Update June 2012: I can no longer recommend the Widex Passion because of serious customer service issues at Widex. I will detail those problems soon.
Update May 2012: This post is in need of an update. After five years with my Widex Passion aids I’m ready to replace them with new ones. I’ll be writing a full fledged case study as I test three new hearing aids on the market. I’m in the middle of those tests and will post my reviews soon.Here are the three hearing aids I’ll be trying out:
Widex Clear 440 Fusion
Phonak Audeo Smart IX
Starkey 3 Series
A review of my Widex Passion 115 Hearing Aids
The name is a tad cheese. I’d like to meet the people that come up with these names. Is the name intended to invoke steamy images from the uncensored version of One Thousand and One Nights?
Incredibly small hearing aids. This is a plus and a minus. So small no one sees them- maybe I like that but now people don’t know I’m wearing hearing aids…They can’t look at my ears and explain away behavior that seems odd otherwise.
Partly attributed to their small size- the filters on the Widex Passion devices get easily clogged up with wax. Its not unusual for the wax buildup to completely block the sound from the speaker in the ear. I keep a small brush handy.
The Widex devices are so light I can’t feel them in my ears. There have been a few times where the aids were dangling precariously off the side of my ear. I fixed that problem with custom molds.
Custom molds are a must. I absolutely hate the little nubs that come with the aids. If one is going to spend $6,000 dollars for a pair of hearing aids, why fit them with a stupid little pair of nubs that don’t fit the contour of ones ear? Spend $50 dollars more, a whopping 1% of the price of the hearing aid. The custom molds also improve they acoustics ten fold. I think Widex ought to just provide these molds because they are essential to an improved customer experience
The Widex Passion aids are stronger than they look. The battery compartment looks like a weak point- but its engineered well- if you put too much pressure on the swinging battery door- it will just come off instead of breaking off. The weak point is the speaker (the part that resides inside the ear and helps to allow the behind the ear segment to be as small as it is). Luckily that is an easily replaceable part.
I’ve hiked through a Laotian jungle in sweltering heat- sweating all over these things. The behind the ear segment of the Widex hearing aid did great with that. The speaker inside the ear did not. My audiologist won’t give me an extra speaker to replace for those conditions because it voids the warranty. I would have liked an extra speaker. It kind of annoys me that I tell my audiologist about that problem, ask for backup for a month long trip where I have no access to audiologists, and then the exact thing I was worried about (the speaker part of the hearing aid breaking) happens. I went two weeks without my left Widex hearing aid.
The music mode is awesome. I love playing music on a set of great speakers and listening to the difference between not wearing hearing aids, putting the hearing aid on the mode I use for everyday life, and then switching the hearing aid to music mode. Amazing. I can hear the cymbals ride out and the faint sound of a brush (versus a regular drum stick), richer tones from guitars and basses, and even the lovely hiss of a record. Really makes a difference for my particular hearing loss.
The transpositioning is a game changer for me. I might have considered the Oticons over this aid and I didn’t because of this feature. I’ve written about this before..
When I take off my hearing aids (and sometimes I NEED to do this if my ears and hair are very wet for example) and put them in a small pouch- I need to make sure to take the batteries out of the hearing aid which is both inconvenient and expedites the death of the battery. If I leave the batteries in the hearing aids they would feedback and whistle away. My current thought: this is a necessary compromise- if the Widex hearing aid was designed with an on/off switch then the aid would need to be bigger than it is.
I did need to send in an aid once for repair and Widex couldn’t figure out how to fix it promptly. Instead of drawing out the repair time, they sent the hearing aid to a department where they could research the problem my hearing aid had and sent me a brand new one- free of charge. Widex has a reputation for good service and it counts in a situation like that.
Why doesn’t Widex take a stance on the current state of insurance coverage, or I should say, LACK of insurance coverage for hearing aids. They are a fairly large corporation with lobbying power. They say they care about their customers.. and thats sometimes their customers care about. Paying for hearing aids is no joke.