Cochlear Ltd. is a global company headquartered in Australia, and one of the pioneers in the field of cochlear implants. Cochlear was the first company to be approved in the United States for their multi-channel cochlear implant in 1984. Today they provide a range of implantable solutions including osseointegrated (bone-integrated) implants, acoustic implants, and cochlear implants. Cochlear currently enjoys the dominant cochlear implant market share in the U.S.
Cochlear implants from every manufacturer require two separate components—the internal implant itself which is surgically implanted and the external speech processor. The internal implant is rarely replaced and is expected to last for multiple decades—often for the life of the recipient. However, the external processors are continually improved upon by manufacturers frequently delivering enhancements for the wearer.
The Nucleus® 7 (N7) sound processor is the current behind-the-ear (BTE) sound processor from Cochlear replacing the previous Nucleus 6 (N6) processor. The company also refers to N7 as the “CP 1000” in its literature.
Nucleus 7 (aka N7 or CP1000) sound processors and headpieces from Cochlear Ltd.
Cochlear currently offers two wearing styles for their speech processors including the N7 BTE style introduced in the U.S. in 2017 as well as their new Kanso® 2 off-the-ear (OTE) style introduced in the U.S. in 2020. Either processor style is appropriate both for adults and children depending on the cosmetic and lifestyle preferences of the wearer as well as retention and technology and medical considerations. In this article we’ll focus on the key features of the N7 processor but we’ll also discuss some of the difference between the N7 and the Kanso 2.
Nucleus 7 (CP 1000) Key Features
- Compatibility – The N7 is now compatible with all generations of implants including the Nucleus 22 implant.
- Smaller Size – 25% smaller and 24% lighter than the previous generation of BTE processor, the Nucleus 6 (CP 900 series).
- Rechargeable or standard batteries – Two sizes of rechargeable batteries including compact and standard depending on your needs and preferences. Disposable batteries are also an option and helpful during power outages or when you otherwise don’t have access to power (think camping).
- Improved battery life – Up to 50% increase compared to the Nucleus 6 processor.
- Direct streaming – Allows for direct streaming from compatible Apple and Android devices eliminating the need for a separate remote or other device to enable the connection. Other cochlear implant companies as well as the N6 all require a remote in order to stream sound.
- Bimodal streaming – Capable of wireless bimodal streaming with compatible ReSound™ hearing aids for the non-implanted ear. Bimodal streaming provides simultaneous streaming of sound from smart phones, tablets, etc. to both to the implanted side as well as to the ear with the compatible hearing aid.
- Hybrid hearing capability – Standard feature of the N7. This means that the N7 processor can provide electronic stimulation to the implant only or it can also be configured to provide both electronic stimulation as well as acoustic input for those with viable residual hearing after implantation.
- On-board control – Standard push button on the processor allowing for program changes, starting/stopping streaming and turning the processor on/off.
- Telecoil built-in – Ideal for those visiting looped meeting rooms, houses of worship, theatres, etc.
- Dual microphones – Dual microphones enable directional focus, and can help improve speech understanding in noise.
- SmartSound® iQ and SCAN – Sound processing strategies that automatically align signal processing depending on the listener’s environment. For example, in noise the N7 will automatically engage noise reduction and directional microphones with the intent of improving listening ease.
- Smart phone app – Cochlear offers a smartphone app with a comprehensive set of features. Keep reading for details.
The Nucleus Smart App is a smartphone app available for compatible Apple and Android devices.
Nucleus Smart App
The Nucleus Smart App is a smartphone app available for compatible Apple and Android devices that provides many helpful features, including:
- Program and volume changes
- Activation of streaming
- Viewing of battery status and N7 status
- “Find my Processor” to help locate your lost processor
- Treble/bass and sensitivity changes (enabled by Audiologist)
- “Hearing Tracker” feature provides coil off information and time spent in speech (important for caregivers)
- Remote care available via “Remote Check”. This may be important for those living at a distance from clinic or otherwise have an inability to visit clinic regularly. It should be noted that this is only available with clinics that have implemented this service within their clinic.
Cochlear N7 vs Kanso 2 processors
As mentioned above, Cochlear provides a choice of two different processor styles depending on your needs and preferences. The Off-the-Ear (OTE) style from Cochlear was first introduced with the Kanso in 2016 and now the new Kanso 2 in 2020. For some, the OTE wearing style offers a clear cosmetic advantage and may also provide an “ease of use” factor.
The Cochlear Kanso 2 is a cochlear implant that is worn off the ear.
The N7 and the new Kanso 2 share the same technology platform and the sound processing is very similar. For example, both have dual microphones and allow for direct streaming. However, there are some key differences between the two processors that you may want to keep in mind if you’re making a choice between the N7 and Kanso 2.
Why Kanso 2 is better than the Nuclues
- Small and lightweight – The Kanso 2 is the smallest and lightest processor Cochlear has produced making it likely to be more cosmetically appealing for many people. It’s smaller than it’s predecessor the Kanso.
- East of use – Simple recharging of the device as there’s no removal of the battery. The entire processor is simply placed within the included charger. This may be beneficial to those with vision and/or dexterity issues. This is a big advantage of the older Kanso which relied on disposable batteries for power.
- Moisture resistance – Kanso 2 has a higher moisture and dust resistance rating than the N7 (IP 68 vs IP 57) due to sealed battery compartment and covered mics. However, both the N7 and the Kanso 2 have the Aqua+ option to accommodate better moisture resistance.
Why Nucleus 7 is better than the Kanso 2:
- Implant compatibility – The Kanso 2 is not compatible with the older Nucleus 22 implant, however, it is compatible with all other Nucleus implants.
- Rechargeability – Kanso 2 is rechargeable but does not allow for standard batteries which may be an issue if the power in your home is interrupted.
- Retention – The Kanso 2 is smaller and lighter than its predecessor but depending on the magnet strength needed (and subsequent weight of the processor) retention may be problematic for some. That is, only the magnet holds the processor on the head unlike the N7 which has the benefit of the earhook to aid in retention. This isn’t a change from the original Kanso and is inherent to any OTE device and will also be dependent on the magnet required based upon your implant.
- Telecoil – There is no telecoil capability with the Kanso 2 without the use of an accessory.
- FM compatibility – For parents it’s important to keep in mind that the Kanso 2 will accommodate an FM system but only via the Mini Mic 2+ where the N7 allows for a connection on the device itself.
- Color choices – There are five color options with Kanso 2 and six options with N7.
- Hybrid hearing – Hybrid hearing (electronic stimulation + acoustic) is not possible with Kanso 2.
- Onboard controls – There is no program button on the Kanso 2 so any changes to program, volume, etc. have to be made via the CR 310 remote or via the Smart App. This is a deliberate departure from the previous Kanso with the intent of making the device easier to wear.
Nucleus 6 vs Nucleus 7
The Nucleus 7 (N7) speech processor offers several improvements over its predecessor, the Nucleus 6. The N7 is designed for use with both children and adults and provides the most flexibility between the two wearing style options (BTE versus OTE). The key differences between the N7 and N6 that will likely have the most meaning when wearing the device are:
- Reduced weight and size which can help improve cosmetics as well as comfort.
- Direct streaming – no need to utilize a phone clip or Mini Mic as compatible Apple and Android phones can be paired easily as can Bluetooth laptops, tablets, etc. Currently, Cochlear is the only company to offer direct streaming.
- Improved battery life meaning that you’ll likely get more wearing hours with a single charge. The battery life, of course, will depend on the type of battery you’re using (standard rechargeable, compact rechargeable or disposable), the programming of your processor as well as other factors such as time spent streaming.
For those of you who are interested in pursuing a cochlear implant for treatment of your hearing loss, please keep in mind that there are many things to consider when choosing an implant manufacturer and speech processor beyond technology and features of the device. You are encouraged to visit not only the manufacturers’ website but also talk with a company representative to get answers to your questions.
Most companies have a dedicated team trained specifically to help you make the best decision. The companies can also likely refer you to a recipient in your area so that you can talk to someone who is wearing a cochlear implant. Also discuss with your audiologists and surgeons about their preferences asking for reasons behind those preferences. Regardless of your choice, the improvements that cochlear implants can provide for the appropriate candidate are worth pursuing.
For those of you looking to upgrade from an older speech processor to a new one, again, speak with a company representative and your audiologist to help make your decision. Also, be sure to take advantage of any insurance services that the company may offer to help guide you through the reimbursement process.