horrible design, which I think is going to lead to a lot of people saying, "Oh, that's really cool, but there's no way I'm going to wear that." As far as the Bluetooth goes, I have to say, it's hit or miss. And this is pretty typical with Starkey. If I had to rate all of the major brands of hearing aids in terms of how good their Bluetooth quality is, I would have to rate Starkey at the very bottom of that list. For some reason, I always run into issues with the Bluetooth of Starkey devices, whether it's pairing it initially, whether it's maintaining a solid connection, or whether it's just getting a quality Bluetooth stream. I run into more issues with Starkey devices than I do with any other brand of hearing aids. There are not many things that I don't like when it comes to Starkey hearing aids, because there's a lot to love. But Bluetooth connectivity? That is definitely one of those things that I'm not a huge fan of.
The good news about the Bluetooth is that when it is working, you can stream audio directly from your Apple device or Android device into your hearing aids because it uses Bluetooth Low Energy for iOS. And if you have Android 10 operating system or higher, you can use the ASHA Bluetooth Protocol. But not only can you use this Bluetooth to stream audio directly from your smart device into your Evolv Ai hearing aids, but you can also use it to connect to the Starkey Thrive app, which gives you much more control over things that you can do with these devices. As of the recording of this video, you still cannot be totally hands-free when on a phone call that you're streaming into your Starkey Evolv Ai hearing aids. But according to Starkey, their hearing aids are going to become hands-free on phone calls at some point in the near future. This wireless capability is going to exist in most of the Evolv Ai hearing aids, including the custom rechargeable devices that Starkey has. The lithium rechargeable custom hearing aids are, in my opinion, the most significant advancement in technology that Starkey has developed in the past two years. By eliminating the need to change batteries, they are much more suitable for individuals with finger dexterity issues. Now, at the end of the day, you just need to set the gold contacts located on the face plate of the hearing aid onto the charging stand, and a magnet will hold the hearing aids in place while it charges.
The only thing that I do not like about the rechargeability on the custom products is the gold contacts that people can see pretty easily while you're wearing these hearing aids inside of your ear. So they do stick out a little bit. They also need to be cleaned regularly, so when you put these hearing aids back on the charger stand, it can actually make a solid connection to recharge your hearing aids. One thing that I'm not too big of a fan of is that you have to get the half shell or full shell in their lithium rechargeable option. There is no disposable battery option. So if you want a disposable battery, you're essentially out of luck. As far as colors go, you can get the custom in-the-ear hearing aids in the color black. So if you want them to look more like an earbud, you can do that. But if you want them to look more like an in-the-ear hearing aid or just be a little bit more inconspicuous, then you can get them in a flush color. Now, when it comes to rechargeability, of course this feature carries over into the Receiver-In-Canal versions of this hearing aid, as well as the Behind-The-Ear version of this hearing aid. So I've got a pair of the Evolv Ai Rechargeable Receiver-In-Canal hearing aids right here. First and foremost, I love these charger cases. They have an area for a desiccant in the lid of the charger, and they use kind of like a magnetization to keep the hearing aids in place. So it's very easy for individuals with finger dexterity issues to both remove these hearing aids from the charger and place them back in the charger. Not to mention, these cases will store extra charges, so you don't technically have to have it plugged into the wall for you to be able to charge your hearing aids. Now, the rechargeable version of this Receiver-In-Canal hearing aid is still pretty small. Once I've got it in my ear, I basically can't tell that I'm physically wearing anything on my ear. And if you have glasses or things like that, it very minimally interferes with anything else that you would put on top of your ear. Another quick thing about the charger is that it only takes three hours to charge your hearing aids from completely dead to basically giving you a full day's worth of battery life. But they also have a rapid charger that can charge your hearing aids even quicker than three hours. Now, whether you go with the Micro RIC, the RIC 312, or the RIC R, the hearing aids perform very similar. You can also get any one of these with a Standard Receiver or with a custom-built Absolute Power Receiver depending on your severity of hearing loss. All you'd have to do is have your hearing care provider send ear impressions to Starkey to have the ear molds custom made. Which happens to be another thing that I love about Starkey, which is that they accept 3D digital ear scan impressions. This is definitely an advantage because I do believe that 3D digital ear scans are the future when it comes to custom hearing aids.
And I cannot emphasize enough just how important custom ear molds are for certain types of hearing losses. So if you're someone who has a hearing loss, that's in that moderately-severe to profound range, you should absolutely be using a custom ear mold. Nevertheless, if you do happen to have a more severe hearing loss, you may be better served using a BTE hearing aid that can also use a custom ear mold. If you do need a BTE hearing aid, the Evolv Ai line of devices has the option to use a size 13 battery or use a rechargeable lithium battery. If you happen to be creeping into profound levels of hearing loss, you may have to consider the Power Plus BTE, if not, a cochlear implant. I guess my point here is, is that no matter what style of hearing aid you need, the Evolve Ai line of hearing aids has that style. All right, let's go ahead and start talking about some of the features that you get inside of this new Evolv Ai line of hearing aids. Now, Starkey has said that they've made some significant improvements upon the Livio line of devices and a couple of those improvements being, of course, the wireless CIC hearing aid option, the 55 million automatic adjustments that can happen per hour with the Evolv hearing aids, a 40% better noise reduction capability, this Edge Mode that you now have in multiple technology levels, and of course, more features that you can find inside of the Starkey Thrive app. To be honest, while it's great to hear about all of these different feature improvements in the Evolv Ai line of hearing aids, I don't find any one of them to be a significant game changer. I mean, the Livio Edge Ai hearing aid was a fantastic hearing aid. And if I were to compare the features of that hearing aid with the premium level Evolv Ai hearing aid, I just couldn't say that I saw that much of a noticeable difference.
Now these differences are much more apparent in the lower technology levels of the Evolv Ai hearing aids, because they took the premium level technology features and started putting them down into the lower technology levels. That being said, let's go ahead and take a look at some of the Evolv Ai hearing aid features, starting with Edge Mode. If you're unaware of what Edge Mode is, it is basically a form of artificial intelligence based analysis of your acoustic environment that is intended to optimize noise management and speech intelligibility in difficult situations. It gets its name Edge Mode because it uses Edge computing in order to perform this analysis. Now I'm not going to talk about Edge computing a whole lot in this particular video. You can go watch other videos on YouTube if you want to learn more about Edge computing. But for the purpose of this particular hearing aid, if you want to activate this Edge Mode feature, if you have the premium level technology, you can just simply double tap your hearing aid to activate it. And if you have the 2000 or 1600 line of Evolv Ai hearing aids, you can access this feature inside of the Starkey Thrive app. Unfortunately, you can not leave Edge Mode on at all times, but let me go ahead and give you an audio sample so you can experience what it's like to have Edge Mode off versus Edge Mode on. As you just heard, Edge Mode could make a significant difference in your ability to hear in a complex listening situation. All right, let's go ahead and talk about one more feature that you can find only in the Premium 2400 technology level, and this feature is called Voice Ai. Voice Ai uses the microphone of your Apple smart device, combined with additional signal processing to help aid in speech understanding for individuals with a significant hearing loss. This feature is only available for individuals with a hearing loss in excess of 50 dB at 250 and 500 Hz. Of course, any time that you can use an additional microphone, that is closer to the source of speech, it can improve the signal-to-noise ratio, which will lead to better speech understanding. So if you are someone who has more of a hearing loss in the low frequency ranges, this particular feature could provide you with at least a little bit more benefit in a complex listening situation. Of course, it would be nearly impossible to do a good review of a Starkey hearing aid, unless we took a really good look at the Starkey Thrive app. Like most hearing aid apps, inside of the Starkey Thrive hearing control app, you can do things like changing the volume levels of your hearing aids and change between different memories for different listening situations you may find yourself in. You can also use an equalizer to adjust the frequency response of your hearing aids and create your own custom programs. It also lets you adjust noise reduction levels for speech in noise, steady state machine noise, and wind noise. Like I mentioned before, Starkey hearing aids are more than just hearing aids, they are what they like to call Healthable devices. This means they can track your physical activity levels and your engagement levels, which combine to form your wellness score.
Not only does this keep you motivated to engage in more physical activity, it also encourages you to wear your hearing aids more due to the cognitive benefits you receive from using amplification. I'm pretty sure at this point you are fully aware of the link between hearing loss and dementia, and if you're not, I will have a video linked in the description for you to watch when you are done with this review as well. However, it doesn't stop there. The data collected by your Evolv Ai hearing aids can be sent to a family member or a caregiver to help keep them informed about your overall hearing health. To enable this data sharing, all you have to do is go to the menu on the bottom right hand corner of the app and select Thrive Care. There, you can enter in their name, email address, and your name, and select what information you would like them to receive. You might notice that there is an option to notify them if you fall as well. Since hearing loss leads to a significantly higher risk of falling, the motion sensors inside of the wireless versions of the Evolv Ai hearing aids can detect when you fall and notify up to three contacts. The fall notification system is pretty slick and has literally saved the lives of numerous Starkey hearing aid users. Now there are a ton of other features that you can have access to inside of the Starkey Thrive app and I don't have time to cover all of them. So lets talk about some of the more important ones, the first one being Telehear. Remote programming capability has become a standard feature inside of any legitimate hearing aid. And with Telehear, you can have a live remote session with your hearing care professional, so you do not even have to into their clinic to have adjustments made on your hearing aids. This feature is great if you happen to live significantly far away from your hearing care professional's office, or if you just happen to have mobility issues. Now the one thing that I do not like about this particular feature is that Starkey did away with asynchronous programming where you could request an adjustment and have your hearing care professional send it to you for you to upload into our own devices so you do not have to have a live session with them. In my opinion, it would be great if every single hearing aid manufacturer had both synchronous and asynchronous, so you could either do a live session or just request adjustments. You still have access to the translate feature inside of the Thrive app. So you can translate up to 27 different languages into your language. And in my opinion, though, Starkey's had this for a while, it still does not work that well. Good luck having it work if you are not on a wifi signal and just saying that, good luck having it work really well if you do have a strong wifi signal. In my opinion, this particular feature is still not ready for prime time, and I'm hoping that at some point in the future, this app gets so good to where you can actually use this feature traveling overseas.
The transcribe feature on the other hand is definitely better, and you can actually read along with them when they're talking to you. And if you really want to, you can send yourself a copy of that transcription when you're done with the conversation. Now, a few other features include being able to adjust the functionality and sensitivity of your tap control. You can also set reminders to do things like taking your medication, drinking more water, and exercising. A really cool feature is being able to perform a self-check of your hearing aids to determine the source of a possible malfunction, and using the find my hearing aid feature to help you locate a lost hearing aid. Each of these features could have an entire video dedicated in how to set them up and use them effectively, which is exactly the reason why you need to make sure that you find a hearing care professional if you're going to use a Starkey hearing aid, who is willing to spend a significant amount of time with you setting all of these features up and explaining how they work. Not just to you, but probably other family members and maybe even friends as well. Otherwise, you're going to have a really fantastic hearing aid with all of these different features that you have no clue how to use. That being said, let's go ahead and get back into some of the core features that you have inside of the Evolv Ai line of hearing aids, one of them being the Telecoil. Not every single device inside of this Evolv Ai product line has a Telecoil, but a Telecoil does exist inside of all of the rechargeable versions of this hearing aid, as well as any of the size 13 battery versions of these hearing aids. If you want Telecoil access but the hearing aid that you wanted does not have a Telecoil, you can still gain access if you have a wireless version of an Evolv Ai hearing aid, and you're willing to use a Remote Microphone+ that gives you access to a Telecoil, as well as an FM system. Not to mention, the wireless Evolv Ai devices also give you access to other 2.4 GHz accessories, including a mini remote microphone, a remote control, and a table microphone that can be set up to stream TV audio as well. The only negative here is that you do not have a dedicated TV streamer for these wireless devices, which is a huge bummer. The Evolv Ai hearing aids also have access to a tinnitus masker. Even though this tinnitus masker is pretty basic, it's still nice to have it in there in case you like to use it. And of course, I would be remise if I did not mention that these Evolv Ai line of hearing aids had access to a CROS transmitter for single-sided deafness.
Oh boy, okay. There's a lot of stuff as you can see inside of the Evolv Ai line of hearing aids from Starkey to the point where I would be shocked if you could ever find another hearing aid that has as many features as these devices do. In my opinion, the Evolv Ai hearing aids are terrific hearing aids. Sure, there are a few things that I don't like about them, but there are a ton of things that I absolutely love about them. So as long as you're willing to take the time to set up all the features and learn how to use them with the help of your hearing care professional, who will hopefully spend an extra couple hours with you doing all of this, I have no doubt in my mind that you'll absolutely love these devices. That's it for this video. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below. If you liked the video, please share it. And if you want to see other videos, just like this one, go ahead and hit that subscribe button. Also feel free to check out my website, DrCliffAuD.com.
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