by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

A man asked:

What do you think of the new Lyric hearing aid shown on their website? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

I have mixed feelings about this Lyric hearing aid. Personally, I don’t think I would ever get one—even if my hearing was such that it would help me. (My hearing is too poor for that hearing aid to be of much use.)

First, I don’t like the idea of the hearing aid stuck in my ear canal for 3 or 4 months at a time. I think our ear canals need to have a free flow of air in them to keep them in optimum condition.

Second, this is really just a fancy “Songbird” hearing aid—that was already tried and failed. Both the Songbird and the Lyric were/are disposable hearing aids. When the battery dies, you throw them away and get new ones.

However, in the case of the Lyric, you can’t put the new one hearing aid in your ear by yourself—so if the battery dies while you are at an important convention for example, you not only won’t hear, but the hearing aid will block any sound trying to get in to that ear. I’d much rather buy a hearing aid I can put in and take out myself, and one I can change the batteries on too.

Third, it is a “plain Jane” analog hearing aid. It is not digital so can’t do any fancy digital speech processing that current digital hearing aids do.

Fourth, it does not have a t-coil in it so you couldn’t use it to hear via room loops or neckloops, etc.

Fifth, you will find that you are paying much more for it over the years than you would pay for a “conventional” hearing aid. You will need to purchase at lest 3 a year for each ear. Thus, you need to compare their “contract” price per year with what conventional hearing aids would cost you per year. When you amortize the cost of conventional hearing aids over 5 to 10 years (and I regularly get 10 years with my aids), I think you will find these Lyrics are VERY expensive—and remember that is for “plain Jane” aids, not fancy digital conventional aids.

Sixth, if you wanted to go swimming, you could take them out with the gizmo provided—but then you are deaf until you can go to your audiologist and get them inserted properly again.

Seventh, any hearing aid that has as its prime selling point, that it is totally invisible is barking up the wrong tree. The main selling point should be that it helps you hear ever so much better. Being invisible isn’t really a positive thing. Actually, it is better that the hearing aid IS visible. That way people know you are hard of hearing and can make allowances for you. When you wear invisible hearing aids, people just assume you have perfect hearing and treat you like a boor if you don’t move when they say “excuse me” from behind you and you don’t hear them.

I’m sure there are more things I could say, but those are some of the things that immediately come to mind. As you can tell, I’m not too enamored with them.

However, on the plus side, because the Lyric is inserted so far down the ear canal, your outer ears should work normally in collecting and filtering sounds before these sounds reach the microphone. This should make things sound quite natural.