Review of the Oticon Alta 2 hearing aid
Today we review the Oticon Alta2 hearing aid range which was released nearly two years ago. It is the premium form factor of the custom range of hearing aids by Oticon. It comes in the full range of custom design from invisible in the canal (IIC) for the very discreet look up to the full shell for those with more severe hearing impairment.
The Alta 2 range is built on the Inium Sense platform and is designed to provide its listeners with premium listening performance.
Soft Speech Booster
Soft Speech Booster was designed to provide increased levels of soft gain at high frequencies. This feature enhances the details of soft speech signals and is adapted to the client’s individual needs and preferences for soft sounds and soft speech. This feature is only available on Oticon’s own prescription formula (VAC+) and not the standardised NAL-NL2 formula.
YouMatic is a personal automatic system programmed to the client’s individual needs and sound preferences. YouMatic controls the sound processing across multiple environments by adjusting the response, directionality, noise management, transient management and compression.
Speech Guard E
Speech Guard is a signal processing system that was introduced to preserve speech dynamics and speech patterns, as these are important and essential information for the auditory system. It works by sampling the sound environment in which the listener is present and reacting accordingly. If the sound scape changes fast the hearing aid will respond quickly to protect the listener from loud sounds but if the change is gradual, then the hearing aid will ease in to a more optimal setting.
Inium Sense feedback shield
Inium Sense feedback shield is a feedback suppression system with the aim to reduce whistling whilst trying to avoid compromising sound quality or comfort.
The Oticon Alta 2 is without doubt the most popular choice amongst my clients when seeking a custom In-The-Canal (ITC) or In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aid. This is mostly because of my bias towards using it as it is, in my mind, the most reliable and cosmetically appealing custom product on the market at present (excluding CIC and IIC devices).
You may be asking,”Why would you go for an ITC/ITE over a CIC/IIC?” The ITC/ITE are may be larger than the CIC/ICC but the smaller devices do not have directional microphones.
Quick Lesson: Directionality
Directionality is the use of two microphones to locate a sound source. The hearing aid is able to recognise the same sound coming in from the two connected microphones and then compares the time and loudness differences. If the sound is louder in the front microphone and it also reached the front microphone in a shorter time; the sound must be coming from the front.
Once the location of the sound is determined, the hearing aid is then programmed to react in a certain way. For example, you may be standing in a bar talking to a friend in front of you, but at the same time there are also people standing behind you having a conversation. The hearing aid may be taught to give preference to people speaking in front of you as it is more likely that you are giving them your attention. As such, speech sources from behind are considered noise and the hearing aid attempts to block this out.
This is a very simplistic way of explaining directionality because in reality, the hearing aid is able to sample the environment many times per second using many different variables, such as the type of noise, the location, whether speech is present, or even if it is music to optimise the output for the listener.
As such, compromising on the directional microphone may be detrimental to your ability to communicate effectively in noise. As well as this, but I have had better outcomes with the IIC using the Starkey Soundlens Muse, which I have reviewed previously.
I have had very positive feedback from my patients regarding the Alta 2 range and it has proven itself to be a reliable custom product with excellent first fit satisfaction. There have been no real criticisms in terms of its performance but a lot of people don’t get on with the rotating volume control. However, this is easily overcome by purchasing the wireless remote control. The remote control is a relatively inexpensive accessory which really helps to fully utilise the features on the hearing aid and is certainly something I recommend for anyone with dexterity issues.
The Oticon Alta 2 range has proven itself as an attractive choice for those seeking a premium custom in the ear hearing aid. It is a fantastic all-round performer and with the use of the remote control it is very difficult to find criticism. If you are looking for an IIC/CIC I feel there are stronger candidates out there but for those looking for an ITC/ITE product you can’t go far wrong with this.