When Medgadget was offered a chance to test drive a new direct to consumer personal audio amplifier from Audicus, we picked up on the invitation. You see, one of our editors, just like Charles Darwin, is a life long sufferer from Ménière’s disease, with the resultant tinnitus and bilateral low-pitch hearing loss. So for this editor the idea of a discounted behind-the-ear device is a matter of personal necessity.
Then there is the intriguing idea of the Audicus service: the consumer at home does his own testing on an iPad or iPhone, the software sends the results to Audicus, and then, bam!, the device arrives in the mail already tuned to the user. It’s like Netflix for the inner ear, folks!
The process was as easy as advertised. First, by signing up at Audicus’ website and entering the shipping address resulted in a kit arriving a few days later. That kit contained two earbuds, the kind typically used for listening to music, and a pair of noise canceling earmuffs that block nearly all external sound. You put on the ear buds, then the muffs over them, plug in the buds into your iOS device and then install the Audicus app. We used an iPod touch for our testing.
Having been tested before at Stanford, the editor found the Audicus testing process to be similarly involved and seemingly legit as the one at Stanford hearing lab. Each ear was extensively tested at various frequencies, the user simply pressing on the screen if a tone is audible. The data was then sent over to the company’s computer for analysis. Three days later two devices, packaged in a simple modern box, arrived at the front door.
Audicus prides itself on cutting out the middleman (i.e. Stanford hearing lab, etc) and being able to deliver high quality personalized devices directly to the consumer. But don’t call them hearing aids, as they’re really selective amplifiers that boost the frequencies that need boosting while reducing peripheral noise. Audicus does sell true hearing aids, but those require a hearing test result from an external medical professional and so the app that the Solo uses is not sufficient.
Made in Germany, the Audicus Solo fit snugly behind the ears, fit comfortably in the ear canal, and delivered high quality amplification for our invalid editor. Unfortunately, he still continued to ignore his wife’s chatter, but otherwise the amplification of ambient sounds indoors and outside, amplification of voices and sounds from the electronic equipment and TV was pretty good overall.
There were no noticeable episodes of reverberation, echo, or other auditory problems.
Here’s how the company describes its Solo devices:
“The Solo is a smart personal sound amplifier (PSA) that provides sound clarity and reduces background noise in occasional settings. It helps in situations where it’s inherently difficult to hear, such as listening from a distance, discerning speech in loud places and having soft conversations.
The Solo hearing amplifier works best with the Tuning Kit and the Tuner App (for iPhones & iPads), which let you select your listening preferences from the comfort of home. We can then tailor the Solo to your selections!”
Audicus is a high quality, discounted and personalized service. Do we recommend it? Sure we do. It’s relatively cheap, its easy, its consumer oriented, and it’s probably the way most consumers will get their hearing aids in the future.
Product page: Audicus Solo…