Costco to Sell Philips Hearing Aids from Demant

Demant Gets a Leg Up in the Largest Private Hearing-Aid Channel

WRITTEN BY

David Copithorne

Content Director

Updated 29 May 2019

Demant's recently forged partnership with Philips, to manufacture Philips-branded HearLink hearing aids, just kicked into high gear—with distribution secured at Costco hearing centers across America. Although neither Philips nor Costco has publicly announced the news, the Philips Hearing Solutions website is now directing consumers to purchase Philips hearing aids at hundreds of Costco hearing centers nationwide.

Philips Hearing Aids Costco

After the U.S. Veterans Affairs hospital system, Costco is the largest distributor of hearing aids in the North America. The big box retailer sells hearing aids from the world's biggest hearing aid manufacturers including Sonova, Demant, GN Hearing, and WS Audiology.

In addition to its own Kirkland-brand hearing aids, which are currently manufactured by WS Audiology, Costco has long sold Demant's Bernafon brand alongside WS Audiology's Rexton brand, Sonova's Phonak and Brio hearing aids, and ReSound’s LiNX hearing aids.

But Demant’s Bernafon brand has disappeared from the list of suppliers on the Costco hearing centers website. So industry insiders are taking bets that Philips hearing aids, manufactured by Demant, will replace Demant’s Bernafon hearing aids at Costco.

Will Philips hearing aids have a bigger impact than Bernafon?

Why would the Bernafon-Philips swap be significant? Two reasons.

First, Philips is a popular, global brand known by most ordinary consumers. You can't wander the aisles of your local Costco without seeing multiple promotions for Philips’ Sonicare electric toothbrushes.

Second, Demant’s Bernafon brand is not a top-rated hearing aid brand at Costco. In Consumer Reports' recent ratings of hearing aid brands and retailers (paid subscription required), Costco was ranked by consumers as the number one hearing aid retailer. Among the 16 hearing aid brands rated, Costco’s own Kirkland Signature hearing aids were ranked first in value. Signia, Oticon, and Phonak hearing aids were rated number two, three, and four, respectively. The Bernafon brand was at the back of the pack, coming in at number 11.

Extending the market reach of Demant’s technology platform

If, as expected, Philips utilizes the technology platform behind the success of Demant’s Oticon Opn hearing aids, it may have a winning proposition for Costco customers.

Hearing Health and Technology Matters, which was first with the Costco-Philips story, reported that Costco hearing centers will begin selling Philips miniRITE, miniRITE T, miniRITE T R (rechargeable), and BTE PP products, all of which utilize Demant’s advanced sound processing and connectivity technologies.

Given the strong market acceptance of recent products from Demant, along with the popularity of Costco’s hearing aid retail, Philips hearing aids from Demant may be well positioned to give the other top brands a run for their money.

Update: 28 May 2019

Since publishing this article, we’ve learned a lot more about the HearLink hearing aids. Costco has set prices aggressively at $1,249.99 per hearing aid—for the premium-level HearLink 9010s—and the products are on sale now. Here’s a breakdown of the software features that are available for the Philips HearLink 2000 - HearLink 9010:

Philips Hearlink Hearing Aids Specs

Keep in mind that Costco is only selling the HearLink 9010 model. HearLink 2000, 3000, 5010, and 7010 models are not available for purchase in the USA (as far as we are aware).

Philips Hearlink Bte Pp

Hardware features for the BTE PP model

  • 13 size battery
  • Double Program Button
  • Telecoil
  • Auto Telephone (detection)*
  • miniFit thin tube
  • Hydrophobic coating
  • IP68 rated

*Only available in HearLink 3000 and HearLink 2000 technology levels

Connectivity features and accessories for the BTE PP model

  • 2.4 GHz stereo streaming
  • Philips HearLink app (for iOS and Android™)
  • Remote Control
  • TV Adapter
  • FittingLINK 3.0 (wireless programming interface)
  • AudioClip
  • Direct Audio Input (DAI) adapter
  • FM adapter

Philips Hearlink Minirite T R

Hardware features for the miniRITE T R model

  • Double Program Button
  • Telecoil
  • miniFit speakers
  • Hydrophobic coating
  • IP68 rated
  • 2.4 GHz Bluetooth® Low Energy
  • NFMI (near-field magnetic induction)

Accessories for the miniRITE T R model

  • Philips HearLink app (for iOS and Android™)
  • Remote Control
  • TV Adapter
  • FittingLINK 3.0 (wireless programming interface)
  • AudioClip

Update: 28 May 2019

Clarification from Demant

We heard from Demant spokesperson Katrine Hertz Østergaard, who clarified the source of technology in the Philips HearLink hearing aids sold by Costco:

The Philips HearLink technology is not Oticon Opn technology, however, it is Demant technology. The Demant hearing aid platforms are firmware-based, which means that the core signal processing encoded on the platform is different for Oticon and Philips, respectively; for instance, Open Sound Navigator and Speech Guard are unique to Oticon hearing aids. The Philips hearing aids use two core technologies called SoundMap and SoundTie. You can read much more about the Philips HearLink technology here.

We responded with a request for further information— to better understand the differences between Open Sound Navigator and SoundMap, and Speech Guard and SoundTie—and will report with any new details.

Update: 28 May 2019

Demant was prompt in responding to our request for more information. Further clarification was provided by Demant’s Director of Audiology, Nicolas Le Goff:

How are Open Sound Navigator and Speech Guard different from SoundMap and SoundTie?

OpenSound Navigator and Speech Guard are features only provided in Oticon products (Opn, Opn S, Opn Play). Their respective role is to help patient understanding speech in noise and making sounds audible. This goal is addressed by Phillips HearLink in a different manner. While Oticon and Philips products both offer innovative technologies for these key patients-needs, they do it following a different approach. OpenSound Navigator has a unique three stage processing in noisy environments with an Analysis, Balance and Noise Removal. The goal is to allow for significantly improved performance in noisy situations without creating the unnaturally narrow listening window created by beam forming. SoundMap Noise Control uses a more conventional approach with a Directionality and Noise Reduction, but here using a twin-microphone to estimate noise more accurately. On the amplification side, Speech Guard uses a linear gain window to optimally preserve small changes in level (speech modulations), while, SoundMap amplification integrates a noise estimate that controls compression ratio to better preserve speech information in noisy environments. SoundTie is the name of the connectivity solution of Philips HearLink. It shares the core transmission technologies (2.4GHz Blutooth low energy, Near-Field Magnetic Induction) with other products of the Demant group, including Oticon.

Nicolas Le Goff, Director of Audiology, Demant

Is there anything in the Philips aids that would provide something similar to the OpenSound Optimizer feature found in the Opn S?

Demant has developed and patented a core technology to detect and control feedback in a much faster way than conventional technology, and which does not make use of conventional frequency shift and gain reduction. This core technology is applied in both Philips and Oticon products to provide state of art/ market leading feedback control.

Nicolas Le Goff, Director of Audiology, Demant

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