Phonak describes its Lyric hearing aid as “the world’s only invisible, extended-wear hearing device you can wear 24/7 for months at time.” Intended for those with mild to moderately severe hearing loss, the Lyric is inserted deep in the ear canal by a professional. This deep in-ear placement makes the device invisible and takes advantage of the natural acoustic properties of the external ear, capturing and funneling sound toward the ear drum organically, in the same way sound travels in the ear without a hearing aid.
First introduced in 2007, Lyric’s fundamental advantage over conventional hearing aids is its combination of:
- Invisibility – the hearing aid sets deep in the ear canal, making it externally invisible; and
- Extended wear — the wearer can just leave the hearing aids in the ear, with no need for daily removal/insertion for cleaning, sleeping, showering or battery changes. This substantially eliminates the risk of hearing aid damage or loss. When the batteries run out, the entire hearing aid simply is replaced.
Lyric has evolved technologically since its introduction, with many product improvements in power consumption, size and shape, and signal processing, among other features. The latest model, Lyric3.1 released in 2015, features technology improvements designed to enhance speech understanding and sound quality, and providing more reliable phone use.
Past surveys of Lyric have been very positive. An overwhelming number of Lyric wearers (93%) said they would recommend Lyric to friends or loved ones, citing Lyric’s invisibility and clear, natural sound. A large majority of Lyric wearers (86%) also found Lyric’s sound quality to be very natural.
Results of a recent Lyric field study, published in October 2015, evaluated speech clarity, naturalness of sound and overall acceptance of the new Lyric3.1. The study focused on three different groups: (1) new Lyric3.1 wearers, (2) current Lyric3 users who were transitioning to Lyric3.1 and (3) current Lyric2.3 wearers who were transitioning to 3.1. The study included a total of 47 adult participants (ages ranging from 24 to 88) and involved nine clinicians at six different audiology practices around the U.S.
To assess speech clarity, the study used a standardized rating scale that looks at a broad perspective of challenging listening situations. For example, participants were asked about how they would deal with watching TV while someone was talking nearby. One question asked if the participant would need to turn up the TV volume. Another question asked if the participant could follow both the TV and the person talking nearby.
When responses were compared against normative data for responses to the clarity scale, 76% of Lyric3.1 wearers’ responses rated equal to or higher than the norm for both mild-to moderate and severe hearing loss (the higher the rating, the better the outcome).
Naturalness of Sound
Participant diaries kept during the study period provided subjective ratings of sound naturalness. The study asked participants to rate naturalness on an 11-point scale using numbers that corresponded to descriptive labels (e.g., 1 = very unnatural, 3 = rather unnatural, 5 = midway, 7 = rather natural, 9 = very natural), with the higher number ratings representing better outcomes.
A substantial majority (75%) of participants reported ratings of 7 (rather natural) or higher. The overall Lyric3.1 mean naturalness rating of 7.3 fell in the top one-third of the scale (better).
Assessment of Lyric3.1 users’ overall acceptance was based on the user’s decision to switch to or purchase the Lyric3.1. At the study’s completion, participants had the option to switch to or purchase Lyric3.1 (depending on whether they were current Lyric wearers or not), return to their previous Lyric device, or not seek any amplification device (for new users).
All current Lyric wearers decided to upgrade to Lyric3.1. Among new (trial) users, 41% chose to purchase a Lyric subscription.
Overall, the Lyric3.1 beta validation study showed that Lyric3.1:
- provided good speech clarity, even when listening was challenging;
- offered natural sound quality, and
- was accepted by both current and new Lyric wearers.
In addition to the positive qualitative results of the study, both study participants and clinicians provided favorable feedback about Lyric3.1.