Are there any differences between normal Phonak hearing aids and the Phonak hearing aids sold at Costco, in terms of quality and performance?

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Sara Carnevale Fearon, AuD - Doctor of Audiology in Cranston
The Phoank Brio is the line available at Costco. The new Audeo models (Vs) run on a newer/faster computer chip and therefore give better sound quality. They have some other new features including a wind noise reducer (one of the biggest hearing aid complaints is wind noise). Basically, the Brio is an older version of Phonak's technology - depending on your personal needs it may work for you. It is important for you to know that hearing is not like vision. Everyone perceives sound differently. Hearing aids typically need at least a few personalized adjustments before you are hearing your best. Most of the economy lines of hearing aids can only be programmed at Costco. An audiologist in private practice is able to provide you a higher level of service - including as many programming/adjustment appointments as you need. Good luck!
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Asieh hariran
Asieh Haririan, BSc - Hearing Healthcare Provider in North Vancouver

Audeo uses a newer chip built and introduced to the market at the beginning of 2015, whereas Brio uses an older chip built in 2012. A few benefits of the newer chip in Audeo 90 are: Automatic Auto sense, comfort in car, comfort in echo, and good quality of music.

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Jennifer Waddell, HIS - Hearing Healthcare Provider in Simpsonville

The Phonak Brio is a specially made product only sold at Costco warehouses.  It is not the exact same product and doesn't have the same exact features as the regular line we carry in our private hearing practices.  You will find that warehouses typically carry economy lines made by the major manufacturers.  Some of these lines can only be programmed by Costco.  Most economy lines are not the latest models or technology made by the manufacturer, which is why they are less expensive.  The products are not bad by any means, but there are factors to consider beyond price.  Programming hearing instruments is very technical and takes high skill to do correctly, especially with higher levels of hearing loss. The software to program normally is just a starting point, the skills of the hearing professional come into play in setting it correctly.  I find that there are more advanced options available and I don't want to be limited by offering just very limited and specific lines.  As a private practice I can provide more catering to specific needs and spend more time with my patients setting the aids correctly.  Many times the professionals in warehouses are starting out in the business and have limited programming skills or too many patients to maintain to spend a lot of time with you.  Ask lots of questions and find out why they are recommending a specific aid, see if it's the best fit for your hearing loss or is it just because that's one of the very few options available in their line of products.  The same can be said of franchises that offer just one brand.  If you aren't as concerned about a precise fitting, price is the biggest factor (you'll spend a little more at private practice) or you have more of a minor loss, then a warehouse setting may work for your needs. Thanks for the question and for taking the time to educate yourself!  Learning about the options and brands before making a huge investment is key, especially when it regards your hearing!  Best of luck to you.

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Member Karl G. - 5 days ago

I am not a doctor or in the hearing profession. Nor am I associated at all with Costco - other than being a member.
I have been told that in Canada, Costco sells specially tailored 'premium' aids from the various manufacturers. Their Kirkland series may change at times, based on bids from various manufacturers. There has to be some difference (usually one or two missing features) in order to be fair to private dealers. In the Brio 2 line, this is the Tinitus masking feature. Currently (March 2017) their Brio 2 (newer than previous Brio line) has all the features mentioned above - auto programs, phone app etc, as much as any aid has to offer. It is obviously premium hearing aid, easily judged by doing your research.
Check the store, but the one I am dealing with has a Doctor of Audiology (who BTW was as thorough as any I've had, if not more so - I even had a sentence test there I did not have at my private Aud just weeks ago). You can also check the practitioners credentials. Ask for a business card, or just plain ask! I am sure experience is dependent on store and staff, but so far, Costco is in the running like any other - private or otherwise.
In Canada, you also get any follow-up appointment, adjustments and simple replacement parts, with your membership. As well, you may get up to 3 years warranty and one time loss or damage (i.e. Brio 2). Some aids (if bought in pairs) include an accessory of choice. However, these inclusions and pricing specials are all specific to the aid and brand.

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