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These smart hearing aids restore the beauty of music to those with hearing loss

halo 2 smartphone hearing aid aid2
Image used with permission by copyright holder
There are plenty of issues associated with hearing loss, but modern technology aims to make it easier for the hearing impaired. Hearing aids have changed the lives of many people who were either born with some level of hearing loss or developed it over time. There is still, however, an issue with many hearing aids — They aren’t very accommodating for music-lovers.

Starkey Hearing Technologies developed a new hearing aid called the Halo 2 to process music for those with hearing loss.

Standard hearing aids are developed to optimize speech, which certainly makes sense as a way to allow those with hearing loss to better communicate. With new technology, hearing aids can do more than that by optimizing speech and music separately.

“With the release of the Starkey Synergy platform, we introduced an industry first, which includes dual compressor technology. [It] means that we can continuously optimize signal processing for speech and simultaneously optimize music with a dedicated compressor,” said Chris McCormick, chief marketing officer at Starkey Hearing Technologies, in an email to Digital Trends.

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Image used with permission by copyright holder

In fact, the Halo 2 hearing aids double as Bluetooth headphones tailored for those with hearing loss, and can connect to any iPhone 4S or later, as well as a range of Android devices. The hearing aid uses Bluetooth Low Energy to connect with to your phone, which allows you to stream music directly to the Halo 2. Meanwhile, the smartphone controls music playback and volume. The connection to a smartphone also allows for notification sounds to be played for things like emails and social media notifications.

In the accompanying app TruLink, you can fine-tune things like overall hearing aid volume, as well as what’s called the Multiflex tinnitus modulation rate and volume. It basically ensures that those who suffer from ringing in their ears can find relief with the hearing aids. The app also includes the SoundSpace tool, which allows you to tweak your sound preferences based on your environment. Of course, calls can also be taken from TruLink.

trulink
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“We can continuously optimize signal processing for speech and simultaneously optimize music with a dedicated compressor.”

Starkey Hearing Technologies says that its latest hearing aid is the best that it has ever made. It incorporates the company’s binaural imaging technology, which ensures that directionality is preserved through the hearing aids communicating with each other. That way, those using the hearing aids will still be able to tell which direction a sound is coming from.

The Halo 2 hearing aids also offer Speech Shift technology, which applies compression to different frequencies to make speech more recognizable. For the audio geeks out there, it’s basically a built in multi-band compressor that compresses frequencies that aren’t normally associated with speech to ensure that speech can be better heard.

“The Starkey Synergy platform provides 5X the processing power of previous generations. Our environmental detection and noise cancellation systems — combined with the highest resolution signal processing we’ve ever delivered — allow us to improve listening quality in more demanding listening environments than ever before possible,” continued McCormick in his email to DT.

Of course, with such great technology, you would expect these hearing aids to be a lot more expensive than others on the market. At between $1,500 and $3,000 per ear, that’s not the case. Sure, that is definitely a lot of money, but other digital hearing aids on the market are offered at similar prices, especially custom-fitted ones. The ReSound LiNX hearing aids, for example, cost $3,000 each. Of course, standard hearing aids can be bought for a few hundred dollars, but they generally won’t be custom-fitted or offer a very high quality audio experience.

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