Frequently Asked Questions
Watch our video on custom earmolds! In order to produce quality, custom-fit products, earmold impressions are necessary. Only licensed, trained hearing care providers should make earmold impressions as earwax can become impacted and damage to the eardrums can occur. The earmold impressions are models of your ear canals that are sent to the manufacturer in order to build your custom devices.
The amplification in our electronic products utilizes hearing aid technology; however, they are ideally suited to environments where you're listening for soft sounds and quiet conversations (like hunting). They would not provide benefit in noisy restaurants or challenging listening situations. That's where true hearing aid technology is far superior for all day communication improvement, especially in those pesky background noise situations.
With hearing protection, we have to occlude/seal the ear canals completely; ensuring that no air leakage occurs and all sounds reaching the eardrum are regulated. With hearing aids, we would have the opposite goal. With hearing aids, your ear canals are left as open as possible in order to preserve natural sound quality to the fullest extent allowed by your level of hearing loss.
This article by Starkey Hearing Technologies articulated it well:
While hearing protection devices are advancing in technology — and ones like SoundGear Phantom are designed to provide minor amplification and access to sound — their primary goal at the end of the day is to protect the wearer’s hearing. Hearing aids, on the flip side, are designed to give access to the wearer’s full environment while providing minimal protection from loud transient sounds.
We are beginning to see avid hunters, people who work with power tools and heavy equipment, musicians, or those involved in loud recreational and occupational activities who need hearing protection but also want hearing enhancement. The question that often arises is, “is there a device that does both?”
While products like SoundGear Phantom do offer a little of each, to fully protect your hearing in a noisy environment you need a true hearing protection device. And for increased audibility in difficult listening environments or for thos with diagnosed hearing loss, hearing aids are the best piece of equipment to
Not at this time, but OtoPro's principal, Dr. Grace, has spent her career working closely with the region's leading medical professionals. Should additional testing or concerns arise, she will recommend the appropriate partner in the field.
We've tried to make the process as seamless as possible. You'll check out for your desired products online. Then, we email you a prepaid mailing label and order form to take with you to your local fitting appointment. We will include the clinic information in that email to schedule your appointment. We will have spoken with them regarding your needs and they'll be expecting your call. If we don't already have a provider relationship established in your area, we take a week or so to find and vet the best clinic for you, and then we will send you instructions on making your earmold impressions appointment.
Tinnitus is one of the primary topics our clients ask about, and we have found that giving people a more clear understanding of the pathology can be empowering for management. We recommend reading through this article and watching this video we put together on the topic. Let us know if you need to discuss in more detail with you if needed. For tinnitus management at night, this is Grace’s favorite sound machine. You can cycle through different pitches of masking noise to find what works best for you. Then, we recommend setting the volume at the lowest possible volume to give you relief and setting a sleep timer. This way, you are allowing your ears to rest and recover as much as possible from the noise of the day and minimize the daily noise dose which is described in this article.
For kids, we typically recommend over-the-ear muffs so that the adult can visibly see that the ears are completely housed within the muffs with no air leakage. A few of our favorites are listed here.
The OtoPro Impulse can certainly be used for kids, and we understand that the muffs can be bulky, hot, and cumbersome. You can request the smallest sleeves we offer and then carefully visually inspect that they are providing a good seal each time they're worn. You can graduate to larger ear tips as necessary and then ultimately order custom when growth hits a plateau.
These products do not have ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) and I'll explain why. ANC works well for low to moderate steady-state sounds like road noise, restaurant/cafe noise, by creating an equal and opposite wave form to digitally cancel out those signals. An impulse, high-level gunshot (typically 160dB+) is not possible for ANC to process and cancel. Therefore, the best protection comes from the best fit - an air-tight custom seal with absolutely no air leakage. That's why we cringe when we see people shooting in Airpods! We love Airpods for their intended use – personal audio in up to moderately loud environments. However, they don’t fit the bill for shooting. This is a great article that goes into more details.
Based in Jackson, MS, Dr. Grace schedules various pop-up shops and lunch & learn events throughout the region. Use the contact link above to request she learn more about your upcoming event and how OtoPro might participate. Contact Us
Product price is eligible for refund within 60 days of delivery. Professional Service fees, credit card transaction fees, taxes, and shipping are not eligible for refund. Remakes for fit issues will be attempted at no charge within 30 days of delivery.
Above all, OtoPro is a highly specialized customer service business. In order for us to sustain the level of ongoing care and follow up offered to our clients by our trained staff and Doctors of Audiology, we must retain a minimum of this amount for the time invested in each client. We provide consultations, unique product builds, facilitation of Preferred Provider visits, order oversight, follow up, and troubleshooting for the long haul at no additional cost. Our clients find that this is a small price to pay for this level of service and attention to detail provided.
Our favorite products for hunting and shooting allow for conversation while keeping you protected. The SoundGear Phantom is the most popular product for OtoPro clients. It has the newest hearing aid circuit available in a hearing protection product, so its sound quality and wind noise reduction is going to be the highest quality available. The amplification circuit is ideal for listening to soft sounds outdoors. When using them in a noisy work environment, for example, you'll likely want to keep the microphones muted. It's also rechargeable instead of requiring you to keep up with tiny hearing aid batteries; and the Bluetooth connectivity allows great multifunctionality. You can audio from your phone wirelessly and control streaming volume separately from the amplification volume of your surroundings. For example, you can stream a podcast while amplifying the leaves rustling to listen for game movement at the same time.
They are also great for streaming audio while traveling by plane, when using lawn equipment and power tools. My clients have even reported preferring the for long conference calls. The Phantoms also offer a "background sounds" feature that allows you to choose between multiple masking noises (white noise, rain, ocean, etc) to mask tinnitus and/or help with focus and further sound isolation.
If you aren't interested in that much tech and if you don't need the amplification, the OtoPro Custom Impulse product is great. It is nonelectronic and uses a sound pressure membrane to regulate incoming sounds. Sound pressure levels up to about 95dB pass through with little attenuation; and anything over 95dB is blocked essentially as if you were wearing solid earplugs. They allow you to feel some air exchange to keep you from feeling so "plugged." While your own voice will sound a little boomy, the sound quality of your surroundings will be quite natural. You can pair them with a bone conduction headset like Aftershokz to provide protection with Bluetooth streaming. For hunting, select the full shell fit and the Impulse filters. If you want to get started at a lower price point, consider the OtoPro Impulse. We've taken the very same filter from the custom version and put it into multiple sized non-custom ear sleeves. Custom fit is ideal for guaranteeing optimal comfort and no air leakage; however, we realize cost as a barrier to entry for many people. This product is also unique in that you can upgrade to a custom-fit sleeve at a later time if you don't achieve the desired comfort and fit with the non-custom sleeves.
Our duck hunters have reported that the new Soundgear Phantoms offer the best sound quality for blowing a duck call. Still, we have a number of clients who love the Soundgear Platinums. The level of protection is the same in both products. The Phantom does offer a newer hearing aid circuit, in which the faster processing allows for an improvement in sound quality and localization ability as well as an improved wind noise manager in every listening mode. The Platinums are the go-to for people who want a little more volume (they offer slightly more amplification than the Phantoms), or for people who do not want to have to remember to charge the batteries and would rather keep a pack of hearing aid batteries on hand. The Platinums only have a wind noise manager in the second pre-set listening mode, and they do not offer Bluetooth streaming or rechargeability like the Phantoms