Signia Styletto Hearing Aid Review: Style over Substance?
Posted 15th September 2018by Adam Chell
NX platform – strong and reliable
Rechargeable – Lithium-Ion
Easy to handle – Auto On/Off
Innovative design – Slim Design
Limited market appeal
No made for iPhone
When I got a glimpse of the teaser video for the new Signia Styletto by Sivantos I got a bit excited. I could see it was very modern and fresh. I wondered what they might have done to create a whole new form factor. My mind raced with the possibilities. It’s not often I get pulled in to the hype of a new product but I have to admit on this occasion I got my hopes up.
Arrival of Signia Styletto Demo’s
When my Signia Styletto hearing aids arrived in the post I ripped open the packaging. Inside, I saw the charging case which was neat and easily fit in my pocket. I pushed the sides in to release the latch and peeled back the lid. Inside were two Signia Styletto hearing aids standing proudly with their brushed metal finish and slim-line design. I took one of them out to inspect with closer detail. I remember feeling impressed with how Sivantos had managed to fit rechargeable technology in to such a small, beautiful device. It’s an incredible improvement upon previous rechargeable hearing aids.
The Signia Styletto hearing aids are built on the latest NX platform. I really like the NX platform and I have been impressed with other products in this range, including the Signia Pure Charge & Go NX.
Own voice Processing
One of the groundbreaking features on this particular range is the Own Voice Processing (OVP) strategy. NX is the only hearing aid range that dedicates processing power to identifying and seperately managing the wearers own voice. This is an important feature because wearing hearing aids often has a negative impact on the quality of the wearers voice. OVP attempts to overcome this by training the hearing aid to reduce the loudness of their own voice making it sound more natural.
Not Made for iPhone
Understandably, there isn’t bluetooth connectivity on the Signia Styletto hearing aids. Sivantos are already pushing the limits of rechargeable technology with these devices and so expecting phone connectivity is a touch too far at this stage. I’m sure we will see this in the next couple of years though, or sooner if we are lucky.
By far, these are the smallest rechargeable lithium-ion hearing aids out at present. The Signia Styletto’s are super slim and are fantastic for people that are after a discreet, modern hearing aid. They sit beautifully behind the ear and are light as a feather. I can see these will be attractive to many people. But unfortunately, many people may not be suitable for the Styletto’s.
If you have dexterity issues these are perfect. There are no buttons or switches at all to play around with. There is an auto on/off feature when you insert the hearing aids in to the charging case. This does mean that you will always need to carry your charger if you plan on removing your Styletto’s throughout the day.
For some people, not having volume control, program switch or on/off switch is a downside. A lot of people like control of their hearing devices which this doesn’t support on it’s own. However, it uses ultra high frequency coded sound to communicate with an app on your smartphone. This allows full control of volume and programs if this is something that interests you.
Who are they for?
The Signia Styletto was designed for a very particular market. If you have a mild-moderate high frequency hearing loss with no other complexities then these are for you. Beyond this market, you may have to seriously consider other options.
Custom moulds won’t work
After your hearing assessment, the audiologist may need to make a custom fitting for your ear. This usually occurs when your hearing loss is too severe for standardised domes to cope with. Other reasons may be, excessive feedback from hearing aid, comfort/quality of fit or previous ear surgery. Either way, if you require a custom fitting, Signia Styletto is unfortunately not for you. This is because the charging case is too small for them to fit in.
Only for medium of large ears
As well as this, the Styletto only comes in a size 2 (medium) or size 3 (long) receiver. This is because they have fixed the receiver in to the device. If you have slightly smaller ears these will not fit properly and may be detrimental to the performance of the devices. Sivantos justified that most people wear a size 2 or 3, and I wouldn’t argue with that. Even still, I have a huge number of clients that require a size 1 or 0 receiver. It’s a shame that this has to be a limiting factor.
By far my biggest complaint of the Styletto is that the receivers are fixed. Receivers are the speaker units that sit in your ear which are connected by a thin wire to the hearing aid behind the ear. It’s the part of the hearing aid that produces the sound. Every other hearing aid of this style has the capability to replace the receiver. This is for good reason. A faulty receiver is the most common fault on a hearing aid. Being able to change this in store is extremely convenient to the client as it means no downtime with the hearing aid.
The Styletto doesn’t allow in house replacement of the receiver which means it would need to be sent away for repair. Turnaround times for repairs are usually 1-2 weeks. For me, this would seriously impact on my recommendations of the device. The risk of downtime from your hearing aid is one of the main reasons I advice people to avoid in-the-ear hearing aids.
Sivantos have anticipated this concern and have presented a few strategies to providers to work around this downtime. Talk to your audiologist to see what they are doing to overcome this set back.
There is a lot to like about the Signia Styletto hearing aid. It is fashionable, modern and discreet. Much like a designer handbag or a luxury watch, the Styletto can compliment your appearance and improve your confidence when wearing hearing technology. At present it is only available for a specific market but this market probably equates to about 70-80% of the population accessing audiological services so it shouldn’t be too limiting. The biggest draw back is the fixed receivers but if your service provider has implemented a strategy to over come this then it no longer becomes an issue. Overall, an innovative design on a strong platform that will be very attractive to a lot of people.
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