Advertisement
Starkey image
Advertisement
Starkey image

Phonak Roger On V2: The Best Noise Cancelling Hearing Aid Accessory

Hearing better in background noise is the #1 goal for most hearing aid users. Roger On can help even if your hearing aids fail to deliver.

Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

As an audiologist working daily with individuals suffering from hearing loss, I am all too familiar with the common challenge that many of my patients face: understanding speech in the presence of competing background noise. Struggling to hear in background noise can result in everything from minor frustration to disengagement, and, in severe cases, avoidance of social settings altogether.

While advanced hearing aids can help in background noise, they often aren't enough. Many of my patients still struggle even after being fitted with perfectly-tuned modern hearing aids. In such cases, it's often necessary to consider remote microphone tech, like Phonak's Roger On, which can bring distant voices closer and remove the bulk of the background noise in the environment.

A New Era in Hearing Aid Technology

Released in June 2023, the Roger On Version 2 delivers all of the features you've come to expect from Roger On, with the addition of the new "Headset Mode" feature to help with online meetings and video calls. From my standpoint as a hearing professional, I can confidently assert that the Roger On ranks among the most versatile accessories across all manufacturers in the hearing aid industry. Let's explore why.

What is Roger On

The Roger On, with its sleek, compact, and lightweight design, is a handy device that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. It features four separate microphones, each serving a unique function depending on the device's mode. The central LCD screen displays the current mode using a series of easy-to-decipher symbols.

Roger In Hand

Roger On fits in the palm of my hand.

This device comes with an easy-to-press large function button, a USB-C charging point that fully charges in about three hours, and a simple on-off switch on the side. There's also a handy lapel clip for secure attachment to your clothes and a pairing button at the back.

Top Features of the Roger On

The Roger On is not just an accessory; it's a game-changer for those struggling to hear in noisy environments. Let's dive into the five key features that my patients find exceptionally useful.

1. Table Mode

Now, we all know how difficult it can be in a busy restaurant, especially if there's a lot of noise going on around you. And you could potentially have somebody on a table next to you which is sat closer than the person that's furthest away from your own table. So of course, your hearing aids have got a tough job and are likely to struggle to know what you want to hear versus what you don't want to hear.

In this scenario, I would recommend placing the Roger On as close as you can to the people that are sat furthest away from you, so that the voice of that person speaking only has to travel to the Roger On rather than all the way to your hearing aids.

Roger On Table Mode

Roger On screen in Table Mode.

Phonak's MultiBeam 2.0 technology analyzes your environment hundreds of times per second and automatically compares the speech and noise arriving to the microphone array. It then chooses the direction with the best signal-to-noise ratio, recognizing where the speech is coming from, and then delivering the cleanest speech signal directly to both of your hearing aids.

And then, which can I add I absolutely love, it delivers the sound to you in the same direction that it actually arrives to the Roger On, giving you the same surround sound sensation based on where the person's sat relative to where the Roger On is positioned on the table. Meaning that not only you'll be aware that somebody's speaking, but also the direction that their voice is coming from.

2. Presenter Mode

When you're in a one-to-one situation and Roger On is placed around someone's neck, it will send the sound of that person's voice directly to both of your ears. Now, the closer it is to their mouth, the more effective it will be. So, if it's six inches from my mouth, then it's a little bit like me being six inches from one of your hearing aids. In fact, it's actually sending to both of your hearing aids as well. The furthest distance that Roger will work is around 25 meters, so you really are limited by your imagination as to where you feel this might benefit you.

3. Pointing Mode

I've already described how useful this can be in a restaurant when you're sat around a table, but of course, there'll also be times where you're in noise and not sat around a table, so have nowhere to be able to put it down. Fear not, however, because Phonak have also thought about this with their pointing feature. This feature is not only unique to the Roger On but it's also unique to Phonak.

Very simply put, if you hold the Roger On in your hand in a noisy environment, say a cocktail party or the interval at the theater, and then point it towards the person speaking in front of you, it will automatically switch into Pointing Mode 2.0. This feature utilizes the row of the three microphones and narrowly zooms into the person speaking in front of you, cutting out the surrounding background noise.

Now, the good thing is, it doesn't have to be pointed out in front of you like Harry Potter trying to cast a spell to ward off evil spirits. But it can be discreetly pointed towards individual people speaking and should specifically focus on somebody in front of you amongst the cacophony of sound around you.

4. Media Mode

The Roger On is supplied with both a Toslink three and a half millimeter jack and a docking station, allowing you to connect it to most multimedia devices ranging from your cell phone, TV, stereo, or computer. All that you need to do is to plug the device into the audio output from one of those devices and it streams the signal to both of your ears. And this doesn't affect the sound for anybody else listening to it.

So, instead of also having to buy the Phonak TV connector, this device can be used to serve that purpose too. Plus, whilst it's sat in the docking station connected to the TV, it's simultaneously being charged. If you haven't come across the power of a TV streamer, I would 100% recommend checking out this video which tells you exactly what they do and how they can completely change your experience when watching the TV.

5. Roger On Version 2's New 'Headset Mode'

The latest generation of Roger On introduces the much-awaited 'headset mode.' With this new feature, the integrated microphones in the Roger On V2 remain activated during online calls. This essentially transforms your hearing aids into a wireless headset, allowing you to use your hearing aids as headphones and Roger's microphones as the pick up for your voice.

Headset Mode

Roger On being used in Headset Mode. Source: Phonak

So how does the 'headset mode' in Roger On V2 work? Here are the three ways you can use Roger On V2 during online calls without worrying about it picking up surrounding voices and noise:

  1. Placed on a desk: When the device is placed flat on your desk, it activates the MultiBeam mode, which picks up your voice from all directions. This gives you the freedom to move around your desk without worrying about the clarity of your voice.
  2. Placed in the stand: If you place the Roger On V2 with the stand on your desk, the device points in your direction, picking up your voice only and significantly reducing the noise from your surroundings.
  3. Clipped onto shirt: When clipped onto your shirt, the device forms a short directional beam that points upwards to your mouth, providing the best speech pick up of all three modes. This mode ensures your voice is captured accurately, even amid ambient noise.

Keep in mind that you will need to maintain a hard-wired USB connection between your computer and Roger On in order to use Headset Mode.

Why Headset Mode is Better than Bluetoothing

Now, if you're thinking, "Come on, Matthew, we can do this already using our Bluetooth connectivity to a computer," right? You are absolutely 100% correct, and I pose that very same question to Phonak when I heard about their new headset feature. And I've come up with three potential scenarios when direct Bluetooth connectivity may not be ideal and using the Roger On features may just be better.

  1. Plug-and-Play Functionality: Ideal for individuals who frequently switch computers or workspaces, the Headset Mode simplifies the transition process. There is no need to tinker with Bluetooth settings with each new workstation; just plug in the Roger On V2 and you're good to go.
  2. Stable Connection: Some computers may present stability issues with Bluetooth connections. With the Roger On V2, these potential connectivity issues are virtually nonexistent since the device is hardwired.
  3. Superior Noise Cancellation: Open-plan offices often mean a cacophony of background noise. With its intelligent microphone array, the Roger On V2 is adept at filtering out surrounding noise, ensuring that your voice is clear and audible to other meeting participants.

How Much Does Roger On V2 Cost?

Roger On V2 is typically purchased at a local hearing clinic for $1,200 - $1,800. Refurbished units can sometimes go for $700 or less, and can be found online. While the price is on the higher end, there is currently no better, more versatile, remote microphone on the market.

Roger On vs Roger On iN

Confusingly, the price varies depending on whether or not you need Roger receiver software pre-installed on the Roger On. With the software, we refer to the accessory as Roger On iN, and without the software, it's simply Roger On (no iN). The price is typically $250-400 more for the iN version, which most people will need. The only time you won't need the iN version is if you're a prior owner of Roger X receivers, in which case your hearing care professional can transfer the software license to your Roger On to activate it.

Which Hearing Aids Are Compatible with Roger On V2?

  1. Hearing aids with RogerDirect™: All Phonak, Unitron, and other Sonova-manufactured hearing aids with RogerDirect.
  2. Telecoil-enabled hearing aids: Hearing aids from other manufacturers can also be compatible if they have a Telecoil (T-coil), though an additional Roger X receiver or Roger MyLink neckloop may be necessary.
  3. Cochlear implants: Many cochlear implants are compatible as well, such as those produced by Cochlear, MED-EL, and Advanced Bionics. For these, a compatible Roger receiver is typically required.

Before purchasing a Roger On or any other hearing aid accessory, check with your hearing care professional to ensure the devices will work together effectively.

Allsop

Audiologist

Matthew Allsop is the Video Content Manager at HearingTracker.  He has nearly two decades' experience in audiology, and has practiced in both the NHS and the private sector. He is accepting new patients at Harley Street Hearing in London.