Roger Smith agreed to share a blog he wrote about picking the right Cochlear Wireless Accessory on his blog Now Hear This.
Cochlear now offers a line of Wireless Accessories for use with the Nucleus 6 (CP910 or CP920) processors and Baha 4 sound processors. These accessories are really a game changer for CI users because they assist users in the most common challenging situations: hearing in noise, and hearing over a distance. They also offer the incredible convenience of no wires, easy to use, light weight and low cost. BUT, which one is right for you? I’ll talk about each one and let you decide for yourself you may end up getting all three!)
Cochlear Wireless Accessories are compatible with Nucleus 6 sound processors, Baha 4 sound processors and certain ReSound, Beltone and Interton hearing aids. Consult your local Cochlear office for information on compatible HA.
Cochlear Wireless Mini Microphone
The Mini Microphone is a small portable microphone that can stream from a sound source directly to your N6 processor and any compatible HA. A sound source can be a person’s mouth, but it can also be a TV speaker, speaker phone, MP3 player, laptop, etc… You can either set the Mini Mic next to a speaker or connect directly using a line-in cable and jack. There are countless ways (see my other blogs for fun uses) to use the Mini Microphone but here are some examples:
- At dinner with spouse
- At a lecture or class
- A business meeting
- Next to a TV when travelling
- Listen to music from smart phone
- Stream audio on an airplane from headphone jack
- Hear friend while cycling
- it’s really endless!
There are a few things to understand about the Mini Microphone:
- It only streams in Mono (as opposed to stereo). So when watching TV or listening to music you won’t get the R and L balancing that stereo provides. You will still get synchronised sound in each ear.
- It does not connect to any Bluetooth devices wirelessly (the wireless link is to your processor) but it does allow you to connect via a 3.5mm cable. Which means you can plug into anything that has a 3.5mm audio output jack (i.e headphone jack) and stream the audio
- When you connect to something via the headphone jack, this usually turns off the external speakers so no one else can hear the sounds
The Mini Microphone is very versatile and provides incredible benefits in noise and over a distance. I cannot stress this enough – I have been in situations where I could not hear the person standing right next to me because of extreme background noise and then gave them the Mini Microphone and could hear 100%! Massive improvement, and with minimal effort too. If I had to get one device, I’d get the Mini Microphone, hands down.
Cochlear Wireless Phone Clip
The Phone Clip is a relay device that lets you connect wirelessly to any Bluetooth device and stream audio to your processors. You get great sound quality streamed directly to your processor(s) and this makes talking on the phone a lot better. It also means hands free calling for safer driving and multi-tasking (like cooking dinner while talking to Mom in Iowa). You can also stream in stereo (provided you have 2 processors or a processor and compatible HA). So when streaming music, this is a nice touch but it may not be that important to you, you have to decide. You can connect to all kinds of Bluetooth devices such as smart phone, tablet, laptop etc… A few things about Phone Clip:
- The Phone Clip connects with your phone via Bluetooth proprietary protocol
- The Phone Clip connects with you processor or HA via a different proprietary wireless protocol
- You cannot connect your processor via Bluetooth to a Bluetooth device – this would take too much batter power from your processor
- You can stream in stereo
- The Bluetooth protocol from Phone Clip to phone, adds some delay and this may make streaming video with sound unsynchronised
- The Phone Clip does not function as a wireless microphone, so you can’t have a friend wear it at dinner to stream her voice
The Phone Clip has really changed the way I use the phone. Before I used to screen calls and only answer the ones I recognised and I still sometimes struggled but now, I’m confident to answer any call because I can hear with 2 ears. It has been amazing for me with conference calls because a can hear and be hands free to take notes or multi-task. I don’t stream music all that much but when I do, it sounds fantastic and I would imagine things like working out, cycling, walking etc would be really enjoyable with music. If you spend a lot of time on the phone the Phone Clip is an great option.
Cochlear Wireless TV Streamer
The TV Streamer is the poor step sister of the Mini Microphone and Phone Clip, but don’t underestimate its benefit. Because the TV Streamer is not meant to be portable, you connect it to your favourite TV and its always there, waiting for you and ready to stream. When you plop down in your La-Z-Boy recliner after dinner, all you have to do is start streaming (a press of the button on your processor or remote does this) and you get clear, stereo sound – at the volume that’s right for you. You get your own personal volume so it doesn’t impact the other listeners. And since the sound is streamed directly to your processors, there’s no echo or reverberation from the room so its amazingly clear. I have stopped using the closed caption for the first time in over 20 years! So while the TV Streamer is not as sexy as the other accessories, it works, and works really well. It you like to watch a lot of TV or movies at home, the TV Streamer is a perfect option.
Still can’t decide?
Talk to your clinician, they can help you decide and will probably understand your hearing situation even better than you. I don’t think you can go wrong with any choice because they work so well. You just might find you need to get another one!
Roger also has several more great blogs regarding Wireless, including a whole series about his experiences using his Mini Mic: