Starkey Hearing Aids....A Little History

Starkey Laboratories is the world's leader in manufacturing of custom hearing aids. Starkey hearing aids are considered to be among the most highly regarded manufacturers in the world.

In 1967, William Austin started an all-make repair service in St. Louis Park, Minnesota called Professional Hearing Aid Service. Later in 1971, he would purchase a small earmold company from Harold Starkey. The name of the small lab was called Starkey Laboratories. Austin kept the name Starkey.

Starkey first manufactured an In-the-Ear hearing aid in 1973 called the CE-1. They offered an unheard of at the time 90-trial period and 1-year "Worry-Free" warranty. William Austin believed the less obvious a hearing aid was, the more likely people with hearing loss would wear them.

Over the next several years, Austin built Starkey into the world leader of custom designed hearing aids.

Starkey releases the first canal hearing aid in 1982 called the CE-5.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan is fitted with the Intra hearing aid made by Starkey. The President wearing hearing aids encourages wider acceptance among the general public.This creates a boost in sales for all hearing aid manufacturers.

The Tympanette is introduced in 1993. This new instrument is designed to fit completely inside the ear canal. This type of fitting has acoustic as well as cosmetic benefits. Today it is known as the completely in canal (CIC) hearing aid.

By 2000, Starkey Labs had operations throughout the world. Starkey and other manufacturers continued to move forward to develop digital hearing aid technology.

Subsidiaries of Starkey include Micro Tech Hearing Aids, NuEar Electronics, Qualitone, Audibel, and Omni Hearing Systems.

Starkey Hearing Aids Today

Digital hearing aids were just really starting to gain popularity in the late nineties and early 2000. The hearing aid industry struggled to perfect early digital hearing aid technology. Starkey was no exception. They had more than their fair share of problems with digital hearing aids. I really avoided fitting Starkey hearing aids. There just were too many issues with performance and reliability.

However by 2006, Starkey had made great gains with digital hearing instruments. They released the Starkey Destiny hearing aid line. And totally revamped the fitting software. Destiny is the first hearing aid to use both digital and nano technology.

S Series, S Series IQ, and OtoLens are the latest Starkey hearing aids.

The S Series was built on the infrastructure of the Destiny Series hearing aid. They took a good hearing instrument and made it even better. I really like the feedback cancellation system in the S Series hearing aids. I can fit my patients now and not have to worry about them getting that annoying feedback or whistling. In the past, I would have to reduce the overall gain or amplification of the aid to eliminate feedback. When you reduce the gain, then you're reducing how well the patient can hear. So now I am able to fit my patients with a more cosmetically pleasing instrument and still have enough amplification to properly correct their hearing.

Okay. So this is where it can get a little bit confusing. I could list all the features of the S Series and the S Series IQ, but I'm not. Well, at least not right now.

I'll list all the features of both below. You probably just want to know what the difference is between the two. So I'll make it easy.

The Starkey S Series IQ is the newer of the two hearing devices. The S Series IQ has all the features of the S Series with one addition. Starkey added Voice IQ.

What is Voice IQ? Basically it's a voice enhancer and noise management system.

Starkey says "Voice IQ is so fast and smart it reduces noise between syllables of speech. Its two-part algorithm uses dynamic voice identification, coupled with a spectral noise control that calculates appropriate gain on a per channel basis. The result is unprecedented sound quality, ease of listening, and intelligibility of speech in noise".

Wow! That's a mouthful! Remember, that's Starkey's words, not mine.

So like I said above, it's a voice enhancer and noise control or management system. The difference between the two is that the IQ is more sophisticated.

Many Starkey hearing aids have noise management systems and a few even have voice or speech enhancers.

What makes the Voice IQ superior? When it reduces background noise, it only reduces it to the level of speech. The problem with most noise management systems is that when it reduces background noise, it also reduces speech sounds. This still makes it difficult for you to hear speech in background noise.

Still not quite the same as having normal hearing. But Starkey is getting closer here with the Voice IQ in the S Series IQ hearing aid.

Here's a tip. If you are considering hearing aids. And you are considering Starkey hearing aids. Be sure to ask your audiologist or hearing instrument specialist which model they are fitting. Most dispensers should be fitting the newer IQ series by now. But it doesn't hurt to ask. The price difference should be minimal if any.

Below is a feature summary from Starkey for the S Series and the S Series IQ hearing aids. I'll give you that technical information first followed by a short summary.

Voice IQ. I'll spare you the technical part on this since I explained it above. Just remember this is a feature of the S Series IQ only.

"Leave it to Starkey to bring the simplicity of touch control to the hearing aid industry. Our Sweep Technology replaces tiny buttons and dials with an intuitive touch surface. Now patients can make volume and memory adjustments with sweep or touch of a finger."

This simply is a volume button or memory button that uses the sweep motion of your finger to adjust the aid. The same technology used on the Apple iphones and Verizon's Android. It sounds cool but it's a little difficult for patients to use. I find that most people prefer something more tangible to feel with their fingers. It's fairly easy to use when holding the hearing aid in front of you. But when it's hanging on your ear, it becomes more difficult to feel the area to sweep with your finger.

"Starkey's industry-leading PureWave Feedback Eliminator puts S Series and S Series IQ in a class all its own with more robust feedback cancellation and intelligent artifact elimination to ensure you get the best possible performance in every listening environment."

Feedback cancellation system reduces that annoying whistling you get sometimes when you increase the volume of your hearing aid. Starkey has done a great job here. Feedback is virtually eliminated even with high power aids.

"All S Series and S Series IQ standard Starkey hearing aids feature Advanced HydraShield. Starkey's proprietary moisture protection system that integrates nano-coating, unibody construction and smart component placement. The result is a hearing aid uniquely designed to have superior water resistance both inside and out."

This makes the hearing aids water resistant. Remember water resistant, not waterproof.

"Based on clinical performance measures and patient-proven results InVision Directionality, our industry-leading directional system, is designed to better perform in highly complex backgrounds of noise. S Series and S Series IQ boasts the highest mean DI scores and the lowest operational noise floor, helping you significantly increase your understanding in noise."

These are the directional microphones on the hearing aid. This type of microphone picks up sounds in front of you and on the sides better than behind you.

"Starkey Hearing Aids was the first company to integrate real-ear measurement into a hearing aid. Now Live Real Ear Measurement in the S Series and S Series IQ takes this capability to the next level. With this system and the power of Inspire fitting software, you can see the hearing aid output in your ear, while the system evaluates the hearing aid response and matches to your selected target-providing your hearing specialist with the most precise fitting information available."

This is the fitting software and system that your hearing specialist uses to program your Starkey hearing aids. Your specialist can show you how the hearing aid matches your hearing loss when fitting your hearing aid.

"With T2 Remote, you can use your phone as a remote control. T2 lets you adjust volume or switch memories via your phone, eliminating the need to carry additional software."

This option must be enable by your hearing specialist when fitting the hearing aid before you can use it.

"Voice Indicators alert you to the status of your hearing aid, low battery, memory and telephone modes in your choice of male or female voices in a wide variety of languages."

You can even select Arnold Palmer's voice for your Starkey hearing aids. Not sure why you would want to, but it's there if you want it.

"Self Check allows you to perform a diagnostic check of the microphone, circuit, and receiver by opening and closing the battery door three times."

"Reminder offers your hearing specialist the option of programming audible voice or tone reminders for follow-up appointments and maintenance checks."

"Automatic Telephone Solutions (ATS) automatically detects telephone use and adjusts to the optimal acoustic frequency response for telephone listening."

"Music & Television Performance offers new memory programs designed for optimal performance for two of the most important environments based on patient feedback."

OtoLens - First 100% Invisible Removable Starkey Hearing Aids

OtoLens is an Invisible in the Canal hearing aid or also called IIC. They OtoLens is similar to a CIC or completely in canal hearing aid except it fits even deeper in the canal. The IIC starts about where the CIC ends and almost touches the ear drum. This style of Starkey hearing aids is not suitable for all wearers. Factors include the size and shape of the ear canal. This instrument may bemore difficult to insert in the ear. The instrument is smaller and fits much deeper in the canal than traditional CIC Starkey hearing aids.

The OtoLens is built on the same technology as the S Series IQ (see above). It has 16 channels and 16 bands for optimal high resolution sound imaging and frequency shaping.

Starkey Amp hearing aid can be considered an invisible style hearing aid. Not only is it invisible, but you can walk in to your hearing aid specialist's office for your hearing test and walk out with the Amp hearing device. It's an instant fit invisible hearing aid.

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