Bluetooth troubles with Hearing Aids
February 16, 2023 1:17 PM   Subscribe

This is probably a longshot – but I can’t see my audiologist for a few weeks and I think this could be an iPhone Bluetooth issue, not a hearing aid one.

I have Oticon More miniRITE rechargeable hearing aids and they connect via Bluetooth to my computer (via a ConnectClip device that uses Bluetooth) and also directly to my hearing aids (no ConnectClip needed).

Never any issue connecting my computer to my hearing aids. If the Bluetooth is on and the aids are paired – it is all systems go.

But even when my hearing aids are paired successfully on the phone (and are connected perfectly to the computer) – the sounds from my phone (rings, audible app, music, podcasts etc.) do not go to my hearing aids. So even though the phone says Bluetooth is connected – it is not! The sound plays through the speaker.

Repairing the aids works eventually – can take a few tries – but does not last long….after a day … or even a hour the streaming stops.

There is no support on the site, just guides. My only option is to see my audiologist who will likely send them away to get looked at – which is a pain as my backup hearing aids are on their last legs and leave me struggling to hear for the few weeks it takes to look at them.

My suspicion is that it’s not the aids at all given the streaming works fine from my computer – but from the phone is a problem. My iPhone is an 8. Perhaps it’s getting too old?
posted by Lescha to Technology (6 answers total)
My audiologist seems pretty good at reprogramming my Phonak Bluetooth aid. I managed to screw up the ability to stream to it, unfortunately, so I may have to go back to her. Give the audiologist a try.
posted by Peach at 1:20 PM on February 16, 2023 [3 favorites]

I have an iPhone 6S (still!) and my Widex hearing aids act similarly. I have to manually connect to the hearing aids for every call and video even though it's supposed to be defaulted to them, so you may be on to something about the age of the phone. I do think you should take Peach's suggestion to try getting the audiologist to just reprogram things first, though.
posted by queensissy at 1:26 PM on February 16, 2023 [2 favorites]

No hearing aid experience, but quite a few times I've had issues when Bluetooth devices had been paired to multiple devices. I've got a portable speaker that works fine, and I use it with my laptop or with my phone all the time. If I'd recently used the speaker with my laptop, and went to connect it to my phone, even though the speaker made the "connected" noise and my phone says "Connected", I'll get no audio from my phone (it just comes out the phone's internal speaker) until I go to my computer and disconnect the speaker from the Bluetooth menu. Then, it's fine. Perhaps something similar?
posted by xedrik at 3:59 PM on February 16, 2023 [3 favorites]

Standard disclaimer, IANYA (and I really just do research now, so I'm not one's AuD anymore), double checking that you know about the hotline for oticon connectivity issues: 855-400-9766 (they hid it at the bottom of the how to page. I'm not sure how helpful they are for finicky issues like yours, but it may be worth a shot.

My experience is a few years out of date (a life time for tech), so everything I say take with a grain of salt. You connect to your computer via a streamer. The streamer connects to your computer via Bluetooth, but it may use a different wireless protocol for the bridge between the connect clip streamer and the hearing aids. So it doesn't necessarily rule out the hearing aid as the source of the Bluetooth issue.

I'd still suspect that it's a phone issue (phone connectivity was a live/hate relationship for me at the end). I lost count how many times a random iPhone update would break the HA to iPhone pairing. You had to wait for another update to be pushed through (phone or HA) in order to get it to work. Again, though, dated experience that may not be relevant.

Other thoughts:

I think your audiologist can erase the Bluetooth pairings in your hearing aid via the programming software. That sometimes helped connection stability issues. Ideally you also forget the hearing aids in the phone. Reboot the phone. Then pair them.

How's the battery life on your hearing aids? If your hearing aids are a few years old and the batteries are getting to the end of their lifecycle (as in need to be replaced soon, not just recharged), that used to cause issues as well (but rechargable batteries were just starting to get decent when I was last practicing, so again, may no longer be relevant).

Your hearing aids may need their firmware updated. Sometimes that fixed issues. Sometimes (rare occasions) it made it worse (but they'd likely know if that was the case by the time you get in a few weeks).
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:05 PM on February 16, 2023 [2 favorites]

I have the exact same model of Oticon aids as you and use a ConnectClip also. My iPhone is an SE (2nd generation). I use the ConnectClip all the time for Zoom sessions but in that situation I never want to be interrupted by my phone, so when I remember to I put it in DND mode. I just did a quick test of what you're describing, and while listening to a podcast via the Connectclip I dialed a number I knew would take me to voicemail. The audio from the phone came through fine, overriding the ConnectClip stream. The one variable here is iPhone model, so possibly that's where your problem is.
posted by Creosote at 5:54 AM on February 17, 2023 [1 favorite]

My FIL has bluetooth-pairable hearing aids - and on his iPhone (a new model, 12) - they work for calls, but not for system audio.

My limited understanding is that it could be how the phone recognizes the specific "bluetooth profile", and some of those are for calls-only. But, your audiologist will know for sure.

Now, for me to go back to hunting for hearing aids myself, where I have no coverage, yet want something decent-priced, with decent-functionality (he got his at Costco, so... that's where I may end-up)
posted by rozcakj at 8:12 AM on February 23, 2023

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