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Review of Widex Smart RIC MOMENT 440 Hearing Aids

The Smart RIC has landed! This lucky audiologist has had a pair of them for four days now, and I don’t want to give them back! Here’s my honest appraisal…




CLAIMS


This is Widex's brand new, facelifted product.  It's the same Moment platform/generation inside as the previous aids, but the design has been tweaked quite significantly to offer better microphone placement and protection. 


Widex are claiming a 20dB reduction in wind noise, which for those with only a mild/moderate high frequency (HF) loss will be a very good thing indeed.  We people with severe/profound HF loss tend not to find it an issue in the first place, as the existing Widex wind algorithm was so effective.


They also claim it will not be so noisy when touched.  I have put aside my own pair of old Widex Moment 440 RIC aids to try the Smart aids.  I've not noticed much difference with touch sensitivity, but here’s my thoughts on the other features.



HEARING ABILITY: SMART RIC Vs STANDARD MOMENT RIC


Sibilant and fricative sounds (e.g. f, th, s) are crisp and distinct.  I've been listening to people with my eyes closed to get a feel for any difference, and I am seeing an improvement. It’s difficult to explain what has changed, but speech does seem slightly more distinct.  It’s a very pleasant sound.


In the interests of research, I took the legendary Dr James Jackson out to dinner.  Strictly for scientific purposes, we had 3 courses in the worst possible hearing environment - an Italian restaurant.  The Smart RIC aids performed well; I was hearing almost everything my dinner partner said face to face.    Bear in mind that this is in a restaurant with hard floors and walls, face to face conversation was as good as my standard Widex Moment, maybe a little better.  It’s difficult to tell as my own aids are very good.


What I did notice was hearing from the side improved.  When the waiter and waitress popped up at the table unexpectedly, I wasn’t struggling as I normally do. 


Back at home, I still had problems hearing my teenage son.  He seems to speak at 100 words a minute, which causes his words to run into one another.  No improvement there, but certainly not any worse.


Outside in my garden, and quietly working in the house, I found environmental sounds enjoyable and rich, just as I normally do with Widex.  I noted a couple of new things - fridge alarm beeping (I have never heard that before!), and a few more bird sounds than I might normally hear.  These are quite soft, high frequency sounds, which suggests that the microphone placement is making a difference.


On the third day, I was confident that I’m hearing better in the home and in shops, when the speaker is at the side or around the corner in the next room.  Hearing aids in general don’t work particularly well outside of an 8 foot radius, and that’s something that likely won’t change.  However, high frequency speech sounds are short waves, meaning they usually bounce off walls and get lost when you’re in a different room.  With the new Smart RIC, I am picking up a little more, versus the standard rechargeable Moment RIC aids.


With all new aids, you can get ‘bionic hearing' for the first minutes/hours/day.  It pays to have a home trial or a money-back guarantee of some form, because new aids are almost always impressive.  Time tells you whether they are worth buying, once you have adjusted to them.  I am on my fourth and final day of my trial, and I don’t want to go back to my own aids, that’s what confirms to me there’s improvement.  It’s a small improvement on what was already a market-leading aid, but it’s definitely there. For those of us with severe/profound hearing loss, just a few little tweaks can make all the difference.



APPEARANCE


I was pretty unimpressed when I first saw the bendy “dog’s hind leg” design, but having worn them for a few days I wouldn't want to go back to the 'typical' shape!  They fit snugly around the back of my ear and are very slim, which helps when I'm wearing my glasses and means they’re invisible from the side. 



FUNCTIONALITY 


I'm missing my buttons.  The Smart RIC doesn't have buttons so you need to use your phone to make changes on the go.  This is not a huge issue normally, but if you take an aid out to lie on your side you might find it irritating that you can’t switch it off.  


This is where the gorgeous new portable charging case is helpful.  It has been made using quality materials and it has an onboard battery.  You charge the case as well as the aids; Widex claim 37 hours of charge in the aids plus 5 full charges from the charging case.  Technically then, you should be able to go a week without plugging in again.  This will be dependent on your own power needs and whether you’re streaming calls/audio.  As someone who is dependent on my aids and suffers from “range anxiety”, I might not want to put that to the test, but I’d be very comfortable going away for the weekend based on this trial. 



SUMMARY


Widex have definitely produced something worth upgrading to, and I’m going to be confident recommending these aids to many of my customers.  When they produced the original Moment aids, I was impressed.  The Sheer facelift held no noticeable improvement, but this Smart RIC definitely sees  extra features and improved performance.  The design means it can replace the size 10 battery model, giving those who want a slim aid all the Bluetooth and rechargeable functionality, as well as the streaming accessories and the fantastic AI functions of the app.  For those coming from Evoke or Moment, it will be a decent upgrade.  For those coming from a different manufacturer, it will be incredible. 

Book in for a trial as soon as you can, and try out this marvellous machine that isn’t available in high street chains.  Remember that you get what you pay for in terms of service.  Online prices are tempting but to get the most out of your new aids, there’s no substitute for a real audiologist you can talk to about your experiences.  

©️ Sally Jackson BSc (Audiology), RHAD, MSHAA

Audiologist and Owner at Hearing and Tinnitus Care

May 2024

 

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