Worlds FIRST Intelligent Receiver for Paradise Hearing Aids | Phonak ActiveVent Review

Video transcript

Video transcript

Update: This feature is available on Phonak's new product, the Phonak Lumity hearing aids.

Hi, guys. Cliff Olson, Doctor of Audiology and founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona. And in this video, I'm reviewing Phonak's new ActiveVent receiver technology that automatically switches between open and closed venting. Coming up. I do not even know where to start this video off at. I don't know if I should start it off talking about the differences between open and closed domes, or maybe I could start it off talking about how having too small a venting can give you the occlusion effect. Or how about I start it off talking about how when you have too open of domes or too open of venting, that it reduces the directionality and noise reduction effects of a hearing aid that ultimately are intended to help you hear better in background noise? Or maybe I could start it off talking about how having too open a venting can deteriorate the sound quality of music because all the low-frequency bass tones just leak right out of your ears. All right, so I've probably made my point about how venting is critically important to your performance with hearing aids, so I'll just go ahead and start this video off by saying that the Phonak ActiveVent receiver is probably the only receiver that eliminates the trade-offs between open and closed venting.

Of course, as with any new product that I review, there are always some things that I love and things that I don't love so much about them, but before I get into my review, if you could do me a huge favor and click the Like button, it really helps out my channel because it helps these videos get in front of a broader audience. And while you're at it, if you have not yet hit that Subscribe button with notification bell, go ahead and do that right now as well. This way, you never miss one of my new videos. That being said, I really appreciate it. Now let's get into the specifics of this ActiveVent receiver. One of the biggest issues that hearing care professionals run into when programming a set of hearing aids is that we often have to make trade-offs when it comes to dome selection or vent size selection. In general, when it comes down to dome selection, we have a few options. We either have an open dome, a vented dome, or a closed dome. Open domes are great if our patients happen to have really good low-frequency hearing, but not so good high-frequency hearing because that allows the low frequencies to enter their ear canal naturally, which mix with the amplified sounds coming from the hearing aids in the high frequencies. Vented domes are great if you have a little bit of a low-frequency loss or you have a more significant high-frequency loss because it traps a little bit more of that sound inside of your ear canal. And closed domes are a great option if you happen to have a more significant low-frequency loss or just more hearing loss in general. If a custom earmold is required to successfully treat the level of your hearing loss, then we still have to go in and select the proper vent diameter, ranging anywhere from no vent at all, all the way up to a very large vent. The point is when fitting in programming a set of hearing aids, we have to select one of these. The problem is any one of these individual options does not always guarantee maximum hearing performance in all different situations, so we end up making a trade-off as to what situation is most important to you. But if we maximize for that situation, essentially, we could be taking away your hearing ability from another situation. And that is where the ActiveVent receiver comes into play.

The ActiveVent turns a Phonak Audeo Paradise rechargeable receiver-in-canal hearing aid into a hearing aid that basically has an open and closed vent at the same time, and it actively switches between the two, depending on the situation that you're in. Let me give you an example. If you have good low-frequency hearing, but not so good high-frequency hearing, then your hearing care professional will probably fit you with an open dome on the end of your hearing aid. The problem with this is that if you want to stream music, all of the low-frequency tones that come into your ear canal actually leak out those open vents and music will sound really flat to you. Now you could take a closed dome and fit your hearing loss with a closed dome and that will make music sound much better because it will trap in the low frequencies, but it will also force the hearing aid to process low-frequency amplification for you and you will not like the way that that sounds. And on top of that, you'll probably get the occlusion effect, which means that your voice is being bone conducted through your jaw, gets trapped inside your ear canal because it can't leak out and your voice sounds really boomy and loud to yourself. The ActiveVent essentially gives you the best of both worlds. So if you're not streaming audio like music into the hearing aids, the vent will be in the open position, which means that you're just gonna go and wear these like you're in open fit hearing aid, but then as soon as you start streaming, it traps in those low-frequency bass tones so you actually hear them better. This also helps you out in a background noise situation as well because as soon as your hearing aids identify that you entered into a noisy environment, those vents will close. And when you have closed vented hearing aids, it actually gives you better directionality performance with the hearing devices and better noise reduction with the hearing devices. If you were to just have an open dome when you go into those noisy situations, all that noise is just gonna enter into your ear canals anyway, and then you're hoping that you have enough high-frequency information to help your brain separate speech from noise, but you're not gonna be getting very much directionality effect or noise reduction effect. Just in case you're unfamiliar with what directionality is, it's basically when a hearing aid focuses where the pickup range is of speeches coming at you. So if you're in a noisy environment, it essentially says, "Hey, if the sound's coming from behind me or next to me, I don't wanna amplify that very much. I wanna amplify only sounds coming from in front of me." And then when you talk about noise reduction, noise reduction is when the hearing aid can actually identify noise and reduce the amount of amplification that's given to that noise. And this is what's really impressive about the ActiveVent because when you want to have an open vent in a quiet situation, you're good. But as soon as you go into a background noise situation, that vent closes, and it allows the directionality and noise reduction to really shine in your hearing aids. When in the open position, the ActiveVent receiver is equivalent to a 3.5-millimeter vent, which is considered a very large vent size. In the closed position, the ActiveVent receiver is equivalent to a fully occluding custom earmold. In this image here, you can see the difference in acoustics, depending on if the ActiveVent is open or closed. And just in case this is the first time you're ever seeing anything like this, I'll just tell you that this difference is huge when it comes to hearing performance.

The ActiveVent cannot use traditional domes. It does require either the use of a custom Titanium SlimTip earmold, or a generic silicone Universal SlimTip earpiece that comes in different sizes. All right, let me go ahead and show you these. So this is the more generic fit one. I'm gonna go ahead and put that on to let you see what it looks like. I was really worried about how this would fit my ear. It actually fits my ear really, really well. I'm not really sure if it will be effective for everybody, but this is essentially what it looks like on my ear. It's essentially the same thing as a SlimTip. This is the Titanium SlimTip version of it. So this one is actually custom for me based on my ear impressions. But when I put that in, this is essentially what it looks like on my ears. And right now, because I'm not streaming anything, it is a completely open fit, so I'm not getting any occlusion effect or anything like that. I'm a little bit worried because you cannot use a retention filament, and you cannot put a canal lock on either of these two options. So if these eartips do not fit in your ears and stay inside of your ear canals, then this is not gonna be a good option for you. The ActiveVent is only compatible with Phonak Audeo Paradise rechargeable hearing aids, so either the P-R or the P-RT. If you happen to have a Marvel hearing aid, even though this receiver will actually fit into your device, it will not work. If you happen to have a disposable battery version of a Paradise hearing aid, even though it will fit into your hearing aid, this receiver will not work. You can also hear a very audible click when it switches between the open vent position and closed vent position, and it really caught me off guard, initially. Even though I was told that it was gonna happen, it is very jarring when you first hear that. Let me go ahead and play you a sound sample here real quick. I will say that I've been getting more used to that audible click. It did catch me off guard a lot when I first started wearing these, but over the past several days, I've become a little bit desensitized towards it. Now your hearing care professional will have one of these candidacy checklist to make sure that you meet the criteria for using one of these ActiveVent receivers. You have to be a candidate audiometrically. So if you do not fall into this threshold candidacy range, then you will not be able to use these receivers. A few noteworthy items here is that you wanna make sure that your cell phone can actually deactivate notifications because the last thing that you want is to receive those audible clicks every single time you receive a text message or email notification. You also have to be careful if you have a substantial amount of tinnitus, and also if you're very sensitive to loud sounds. Because this vent is mechanical, it is much more susceptible to moisture and to earwax. So if you happen to have a bunch of earwax inside of your ears, or you get your hearing aids wet a lot, this receiver might short out on you more often.

So if you want these receivers to last as long as humanly possible, then make sure that your hearing care professional is using a professional Redux machine to pull all of the moisture out of these receivers as well. Now these ActiveVent receivers are much more like accessories rather than receivers, so a typical receiver wire is under the warranty of your hearing aid. So if you have a three-year warranty on your hearing aids, you will have a three-year receiver exchangeability, meaning that anytime a receiver goes out, if your hearing aids are in warranty, that receiver will be replaced free of charge. However, with the ActiveVent receiver, they only give you a six-month warranty. So if you have a receiver that dies, you're gonna be spending money even if your hearing aids are still in warranty. Now these receivers are a little bit more expensive than a traditional receiver that you would have to spend money on if you were out of warranty with the manufacturer, but the manufacturer, Phonak, is actually recommending that you change your receivers every six months. So the added expense of these, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis. If you're like, "Wow. This is totally worth it," then it's worth it. If you're like, "Eh, it gives me a little bit better hearing," then it might not be the best option for you. That being said, these receivers are actually really cool, and they're basically the thing that I've been waiting for since I got into this profession back in 2012 because I hate having to make trade-offs between an open and closed fitting. You get essentially the best of everything when you have a vent that can automatically switch for you. So if you were someone who currently uses a rechargeable Phonak Paradise hearing aid with either an open dome, vented dome, or custom earmold with open vents, but you want all the benefits of a closed vent for music streaming and better hearing in background noise with no occlusion effect, then the Phonak ActiveVent receiver could be the solution that you've been waiting for. 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. If wanna 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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