With the exception of audiologists and the rare hearing enthusiast, most people don’t find the topic of hearing aids of much interest. So when a hearing aid gets as much buzz as Lyric has, it’s hard to ignore. The Lyric hearing aid has been covered by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, The Doctors, and Dr. Oz. It’s also been written about by bloggers any anchor and forum members throughout the world. As with anything that receives this much attention, some of the information out there is accurate, while much of it isn’t. As an independent audiologist, and one of a couple hundred clinicians actually fitting Lyric on patients, I offer you my perspective.
THE CLAIMS ABOUT LYRIC:
“Lyric is completely invisible.” – MOSTLY TRUE – Over the years, the term “invisible” has been used quite liberally to describe certain styles of hearing aids, when in reality the terms “very small” and “less noticeable than other hearing aids” should have probably been used. But for the first time in history, the term “invisible” can be used without reservation. In the majority of patients, the device is placed so far into the ear canal that you really can’t see it, even if you look for it. However, in patients with shallow ear canals, you can clearly see a portion of it (if you look for it).
“Lyric devices are replaced every 3-4 months.” – SOMETIMES TRUE – The device has been approved by the FDA for patient use for a period of up to 4 months. But most devices die prior to reaching their 4-month birthday. The cause of death is usually related to moisture reaching the power source and shorting out the aid, or corrosion/blockage caused by excessive earwax. In some patients, that occurs between the 3rd and 4th months. In others, it may occur significantly earlier.
“Lyric has no battery” – FALSE – All hearing devices use power and therefore, use a battery. The power has to come from somewhere, and most hearing aid users don’t want to be tied to a wall outlet. The difference is that Lyric doesn’t use a typical hearing aid battery, and there are no batteries for the wearer to change. It has a built-in power source that cannot be replaced. When the battery dies – the device is no longer usable. So instead of changing a battery every week or so, the whole device is changed every couple months.
“Lyric is an analog hearing aid.” – ABSOLUTELY TRUE – While most modern hearing aids use digital circuitry, Lyric uses an analog amplification circuit. Digital technology consumes more power than analog. It would take a gigantic battery to power a digital hearing aid circuit for as long as 3-4 months, Lyric needs to be small to actually fit into the ear canal, so there’s not room for a gigantic battery – hence the analog circuit.
“Lyric is old/inferior technology.” – FALSE – This claim is often made by audiologists and hearing aid dispensers who don’t have access to Lyric. They hear the term “analog” and equate it to hearing aids from the 1970s. It doesn’t work that way. Many digital features used in modern hearing devices are required to compensate for the unnatural placement of a hearing aid. With Lyric being placed 4mm from the eardrum, the natural acoustics and resonance of the ear are maintained, allowing it to compete with and often out-perform top-of-the-line digital hearing aids.
“Lyric’s subscription model is a product of corporate greed.” – FALSE – Some critics, mostly outside the hearing industry, look at Lyric’s subscription model as a blatant attempt to acquire more money. While the intent of any business is to make money, I present that the subscription model is the only practical method of purchase in this case. Lyric actually offers a non-subscription/per-device payment option. If you want to pay $300-$400 for a single device, you can. But you’re not going to be happy if that device dies in three weeks instead of three months. The subscription model eliminates the financial frustration associated with premature device failure.
“Lyric does not work for a lot of people.” – TRUE – InSound Medical, the manufacturer of Lyric, claims that approximately 50% of all hearing aid candidates are not good Lyric candidates. This may be due to ear anatomy, degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, or general health conditions. I have also found that a patient may start out as a good Lyric candidate, only to find out that they have a type of earwax (liquid cerumen) that consistently destroys the device prematurely. That’s one reason the 30-day trial period is important. In my experience, Lyric may not be for everyone (or even most people), but most of the people who try it – love it.
Matt Perry, Au.D. is an independent audiologist and Lyric provider. He owns Harmony Hearing & Audiology, located in the Festival at Bel Air in Harford County, Maryland. He specializes in hearing aid technology and programming, including the use of real-ear technology in a real-world simulation environment.