BERNAFON ALPHA— ALL SINGING, ALL DANCING, ALL HEARING
What do you give the man/woman (with hearing loss) who has everything? Bernafon Alpha hearing aids.
We don’t think the best thing to come out of Switzerland is watches — we think it’s hearing aids. Nothing beats the shocked smile on a client’s face when you switch on a set of Alphas in their ears. To be fair, programmed properly, a lot of hearing aids can do this, but Bernafon really do seem to have aligned their stars pretty impressively here.
Bernafon describes their sound as “simply closer to reality”, which is a reserved, Swiss way of saying “incredibly natural”, clear sound. Alpha wearers tend to emphatically agree with this, so understandably, we all want to know how Bernafon have managed to approach the holy grail of hearing aid ambitions and deliver so convincingly.
The answer lies firstly, in their comprehensive scientific white-paper research into the brain’s interpretation of sound, which displays critical understanding and analysis of data, which provides firm, confident direction in their product development.
Secondly, there’s the little matter of the computer processing chip placed within each device that just so happens to be the fastest in the world. Although it would need to be — in order to process all this wealth of data so efficiently and effectively. It processes sound signals 32,000 times a second, which is so quick the wearer cannot detect any delay in the sound, therefore resulting in half the reason the overall experience is so natural. Slower speeds result in the wearer hearing what they describe as “echoey sound”.
So essentially, what you end up with is something awe-inspiring, designed to do one simple job — realistic, clear sound. Anywhere. It’s a simple premise with a complex framework. You have to admire Bernafon for this, but there’s one catch.
When fitted with Bernafon Alphas, clients hear everything. We mean everything. For a new wearer, this can be absolutely mind-blowing, as they frequently describe the initial switch-on experience like they’ve been transported back to their 20s, or something like that. Sound comes flooding in and fills up their world, but with an important stand-out aspect.
Regardless of the environment, the wearer receives speech over and above any competing sound. The main difference that Bernafon brings to the proceedings is that this doesn’t come at the detriment of other sounds, like music or the general atmosphere in a room.
This is the reason they maintain the naturalistic element to their hearing aids. It goes against most of the competition’s methods, as the foundations are different. Remember the catch?
Some people like to have a bit of control over general sounds, to make life a bit calmer, even if it means experiencing a more artificial sound. Bernafon don’t really offer that, as it goes against what they stand for, which is to ultimately offer people the very best chance of comprehending speech.
Existing hearing aids wearers can sometimes experience a bit of a shock when upgrading to Bernafon Alpha hearing aids. They often describe it as suddenly having all the gaps filled in, as sounds are heard differently and refreshingly to that of their old, familiar aids.
Some people can find this quite unnerving and can have a tricky time rehabilitating to sound. The rewards are there, as long as the client isn’t too set with their conventional, long-standing hearing aids.
As with many new-generation hearing products, there are great plus points that are now considered standard in hearing aid technology.
You get 23 hours’ charge with the Bernafon Alpha rechargeable option, due to the lithium-ion battery incorporated into the hearing aids and a clever docking station, which holds one in each port whilst they wirelessly charge. A three-hour charge is enough to provide this. Bernafon is one of only two manufacturers (Oticon being the other one) that allows for the lithium batteries to be changed manually, rather than having to send them away. That’s normally after three years of consistent use.
Alphas will stream phone calls and music straight from iPhones & Android 10 and above phones and, giving perfect quality directly in your ears. Understandably, this is an incredibly popular feature because unlike literally any pair of high-quality headphones or earphones from Bose, Sony and the like, the sound takes into account your hearing loss and adjusts the sound accordingly. The result is gorgeous.
The must-have app to change the volume, programs and check the battery level. By subscribing to the IFTTT service, it’s possible to connect to various IoT-based devices and create alerts. There’s even a “Find my hearing aid” function, just in case.
For Android users, there’s a device called a Mobile Clip that allows the same benefits as above, but through this tiny clip-on rechargeable product that streams from the mobile phone to the hearing aids. A nice little benefit of this is that whilst streaming a phone call or music, you don’t need to hold the phone to your ear. Simply keep it about your person and the experience will be truly hands-free. The Mobile Clip device will detect your voice and wirelessly send it to your phone.
TV-A (TV adapter)
Bernafon also provides an optional TV streaming box, which will stream the sound of your TV directly into your hearing aids — similar to the smartphone functionality. This is an awesome addition, as you get complete control over the sound and you hear almost every word on every programme on every channel.
RC-A (remote control)
This remote control makes for smooth and discreet hearing aid operation. Lightweight, with excellent tactility and low power consumption.
SoundGate gives you the freedom to listen with your hearing aids to a number of wired and wireless audio sources. It works as an interface between some Bernafon hearing aids and Bluetooth® enabled mobile phones.