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In a departure from their previous model ranges Phonak have divided their technology levels in to ITE (in the ear) products under the Virto brand and BTE (behind the ear) products under the Bolero brand. The technology level is indicated by the Q number with the higher the number, the higher the technology. There are three Q levels – The Q90, Q70 and Q50. So match those together and the Virto Q90 is their top technology In The Ear product range. In addition to the Q levels, the Virto and Bolero there is also the Nano which for a while now has been Phonak’s smallest in the ear format and treated as an extension to their core ITE range. The Virto Q90 is therefore Phonak’s top of the range In The Ear portfolio. It is available in standard formats of ITE (in the ear), ITC (in the canal), CIC (completely in the canal) and Nano (invisible in the canal). These products are available with five different colour faceplates and eight different colour shells. I am not sure that we necessarily need to have such a wide selection to choose from but it is nice of Phonak to offer! The most important aspect with any high end product is not so much what it looks like but what is inside and how does that perform? At the heart of the Virto Q90 is Phonak’s new chip the QUEST which replaces the highly rated SPICE platform. If we go beyond the chip that drives the hearing aid there are baffling amounts of sound processing algorithms to filter, tune, amplify, improve and wirelessly connect the product. If we were just to list the algorithm names that Phonak attribute to the Virto Q90 it would run to over twenty different features, so let’s just focus on a few. There are three main categories to which Phonak allocate the features. The first is "Understanding Everywhere" which houses the following – Speech In Wind, auto StereoZoom, auto ZoomControl, DuoPhone, StereoZoom and ZoomControl. Fortunately their naming policy is fairly intuitive but if you cannot read between the lines of the names you can rest assured that this comprehensive list of features provides excellent sound processing wherever you are. The next Virto Q90 category is "Understanding Everything" and this is the high level wrapper for the following algorithms – SoundRecover, UltraZoom, SoundFlow, FlexControl, FlexVolume, Real Ear Sound, QuickSunc. Once again a bewildering list but in the hands of a professional you can rest assured that these will deliver real benefit to your ability to understand the world around you. Lastly, Phonak have named a category "Understanding With Comfort" which has the following subsets to it – AuotAcclimitization (!), WhistleBlock, WindBlock, SoundRelax, NoiseBlock and EchoBlock. Most of these have been used within the preceding technology of the Phonak Ambra so we can say with confidence that they do deliver a very comfortable sound. The screeching, whistling and jarring sounds of yesterday’s hearing aids can be consigned to memory with these algorithms operating. In summary, the Virto Q90 is currently Phonak’s best and that in itself should be enough to convince most people that this is well worth further investigation.
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