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Sound World Solutions CS10 Bluetooth Series Personal Sound Amplifier (Right)
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- 25dB SPL.
- Digital signal processing.
- Two listening modes: amplifier, phone.
- Omni-directional and directional microphone.
- 9 hours of use with rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
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The Sound World SolutionsÂ® CS10 Personal Sound Amplifier offers great value in a personal sound amplifier for the ears that is customizable to help you hear what's happening around you and on the phone with crystal clear clarity. In addition to the preset amplification settings, you can download a free app for Android smartphones and tablets to customize your CS10 Personal Sound Amplifier. You can also access the advanced programming features through a desktop version of the app for Windows and Mac, and program your CS10 via Bluetooth link. The Bluetooth functionality connects to your Bluetooth-enabled device, such as your cell phone or tablet, allowing for hands-free conversations. For best results, use the CS10 within 10 feet of the Bluetooth device. Includes: One CS10 earpiece Two rechargeable batteries Charger kit Ear tips (small, medium, large) Earpiece cleaning tool Carrying case
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I have had mid and high frequency hearing loss in both ears for 30 years. A recent check indicated no change but the bill to get a dual hearing aid solution sounded like $3,000+. Before making that big leap, I decided to try a solution at 10% of the cost. One user suggested getting a unit for your worst ear, so I followed the advice (I have no idea if that is the right strategy or not).
If you are going to use this to manage inconsistent loss over the frequency spectrum, you must have a way to access the app on an Android phone. After setting the total volume gain and select from one of three listening environments, you then fine tune with the app. This allows you to adjust the volume within a frequency range identified as treble, mid-range, and bass. Because I have mid/treble loss, the app allows you to adjust these ranges +/_ independently. While I have my recent hearing test results, I have been reasonably cautious about over doing the frequency adjustment. As I have not heard the missing frequencies for years, I am going to work the gain up over time.
Note that the phone app is also critical for changing the listing environment on the fly - for example, I normally have the unit set up using #1 (normal locations) but shift to #3 when in entertainment venues. While available for Android, it does not appear to be available for iPhone users.
If you went the conventional hearing aid route, the audiologist would do the set up for you, so having to work it out yourself is a bit of a downside.
The rechargeable batteries are an excellent plus and makes you wonder why the hearing aid folks have not come up with solutions beyond just buying a new battery. Probably has to do with vanity as we try to keep hearing units invisible so no one will know. I pretend mine is a Bluetooth unit for my phone (it is) and ignore any curious glances.
The batteries definitely last 8 hours+ and having a replacement available with the dual battery charging stand is an outstanding solution.
The packaging is well designed and a small carrying case is provided to hold the hearing unit and 2 batteries.
I did have occasion to contact Sound World Solutions directly about a tech issue and they extremely friendly and helpful. At this point, they seem like a modestly sized operation, but my guess is they may not stay that way.
As I continue to use the unit, I will update this review.
Update 1 - I attended a lecture tonight and used environment 2 mode. I boosted the mid and treble frequencies by 3 DB - and by moving the CS10 in and out of my ear, I was able to confirm that the CS10 in ear mode made the speaker sound clearer. Not a huge win - but noticeable.
A word about the Android app - you can control the environment 1/2/3 status without the app by tapping the button on the end of the CS10 (not the volume button but the other one). I am 73 and find it hard to do this efficiently, but if you do not have access to the app on a phone, this will work.
I do not think there is an alternative to adjusting volume of the treble/mid/bass on the fly without the app, but note the app can be loaded on an iMac or Windows device with Bluetooth capability. So if you do not mind only making the adjustment occasionally or you carry your compatible device with you, you do not need the phone app.
I had the sense I was trying to over compensate for my mid/treble 20 DB hearing loss, so I contacted Sound World Solutions for some advice. A live person picked up immediately and transferred me to tech support. After explaining my situation, he suggested that I set the bass at minus 3, leave the mid/treble at zero, and adjust the volume as required. This is because there appears to be a boost built in for all ranges, so this starting point was to compensate for my particular situation by removing the auto bass boost already built in. It was also suggested that the ear needs several weeks to adjust to the CS10 - so leave the settings as is until the ear break in period is over.
Update 3 (Final)
I have become quite comfortable with my CS10 and its ability to help me through the day. It allows me to adjust the volume of what I hear and boosts the output of mid/treble frequencies, where I have the highest level of loss. I find it to be especially useful at entertainment venues, like watching a movie or going to a concert. At least for the time being, I am no longer considering investing in a hearing aid.
It has been brought to my attention that there is another unit branded as RCA available on Amazon - the unit does not appear to be blue tooth nor allows the the adjusting of volume by frequency range, but it is cheaper. It would be nice if there were a head to head comparison review of the CS10 and the RCA units - but I have not been able to find one.
The bluetooth connection makes the CS10 a wonder. I can set it EXACTLY how I need it at home, and change it easily when I go to basketball games. The Preset 2 option is a unidirectional setting that I use a lot when I only want to hear those close around me, like in a restaraunt. The app's a little bit quirky, but nothing serious. I'd like to see them add functions to it... user-selected unidirectional focus, more user configured presets, etc. There's a lot of room for innovation and improvements, maybe adding an "advanced" version with more options and settings, but it works great right now. Using the bluetooth connection to make/answer phone calls is terrific. I even found an app that lets me stream music from my phone through the hearing aid itself -- I love it.
It takes some getting used to hearing everything again. Clattering dishes, dog barks, etc., are very intrusive but my brain is filtering them better with each day. Don't listen to the whiners that say it magnifies too many sounds - that's what hearing aids do! It's up to you to relearn hearing every little sound again and adjusting the settings on the device on the fly.
Battery life is great. I've been wearing it about 13 hours a day, and haven't experienced a dead battery yet. Having 2 available is a great convenience.
Improvements to the device itself? I'd like an on/off switch. I'd like it to be the size of a fingernail. I'd like it to sell for $10. Other than that, I couldn't be happier.
Don't hesitate to spend the $300 for this. You won't be sorry. I can't imagine a $3000 hearing aid doing a better job.
UPDATE: 2 years later and I still love this thing. Zero problems, Batteries still strong. Terrific product.
Ok, now about how they work. I went through the customization program. I downloaded the software to my phone and started adjusting it. The 3 different presets are pretty worthless. You choose a preset then have to adjust the sound level, treble, mid, and bass each time. I finally made my own preset with the customization preset and left it alone.
It did amplify sounds, a lot of backround sounds. I heard the dogs toenails on the floor, knives clattering in the kitchen.
But it was horrible for watching tv. No difference. I had the volume turn up to about 10 or 12 db most of the time. I still had to look directly at people in order to understand them.
Ok, so this is not the device for me. I do need a real hearing aid fitted to my hearing loss. I though i would be able to cheap out. But $300 is not cheap to me. I have returned them. I would say they are good for people with very mild hearing loss.