Dr. Cliff Weighs Hearing Aid Style Versus Substance

Does style trump performance?

When Signia introduced its Styletto hearing aids, the new, slim look was so innovative that for a moment it appeared style might trump performance. But in a recent video produced for Signia, Dr. Cliff Olson, AuD, says the days of trading off performance for a more attractive appearance are coming to an end.

“Trying to find the best style of hearing aid can be extremely difficult, but with the continued development of new hearing aid technology by forward-thinking manufacturers, it doesn't have to be impossible,” he says.

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A “cool” hearing aid gets buyers’ attention

Dr. Cliff says manufacturers of premium-performance hearing aids are starting to cater to prospective buyers who ask, “What are these hearing aids going to look like? Will these devices look cool?” He says Signia Styletto Connect hearing aids are designed for those who value aesthetic features such as:

  • A slim form factor: Many of today’s behind-the-ear hearing aids are bulked up to accommodate new technology features that users want. But Signia succeeded in molding a rechargeable battery, along with other high-performance features, into a smaller form factor with a sleek new shape.
  • Near-invisibility: Even if there’s less stigma associated with wearing hearing aids now than in the past, many people still prefer that they be unobtrusive or “invisible.” The slim Stylettos sit flat behind the ear, and a thin wire to a receiver that sits out of sight within the ear canal makes them almost invisible.
  • A choice of colors: Everyone prefers to have a choice, and sometimes a winning design comes down to providing a range of colors that suit different people’s tastes. Stylettos come in combinations of black and silver, blue and gold, and white and gold.

“These devices are completely different than any other hearing aids that you see on the market right now,” says Dr. Cliff. “They're really intended to be a very stylish device.”

Performance features buyers are asking for

At the same time they are asking for attractive designs, hearing aid buyers are coming to expect top-of-the-line performance. But Dr. Cliff says the performance features of the Styletto hearing aids weren’t the first thing many buyers noticed: “With all the hype surrounding the style and aesthetics of the Styletto Connect, with its clean lines and futuristic look, the features and overall performance of these devices went largely overlooked because we got so distracted by the device's ability to make a fashion statement.

What advanced features do users of hearing aids ask for most? Dr. Cliff says hearing aid users want:

  • High-tech sound processing: First and foremost, buyers want top-quality sound. The Styletto Connect hearing aids utilize Signia’s latest high-end Nx sound processing technology to deliver a premium audio experience. Among other things, they feature Signia’s unique Own Voice Processing (OVP) feature, that makes your own voice sound natural, and not too loud, even as other people’s voices are amplified enough to hear easily.
  • Rechargeability: Now that hearing aids can run for a full day on a single overnight charge, users are clamoring for rechargeable hearing aid batteries. Styletto hearing aids feature Signia’s most advanced lithium-ion rechargeable battery technology.
  • Connectivity to a smartphone: Made-for-iPhone and Bluetooth hearing aids connect wirelessly with mobile phones, which means they double as headsets for listening to music and talking on the phone. The Styletto Connect hearing aids provide complete Made-for-iPhone connectivity.
  • Tinnitus management: One of the most common hearing ailments is that ringing, humming or buzzing in your ears known as tinnitus. Soothing sounds such as rushing water or quiet music can provide relief by masking the tinnitus noise. Premium hearing aids such as the Styletto Connect provide tinnitus management solutions that can be tuned to generate the masking sounds that work best for the individual.
  • Wireless accessories: In addition to smartphones, hearing aid users want access to other accessories, such as remote microphones and devices that stream audio from the TV directly into the hearing aids. Styletto Connect provides wireless access through its StreamLine accessories.
  • Smartphone apps: Hearing aid users are starting to enjoy easier ways to control their volume and program settings with wireless smartphone apps. And hearing care professionals are now starting to provide remote care—“virtual office visits”—through video chats and hearing aid program updates downloaded over the internet. Signia’s smartphone apps promise to deliver those benefits and more to Styletto users.

“The fact is, the Styletto Connect is a part of the Nx line of devices from Signia, and in terms of performance and features, they are every bit as impressive as the other feature-rich products in Signia's lineup,” says Dr. Cliff.

Different looks for different occasions

Dr. Cliff says that for one of his patients, style was the most important consideration in choosing new hearing aids. When real-estate agent Neil Brooks from Scottsdale Arizona saw Signia’s Styletto hearing aids, they became “the only hearing aids he was willing to wear.”

“What Neil didn't expect was the amazing performance of these devices,” says Dr. Cliff. “He absolutely loves them, so much that he actually has two sets of them for different occasions.”