Get the fitting software setup and ready to use first!! Do this before you start spending money on equipment. You will need the latest version of software for the latest model hearing aids. The software is free and "generally available". Though, some manufacturers like to hide it, or make it very difficult to obtain. Where do you get the fitting software? Try >>Here!!Click-this-link!!<<. Complete this first step before you proceed!! Are we clear on this requirement to complete this step first? You may ask what's the reason for doing this step first? This step is a >>free<< step. But some find this first step difficult or impossible to complete, so why start spending money for gear when you may face failure on this first step?
Get a hearing test and then get a copy of your Audiogram/hearing loss. Don't take no for an answer when it comes to getting a copy of your Audiogram. CAUTION: Hearing aids come in different models for different hearing losses (mild, moderate, severe, profound). Heed the warnings that come with power hearing aids like the following example. CAUTION: A BTE Power hearing aid is a powerful hearing instrument. If you have been fitted with BTE Power, never allow others to wear your hearing instruments as incorrect usage could cause permanent damage to their hearing.
Get one of these Hi-Pros...
--Serial Hi-Pro - uses old serial cable, and separate power cord, and USB-Serial adapter with sufficient adapter-speed
--USB Hi-Pro (USB 1.1)
--USB Hi-Pro2 (USB 2.0 = 5x faster than USB1.1) but way more expensive!
--USB >>mini Pro<< (USB 2.0 also fast, and cheap!) <<get this one, Here's a link >>How to buy a mini Pro<<
I am now recommending the >>mini Pro<< over the USB Hi-Pro and especially over the (Serial Hi-Pro and Hi-Pro2). Currently (in the fall 2016) the >>mini Pro<< is cheaper than even a serial Hi-Pro! Note that if you get the older serial HI-Pro you may have compatibility issues because today’s computers no longer have serial ports (see this >>post<< for more information). Since this is the most expensive piece of equipment, you may want to hold off on the Hi-Pro purchase until you understand which cables you need. HI-PRO FOOTNOTE... Sometimes your Com ports get switched around in C:\Windows\HiPro.ini and you might fix it by running the >>HI-Pro2 Install CD<<. See this >>Um bongo description<< of Windows serial Com port problems.
Get a pair of standard >>CS44<< programming cables. You may also need >>flex strips<<, or >>boots<<, or >>pills<< to make the connection from the cable to hearing aid/HA (note - different boots for different HAs). Where do you get CS44 cables, flex strips, pills? Try >>Here!!Click-this-link!!<< Find your manufacturer's Programming Guide, or Fitting Guide, or Cable Guide to determine what (programming cables, flex strips, boots, or pills) are needed to connect your specific model HAs. Hint, the Programming Guide, or Fitting Guide, or Cable Guide is usually a pdf document found in the Professional section of the manufacturer's website. Another hint, the fitting software has helpful diagrams showing how to connect your HAs.
Phonak HAs use different cables (CS44a, not the standard CS44 cables) because Phonak has pins 3&4 switched for some obscure reason. Or you could use the standard CS44 cable with a >>DIY converter<<. Note that Phonak documentation may say "CS44 - (Phonak version)" which means CS44A cables with pins 3&4 reversed. Starkey reccommends using their >>Starkey Purple Cable<< which is still a >>bit of mystery<< (and maybe a Flex Strip or Boot).
Buy the best/top brand used hearing aids for approximately 10% to 15% percent of retail value. This is, if you are willing to buy previous hearing aids that are one generation back. If you are in a hurry, and buy the Buy-it-Now fixed price from EBay/online vendors you will likely pay too much. These are from EBay vendors that sell every day and they keep the price as high as possible. Wait instead for used HAs from individual EBay seller auctions. The auctions are where your might pickup recent models for 10% of retail value.
Learn where to download documents for professionals (look for a Professional tab or link on the manufacturer's website) and then learn to read fitting range specifications. Also become familiar with the features of each HA Model (low, mid, high). Pay attention to the size/length of speaker wire/receivers needed to fit your ears. Pay attention to the power of the speakers needed to fit your hearing loss. I try to get the lowest power speaker that provides enough power to fit my hearing loss. Low power speakers have less distortion and less battery drain.
Retain your Credit card chargeback rights when buying online. That is, the transaction should be funded 100% via your credit card and not funded via your online balance, and not funded via your bank account. Then you can use credit card chargeback rights to claw back payment for a bad transaction by filing a dispute with your credit card company.
Don't use NOAHLink software. You don't need it. NOAHLink software is never required for any manufacturer's fitting software. Professional Audiologists need NOAHLink software to group their clients into a one NOAH database and provide interfaces to all the different manufacturer's fitting software. If you are a self programmer it is simpler to run the manufacturer's fitting software standalone and not use NOAHLink software. Note that NOAHLink also has hardware, a BlueTooth device worn around the neck to replace the Hi-Pro. Don't use >>NOAHLink hardware<< either. Keep it simple, stick with a Hi-Pro and run the manufacturer's fitting software standalone.
imo> Don't use the iCube for Phonak/Unitron or other wireless programming devices like Airlink, FittingLINK, Connexxlink, TruLink, etc. Your wireless programming device is expensive and will likely become obsolete. For example, new in 2015 is the iCube II for Phonak Venture models, so iCube will no longer work for Venture. Plus you are limiting yourself to only Phonak/Unitron, therefore AVOID iCube/iCube II (see this >>thread<< and this >>post<< for more discussion). I know you are going to ignore this advice and use a wireless programming device anyway. Okay dumb-ass, look at all the obsolete iCubes for sale on eBay! You may want an Oticon FittingLINK really bad, but did you know you will have to use a Hi-Pro/cables/etc if you want to update your hearing aid firmware because FittingLINK cannot do that.
Don't try to self-program earlier model Kirkland Signature (KS5 and KS6) with normal Aventa fitting software because they are locked to the Costco-only version of Aventa fitting software. This does not apply beginning with KS7s which can be self-programmed with Connexx fitting software. This does not apply to Costco Phonak Brio/Brio2 which can be programmed with the normal version of Target fitting software.
imo> Don't settle for the >>all-included-package<< deal for HAs plus custom programming equipment. When you buy these you are restricting yourself to a single brand and excluding the better/top brand HAs.
Don't over pay. Study the market price for programming equipment. Know whether you need one or two pieces of equipment. It's common practice to list one item for sale (making it seem cheaper) when you need two cables/boots etc. Study the market price for the HAs and for each HA model (low, mid, high). Used HAs are no longer valued in the thousands because you have no warranty and no professional support.
Don't expect support from your local audiologist when you program your own HAs. Though, you can still use them for things like custom earmolds. Costco is a much cheaper option for buying custom earmolds.
Don't expect factory support for repair when you buy used HAs. You likely will have no warranty unless there is remaining warranty and you are able to get it transferred into your name. Don't try to use factory support for HAs bought on EBay as they may get confiscated. Factory support is way too expensive anyway. You will likely need to use an online Hearing Aid Repair Lab for minor repairs or even buy a replacement HA for major problems. Both are relatively cheap.
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