Phonak Virto Q90
- 20 channel Quest sound processor
- Premium algorithm suite
- Four product sizes
- Include miniature Q Nano
- 5 manual programs
- Top technology form Phonak
As with many other hearing aid manufacturers the Swiss company Phonak’s product roadmap is closely linked to their chip platform. Their previous chip was called Spice and products that use this can be identified by the suffix S – i.e. “Phonak Audeo S”. This chip has been superseded by their latest Quest chip platform, so products bearing a Q suffix will use the latest generation and some or all or the latest sound processing. So a simple rule of thumb, if you are investigating a Phonak product using the S or Spice chip look around as there should be a more up to date alternative with the benefits that the Quest chip brings.
At it most simplistic analysis of those benefits are the speed, efficiency and capacity of the chip which allows the products to use faster and more complex algorithms to process the sound, sort, clean, improve and amplify it across the frequencies that you require.
Phonak has adopted a nomenclature of separating product families by the style of the product format. For instance, its Receiver-in-the-canal products are brought to market under the Audeo brand and offered at four different technology levels. Other companies prefer to offer a product brand that encompasses a wide variety of formats, for example GN ReSound’s Verso can be fitted as one of seven differing formats from behind-the-ear to invisible-in-the-ear. “Virto” is Phonak’s in-the-ear brand, so the Virto is available only in this format, although there are four size variants with the Q nano being a smaller version.
Next to technology levels. The Virto Q is featured with four different technology specifications starting with the premium Q90 through Q70, Q50 and finally to the entry level Q30. Add all this together and you will have four product formats available in four technology bands, so plenty of choice based upon needs and depth of pocket, as the more technology you need or want, the higher the price.
So let’s look at the Virto Q90 and see what you get from the highest spec Virto with the highest price tag. While the Quest chip platform is common across all Virto Q products in the Q90 it operates on 20 channels, whereas at the other end of the scale the Q30 is restricted to just 8. Very simplistically, the more channels the better the fit to a specific hearing loss so the Q90 will deliver a better, more comfortable and more natural sound.
Next are the algorithms which process the sound, either adding volume, taking away unwanted noise, providing directionality or adding emphasis where required. While the processor may be the engine of a hearing aid it is these complex algorithms that will determine whether you feel the optimum benefit. The Q90 lists almost twenty separate algorithms. Not all will be necessary but they do provide the fine tools that a hearing aid audiologist will need to tune the Virto Q90 to your specific requirements. Phonak have recognised that their mind boggling list of algorithms is baffling to us mere mortals so has categorised them into three different sectors of “Understanding Everywhere”, “Understanding Everything” and “Understanding with comfort” – this I can understand! Their aspiration is for you the hearing aid wearer to have all the advantages of understanding in every situation and in comfort, and if the reviews to date are anything to judge by with the Virto Q90 they have taken a very decent step in this direction.
This is a very accomplished offering by the world’s leading hearing aid manufacturer and we have no hesitation in recommending the Virto Q90 to you. If you like the sound of it the Virto but find the costs prohibitive look further down the Virto range but if you want the best, then the Q90 is the Virto for you.
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