First Impression: Lyric hearing aid

The Lyric holds a one-of-a-kind position in the world of hearing aids. It is certainly one of the most discreet hearing aids ever built. As I write this, Starkey is the only other manufacturer with anything even remotely similar (I’ll have a review of that model near the end of May). The Lyric has generated a lot of press coverage, which is unusual for a hearing aid. There are also conflicting claims to be found about the comfort and performance of Lyric hearing aids. Here are insights of what I have discovered thus far, as I learn along with you.

What to really like.

Most striking is how comprehensive and thorough the Lyric fitting protocol is. Nobody else does it as well. Why do I mention this first? Because it is a key factor to your satisfaction both initially, and throughout the years ahead. I’ll bet you have heard people say “I tried hearing aids once, but they didn’t work.” That’s not too surprising, considering there have been tremendous advances in hearing aid technology, but there has been scarce improvement in methods to help audiologists select the best aid for you. An audiologist’s intuition can work wonders in many ways (that’s why you want to choose a really good one), but intuition is not very good at selecting the perfect instrument for your needs. The Lyric protocol is quite a leap forward in this regard.

As mentioned, its small size is attractive. This thing really is invisible. While I’m sure the tiny size will be appreciated, there are substantial acoustic benefits as well. Our ears are well-designed collectors of sound. They sort and define what we hear. Unfortunately, most hearing aids alter that natural ability to the point that an audiologist must add significant additional correction to compensate for what the hearing aid takes away. Because Lyric sits deep in the canal, your natural hearing abilities are retained and very little compensation is necessary. Your audiologist can instead focus on helping you hear better. (That’s the really fun part.)

Lyric has programmable analog amplification, and I like that. This seems an odd comment to make in a world that is rapidly going digital, but there are still situations where an analog circuit is a better choice and I believe this is one of those cases. A lot of people seem to agree. According to stats provided by InSound Medical, 90% of those who try Lyric think it sounds better than their previous aid. Because the speaker is so close to the eardrum, you need less power plus you get better correction for your hearing loss. The result is natural sound quality and a long battery life. That’s a good combination.

The Lyric is designed to be replaced about four to five times a year, and the replacement process is fast – ten to fifteen minutes per visit. This means you will never have to wait days or weeks for your hearing aid to come back from repair. That alone is good, but the part that really impressed me is this: When improvements are made, whether it be to comfort, size or performance, you will always get the latests developments at no additional charge. Wow. I love that idea.

Adding to my “Like It” list is how wonderfully simple the Lyric is to operate and wear. It’s as close to set it and forget it as there is (for a few months!). You will not have to change batteries. There is a volume control, which has recently become an endangered species. I know the majority of my patients want a volume control, so this feature is a welcome surprise. My thought is if a hearing aid has a volume control, you can choose whether to use it or not.

What’s not so great.

There are three areas of concern that I noticed. First, if you have a severe hearing loss or worse, you’re out of luck. Maybe someday that will change.

The second area of concern regards how a Lyric fits into the ear canal, and this concern actually has two components. Your ear canal has to be of the proper diameter and shape. Though soft and pliable, a Lyric doesn’t fit everyone. My other concern centers around reports of people who experience ear soreness. It appears this complaint, while frequent with the first version, seems to have all but disappeared after InSound made changes to the flanges that keep the aid in place. Knowing that soothes my concern a great deal.

The last “not so great” applies only if you are an avid swimmer. The Lyric is water resistant, not water proof. Shower with it and there’s no problem unless you angle your head to fill your ear with water. If you like baths, don’t do a Julia Roberts-like, Pretty Woman head dunk unless you like to spend money foolishly. Soapy water and bubbles do nasty things to hearing aids. For swimmers, you need to seal your ear canal so water can’t get in. Don’t worry though, there are products that will do this.

And the verdict is……

Keeping in mind that your opinion and thoughts are what really matter, here’s my take. The Lyric seems to be a remarkable, solid product for those whose hearing loss, ear size and lifestyle fit within the confines that InSound Medical has painstakingly created. The ease of use, good sound quality and performance are what initially got my attention, and is why I’m really excited about this. In a short time I’ll know even better if there are other points worth mentioning, and I’ll update my thoughts here when I learn more. In the meantime, feel free to ask me your questions and add your comments.

Wait. Didn’t you forget something?

You can go to the Lyric website to find all kinds of testimonials about how great the comfort is, how simple it is to use, and about the nice sound quality. Every large manufacturer, including InSound Medical, has teams of researchers who ask people these types of questions every day, and I have no reason to question the accuracy of the claims made by individuals. Yet because I have absolutely no way of knowing beforehand what your experience will be like, I feel better just pointing out that people’s reactions vary. What is most important is how well something works for you. Please remember that I’ll listen to you and take your observations very seriously. They are my roadmap and bible when working with you.

Thank you for your and interest, and patience! I appreciate both, and truly look forward to meeting you.

About Barb Street, MA


2 responses to “First Impression: Lyric hearing aid

  • Dan Schwartz

    Barbara Jenkins PhD has reported on the Better Hearing Institute blog that she’s averaging about 50% of her patients that ask for the Lyric actually qualify.

    Extrapolating from my experience with the Philips XP Peritympanic in 1992, I would bifurcate Barbara’s results to about 60% male & 40% female.

    Also, indeed I am getting good reports on the Starkey Oto-Lens from both a traditional dispenser in Florida and a dispensing audie in LA, as it’s a good alternative to the Lyric.

    Dan Schwartz
    Editor, The Hearing Blog
    Cherry Hill, New Jersey

  • iris

    Thanks for writing the LYric article. I’m currently investigating it. I live in Chicago and my audiologist has suggested I try it. Not sure whether it will work as my loss is pretty bad ( don’t have the numbers handy) and am currently using Oticon Epoq plus. No problem with volume, just clarity and it’s possible Lyric will help. I sure hope so!

    Did you ever write the Starkey article?

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