ReSound fires the first shot in the “Made for iPhone” War, Part 1 (update 2)

GN ReSound introduces the Phone Clip+ Bluetooth streamer, the first “Made for iPhone” device on the market… And The Hearing Blog has the review, including the discovery of a bug in the companion v1.0.0 Control app (article updated 6:00pm CST 1/21/2013)

The folks at GN ReSound build very good wireless capable hearing aids, with the older Alera able to receive audio and remote control command signals in the 2.4 gHz band; and the new Verso adding inter-ear communications, providing coordination of microphone directional beam steering for 360 degree coverage, binaural noise reduction coordination, and binaural compression coordination, which is used to maintain left and right balancing of gain and sound, to further preserve directional cues. In addition, the Verso introduces a Music Mode feedback suppression algorithm, which will also be discussed in an upcoming report.

Both the Alera and Verso use the 2.4 gHz Unite wireless accessories for programming, control and audio streaming, as do their parallel Beltone private label models. These accessories are:

• Unite Mini Mic, which is a very powerful “spouse mic” that is a direct digital replacement for FM assistive devices. We at The Hearing Blog especially like this accessory, and strongly recommend it for all Alera and Verso owners;
• Unite Remote, which is their bidirectional remote control;
• Unite TV, which is their low-latency direct-to-hearing aid transmitter;
• Unite AirLink USB programmer transceiver, which can be used instead of a HiPro or NOAHlink programmer;
• Unite Phone Clip, which is their original Bluetooth streamer;
• Unite Phone Clip+ Bluetooth streamer and remote control, which is the subject of this review.

The original Phone Clip was, quite frankly a dog with cryptic flashing lights and button pushes. It had a poor quality 802.15.4 Bluetooth implementation, which caused all sorts of loss of pairing problems; and this was confirmed in our conversations with several GN ReSound insiders both in Minneapolis and Chicago. On the other end, when it came to the Phone Clip hearing aid connection, it also had a very poor antenna and weak transmitter, so that it had to be carefully oriented & within about 18” of the hearing aids for it to even work. These hardware problems have been fully addressed to our satisfaction in the Phone Clip+

The Phone Clip+ also took a page from the Widex M-Dex streamer/remote and incorporated much new functionality into this matchbox-sized device (continued past the jump):

ReSound Unite Mini Mic, Unite Phone Clip+, Widex M-Dex

Left to right: ReSound Unite Mini Mic, Unite Phone Clip+, and the much larger Widex M-Dex, compared to a standard business card for scale
Click to Enlarge

• Program shift: You can switch among the four programs in the Alera and Verso;
• “Room Off” microphone muting;
• Initiating and terminating a call; and if the phone has voice dialing, not even needing to take it out of your pocket or purse;
• Control of the actual hearing aid volume at any time;
• When used with the Control app, independent control of streamed (Bluetooth, Mini Mic or TV) audio and environmental (hearing aid mic) audio;
• Ability to remain paired to more than one Bluetooth source, which we have verified.

ReSound Control app screen shot composite 1

Left to right, top to bottom: GN ReSound Control app v1.0.0 screen shots operating in P2 with no streaming; with Bluetooth audio streaming; and Mini Mic audio streaming
Click to enlarge

To learn more, we recommend downloading the ReSound Unite Phone Clip+ Setup and Use Guide and FAQ, and the ReSound Control app FAQ.

Now, about that bug we uncovered…

There are two parts to ReSound hearing system iDevice connectivity:

• Basic Bluetooth 2.1 A2DP and headset connectivity;
• Status and programming communication from the Alera and Verso hearing aids to the Phone Clip+ which is then relayed on to the Control v.1.0.0 and Beltone SmartRemote v1.0.0 iDevice apps; and soon Android OS apps.

As it turns out, the coders and project managers didn’t quite do enough regression testing when they built the apps; and we spent an hour Sunday with Apple “Genius” Cathy Kennerck at their Naperville IL store chasing it down. Basically, the app works properly on iOS 6.0.1 running on the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and iPod Touch 5; and also runs properly on iOS 6.0.2 on the iPhone 5.

However, the Control app does not work properly on the iPod Touch 4/iOS 6.0.1, as the status and programming communications from the Phone Clip+ to the iPod Touch 4 is .NOT. properly detected and interpreted. When we discovered this flaw on Friday, we originally (and erroneously) attributed it to an iOS 6.0.1 bug that was fixed in the 6.0.2 release. However, Ms Kennerck did some checking, and the 6.0.1 6.0.2 update was only for the iPhone 5 to fix an AT&T connection issue. She also helped me eliminate whether my own iPod Touch 4 bought in August was the culprit, as she brought out a new iPod Touch 4 from stock, where we duplicated the problem. Thank you Cathy!

UPDATE 2

The situation with the iPod Touch 4 is getting “curiouser & curiouser:” Although we duplicated the problem on a virgin iPod Touch 4 at the Apple store, the people at GN ReSound couldn’t. When I suggested that it may have been a case of supposedly “identical” machines actually having extra libraries, parts of programs, and even kernel patches not uninstalled when doing testing (I’ve seen this happen before), they conducted additional tests on two virgin systems, and could not duplicate what we found.

Now, it gets even funkier: We conducted more tests on Wednesday, uninstalling and reinstalling the Control app… And suddenly it started working properly.

► Keep in mind that even with the Control app not working, the iPod Touch 4 always was able to properly use the Bluetooth headset profile for phone calls (on Skype) and A2DP stereo streaming for music; and that the program shift, muting and call initiate/terminate functions all worked properly ◄

On Friday (25 January) we conducted more testing: It was back to the Apple store for a complete wipe of our iPod Touch 4, and the Control app worked just fine. Then, we received two more Phone Clip+ units, so it was back again to the store with the two new devices, for two more system wipes. Each time, the Control app worked flawlessly with the two new devices, so we’re as puzzled as they are as to the gremlins we experienced. We are sending the original Phone Clip+ that experienced these gremlins to their lab for evaluation; but it appears that the issues we experienced were a one-off. We are now confident enough to start sending them to Alera and Verso users; but at least in the beginning we’ll be testing each one to assure they work properly before delivery.

This article will be continued in Part 2, which is in progress, where we will have a more thorough review of the Phone Clip+ and Verso system.

Comment problems:

It’s been brought to our attention from several of our readers that they were having their comments rejected by the Akismet plug-in for WordPress as spam. This is unacceptable to us; and we are soliciting suggestions for a replacement. Unfortunately, we have to use something to screen for spam, as we were receiving over 100 spam comments per day at its’ peak. In the interim, to save retyping, we recommend selecting & copying all of your text to the clipboard: If your comment is accidentally rejected, simply paste it into an e-mail message, put “Rejected Comment” in the subject line, and send it to us at Dan@Snip.Net and we’ll manually post it for you~

← ReSound Alera & Verso Wireless Streamed Audio Bass Boost HTC Rolls Out Windows Update For Hearing Aids App →

About the author

Dan Schwartz

Electrical Engineer, via Georgia Tech

30 Comments

  1. Gary
    January 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Hi Dan,

    I enjoy your site and hope you can keep up the good work by providing valuable information. I posted a few months back – and you gave the advice not to wait :-) Anyway, I meant to respond by saying that they were changing the rules here in NL (yes I am from Amsterdam) and that the benefits changed. Last year they paid max 500 euros or so and now it is 75% of the costs if you have more than 35db loss and you can prove you need it. Mine is 70db and 57db loss so I should qualify for a much better benefit.

    In the coming weeks I will decide which hearing to order and test and have read some good reviews about the Resound Verso but the information is severely limited. I find myself torn between 2 options that are supposed to have improved feedback suppression whilst offering excellent connectivity options.

    a) Resound Verso 9 BTE with phone clip+ and unite mic (for wired connections). Not sure if my audiologist will sell the airlink but will ask.

    It appears that Resound Verso ITE don’t offer binaural (ear to ear) functionality hence the BTE choice. Their connectivity devices are not neck loops which is a hugh plus. Do you know if the phone clip+ can be used to stream music over a longer distance (eg 1m away)? I read that it must be 15-30cm from the mouth but it is unclear what distance it can be for simply streaming music.

    b) Oticon Alta Pro ITE and streamer pro.

    From my research it looks like I can get ITE with binaural features from Oticon but then the streamer is a neck loop which tends to annoy me. It should be noted that the single streamer offers excellent connectivity including wired sources. It is new so I don’t expect any information but I did try the Oticon Agil Pro BTE and I was impressed with the sound quality.

    It is getting difficult to choose these days with all the choices. Sadly there is no perfect solution but it is extremely positive to see all the advances that have been made.

    Best regards,
    Gary


    • Dan Schwartz
      January 21, 2013 at 6:16 pm

      Gary, many of the questions you have will be answered in part 2 of my Sound Clip+ review — We needed to get part 1 out the door because of the iPod Touch 4 bug we uncovered.

      Briefly, I have a brand new pair of Verso 988 instruments that arrived last Monday with my Phone Clip+, and I really like them. As for the issue of distances, while the original Phone Clip struggled to connect 18″ away, the new one has well over 20 feet range — Just about as much as the Mini Mic. There’s an undocumented trick in the Verso setup in Aventa for asymmetrical losses, especially when using the Control app.

      That brings us to the Oticon system: Although the Agil Pro is a Very Good Instrument, unfortunately their “spouse mic” leaves a lot to be desired, as was reported to me by a hearing impaired composer & sound engineer: The sound quality is awful; and also the latency is bad, as it uses Bluetooth 2.1 for transmission to the Streamer; while the ReSound Unite Mini Mic uses a low latency, proprietary 2.4 gHz signal (sort of, but not quite Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (BLE)).

      I don’t have final measurements yet, but the Achilles heel of the ReSound system is battery drain, at least while receiving streaming audio from the Mini Mic, TV transmitter, and Phone Clip+. If you are going to use wireless streaming into your hearing aids all day, every day, then the Widex Clear 440 or Super 440 may be a better way to go; or if you want the Verso, you can use direct audio input (DAI) boots, which will minimize the battery drain, especially since the power-hungry anti-feedback processing will be minimal.


  2. Charles Mokotoff
    January 21, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Dan,
    Thanks for this, very interesting. Do you know if there will be any iPhone to Phonak relationship?
    Charles


    • Dan Schwartz
      January 22, 2013 at 12:41 am

      Hi Charles!
      We’re sure the guys at Sonova (Phonak, Unitron and Advanced Bionics) are busy at work on Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (BLE) communications for their various devices; even though their current legacy systems use 10.6 mHz “near field” communications. We also know that the AB Harmony CI speech processor had Bluetooth hardware hooks in it, all the way back in 2005, using the headpiece coil as the antenna. ;-)


  3. Gary
    January 22, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the answers. I look forward to your review and am especially curious about the battery drain. ;). I mainly just want to put the phone clip+ on the desk, backpack or in my pocket. I only really listen to music whilst travelling to and from work and then be able to handle the odd phone call etc. so I think it will be good enough. My goal is not to have to take out my hearing aids (phones and headphones).

    Gary


  4. Hearing Aids Sydney
    January 24, 2013 at 2:50 am

    Really you are doing so good job..I just wait for your next post.Thanks for sharing this post for all of us.. I just wait for your next post which may be so helpful like this..:-)
    Hearing Aids Sydney


  5. hank
    January 28, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    I have the Verso 9 BTE and just got the Unite Phone Clip + last week. It works fine with my iphone 4, but I’m hoping maybe I can improve the awful tinny sound of streaming music by changing the eq settings on one of my H.A. preset programs. I don’t know if that would work, but I sent email to Resound asking them about it before I speak to my Aud. Didn’t want to sound stupid:-)


  6. Chris Koontz
    February 20, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I am anxiously awaiting part 2 of this article. I’d love to know about the battery life of the device, and it’s impact on hearing aid battery life. Also, does music streamed through the phoneclip+ sound flat and muted, or do you feel like you are getting the full range of sound through it?


    • Dan Schwartz
      February 20, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      Chris, the battery drain for any device while receiving digital is going to be high: It’s the nature of the beast.
      As I’m typing this reply, I’m listening to Old School 94.5 FM through my iPhone 5, Phone Clip Plus and Verso 988’s, and the audio quality is very good — It sounds (at least to my own broken ears) the same as my insert earphones~


  7. Ron
    March 10, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Any comments on the quality of the hearing aid user’s voice on the phone call? That was another thing dinged in the old (non-plus) phone clip.


    • Dan Schwartz
      March 10, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      Ron, I use a Phone Clip Plus myself, and friends have said the transmitted speech is much clearer.
      Incidentally, Oticon’s new Streamer Pro has two mics for better transmitted audio, similar to the iPhone 5~


  8. Hank
    May 12, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Hi,I’m back. I have a pair of the Verso 9 BTE and the Unite Phone Clip+. As a follow up to my previous comment in January, My audiologist was able to make some adjustments to the eq to improve my listening to music that I had complained about in January. The best improvement came though by using an App I downloaded to my Iphone4 (EQu) that enables me to adjust eq myself as needed. Still not like a good pair of ear buds, but better.
    My reason to write now is I have experienced some drop outs and random program changes using the Unite Phone Clip+ and the “auto” dialer has a “hair trigger” sometimes dialing the last number I called causing me to frantically try and stop the out going call. Anyone experiencing any problems?


    • Dan Schwartz
      May 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Hank, is your iPhone 4 jailbroken? One of our patients has a jailbroken iPhone 3G & is having “issues.”

      Thank you for the heads-up on the EQu app from Elephantcandy: I’m downloading a copy as we speak!


  9. Hank
    May 27, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Hi Dan,
    My iphone 4 was jailbroken, but is no longer. When I downloaded the newest Apple update it un jailbroke it and I haven’t bothered to redo it, so I don’t think it is an issue. Interested to know also what you think of EQu app?


    • Dan Schwartz
      June 1, 2013 at 10:09 am

      Hank, I really like the EQu app; and I may have an upcoming article on it!


  10. Bob
    June 15, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I’m a little confused.Is it possible to pair your Iphone with the Unite Phone clip so that the receiver streams through your hearing aids but the microphone on the phone picks up your speech? Wouldn’t that make more sense than speaking into an external microphone?


    • Dan Schwartz
      June 15, 2013 at 11:00 am

      Bob, although I tend to agree, I think it’s an issue with iOS.


  11. martin
    December 11, 2013 at 7:35 am

    Hi

    I have a phone clip with my aids, but the quality just seems “wrong”. Not sure how best to explain, but for example speaking face to face I would hear what I can normally and the aids would top up what I can’t. It seems with the phone conversation I don’t get the “normal” bit but just the top up through my aids. Is this right or has my phone clip not been set up right?


    • Dan Schwartz
      December 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Martin, do you have a high frequency hearing loss; and do your hearing aids have open fit eartips?


  12. martin
    December 16, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Yes I do and yes they do.


  13. Martin
    December 26, 2013 at 5:03 am

    Hi Dan

    Was there a reason for your previous comment? You have me curious that you were able to guess my hearing condition.


    • Dan Schwartz
      December 26, 2013 at 11:42 am

      Martin, here was the tip-off:

      speaking face to face I would hear what I can normally and the aids would top up what I can’t. It seems with the phone conversation I don’t get the “normal” bit but just the top up through my aids.


      • Arpi
        May 19, 2014 at 9:59 pm

        Resound Sparx Hearing Aids w/Bluetooth Question? My audiologist has ordered new Resound Sparx hearing aids, he informed me that they have Bluetooth, but i’m trying to determine if that feature is actually built into the hearing aid or is it an add-on like the Beetle H-2? If it’s the Beetle H-2 i’d be sort of disappointed because I already have one and showed the doctor (since i’m sure if he ordered it I just paid 500% more then it’s worth), but if it is Integrated into the device or an add-on to the HA itself that would be pretty cool. I would call the doctor but he is out of the office until Tuesday (9/29).Resounds website doesn’t list anything except a Beetle BT t-coil.


        • Dan Schwartz
          May 24, 2014 at 1:34 pm

          First off, although the ReSound Sparx is a good super power hearing aid, it has been replaced with the Magna. This hearing aid has the same massive power, but also has nanocoating to extend the life of the hardware.

          In addition, the Magna has three audiological features — Two of them new — that are noteworthy:

          • Carrying over from the Sparx, the Magna can be locked into true linear mode to mimic an analog hearing aid, with wide dynamic range compression fully disabled for people who lack temporal resolution and instead depend on speech envelope detection, such as those who have profound losses and ANSD sufferers;

          • Nonlinear frequency compression has been added, bahaving similarly to that from Phonak, Unitron & Siemens (but different than the frequency lowering from Starkey, Widex and Bernafon);

          • An acclimatization manager, to slowly ratchet up the gain to target levels, cutting down on return trips for adjustment.

          However, the Magna lacks wireless connectivity of any sort, including for inter-ear coordination as well as wireless streaming. For this, we recommend the Siemens Nitro on the Micon DSP platform along with the Bluetooth 4.0-compatible miniTek streamer.


  14. Martin
    December 26, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    It was a civil question that a was looking for a genuine answer. Not really sarcasm.


    • Dan Schwartz
      December 26, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Martin, we apologize if it seemed sarcastic, so let us try to re-phrase what you are experiencing. Basically, with a high frequency loss the hearing aids are adjusted to only provide gain where you need it. This is accomplished with little-to-no gain in the low frequencies and the use of open fit earmolds to both allow ambient low frequency sounds to enter, and also to “bleed off” low frequencies.

      The effect you are experiencing with the phone is that there are no ambient sounds: The hearing aid needs to reproduce the entire spectrum, but because of the open fit earmolds “bleeding off” the low frequencies, you do not receive the full spectrum.

      Bring this to the attention of your audiologist, and s/he can boost the low frequency gain when you’re receiving streaming audio.


  15. Martin
    December 27, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Thank you.


  16. Kerry Gifford
    January 31, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Dan,

    Last month I purchased a pair of Verso 988 Hi-Pwr aids with use of full earmolds. I also purchased the Phone Clip Plus as well as the Mini Mic. In addition, I also have the iPhone 5s and I have installed ReSound’s app. The problem that I’m experiencing is that when I try to use the iPhone’s camera and press the shutter button, my aids briefly switches to phone clip plus streaming mode, and then switches back to Normal program. All this program changing (Normal->Phone Clip->Normal) occurs in about 10-15 seconds. This program changing is more annoying because I configured the aids thru Aventa fitting software for the microphones to be muted whenever the phone clip+ goes into streaming mode. So whenever this camera/shutter problem occurs, I’m totally deaf and if anyone is talking to me, I will miss it.
    Another exact program changing incident occurs when I try to use my iPhone to scan a QR code.
    My audi have been told about this and she has forwarded this issue to the appropriate ReSound personnel. I have yet to hear back on this issue.
    My question to you and anyone else who has the Verso 988 along with phone clip plus and iPhones is experiencing the same problem as I am, and has anyone learned the cause and possibly the fix to this problem.
    Thanks.


    • glen
      July 22, 2014 at 1:17 am

      hi dan,do you know how to control the streaming of music from phone or mp3/laptop to Verso 9 HA’s? As in turn the music on and off with one touch of a button while listening to music with the phone clip+,like you can with the phonak compilot,as i could just walk around out shopping or at work and stop and start the streaming at will if i needed to speak or listen to anybody,because at the moment i have to turn off the phone clip or unlock the phone screen and then turn the streamed music off from there? either way it doesn’t automatically reconnect! so i have to repair the connection again which of course is just a pain! is this a limitation of the phone clip+ ? i’m using the same ph as when i used the compilot so im sure its not my phone(S4)
      Any help in trying to sort this out would be great.


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