Hearing Aid Institute
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Ultimate Hearing Aid Guide.
Starkey Hearing Technologies are based in the Minnesota town of Eden Prairie, and are one of the leading American hearing aid manufacturers. They have a reputation for providing tailored services to everyday customers, and are particularly closely associated with the Veterans Administration, having supplied hearing aids in huge numbers to military veterans over the years.
The company was founded in 1967 by high-school dropout William F. Austin, who started a small hearing aid workshop straight out of school. In 1970, Austin bought a nearby company called Starkey Labs, combining his technical knowledge with Starkey's expertise in making earmolds. In the 70s and 80s, the new company flourished, becoming first the Mid West, and then one of America's biggest auditory equipment providers.
One of the major things that allowed Starkey to thrive was their attention to customer service. Knowing that hearing aid users often needed to change their setup, or abandon hearing aids altogether, the company made a point of offering 90 day trials for all buyers, and also helped out by offering comprehensive hearing aid repair services, regardless of manufacturer. And it didn't hurt when President Reagan publicly endorsed Starkey by starting to use their devices.
However, in the 1990s, other companies began to advance, while Starkey focused on older styles of hearing aid. Some of the European companies we've discussed like Phonak and Siemens/Signia started to offer digital devices with all sorts of streaming capabilities. Eventually, Starkey responded, introducing their fully-digital, iPhone ready Halo device in 2014. Nevertheless, they still have a reputation for offering reliable, if slightly less technologically impressive products than some alternative companies.
The current selection of Starkey hearing aids is comparable to anything on offer from the competition. For example, their Muse range features wireless technology, and connects to entertainment devices like mp3 players and TVs. And they also come equipped with a system called Acuity Immersion Directionality (AID), which allows Starkey hearing aids to provide excellent directional enhancements. As noted above, their Halo range was also one of the first to be specifically tailored to iPhone users, and remains a good choice for people who rely on Apple smartphones, but need to enhance their hearing.
Starkey have also made great strides in manufacturing "invisible" in-the-ear hearing aids, becoming a market leader in this field. Their SoundLens Synergy iQ is touted as the "world’s smallest, most comfortable custom-fit invisible-in-the-canal hearing aid". It sits deep inside the ear canal, so will be virtually impossible to see from the outside, and comes with now standard features like noise cancellation, streaming, distortion free audio, and technology to relieve tinnitus. So, it manages to offer a wide range of features in an extremely small package.
The SoundLens Synergy iQ is a relatively expensive option from Starkey, as are the Muse and Halo devices branded with the same iQ suffix, which denotes that the hearing aids are fully wireless compatible. However, options like the basic Muse hearing aid remain a solid option at a lower price point.
Whichever option you choose, you'll find Starkey hearing aids with various different classes, so it's important to make the right selection. In Starkey's case, they use a 4-digit number to inform customers how powerful their devices are. So, for instance, a Muse i2400 would be their Premium option, with more customized settings for noisy environments and generally more power, making it suitable for users with severe hearing loss. At the other end of the scale, the Muse i1000 is their Basic device, and is only really capable of enhancing one-to-one conversations in very quiet environments.
All Starkey hearing aids benefit from extra accessories and software that the company has developed. The most important of these are probably their SurfLink mobile systems. These accessories allow hearing aid users to connect their devices to almost any Bluetooth enabled digital equipment, including smartphones, computers, and TVs. At the same time, the SurfLink Remote Microphone 2 streams audio remotely to Starkey hearing aids, making it easier to hear conversations or speakers.
As with other hearing aid companies, Starkey also offer specialist hearing aids for specific needs. Their Muse iQ CROS system is an effective option for those with differential hearing in one ear, while there are also various devices for younger users. As usual, audiologists will be able to suggest appropriate options for your own individual requirements.
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