Questions about using Bluetooth hearing aids with voiceover on iPhone and iPad
I have recently discovered that I have mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears and am currently exploring my options for hearing aids. I have some questions for anyone with experience using Bluetooth hearing aids with iOS devices running voice over. is the latency a problem when running VoiceOver? Are there advantages to the hearing aids that advertised as being made for iPhone? If so, what are they? If you stream audio content directly to the hearing aid, how is the sound quality for things like music? Finally, what else do I need to know? Is there anything about Bluetooth hearing aids that you wish you had known before you made your selection? Thanks for any feedback you can give me.
Hello, I have Resound hearing aids since I'm near total deaf, and I can tell you the bluetooth is okay if you going to listen to audio such as a book or music for a long time, however, with useing voice over, the problem is your hearin aid will cut off and on if no streaming audio is present so it kind of cuts out the voice over a bit and gets really ignoring cause of the constent sound of the hearing aid going back and forth between bluetooth and normal mode.
Your best bet is to buy some audio hooks sterio version and have the hearing aid program to use T coil mode on top of normal audio so you can hear everything around you and then have another program to just be t coil only so you can cut out the outside sounds.
I have moderate hearing loss and am also registered blind. I rely heavily on VoiceOver on my iPhone 6, but can sometimes use the device in conjunction with twelve times magnifying specs and Zoom. I had used hearing aids provided by the UK national health service for several years but was tempted to find out is made for iPhone hearing aids could work well with VoiceOver and hence make VoiceOver both more private and also more audible in noisy environments. I took the plunge and tried Resound Linx hearing aids at a high street audiologist. My initial impressions were good - both of the performance of the hearing aids and their working with VoiceOver so I paid up for two hearing aids, wondering how on earth they could be priced that high. This was a little over two years ago. Initially there were a few irritating bugs in iOS, but these have largely been fixed and software problems are rarely an issue now. Latency is a minor irritation. I lose the first syllable, perhaps, at the beginning of every session, but this hasn't been a major problem. I can use the phone for walking satnav with Navigon, for example, with the instructions going direct to my hearing aids. The made for iPhone hearing aids use low power bluetooth which gives them good battery life. I'm not sure if all bluetooth hearing aids do the same. The quality of music stremed from the iPhone to the hearing aids is best described as acceptable. I have tulip type domes on in-ear speakers connected to an over the ear hearing aid. The tulip dome doesn't seal the ear so bass tends to leak out, leaving the music with very little bass. Worse than this, though, there is a warbling distortion which, for some kinds of music, e.g. classical woodwind, renders the music unlistenable. Most of the time, it's just a bit disappointing, but s OK. Interestingly, GN also sell a bluetooth unit that can be plugged into something like your TV. If I plug this unit in to the headphone socket of my iPhone and play through it, then the sound quality is much improved, so I conclude that the quality issue is mainly due to the iPhone end of the bluetooth connection. This may be better with later models. I'll be able to let you know when my iPhone 8 arrives! The sound quality is certainly plenty good for spoken word and I often listen to Audible books when I'm on public transport or just walking in the street. I forgot to mention one feature that I really like; the voice on an incoming phone call is sent to both ears. This makes it much easier for me to hear phone calls. I believe that at least one other bluetooth hearing aid directs the call to just one ear because it uses the microphone on the other hearing aid as the phone call microphone; this lets you keep the phone in your pocket while making a call. I have to hold or rest my phone as in standard hands free mode, but I'm happy to do that if it lets me hear the call in both ears. On the whole, I'm very glad that I took the plunge and find that This is a really good way to experience VoiceOver. It's certainly not perfect, but it's definitely good enough. Hope that helps. Brian
Thank you. This is very helpful. Do you use a PC with a screen reader as well? If so, do you use another device to get the speech from your computer to go directly to your hearing aids?
You bring up an interesting problem that I had not heard or thought about. Thank you.
I have a pair of Starky Halos. I got them a couple of years ago and I am really happy with them. At the time, the Resound linx had smaller battery and a flimsy battery door, thus I got the Starky Halos. But since then, the resounds have improved that I would consider them now if I were shopping for a piar of Has. With the resound, you can use media streamers that you can connect to your TVor PC. The Starky Halos does not have this option. Is this a downside? It would depend on you. For me, it’s not. When I use my Mac, I use a wired headset. I do not get any whistling or feedback and the sound is much better. With a media streamer, it was mono when I tried out the resound.
The sound quality, when I tried them both, were nearly identical. If you listen to music with plenty of higher frequency, you might like the Halos better. I don’t get the VO cut off the previous posters reported. As far as sound quality when listening to books or music, I would say it’s very good. On the iPhone, select music so all your channels will be turned on and unfiltered. Be aware, there will be times when you are listening to books, music or VO and you will get noise artifacts.It may go away in a second or a few seconds.
Also, at first, I couldn’t really justify the price difference between Halo 70, 90 and 110. The number of channels each unit has. But after a month with each, the price is worth it. If you rarely go out to noisy places, get the least amount of channels. But if you like to go out where there are plenty of people talking or sporting events, get the most channel you can afford. The Has does a very good job of blocking out noise. The more channels, the more refined the noise blocking will be. It’s amazing how I can hear my wife and son in a noisy environment while they keep saying what? I can’t hear you.
When shopping for your hearing aids, go to a place that will allow you to try out the hearing aids for at least 30 days to make sure they work for you. Try out at least two different brands to see which works best for you. And more importantly, purchase it locally. After the initial setup, you might have to make a few follow up visits to fine tune them to your needs. You may also need to make occasional visit to update the firmware.
HTH and good luck.
This is great info. Do you by any chance know the approximate prices for these brands in US. dollars? I cannot find pricing info online.
If you are in the Los Angeles area, you can check out where I purchased mine from.
The prices varies from location to location so you should shop around. Costco also sells Has from Resound.
BTW, The hearing aids mentioned by me and the previous posters are the made for iphone hearing aids. You could also purchase Bluetooth Has that are not specifically made for iPhones. These type of Has requires an intermediary device or remote. In these models, the Has pairs with the remote and the remote pairs with the iPhone. The remote was not accessable and it was a touch screen. So adding Braille dots wouldn’t work. I can’t tell you if there is latency or how it works since I didn’t bother trying them out.
HTH and good luck.
Yes, my audiologist told me about the bt ones that let you stream via another device. That brings to mind another question. For Resound and Starkey has especially, but others too if you know, how easy is pairing? Also, Switching between listening to the phone and another device, such as a computer, through the intermediary streaming device? Finally, can you, or anyone else, comment on using these Bluetooth has with an Apple Watch? Thanks again for your help.
With the made for iPhone hearing aids, pairing is done through accessability> hearing aids, not the standard BT setup. Your audiologist will help you pair it the first stime. But it’s simple. In the hearing aids heading, you will find your hearing aids there. If not, open the battery doors on your Has and close them after 10 seconds. Your device will then ask if you want to pair/add the device.
The Resound and Starky apps are accessable but personally, I use the controls that are built into IOS. I triple click the home button, or on the iPhone X,triple click the side button. A menu will appear where you can select Voice over or hearing device. Select hearing device and from there, you can select your presets as well as increase/decrease the microphone volume.
As far as multiple devices, iphone and/or ipad, one or more of each, you will need to turn off the BT on the device you are not currently using. Otherwise, you might get poor sound or in some cases, your left hearing aid pairs with your ipad and the right pairs with the iPhone. As far as the apple watch, there is no way to have the hearing aids paired to both the iphone and watch at the same time.In my case, the iphone audio streams to my Halos and the watch audio is heard from the watch speakers.
HTH and good luck.
Hi, Is there any way to tell the iPhone when I do not want VoiceOver to stream to the aids, short of turning off Bluetooth? I found under VoiceOver settings an Audio routing option that allows me to choose the left or right aid or both, but not neither which is a curious oversight. Also under the MFI settings under Hearing in the Accessibility options there is a setting to never stream media to the hearing device, however, in my test this did not stop VoiceOver from streaming. Wondering if anyone has found a solution or workaround? In short, I want to be able to stream, or not stream as the environment calls for.
I have been wearing Resounds ever since they came out with MFI hearing aids. Previously the Resounds have that latency and dropping issue but they were good for when I was out and about without headphones. But, Resound came out with Quattros recently and I have been wearing them for about a month and a half. The Quattros are much, much better than the previous Resounds There is no latency problems like before and although every once in a while my right will frop, and I’m only talking about 2 or 3 times a day, it is quickly connected by pausing audio and starting again and it reconnects right up.
I found out that when I try to use my Apple Bluetooth keyboard while trying to stream, that couses the interferences and that is what causes the audio to drop. So just remember to turn off your other bluetooth devices and I think you will have better luck. Resound has made the Quattros like 100 percent faster, larger chipset etc. I can’t remember the complete details but I suggest you go find details on Resound website. Previously with my Linx, I Preferred to hear music and audiobooks with my Bose QC-35 headphones. But now I hardly touched my Bose while wearing the Quattro hearing aids. Resound drastically improved the Bluetooth radio in the aids giving a fuller sound. The Quattros has an option of rechargeable batteries which has outstanding battery life. I can stream constantly all day and end up with something like 40 percent of battery life left for use by the end of the night. Quattros comes with a nice recharging case with 3 extra charges so you can take the case with you on a trip and not worry about charging issue.
It is a pleasure talking on the iPhone now. Before, there would be like 5 seconds or more delay while the aids and phone are trying to make a connection. Now, they connect right away with no delay. I can put the iPhone on the armrest of the couch and friends on the other end say they can hear me just fine so that is sort of hands free.
I am totally disappointed with the Resound Smart 3D app. It is not all that friendly with Voice Over. I have been complaining to Resound helpdesk and they are sympathetic and passes along my complaints but not really sure they are going to make it a priority. But I have found some work arounds. When you need your Audiologist to send you new settings, I just email her directly and ask her to make certain adjustments to my settings. Her settings gets transmitted to my app and from there I can download the new settings. Using it this way works fine. Get with your Audiologist to figure all of this out. This beats having to take sick leave, call an Uber, find the elevator and make it to the office just to make a simple setting change.
Hope some of this helps.
Travis, if I understand what you are wanting... The quickest way I know of to switch the steaming for Voice Over is on the lock screen, and if the media player is showing, navigate down to the top of the media player where it displays where the audio is streaming to. Tap on that and a list will come up giving you a choice to switch to another device. you can switch the Voice Over to your iPhone speakers and back again.
If the media player is not visible on lock screen to a 2 finger double tap to get some audio playing and the player will show up. Otherwise drag your Control screen down and you will find the media player there too. with the same options.
Hi Danny, I am considering purchasing the Quattros. Can you tell me if you are able to change programs why Voiceover is running?
Danny, thanks for your response. For some reason I missed that option in Control Center, often mine says "Route connected" and tapping that displays more speaker options including iPhone. I guess it was to obvious for me to notice.
Hi, If you are like me and get the Bluetooth audio stream almost instantly going to sleep when VoiceOver stops talking, and then missing the first word or so when VO starts to speak again I have found that if I start a music session with a silent audio track this keeps the Bluetooth audio stream awake. It does make extra work to start playing a silent track and then stopping it but if I plan on doing a longer session with VO with a lot of non-continuous reading it is helpful.
If you do not have a silent track, and it is kind of an odd thing to have, if you Google for silent audio file the top search results have a link to a Github repository with some files.
Yes, Voice Over works with any of the programs. The difference with the previous Resound models is that on the Quattros, Voice Over overlays which ever program you happen to be in and takes on the characteristics of that program. That threw me for a while. I've had the LiNX and the 3Ds by Resound and the reason for the latency on those models is that when audio starts up, the hearing aids switches to the audio stream and then bluetooth have to kick in. With the Quattros, bluetooth have to still kick in but audio will wait until it starts up. That is why Voice Over is so much better with Quattros.
If you do happen to get the Quattros and the audio doesn't sound quite right to you, put the hearing aids into the music program then start streaming. That might make a difference and then tell your audie and maybe they will be able to adjust the streaming the same way on the other programs.
Great suggestion about the silent track. I'm going to try and record my own silent track and use that.
Even with the Quattros, I have recently started having an irratation with the bluetooth cutting off right away after pausing Voice Over. At times the voice is perfectly balanced but then when I pause, the balance might go over to the right or it might go over to the left and then it might go perfectly balanced again. If I pause and wait a bit it usually goes balanced again but then again maybe not.
My workaround on that is that I created a Shortcut in the Shortcut app to stop and restart Bluetooth and ask Siri to Reset Bluetooth. That usually will straighten it up. But still a hassle if I'm doing a lot of pausing the Voice Over. I sent an email to the Resound consumer helpdesk and told them my issues. They are very polite and try to help. They sent my problem to the technicians. Who knows, maybe if more of us will send email to them they will at least know that just me is not having the problem. You can find their email address on their website at www.resound.com.
They, either Apple or Resound, think they are saving battery life by instantly cutting off bluetooth but I stream all the day long. I think at least letting us decide how long the bluetooth connection would be great.
Hi Danny, I use the Starkey Livio. So it is not specific to one manufacturer. Before this I had the issue with Phonak and their streamer device. (This sleep issue also occurs with regular Bluetooth speakers too and it's annoying.) I agree with you a lot more configuration options would be helpful. They try to keep it simple and one size fits all but as we know that is just not the case.
I also have to toggle Bluetooth at times. It just seems the iPhone gets overloaded or otherwise just needs a reboot. I didn't realize the Shortcus app had the ability to control it and your shortcut would be a lot simpler than doing it by hand. I need to work on that.
I set VoiceOver audio to stream to one channel so it uses the left aid. I like it to stream to both to be balanced but in my case it seems streaming to one aid makes it ever so slightly more stable for connecting and staying connected. However this may be anecdotal and certainly some days are better than others.
There are some really good Shortcut tutorials here on the AppleVis website that I suggest you take a look at.
But to tell you how I created my shortcut is open the Shortcut app, tap on the Create Shortcut button. On the next page find the Search button and then look for Bluetooth. Add that to the shortcut and tap on the checkbox to turn off Bluetooth. In the Search box, find Bluetooth again and add it again and this time tap the check box to turn it on. Then on the Shortcut Settings button, on that page you will be able to name your shortcut and add it to Siri.
Again, the Shortcut tutorials on this website will explain a lot if you get stuck.
Thank you for your reply Danny. Very useful information.
I should add that the Smart 3D app from Resound is mostly not that great. But, the most important thing for me is the Resound Assist. This is where you can ask your audiologist to remotely make changes to your hearing aids. This is the coolest thing. I now don't have to setup an appointment, call an Uber, find my way up 4 floors just to make a 5 second change to my hearing settings.
Ok, back to the app, it sucks as far as requesting the changes because on the very last page before sending the request, I can't figure out which and where the selection boxes are. So, what myself and my audiologist do is I send her an email requesting the changes. She actually prefers this way because then she doesn't have to check her computer every day to see if I have sent a request. This way she will know I need new settings right away. She goes into her computer and send me the changes. From that point it is totally accessible. I will get a notification that I have new hearing settings available. Go into the app and go to My Resound tab and Resound Assist and follow the prompts to download the new settings. I can be anywhere in the country and get my new settings. At one point it will tell you to remove the hearing aids and set them next to the phone while they are downloading the new settings but I ignore that. I just keep the hearing aids in the ear so I will know when they are done downloaded and installed.
This feature kind of makes up for the unusability of the rest of the app.
Your audiologist will help you get the Resound Assist setup initially while you are in the office because it it sort of difficult to setup without sighted assistance. But after that you should be fine.
Great instructions. Thanks, Danny. I've noticed, though, that after I use the shortcut, both safari and the shortcut appear in my app switcher as open. What instructions can you offer to add to the shortcut to have the shortcut automatically close both?
Mine doesn't have Safari and the Shortcut app in the app switcher after running. Did you by chance also add your shortcut to the share sheet? Or added it to the home screen? I think when you do that it will use Safari for it's medium I think. And I think if you add the shortcut to the home screen it will start the Shortcuts app. Try either removing everything except for the Siri command or create a new one and only just have Siri added. That is all I have on mine.
I've been using the Resound 3d for around a year now and generally have found them good with my iPhone 8.
One Issue I have is with configuring the other programs in the 3d Smart app.
When I go into the app it is set in the iPhone program since it detects streaming occurring, i.e. VO is talking.
Its not possible to switch to another program in the app and change base or trebble etc because the iPhone program is always enabled.
Has this improved with the Quatros?
I presume the controls which change the equalizer settings in the app are still inaccessible to VO users?
You'd imagine this would be an easy change for the app developers to make. Just use a picker item control or similar.
Personally I hope there is a time when there is no specific "iPhone program" on the hearing aids. I'd like them to behave exactly the same a bluetooth headset would work.
Sadly, this still seems to be occurring for me when I use speech. You can switch among the programs, though, by using the items in the Control Center or through the accessibility shortcut. IN either case, do the following. Either invoke the menu with triple click of the side button/Home button. If doing this from the Control Center, double tap the "Hearing devices" option. Then, flick right past the status of your hearing aids to the "presets", which will show you your currently in use preset. Then, double tap. You should be presented with a list of all of the presets in your hearing aids. Double tapping the desired option should switch to that program. I do not have a simple answer for turning treble or bass boost on, and the "sound enhancer" remains about as accessible to me as a silen movie without audio description.
ok, disappointing but not surprising ...
I apologize to everyone. I guess I've been doing this for so long that I forget to tell you that to make the app work better. is to switch to the iPhone speakers before going into the app. It stays on the iPhone stream program is Voice Over is turned on. For instance when I am ready to download new settings, I have to go to the Control Panel, switch to iPhone then go back into the 3D app.
You are correct in that this should be a simple fix for this and the treble and bass stuff. I encourage you to go to the Resound consumer helpdesk and tell them your troubles. If more and more will chime in then maybe they will figure out that there is a need for corrections. When they developed the app, I'm sure they are thinking that no way would blind & hard of hearing would be using these apps.
And the same for those of you that have different brands. I encourage you to send a helpful email to the helpdesks. The ones I've dealt with from Resound are sympathetic but they still have to pass along to the upper echelons of what is going on.
This discussion also reminded me that I have had more luck changing programs and enhancement settings using the Apple Watch.
First in the Smart 3D app, tap on the More tab at the bottom right.
Make sure Optimize MFi connection
is turned off. Otherwise it won't work with the Watch correctly. You could experiment both ways with it turned off and on but I think it is supposed to be turned off.
Then on that same page, Tap on the Watch Settings and turn on Sound Enhancer features.
Then go to your Apple Watch and look for the 3D app.
It might run a little slow but still, it is another way of doing it.
Another big disappointment is that the Apple Watch will not send audio to our hearing aids.
You recommend switching to iPhone speaker before going into the app.
What is the easiest way of doing this?
HI Tim, check out comment #12 in this thread. And possibly #14.
Yes, number 12 and 14 on this thread should get you there.
If you use Control Center for instance, swipe to the right until you hear Show Media Controls and then it will say Route Connected. Tap on that and then swipe right until you hear iPhone Device. Tap on that. from this menu you can swap back to your hearing aids.
Great I'll check that out and see how it goes.
Have any of you upgraded to iOs13? I have to say that I am actually thrilled with the upgrade at the moment because the streaming is the most stable since I've owned Resounds. Before, when I paused Voice Over for 5 seconds or so, and then start back up, the voice might go over to the right or left and I have to reset bluetooth over and over again until I get it centered again. Now, I don't seem to have that problem. Ever since I've upgraded, Voice Over has been centered. Not only that, the sound effects are now coming over the hearing aids. Before, while in DiceWorld, and when I roll the dice, I would hear the sounds of dice rolling coming out of the iPhone but then hear voice over tel me the numbers of the dice through my hearing aids. I feel like I have real headphones on now.
My only issue is that the disconnect is inconsistent. Before, in iOS12, when Voice Over stops speaking, the bluetooth would release and then my hearing aids would go into normal mode and I can switch to another streamer like my TV Link. But now in iOS13, it might or might not release. But during those times, I just simply turn voice over off and back again and things are ok again. I much rather like this than I did when I have to keep resetting bluetooth over and over again to get voice over centered again.
I'm afraid now of upgrading to 13.1. I don't want this to go away. Thing is I don't know if they intentionally fixed the streaming issue or is it a side effect of them fixing something else.
Jut curious if any of you have upgraded and would like to know how your hearing aids are acting with the iOS 13 upgrade. And if you upgrade to 13.1 would love to know what you find out.
I realize this is an old topic but right now both my husband and I are frustrated. He has been told he has moderate hearing loss in the treble ranges. His current audiologist fitted him with Starkey Livio 2400 hearing aids this past Monday. She and a Starkey rep set the aids up with a program based on his audiogram. They gave him no other options for music, speech, travel outside, etc. They turned us loose for 3 & 1/2 weeks and said come back then. We are in the trial period for the aids. That would put him back at day 25 of the trial. They wanted him to just try and adjust until then. We are aware that the Thrive app doesn't work that well with VO, but maybe users here have other ideas. I'm wondering if we should just switch audiologists and get our money back from this one. There is a local one that has the ReSound Quattro aids. Maybe they would be more amenable to working with him more closely to get things set up properly. Any thoughts and experiences would be greatly appreciated. We are going back in this Monday to the audiologist for her "last-ditch effort". Doesn't sound good. You can email me directly also at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for any advice!
The Starkey Livio are fine aids. That said, it is critical to have an audiologist that you are comfortable with and that will work with you. Also keep in mind hearing aid use is a world in of itself so there is a learning curve. The more experience you get the more you can order the audiologist you choose around.
I am not sure what is going on with the programs you have and don't have. The Starkey Livio is set up to be fairly automatic in choosing the best settings for an environment, but usually they do come with programs you can switch between. E.g.: Normal, Restaurant, Outdoor. My own experience is that the Livios have an automatic music program that they switch into when they detect music and this is not user controllable.
The Thrive app on iOS is not perfect, but if you are a competent VoiceOver user there are things you can do with it. This you will have to do yourself as I have never met an audiologist who knows the ins and outs of VoiceOver and this is understandable.
First thing first though it sounds like you should perhaps start over with audiologist interviews to find someone you can work with. If you were in Nebraska I'd refer you to mine whom I adore, but I doubt you are near my remote part of the world.