In November 2018 the Swiss manufacturer Phonak released a brand new product – Phonak Audeo M – based on Marvel technology. Phonak has since released additional variations of Marvel technology and also an update to Marvel itself, Phonak Paradise. In mid 2021 Phonak Nathos Nova started to become available within the NHS supply chain with similar features and compatibility.
A major feature of more recent Phonak hearing aids is Roger Direct. Direct audio streaming from a Phonak Roger transmitter straight into compatible hearing aids. No external Roger neckloop, streaming device or ear level Roger X receiver.
Roger Direct Compatibility – Roger Direct currently works with Phonak Marvel (M90, M70, M50, M30), Phonak Paradise (P90, P70, P50, P30), NHS Phonak Nathos Nova, Unitron Discover Next (DX), Unitron Blu (B) and Specsavers Advance 470, 670, 770 and 870. Across all BTE and RIC (on the ear) and in the ear versions that are bluetooth compatible. If the in the ear model has a 312 battery it *might* be Roger Direct compatible, with a size 10 battery definitely not.
Until Roger Direct all the methods of streaming Roger audio added a little extra bulk and affected cosmetics to one degree or another. A couple of added benefits of Roger Direct are an increased transmitting range from transmitter to hearing aid, over double at 50m in ideal conditions! Also improved battery consumption has been achieved.
So how do Roger Direct Phonak compatible hearing aids work with Roger?
A common misconception around Roger Direct connectivity is that a quick firmware upgrade of Phonak hearing aids will automatically and at no cost enable you to stream a Phonak Roger transmitter straight into the hearing aids. No physical receiver, no extra cost – but not true!
a Roger IN transmitter. Examples of a Roger IN transmitter include Roger Pen IN, Roger Select IN and Roger On IN.
(A Roger IN transmitter holds the equivalent of 2x Roger X receivers within itself, and costs virtually the same as the cost of a standard Roger transmitter and 2x Roger X 03 band receivers).
- To enable Roger Direct streaming you need to ask your audiologist to upgrade the firmware on your Phonak hearing aids if they were supplied before November 2019.
- If your hearing aids were supplied after this date you are very likely to be running firmware new enough for this not to be an issue.
- If your hearing aids have been connected to your hearing professional’s laptop and fitting software after November 2019, regardless you should have new enough firmware.
- The next step is to ask your hearing professional or accredited trainer to do one of two things;
Use a special programmer to transfer the Roger X 03 band receivers into your hearing aids. This converts them to hearing aids AND combined Roger receivers. (No external additions or neckloops to receive audio from a Roger transmitter).
Use a Roger IN transmitter to transfer a Roger X (an IN transmitter holds 2 Roger X 03 band) to each hearing aid.
Which Roger Direct option is best for a Phonak hearing aid wearer?
Most people wear a hearing aid in both ears, but sometimes there’s a reason why you would only wear a single hearing aid. Examples;
- A total loss of hearing on one side with some hearing on the other.
- Normal level of hearing on one side and some hearing loss on the other side.
- Loss of hearing in both ears but a preference to only assist one side. (*We don’t particularly understand this idea, it seems to us like having poor eyesight in both eyes and using a monocle instead of spectacles, but we occasionally come across it!).
If you are only wearing a single hearing aid and use a Roger IN transmitter then you are paying for a receiver that you would not even use, increasing the cost unnecessarily. The best option when you wear a single hearing aid is Option 1 above (a standard Roger transmitter and a single Roger X 03 Band).
If you wear a pair of Roger Direct compatible Phonak hearing aids then there isn’t much difference between Option 1 above and Option 2 from a price point of view and also the way it all functions. However, there are some things to take into consideration as below.
Point 1 – What happens if you need to replace your hearing aids for any reason, perhaps losing them, damaging them beyond repair, or simply want to upgrade. With Option 2 you are limiting yourself to one brand and type of hearing aid, that would be Phonak. The brand Phonak is very good, we think it is one of the best on the market at this time and a great choice. However, who knows what hearing aid technology you will want to wear down the line and what is available. Maybe Phonak again, but maybe a different brand or model. Who actually knows what is new and around the corner?
Point 2 – If you already have a Roger transmitter you can use that so the only additional cost is the price of a Roger X 03 band receiver for each hearing aid. You may also already have some Roger X receivers, if the serial numbers start with a number higher than 1744 then they can also be used in the process as per Option 1, saving you even more money!
Our Roger Direct opinion for what it’s worth!
With Option 1 you have more flexibility to be able to move the transmitter and receivers to a different brand if you so wish. Option 1 can be fitted to many different brands and models of hearing aids, BAHA’s and Cochlear Implants, whereas with Option 2 you will limit your options to Roger Direct compatible Phonak hearing aids going forward. This may not be an issue you are particularly worried about.
N.B. With both options you still need to involve an Accredited Hearing Professional (possibly your audiologist) or Approved Phonak Roger Certified Trainer who can transfer a Roger X into your Phonak hearing aids.
At FM Hearing Systems and our sister organisation HAB Hearing all our Hearing Aid Audiologists and On Site Phonak Roger Trainers are qualified, approved, certified and competent to perform this function.
Want to know how much of a difference Phonak Roger equipment make to your life? Click here
Finding all this confusing? I’m not surprised! If unsure we can help, just ask!