| Update: This hearing aid has been superseded by the Evoke range and considered to be old technology.
| March 2016 Update: The Widex Unique range has now been fully reviewed. Please scroll down to “Widex Unique – Reviews by audiologists” for further details.
The premium hearing aid in the range is called the Unique 440. Often with the flagship product, the additional features over the lower model (in this case the Unique 330) are not worth paying the extra for. However, with the Unique 440, there are a number of useful extras only available in this, the top model.
As with previous generations, the Unique 440 has 15 processing channels. This is a good number for a top model aid which is why this hasn’t changed. What is different however is the new U-Platform processor which powers this hearing aid. It is an improvement over the previous generation at working out what type of environment you are in and changing its amplification strategy accordingly to always make sure that you hear the sounds that are important to you whilst suppressing the ones you don’t want to hear. All of this is done for you using a universal program, though if you want to you can override the settings with up to five manual programs.
One of the features Widex is promoting with this hearing aid is that it picks up sounds that other hearing aids ignore. The dynamic range amplified by this hearing aid starts at the very quietest of sounds, just 5dB (decibels) and it stretches to the loudest of sounds at 113 dB. This means that the fullest range of sounds in the environment is compressed into your available hearing range and then passed to you, all without distortion.
For situations where clarity of speech is paramount, extra emphasis is given to the high frequencies to ensure that you hear everything clearly. This feature is only available in the top model, the Unique 440.
The processing speed on the new U-Platform chip is very fast and reacts quickly to any sudden changes in the environment. This has a number of benefits, firstly when there are sudden loud sounds, they will not be amplified so that you are not shocked by them. Secondly, when moving from one environment to another, for example from a quiet room onto a busy street, the hearing aid will change how it reacts to the environment straight away rather than how many older aids react with a few seconds of loud background noise followed by an obvious ”clunk” as the aid switches into noise reduction mode. With newer chips such as these, the change will be seamless.
This is one of those features which is available in the 440 only. The wind noise attenuation is currently the best in the industry, even when the wind is hitting you from directly in front, giving a significant increase in the ability to hear clearly in wind over any other hearing aid.
One side effect of the extended hearing range as described above is that you could end up hearing sounds that you don’t want to hear. To combat this they have added in extra noise reduction for soft sounds so that you are not bothered by low-level background noise such as the hum from quiet fans or air conditioning.
You can download apps on any Apple or Android smartphone which will let you control your hearing aids as a remote control would. If you want to stream sound from various devices to your hearing aids you will need additional accessories, such as the COM-DEX for phone streaming or the TV-DEX for television streaming.
Widex’s proprietary tinnitus management system is as always available, upgraded to the latest generation. The Zen sounds help to mask your tinnitus to make it more manageable.
Illustrated below are the various forms the hearing aid is available in. It should be noted that if you go for the very smallest of the in the ear models, the CIC-M or “micro” CIC then there isn’t the room to include the wireless features so any of the features that require communication between the hearing aids or an outside device will not be included.
**Please note, there will be an additional surcharge of £125 if we are pairing a single hearing aid with an existing aid bought from another company where we are taking over the aftercare responsibilities and looking after both hearing aids**
Do not spend hundreds of pounds without getting a second opinion from us.
If you are looking at this page then it is likely that an audiologist has suggested that you purchase this particular hearing aid, so is this the best model for you?
In general, any audiologist will always be recommending to you the model that best suits your needs. Here is a useful check list to make sure that is the case.
If in doubt, feel free to give us a call. That's what we're here for.
If you have a significant hearing loss in both ears, you should be wearing two hearing aids. Here are the audiological reasons why:
Localisation. The brain decodes information from both ears and compares and contrasts them. By analysing the miniscule time delays as well as the difference in loudness of each sound reaching the ears, the person is able to accurately locate a sound source. Simply put, if you have better hearing on one side than the other, you can't accurately tell what direction sounds are coming from.
Less amplification required. A phenomena known as “binaural summation” means that the hearing aids can be set at a lower and more natural volume setting than than if you wore only one hearing aid.
Head shadow effect. High frequencies, the part of your hearing that gives clarity and meaning to speech sounds, cannot bend around your head. Only low frequencies can. Therefore if someone is talking on your unaided side you are likely to hear that they are speaking, but be unable to tell what they have said.
Noise reduction. The brain has it’s own built in noise reduction which is only really effective when it is receiving information from both ears. If only one ear is aided, even with the best hearing aid in the world, it will be difficult for you to hear in background noise as your brain is trying to retain all of the sounds (including background noise) rather than filtering it out.
Sound quality. We are designed to hear in stereo. Only hearing from one side sounds a lot less natural to us.
For most people, the main benefit of a rechargeable hearing aid is simple convenience. We are used to plugging in our phones and other devices overnight for them to charge up.
For anybody with poor dexterity or issues with their fingers, having a rechargeable aid makes a huge difference as normal hearing aid batteries are quite small and some people find them fiddly to change.
One downside is that if you forget to charge your hearing aid, then it is a problem that can't be instantly fixed. For most a 30 minute charge will get you at least two or three hours of hearing, but if you are the type of person who is likely to forget to plug them in regularly then you're probably better off with standard batteries.
Rechargeable aids are also a little bit bigger and are only available in behind the ear models.
Finally, just like with a mobile phone, the amount of charge you get on day one is not going to be the same as you get a few years down the line. Be sure to ask what the policy is with the manufacturer warranty when it comes to replacing the battery.
For most people, the answer is yes. But it's never that simple.
The majority of hearing problems affect the high frequencies a lot more than the low ones. Therefore open fitting hearing aids sound a lot more natural and ones that block your ears up can make your own voice sound like you are talking with your head in a bucket. Therefore in-ear aids tend to be less natural.
However the true answer is we can't tell until we have had a look in your ears to assess the size of your ear canal, and until we have tested your hearing to see which frequencies are being affected.
People with wider ear canals tend to have more flexibility, also there are open fitting modular CIC hearing aids now that do not block your ears.
There is also the age old rule to consider, that a hearing aid will not help you if it's sat in the drawer gathering dust. If the only hearing aid you would be happy wearing is one that people can't see, then that's what you should get.
Most people can adapt to any type of hearing aid, as long as they know what to expect. Have an honest conversation with your audiologist as to what your needs are.
Generally speaking, six or more. Unless it's none at all.
The number of channels a hearing aid has is often a simplistic way an audiologist will use to explain why one hearing aid is better than another, but channels are complex and it is really not that straightforward.
Hearing aids amplify sounds of different frequencies by different amounts. Most people have lost more high frequencies than low and therefore need more amplification in the high frequencies. The range of sounds you hear are split into frequency bands or channels and the hearing aids are set to provide the right amount of hearing at each frequency level.
Less than six channels and this cannot be done with much accuracy, so six is the magic number. However, a six channel aid is typically very basic with few other features and is suitable only for hearing a single speaker in a quiet room. The number of channels is not what you should be looking at, it's more the rest of the technology that comes with them.
As a final note, different manufacturers have different approaches. One method is not necessarily better than any other. For example some manufacturers have as many as 64 channels in their top aids. Most tend to have between 17 and 20. One manufacturer has no channels at all.
When we refer to a product as 'New', we mean that the product is new to the market.
When we refer to a product as 'Superseded', we mean that there is a newer range available which replaces and improves on this product.
When we refer to a product as an 'Older Model', we mean that it is has been superseded by at least two more recent hearing aid ranges.