The Experts Review Of The Signia Insio Charge & Go AX. Is It The Best Hearing Aid Right Now?
Here, we're going over the exciting and unique Signia Insio Charge & Go AX in detail. If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest hearing technology news, sign up for our newsletter. You'll be notified whenever we publish something new.
Signia has a history of designing hearing aids that are a little more unconventional than those of other manufacturers, and they have attempted to redirect the hearing aid market a few times with their hearing aid ranges.
In 2018, they debuted their Styletto hearing aid, which had a remarkably distinctive, sleek receiver in the canal design.
In 2021, they added to their portfolio for those users who did not want something over the ear with the modular, in-the-ear hearing aid, the Active Pro, which looked more like a stylish set of wireless earbuds than a hearing aid.
And most recently, Signia released the Insio Charge & Go AX, a custom-made in-ear hearing aid with all of the high-tech features you could want from a hearing aid. With this newsletter, we hope to provide you with a single source of information on the Insio Charge & Go AX range.
There are a few new features in the range that we'll go over today, and the Insios have some features that we've already seen in previous generations of Signia hearing aids. So, in this content, we'll also round up our experiences with these features, looking at both the positives and some of the drawbacks that we've encountered in our recent history of working with all these hearing aids.
We'll start with the physical characteristics of the Insios, then move on to what's going on under the bonnet. The Insios are available at three different technology levels: 3AX, 5AX, and 7AX models, with the latter being the most advanced. As technology advances, so do the number of features available and the degree of automation provided by hearing aids. The cost will ultimately be determined by the level of technology.
The price difference between each technology level is around £400. The suitability of these hearing aids is largely determined by your degree of hearing loss. Hearing aids can be ordered to fit your level of loss, whether it is mild, moderate, severe, or profound.
They are available in two styles: ITC, which stands for in-the-canal, and ITE, which stands for "in-the-ear." The ITEs will fill the entire bowl of someone's ear, whereas the ITCs will only fill the entrance of the ear canal, making one slightly more discrete than the other.
These are not to be confused with IIC hearing aids, which stand for invisible-in-the-canal hearing aids that are completely hidden in the ear canal. They appear to be quite discrete when in the ear, but they are not the type of hearing aids that will sit far down and be completely invisible. In our opinion, they're also not attempting to be. They're actually trying to disguise themselves as wireless ear buds in order to compete in today's hearable space, hiding their hearing aids in plain sight and looking like any other wireless ear buds on the market.
Because the range is custom made, an impression of the ear must be taken and sent to Signia, which typically takes seven to ten days to design and build the hearing aid. They are made to fit the shape and size of your ear canals.
They appear to be much cleaner than the previous generation, the Insio NX range. They are definitely smaller, which is due in part to component miniaturisation and in part to the Insio NX range having the Bluetooth antenna built into the outside of the hearing aid. This is now neatly tucked away inside the shell in the new generation, resulting in a clean, flat finish.
At the end of the day, they do resemble a pair of in-ear hearing aids. However, there are a few twists. They don't have a battery door because they are rechargeable, and they also don't have any exposed contacts because they use contactless charging. Although this may appear to be a minor detail, it is a significant benefit because it means there is one less opening for moisture and dust to enter and potentially cause a fault. They do have an IP 68 rating, which means they can be submerged in a metre and a half of water for up to 30 minutes and continue to function. That doesn't mean you should go swimming in them, but it does mean that if you get caught in the rain or accidentally jump in the shower while wearing them, it won't damage them. In-the-ear hearing aids have historically been more prone to failure because they are constantly exposed to a harsher environment than behind-the-ear hearing aids. Signia has produced a more robust hearing aid than we've previously seen from them by removing both the battery door and any rechargeable contacts.
In addition, the hearing aids have an easily accessible programme button in the centre of the face plate. This is a soft key that can be programmed to perform a variety of functions, such as turning the hearing aids on or off, adjusting the volume, or changing programmes. Both the ITC and ITE have twin microphones at the top of the face plate, which are essential for overcoming hearing issues in background noise. Signia produces their hearing aids to match different hair colours and skin tones, and they come in six different colours, which is similar to other hearing aid manufacturers. Your audiologist should have a chart to assist you in selecting the best colour for you. They're mostly matte these days, so they don't catch the light.
That concludes the physical aspects. Let's take a look at what these hearing aids can do. The AX platform, which stands for "augmented experience," is a new chip from Signia. It has two distinct audiological core processes, which means that we should see improvements in these critical areas. Let's take a closer look at how this is supposed to benefit the end user.
Most new hearing aids we see today have Bluetooth capabilities, which means you can stream phone calls, music, radio, or podcasts directly to both of your ears. If you want to override the automatic settings, there's even an app that allows you to manually adjust the settings on your hearing aids.
One disadvantage of previous Signia hearing aids was their inability to stream music from Android phones. So, while the user could connect to an Android device and use the Signia app to adjust the hearing aids, they couldn't stream media or make phone calls like they could with an iPhone. However, they have now corrected this, and streaming is now possible on both iOS and Android. Signia recommends that an Android setup have at least Android version 11 and Bluetooth version 5.
The Insios will compete directly with the recently released Starkey Evolve AI range. While their CIC model does not have a rechargeable battery, it does have Bluetooth connectivity with both Android and iOS. So we are curious if it's something Signia will consider in the future as they expand their product line.
As previously stated, the Insio is made up of two processes that work in tandem. Signia claims that this allows them to completely separate the processing of focused sounds, such as speech, with one processor from the processing of environmental sounds, which is handled by the other. Then, the two signals are handled in very different ways. Speech is amplified more linearly, while noise is compressed more forcefully.
Hearing aids can then control how these sounds are combined, resulting in a greater contrast between the two. This augmented focus then draws the focused sounds closer while pushing the environmental sounds further away, allowing you to focus on the speech you want to hear with greater clarity and detail while minimising background noise in situations such as groups, crowds, or noisy listening environments.
When the hearing aid user moves during a conversation, the Insios will automatically adjust the direction of the microphones to focus on the most likely direction for speech to be coming from. This fantastic concept has been around for a while in other hearing aids, such as the Phonak Paradise range, and you may be wondering, "Why do my hearing aids need to know whether or not I'm moving?" This is due to the automatic setting calculating which direction you are most likely to hear from. Generally, if we're seated, we'd prefer to hear the sound of the person seated in front of us. However, if you think about it, as soon as we stand up and begin walking, you will be walking and conversing with someone at your side. Instead of hearing what's going on in front of us, we want to be able to hear the person on our side. Motion sensors help hearing aids recognise this and switch from a directional mode, picking up sounds from in front of you, to a more omnidirectional mode, picking up sounds from the sides as well.
The input dynamic range is the difference between quieter sounds processed by hearing aids and the loudest sounds processed by hearing aids. If a particularly loud sound enters the hearing aids and they are unable to deal with the intensity of the sound, it can cause a distortion in the signal, which would not sound good to the end-user. We've seen each manufacturer gradually increase their dynamic ranges over the last few years, and Signia is following suit with a whopping 117 decibels, which is huge and will massively help with sound processing, particularly for those interested in music. The end result will be a more natural sound with less distortion in loud environments.
Each manufacturer has created their own app for Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids. To give a brief overview, the Signia app, which is available on both iOS and Android devices, allows hearing aid users to make adjustments to their hearing aids. It is possible to change the volume and the programmes on which you and your audiologist can collaborate. Some users prefer the flexibility and backup of being able to manually override the settings on their hearing aids. Some people never use them at all. Don't worry if this isn't for you. Even if you don't have a smartphone, your hearing aids will still work. Consider the app a bonus feature rather than something on which you must rely.
To begin, the app's home screen allows the hearing aid user to increase and decrease volume, which can be adjusted together or independently. If you already have the app and can only adjust each ear separately, there has been a recent update that is really worth downloading.
You can also adjust different programmes that you and your audiologist have set up, as well as the sound balance feature, which puts a little more emphasis on either the treble or the bass of the sound you're hearing. This feature lacks flexibility, and we generally haven't found it to be particularly useful. While this allows you to manipulate the sound more than competitors such as Oticon, it does not provide the user with as much control as the four-point graphic equaliser found on the new Starkey Evolves. And this would most likely be a natural progression in the Signia app's evolution in the future.
The final control is for directional hearing, which allows you to adjust the focus of the microphones on the hearing aids. According to our patients, this has proven to be beneficial in two key areas. To begin, depending on whether you are a driver or a passenger, you can direct the microphones to the left or right. It is also useful in restaurants where you want to reduce background noise and concentrate on the person in front of you. The app even has a face mask mode to assist you in hearing someone who is wearing a face mask in front of you. When someone wears a mask, not only do you lose visual cues, but they also significantly reduce the sound of frequencies ranging from 2,000 to 8,000 Hz. Depending on the type of mask used, this can range from three to twelve decibels. So the mask feature is intended to boost the gain by about six decibels, between four and eight kilohertz, and it does make a noticeable difference.
There are a few features that the app lacks when compared to other manufacturers, which I hope Signia updates soon. For example, one that has proven to be very valuable is the "Find My Hearing Aids" feature, which locates the last time your hearing aids and phone were together if you lose a hearing aid.
And, as with other hearing aid manufacturers, the user does not have the ability to create and save their own programmes with these hearing aids, which, based on patient feedback, is a nice backup to have and puts you in control of wearing your hearing aids.
The Signia Assistant is a very unique Signia feature that is well worth getting excited about. This clever piece of interactive artificial intelligence serves two purposes. To use it, simply click on the happy face in the bottom right corner of the screen, and you'll be greeted by your friendly Signia Assistant chat bot. The user would then type in their hearing problem, and Signia Assistant would present you with a list of potential solutions from which to choose. It will then analyse the parameters in your acoustic environment and, using the "deep neural network," optimise the settings on your hearing aids to meet your specific requests and needs. This means that the hearing aids are constantly evolving and changing as a result of your feedback, eliminating the need to visit your audiologist for regular adjustments.
Furthermore, this information is fed back to your audiologist, and they can track your interactions with the Signia assistant, making the feedback you provide at those follow-up appointments even more valuable. As a result, you should be able to reach the point where you're satisfied with your hearing aids even faster than with previous Signia technology.
While Widex had a similar feature in their hearing aids a few generations ago, it was nowhere near as interactive or as smart as this. And, in our opinion, it was less user-friendly and produced less effective results.
The second fantastic feature built into the Signia Assistant are the handling tips, which will present you with specific and useful videos and guides to help you maintain and care for your hearing aids based on your input with the chat bot. While I love the concept, I do hope that the videos and guides can be updated to be relevant for the user's specific hearing aids. I actually really like this idea and believe it can be extremely beneficial in reducing the number of visits to your audiologist. Let's hope it doesn't completely replace the need for you to see an audiologist.
The Insio Charge & Go AX is only available in rechargeable form, with a contactless magnetic resonance charging system and industry-standard lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. This type of magnetic resonance charging is drop-and-go, which means you don't have to worry about lining up the metal contacts to enable charging. A four-hour charge provides a full 24-hour battery life. This is slightly reduced if you spend a significant amount of time streaming from your phone, but no patients have reported that it hasn't lasted an entire waking day.
There is also clever circuitry in place, which means that the hearing aids can be charged overnight without risk of damage. Furthermore, you do not need to turn the hearing aids on or off. This is all done automatically when you insert or remove the hearing aids from the charger.
The charger is neat and tidy, and it appears clean and simple to use. The only thing we'll say about it is that it's quite large. If you forget to charge your hearing aids one night, you can still put them in the charger for 30 minutes while getting ready in the morning, and you'll have six hours of wear from a 30-minute charge.
Signia offers three different anti-tinnitus strategies, depending on which is best for the user. This is something you should discuss with your audiologist to determine the best type of therapy to help manage your tinnitus. To begin, they have static noise tinnitus therapy signals, from which you can select one of five preset noise signals. You can also customise the sound to meet your specific needs.
Second, they have four different ocean wave therapy signals that are designed to simulate ocean waves on a beach. Finally, there is the Signia tinnitus notch therapy. Signia hearing aids are the only ones that use notch therapy, which is designed specifically for those who suffer from tonal tinnitus, which includes ringing, buzzing, or whistling and is the most common type of tinnitus. This approach differs significantly from using a masking sound, and Signia claims that the goal of notch therapy is to teach the brain how to ignore tinnitus entirely.
The frequency of your tinnitus is targeted, and the sound's amplification is reduced and relegated to background noise, making it easier for your brain to ignore. In theory, you won't waste energy actively trying to block out the sound, and you'll be able to focus your energy and concentration on other things, which will help you overcome your tinnitus. Interestingly, this method is not audible like ocean wave or static noise sound therapy, so you may not even know you are getting tinnitus sound therapy.
The ability to remotely adjust the settings on hearing aids without the patient even being in clinic is a great feature that we've used with all hearing aid manufacturers over the last two years. The Signia app, once again, allows us to adjust the settings on the hearing aid from the clinic while the patient is sitting at home. As with all manufacturers, nothing beats having the patient in front of us because there are a few features that cannot be adjusted remotely. However, having this backup is generally beneficial if the patient is unable to attend the clinic. You can even see your audiologist via webcam during the procedure.
The only other thing we don't like about remote adjustments is that an audiologist would normally always examine the patient's ears and physical fitting to see if they're the cause of our needing to make adjustments.
A CROS System is intended for people who have single-sided deafness and consists of the user wearing a transmitter on the worse ear, which wirelessly transmits the signal to the better hearing ear, giving the user the perception of 360-degree hearing. When coupled with the receiver-in-canal pure Charge & Go AX, the Insio AX allows for CROS amplification. Signia has done an excellent job here, as manufacturers are sometimes a little late in adding this technology to their portfolio.
Signia, like most manufacturers nowadays, recognises that hearing aid technology alone will continue to struggle to overcome hearing challenges. As a result, they have a fantastic range of accessories, such as the Streamline Mic, which is great for hands-free phone calls or using as a remote microphone; their Streamlined TV, which allows for direct TV streaming to both hearing aids; and finally, their Mini Pocket Remote Control, which is useful if you don't have a smartphone but still want to make adjustments without pressing the buttons on the back of your hearing aids.
As you can see, Signia has expanded their portfolio, which distinguishes them from other manufacturers. While there are similar products on the market, such as the new Starkey Evolve or the Widex Moment, there are some advantages that distinguish the Insio Charge & Go as a unique product that I believe other manufacturers will begin to emulate.
There are a few things we'd like to see, such as the telecoil, which is a very basic feature that should be included in all hearing aids nowadays, and a bit more control for the user in the app. However, in general, these hearing aids are strong contenders in the current hearing aid market. I hope you found this information useful, and if you did, please sign up for our newsletter. If you have any questions, please contact us via the contact page.