Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bernafon Verite Hearing Aid Review

I've had my Bernafon Verite (Vérité) hearing aids for almost two months now. My first hearing aids. I was reluctant, but it was time. I bought two aids, even though one ear has only a slight loss.

Bottom line: I'm very glad I bought hearing aids, and I'm glad I bought two. I got them at Costco. It feels as if I have bionic hearing, able to hear things that I couldn't before, and maybe even things that others can't hear. Don't turn the TV up for ME any more! Speech recognition is much better, the most important benefit, and these aids have still more to offer.

  • Two identical behind-the-ear high-tech Berafon Verite aids using "receiver in the ear" (RITE) technology. In the hearing industry, the "receiver" is actually the loudspeaker that makes the sound for the ear. The connection from the aid to the ear is a wire, not a plastic tube.
  • There are lots of colors. I got blue ones. What the heck.
  • Open-fit, which means that a disposable soft-plastic dome holds the speaker in the ear rather than a conventional ear mold. The dome has holes which allow some sound to bypass the aids. If I had a more-severe loss, the open fit would not work because of feedback, but the Verite and its RITE work with ear molds too, of course.
  • Power speakers, rather than normal ones, for reasons known only to the guy who ordered the aids for me. I suppose he assumed that my hearing would eventually get worse and I would need the extra power.
  • Bluetooth: To borrow from an old commercial, "This is not your father/mother's hearing aid!" More about Bluetooth later.
  • The SoundGate is an extra device which hangs around the neck (with a breakaway safety cord) and can control channel, volume, and connections to any of several Bluetooth devices.
  • This configuration cost about $3000 in Minnesota, about half the price of high-quality aids from the conventional hearing-aid providers that we checked. That's a $3000 savings, the best reason to shop Costco for hearing aids.
  • Sounds are crystal clear, especially voices. This is what a hearing aid is about, and it works! When I take the aids out at night, sounds seem soft and dull by comparison.
  • There is no perceptible delay between sound from the aids and sound coming into the ear directly through the open-fit domes.
  • Feedback is minimal. When it starts, as it might if I hold something (like my sweetie) next to my ear, the feedback is quickly detected and controlled by the computer in the Verite.
  • Noise management: As a hearing-aid newbie I'm not sure what to look for. I do notice that the Verite suppresses white noise in a quiet setting. It doesn't seem to do much to quiet the loud roar in the passenger cabin of an airplane, but maybe it works too fast for me to detect the suppression.
  • The two aids communicate with each other, so that if, for example, the channel is changed on one it will also change on the other. It works.
  • No telephone switch. The Verite automatically detects the presence of a phone receiver held against the ear, and switches that aid to a special telephone channel until the phone is removed from the ear.
Bluetooth, hearing aids that do MORE:

Basically, the hearing aids with the SoundGate control unit can act as a Bluetooth headset for listening to TV or music, or for talking on the telephone:
  • You've seen people walking about with a gizmo sticking forward from their ear, obviously talking to someone. Perhaps you've done that too. Well, now you can do that without the ostentatious ear ornament. Your cell phone rings, you push a little button on the SoundGate hanging around your neck, and you are in conversation. You listen with both ears, and speak forward, which reaches the SoundGate. I love this feature, and it works well, though the Bluetooth sometimes takes too long to connect. I have a new Motorola W766 phone from Verizon, and the combination produces the clearest voices I have ever heard on any phone.
  • Bernafon includes a Bluetooth adapter for use with a TV or music device. Mine is plugged into the TV set's audio output, so I can run to the kitchen and still hear the TV, even with other noises in the house. The audio is adjusted for voice, however, which is fine for listening to the news and most shows, but someone looking for high-quality music would be disappointed.
Room for improvement:
  • There is no OFF switch on the aids or at the SoundGate, for those times that ambient sounds are just too loud: Washing/drying dishes (clank-clank), amplified music, train going by, announcements in the airport, whatever. Noise management does not seem to help those situations. You can turn the aids off by opening the battery compartment part way, but you risk dropping the battery. Better to take the aids out of the ears. I did anticipate this problem and asked the fitter to program channel 4 (the last channel) for very low gain, so I can just switch to channel 4 when the ambient noise is too loud. That works.
  • The Verite responds to single-tone noise (whistles, beeps, squeaks, some alarms) by reducing its gain at that tone, I think. But when the noise is gone, the Verite becomes VERY responsive to exactly that tone, resonant, sounding hollow at that tone, as if sounds were traveling through a steel tube. It usually doesn't quite whistle, but comes very close. It can be restored to normal function by changing the channel and changing it back. It happens in either ear, maybe both. It's a bug in the software that should be fixed. I wonder if they can fix it and download new software to my aids.
  • According to the Bernafon literature supplied by Costco, the Verite also comes with a Bluetooth telephone adapter for use with a standard wired telephone. But it doesn't. A bit of false advertising by Costco. I expected the adapter, and would have used it in my office. I'm asking Costco to make good on their advertising.
  • It comes with a cute little box to contain the aids at night, but I can't figure out how to fit them into the box without bending the RITE wires. I think the box is made for conventional aids with plastic tubes instead of wires. Hard to believe that they would send a box that doesn't work.
  • The Costco guy from whom I bought these aids was unable to fit them properly, and I ended up going to a different Costco store to get them working as they should. This is only partly a Bernafon problem - mostly a Costco problem.
  • My biggest beef:  These aids are not at all tolerant to moisture.  I'm a runner, but I can't wear them when I run because running equals sweating.  I knew that when I bought them, but I sure miss them when I run.


  1. Thanks for your review of this aid. I just ordered mine from costco. I appreciate you sharing your experiences.

  2. I just ordered the same aids from costco. I pick em up next week. I will be primarily using them in the operating room to better hear the anesthesia monitor alarms that I often have not be able to detect. I also was pleased that these aids allowed me to still use my electronic stethoscope without removing the aids. The ability to hear heart/lungs sounds was still very good. This was a huge plus in deciding to purchase bilateral aids. thxs.

  3. I got my Bernafon verite hearing aids last week.
    As a first time user I'm not sure what I should expect, however I'm very pleased so far. I have high frequency hearing loss and the HA's allow me to hear things that I've been missing for a very long time.

  4. Nice review. Thanks so much.
    I'm going to Costco Thursday to see about replacing a lost hearing aid. This was a big help.

  5. My mom has tried the SoundGate device with both a LG and a Samsung phone, both which do not seem to work with bluetooth. The SoundGate keeps changing settings and connecting/disconnecting the bluetooth from the phone during the conversation. SoundGate said that the bluetooth historically does not work with LG phones, so we tried the Samsung, which still doesn't work. We also tried another SoundGate device at Costco, but that acted in the same manner, so the problem wasn't with the SoundGate device. The Costco folks can't seem to help. Does anyone have any experience with this? Any help would be appreciated.

  6. I use the SoundGate frequently with a Motorola (verizon) phone. It works pretty well, though sometimes the SoundGate gets confused and I have to shut off Bluetooth and re-enable it to get the connection to work again.

    Sorry to hear about the problems with LG and Samsung. This is is a COSTCO problem. I would put it squarely on their doorstep. You have the right to return the aids for 90 days. If they "can't" help you, then INSIST that they bring in the Bernafon technical rep. Yhe Bernafon rep that I met with was very knowledgable.


  7. got fitted today (Tuesday 3pm) and will pick up my Verite 9 's on Friday at 10am!!!!!
    Would have taken longer if I needed special ear piece.
    I am excited as I am a first time user.

  8. Got fitted Tuesday at 3pm and units will be delivered Friday at 10am!! I am excited because these are the first aids I have used. I like the 90 trial period at Costco. My total bill is $2800.
    I will ask for channel for to be a low gain option. Did not know anything about a bluetooth adapter for the TV, will see if I get a free one.

  9. Well I have used the Verite 9's for 4 whole days now and in general very happy. Not to impressed with the Soundgate though. I have used it with both my cell phone and iPod Touch. Sometimes it works great w the iPod and then other times it just does not seem to function....gets "lost" and I have to reset the unit. Probably need to spend several days with the iPod and the Soundgate and see if there is anything I am doing that is exasperating the situation.
    My Verite 9's has 3 programs stored in them:
    1. small group conversation
    2. noisy area group conversations
    3. music listening

    I use the 2 setting most the time so far. We were outside all day Saturday with family and it was VERY windy. The 2 setting made it all manageable.

    Must remember when playing music (via Bluetooth)that the hearing aid feature can be turned off so that the units are in a headphones only mode.

    Listened to music from my stereo with the hearing aids is (mode 3)was also great. I normally in the past had the sound turned up to "25", now I am quite happy with a volume lever of "17" and can hear the base and the highs. Could also hear the mechanical light timer that is installed a light!! Didn't know it was noisy. Must remove/replace before I listen to music again!!!! Oh, what a problem.

  10. I wanted to respond to the Jeremy and Heather's post. I have Seagate and use with my T-Mobile 3 G slide and it works great. I also had a BlackBerry before the Slide and I did have a few problems with it dropping ... but I love the 3g slide and have not had issues with it dropping. I have had issues that when I answer the phone and then hang up that the volume on is increased and I have to make adjustment with the soundgate. My audiologist at Costco made some adjustments and corrected that problem. I also have an issue with playing games on my 3g Slide that causes the soundgate to come on and off .. I have an appointment next week to see if I can get that issue solved .. if they can't I like the suggestion above to have a 4th setting set to real low or off so that I can turn it off when not needed.

  11. I got mine from Costco yesterday... first hearing aid. I have tinnitus and, unfortunately, it doesn't take the ringing away. I heard it could help. I'm in a quiet room now, so I have to see how it does with the tv on, or with more noise. I did notice the ringing got even louder last night when I removed the hearing aids, though my tinnitus does get louder and softer at times, on it's own.

    I can definitely hear voices better. I was disappointed in the sound quality when I plugged my ipod into the Soundgate. It's more trebel than I like, and there was a problem with some scratching noises. It sounded best when I stuck my fingers in my ears, so I think a larger plug (I have the smallest now) may help that. I have found most earbuds to have more treble than I like, also, and I've tried a few different ones, so it's not just the hearing aid. The only buds that have less trebel are the ones that came with the ipod (and many people hate them). The little speaker is very far into my ear, and the ipod buds are wide, so I may try them together.

    I also found the sound of the tv had too much trebel for my taste when I hooked up the bluetooth. As an ex-musician, I'm really picky about that.

    I did have the 4th setting set to very little gain, as someone here recommended. I'm very glad I read that before I got mine. I know it will come in handy.

    I'm pretty sure there is some adjustment that can be made for the trebel/base thing, because we discussed it yesterday at my fitting. I'll know in a couple of weeks when I go back.

    I think, in general, I will be happy with these. I just wish they had taken away the ringing in my ears....

  12. I am currently testing Veras from Costco. My Soundgate TV bluetooth seems to be overly sensitive to positioning and cuts out every so often. Does anyone experience 100% reception or must I deal with it? Also, I still don't understand all speech although I am definitely better...I wonder if I should try the Verity. Anyone try both? I have mild to moderately severe loss in both ears.

    Bob F

  13. I have tried out a set having been with 'in the ear' units for over ten years now, some performance is better but the functionality of external units are not as good such as prone to environmental issues, rain, wind, hair noise and problems with glasses also some strange processing where the aids will change the audio in a static environment when there for no reason, moving the perceived sound source position around and confusing the perception.
    The lack of sweat tolerance is a pain and the external control should be a quarter of the size that it is and should not need the necklace to work properly. The Bluetooth operation is ok for most locations but can drop out occassionally but this is true of all Bluetooth devices, remember to turn off the extraneous tones in the phone as it says in the small manual. I am told, athough I have not tested it yet that ATM machines can cause an interference problem???
    G Brisbane

  14. Just got mine. Very pleased. The person at my costco was very sharp. Hearing sounds I have not heard in many years. I played hard rock for many years when younger and now pay the price. The fruits
    Verite 9 aids are wonderful. For the first time in many years I can hear everyone talk at meetings. No more cupping my ear. I highly recommend these. All the bluetooth is great but the bottom line its your hearing and these aids work!

  15. I just picked up my Verite 9 for my left ear yesterday. Got it at Costco and the service was fantastic. I have noticed a bit of white noise in a quiet situation and will need to have that adjusted. Is there anything that can be done about wind noise from the buffeting from an open window while driving? I love to have the windows down while driving and my aid is in my left ear.

  16. Thank you for the excellent review. Based on what you have said I ordered a set from Costco that I will have fitted in a couple of weeks.

  17. Could anyone tell me why they have a wire rather than a plastic clear tube??

  18. This aid uses "Receiver In The Ear" technology, which means that the sound-generating device (receiver) is actually in the ear canal instead of the aid. The wires carry the electrical signals for that receiver.

  19. Thank you so much for you review! Very useful information! I think I'll choose this model of hearing aids either!
    I've read some negative feedback on Russian sites. People wrote this model was not reliable and they had to buy other models after short period of usage and I was full of doubts though I definitely liked its clear and soft sound. Now I feel more comfortable about it and I'm sure I've made the right choice!
    Greetings from St.petersburg :)

  20. They're still working after almost three years.