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Phonak, one of the world’s leading hearing aid manufacturers has upgraded its highly successful Audeo S range with the new Audeo Q. Although the Audeo name continues its legacy, the transition from S to Q reflects the internal change as Phonak have used their latest Quest chip platform within the new Audeo. There are external changes too with the historic Smart, Mini and Yes product formats being dropped in favour of the new Q-10, Q312T and Q312. Although new the shape, design and comprehensive colour palette will be familiar to many previous Phonak users. As previously, Phonak has presented the Audeo at four different technology levels and the Q-90 is the highest specification available of the current Audeo Q. The Q-90 is labelled as a "premium" product by Phonak so what does one get from the best that this top rated manufacturer has to offer? At its core is a 20 channel sound processor. Put simply the more channels the better the ability of the hearing aid to closely match your specific hearing loss. The lowest level of Audeo Q, the Q-30, has 8 channels and the higher you go the more you get. 20 channels should certainly provide a premium match. Not only does the Quest chip operate across 20 channels but it also processes sound very quickly which enables much more complex algorithms to run in real time, and the Q-90 is loaded with sound processing algorithms. For the end user the sound processing algorithms can be divided in to two fundamental types, those that improve the sound and those that take away unwanted noise. The improvement comes from a long list of algorithms but possibly the directionality suite will provide the most benefit in the difficult speech in noise situations. The Phonak UltraZoom directional system is amongst the best there is so in its Premium guise and in combination with auto ZoomControl one can expect the Audeo Q-90 to focus on the speech better than most systems. Phonak do quote a 45% improvement in speech understanding using this system but how a percentage figure from a research lab translates into the reality of noisy streets, pubs, restaurants etc. will be up to you to comment on. It is reasonable to expect a very high performance from such an advanced device. The second set of algorithms deal with reduction, removal or suppression of unwanted noise such as the whistle from feedback or the wind noise caused by air moving across microphones. The Audeo Q-90 has WhistleBlock, Premium NoiseBlock and either Enhanced WindBlock or Binaural WindBlock – these are the most advanced algorithms, de-featured versions of which do appear lower down the technology chain. In addition the Q-90 has certain algorithms such as EchoBlock that do not feature at all except on this premium model. Even without going into the detail of this world of jargon and Phonak proprietary naming, it is clear that the Audeo Q-90 is fully loaded with the best that Phonak has to offer. Across the Audeo Q range there is wireless compatibility on offer from the Q-312 and the Q-312T as well as a feature that will assist in the alleviation of tinnitus which is common amongst those suffering from hearing impairment. In summary, the Audeo Q is all that we have come to expect from Phonak and this top end range will deliver the best assistance in the most demanding circumstances. We have no hesitation in recommending the Audeo Q-90 as a serious contender for the best device that money can buy.
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