Phonak is the flagship hearing aid brand of Sonova, the world’s largest hearing aid manufacturer. The company offers one of the broadest lines of hearing aids in the world, and within those lines you can find almost any feature, style, color, and technology that you can imagine. Based in Zurich, Switzerland, Phonak has more than 60 years of experience producing premium hearing aids, and has positioned itself as one of the most innovative and consistent hearing aid brands on the market. Phonak continues to push the envelope in an attempt to give everyone with hearing loss a shot at a premium listening experience.
The Virto line of hearing aids is the smallest and most discreet hearing aid that Phonak makes. The Virto B uses the “Belong” chip platform and was the first hearing aid to use biometric calibration to create one of the most natural hearing processes possible with a hearing aid. A computer does a scan of your custom made earpiece and uses that information to read the size and shape of your ears giving it a good idea of how your ears work together to hear. The hearing aids are then calibrated not only to the size of your ear, but to the way in which your ear naturally hears. You also get the AutoSense Operating System (OS), NoiseBlock, and other features that the Belong series of hearing aids are known for. The following is a review and description of the Phonak Virto B hearing aids.
Things to Consider Before Buying
The Virto B hearing aid was built for size and discretion. It is estimated that only about 31% of people between the age of 45 and 65 who suffer from hearing loss actually purchase and use hearing aids. While cost is an obstacle it is not the only reason that people do not get help with their hearing. By making some of the smallest hearing aids on the market that sit far enough inside your ear canal that they are invisible, much of the stigma that comes along with hearing aids is gone because people do not even know they are there. On top of being small and discreet, the Virto B was the first to use biometric calibration adding to performance and to the directionality of the device. There are noise cancellation features, automatic adapting to specific environments, and the ability to hear and focus on a conversation you are having with someone else even in a noisy place.
- The smallest and most discreet style of hearing aids Phonak offers.
- Custom fit to the size and shape of your ear.
- The AutoSense Operating System (OS) adjusts to your listening environment automatically.
- In-The-Canal (ITE) and Invisible-In-the-Canal styles available.
- Uses biometric calibration so that the size and shape of your ear aids in hearing.
- Makes listening to and understanding conversations in noisy environments easier.
- Powerful enough for hearing loss anywhere from mild to profound.
- An IP68 rating means that it is dust resistant and water resistant.
- Comes in multiple colors.
- Some are so small that the occlusion effects that many hearing aid wearers suffer from are virtually nonexistent.
- The fitting process done by your audiologist means that it will fit better than most other hearing aids.
- No Behind-The-Ear (BTE) style options available.
- Being phased out in favor of Virto Marvel and Virto Paradise.
- The size is dependent on your ear canal which means that not everyone will be eligible to use the device.
- You do not get use of the myPhonak app or other direct connectivity to Bluetooth-enabled devices.
- You need good dexterity in your hands and fingers to change the battery and to put them in and take them out.
Features & Benefits
Design/Type of Hearing Aid
The Virto line of hearing aids are the smallest ITE and invisible hearing aids that Phonak offers. They are made to be discreet and many of the Virto models are even invisible. You can find a Virto B hearing aid for almost any level of hearing loss from mild to profound and in multiple models so that you can find the shape and features that you want. These hearing aids are custom fit to the size and shape of your ear.
Fit and Wearability
Because Virto B hearing aids are the smallest that Phonak makes, they can also be some of the most comfortable. A smaller device usually lessens the occlusion effect and the Invisible-In-the-Canal (IIC) devices are so small you may even forget they are there.
There are no rechargeable options with the Virto B hearing aids. While this is one of the biggest weaknesses of this device, the size 10 batteries that are used for the Virto B last for a few days before they need to be replaced.
- Sound quality
Uses UltraZoom and Real Ear Sound to both pinpoint the direction of speech and other sounds. The ability to pinpoint specific sounds allows you to hear speech with more clarity and to more clearly hear the things that you need to hear. There are multiple microphones in each Virto B device so that they can work together to triangulate sounds.
Customization always helps with adaptability, and every Virto B hearing aid is customized. One of the best features in terms of adaptability is the biometric calibration that takes place with the fitting of a Virto B device. The scan allows your hearing aids to use the size and shape of your ear to improve your hearing performance. This calibration makes hearing more natural and in turn makes it easier to adapt to your new hearing aid.
With most In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids, occlusion is one of the most annoying aspects of the device. Because of where they sit, many of them cause you to hear your own voice differently when speaking or to make chewing and yawning louder than they are without hearing aids. The Phonak Virto M Titanium hearing aids are so small and fit so deeply inside your ear, the occlusion effect is largely removed.
- Noise cancellation
WhistleBlock and WindBlock work together to take away two of the most annoying noises that can affect a person with hearing aids. They work together with NoiseBlock to effectively cut down on the amount of ambient and extra noises that creep into your hearing aids. The size and placement of these IIC hearing aids also help to keep out any extra environmental noises.
- Adaptive noise reduction
Noise Block Processing is Phonak’s noise reduction technology. It is effective at reducing the environmental noise, especially in louder environments that may make hearing more difficult or uncomfortable. NoiseBlock can also reduce the very loud and uncomfortable noises in your environment so you can focus on the sounds that are important. NoiseBlock recognizes speech and differentiates it from non-speech sounds so that it can remove the unwanted noise and you can focus on speech.
- Automatic sound adjustment based on environment
The AutoSense OS analyzes the sounds around you every 0.4 seconds and then use that information to detect the environment you are in. The hearing aid then changes your settings and features to fit that environment.
There are no direct streaming options with the Phoank Virto B hearing aids. Headphones can fit over your ears when the hearing aids are in place, and you can listen like you would listen to anything else through your hearing aids. You can also stream from devices with a receiver or other device like it.
All of the accessories listed below are available with the Phonak Virto B, but unlike the Virto Marvel and Virto Paradise hearing aids, you do not get universal connectivity with the Virto B and will have to connect to many devices through a receiver of some sort.
- Roger Microphones
Even with all of the available technology to help boost the performance of hearing aids in noisy environments or over distances, many hearing aid wearers still report challenges with their hearing in these situations. Roger digital wireless technology can boost the performance of your Phonak hearing aids even in the most challenging environments. A hearing professional can install a Roger receiver directly into your hearing aid so that all you need is the Roger microphone. These high end microphones help to improve your speech understanding in noisy places, enhances your listening experience in groups, and gives you access to multiple talkers in meetings or other gatherings. The available Roger Microphones include:
- Roger On
Created for when conversations are held in places with a lot of background noise or over a great distance.
- Roger Select
Designed to help with group conversations like around a table, in a small group setting, or any other time you are conversing with a group of people and want to hear everyone.
- Roger Table Mic
A great device for business meetings where you can set the device on the table and it can use its multiple microphones to pick up everyone’s voice.
- Roger Touchscreen Mic
A classroom-specific microphone that is designed to be placed anywhere in a classroom so that a child can actively participate in the classroom with the teacher, small group, or whole class together.
- Phonak Partner Mic
A very easy-to-use remote microphone when you need a little extra help with a one-on-one conversation. Regardless of the environment and noise level, you will be able to converse with the person you are with clearly and with less effort.
- TV Connector
You can stream audio from any television or stereo directly to your hearing aids with great sound quality. It is a simple plug-and-play device that will give you great streaming capabilities immediately.
- Phonak Remote Control
If you do not want to use the myPhonak app, this Phonak remote control is the best way to control your hearing aids with a handheld device. There are three large buttons that are easy to use without even looking at the device, and the device is so discreet people might not even know you have it.
- Phonak Charger
The Phonak charger is, of course, vital if you have one of the rechargeable models. This charger also dries your hearing aids and treats them with UV light when charging.
Unique Perks and Features
You can connect to other devices such as Roger Mics, Phonak accessories, and even smartphones, but not directly. When you connect to other devices, you need another electronic device, like a receiver, that can detect sound and communicate that sound to your hearing aids.
The Phonak Virto B was one of the first hearing aids to feature biometric calibration. The Virto B is precisely calibrated to your individual ear anatomy so that your ear can operate more naturally and with better performance. All Virto B hearing aids are customizable for a comfortable fit, but with biometric calibration you use that customization for more than just comfort. Every ear is unique and processes sound in specific and distinct ways. Phonak uses software that extracts 1,600 biometric data points from a scan of your ear impression and uses that to calculate the settings of your Virto B device.
With StereoZoom your hearing aid can focus on the exact voice that you want to hear so that conversations are easier. Most of the time, when conversing with another person, that person is in front of you and that is where your microphones focus.
Every Virto B hearing aid is customized and can be adjusted by an audiologist. The biometric calibration is a vital part of this customization, but each Virto B is custom fit for comfort as well. It is important to find a good audiologist who can fit your ITE hearing aid for comfort and performance.
Invisible Hearing Aids
After an in depth study of why so few people who need hearing aids actually get them, Phonak found that the stigma associated with hearing loss and subsequent hearing aid usage was one of the major reasons people who suffered from hearing loss would not purchase hearing aids. By making some of the smallest hearing aids on the market that sit far enough inside your ear canal that they are invisible, much of the stigma that comes along with hearing aids is gone because people do not even know they are there.
The “Tinnitus Balance Noise Generator” generates a broadband sound for use in tinnitus management therapies. You can either mask the effects of tinnitus or add a sound therapy like “Tinnitus Retraining Therapy” to train your ears to fight against it.
The cost of the Phonak Virto B can be a difficult thing to pinpoint because of the variables that go into the purchase. The price is dependent on where you purchase it, which technology level you choose, the size of the device, the price of custom fitting, among others. You can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 for two devices to $5,000 or more.
- How much does Phoank Virto B cost?
The cost of the Phonak Virto B is contingent on the technology level, size, fitting needs, office where the device is purchased, and the model that you choose. You can expect to pay at least $3,000 for a pair of Virto B hearing aids, but the higher end models with custom fitting from an audiologist could cost you more than that.
- What is the most advanced Phonak hearing aid?
There is a lot of advanced technology in a few different Phonak hearing aids so it is difficult to objectively say which is the most advanced. The Audeo Paradise has the most advanced features in terms of connectivity and automatic sound adjustments based on the environment. The Paradise line of hearing aids also has a Virto option with the advanced technology that you find in the Paradise line and the discretion you get with the Phonak Virto. When the Virto B came out, it was the first biometric calibration so that it took the size and shape of your ear into account with sizing and features.
- What is the difference between the B70 and B90 Phonak Virto B?
The biggest two differences between the two levels of technology is found in the number of channels and the way the two devices function in noisy environments. The B70 model has 16 channels and the B90 model has 20, which means that while the B70 can be fitted for your specific hearing loss, the B90 can be more so. As far as functioning in noisy environments, the B90 has three additional features: Speech in Loud Noise, Speech in Car, and Comfort in Echo.
- Is the Phonak Virto B rechargeable?
No. The Phonak Virto M Titanium uses replaceable zinc air batteries. The batteries average about 60 hours of use, but that depends on the level of hearing loss and the way that each person uses their hearing aid. While many hearing aid wearers are moving to a rechargeable option, the Virto M Titanium is too small to have that option available.
The Phonak Virto B was the first hearing aid by Phonak to use biometric calibration when fitting someone with hearing aids. This process takes into account the size and shape of your ear along with the way that your specific ear hears compared to others. On top of that, the Virto B are some of the smallest hearing aids that Phonak produces and includes both ITE and IIC hearing aids that are so discreet that nobody else can even see them. Studies show that the stigma of wearing a hearing aid is as much of a deterrent for most people as the cost, and an invisible hearing aid like some of those in the Virto B line of hearing aids takes that stigma away. You also get good noise cancellation features, directionality features, and the ability to have a conversation with someone even in a loud environment.