High-Tech hearing aids in Tucson - The Explorer: Business

High-Tech hearing aids in Tucson

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Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 9:33 am | Updated: 2:18 pm, Wed Jan 9, 2013.

Whether it’s expense, background noise, battery life, or discomfort, there are a lot of complaints with the typical hearing aid.

Luckily, for those in need of hearing assistance, Zounds powered hearing aids have come to Tucson – and they are anything but typical.

Neither is the story of how the company, which has set the new standard for hearing aid technology, came about.

When Zounds Founder Sam Thomasson started Zounds about nine years ago, he didn’t do it for fame or fortune. He did it because his 2-year-old daughter had experienced sudden and profound hearing loss.

Having spent 25 years as an electrical engineer, Thomasson was in a position to impact his daughter’s future. She was frustrated to tears with the standard hearing aids she wore due to discomfort, but also because despite their high cost, they didn’t work well in places with a lot of background noise.

Thomasson put his technical skills to work, and after 57 patents, developed the groundbreaking Zounds Hearing Aid, which changed his daughter’s life, and continues to change the lives of people who wear them today.

On April 2, Zounds opened its first Tucson store, 4444 E. Grant Road, after it became apparent there was a demand for the product locally.

“There is a good retirement population here, partly because of the military and partly because it’s just a good place to be in the winter,” said store manager Paul Greener.

Not only is the demand there for the better product, it is also there because of value.

Despite the long list of perks with a Zounds hearing aid – a 90 percent reduction of background noise, the smallest and longest lasting rechargeable battery, Shock Sound Suppression, squealing reduction, superior comfort, and even a remote control for fine-tuning – a Zounds powered hearing aid actually costs less than a standard hearing aid.

“Typical hearing aids start at about $3,000, and go up, so a pair can cost you anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000,” said Greener. “We are the only manufacturer that actually represents its own hearing aids, and we don’t represent other manufacturers, which can save on a hearing aid around $2,000 each. We don’t have that extra markup stage.”

Zounds customers can expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,200, depending on the model of powered hearing aid selected.

In order to properly select the most appropriate hearing aid, Zounds consultants offer a free hearing exam, in which each customer has his or her hearing tested with an otoscope and audiometric testing equipment. Once the information is charted, the hearing aid is custom-programmed to fit the specific need of the individual’s hearing loss.

This is just one of the many taken preemptive steps taken by Thomasson and his staff to ensure a top-quality product and experience There were a few other prerequisites for Thomasson before he would even think about starting the company.

“His first commitment was if he had to build a hearing aid to make his daughter hear again, then there were a few thing it had to be,” said Greener. “It had to be powered in such a way that batteries are no longer an issue, it had to correct to 8000 (hertz) and not less, and it had to be capable of separating enough irregular noise from speech to make speech understandable. If he couldn’t do those three things, he wasn’t going to do it.”

Thomasson pulled it off, and the results have left a lasting impression that has people talking about Zounds.

Customer Natalie McGee hasn’t looked back since getting her Zounds hearing aids about a year ago.

“I’d never had a hearing aid, and people were complaining that I couldn’t hear them. I promised my friend I would go. The difference it made when I put it on – I could not believe what I could hear – things I hadn’t heard in years. I could hear the gravel under my feet when I walked. I could hear the air from the air conditioner and heater. I had no idea my doors all squeaked – I didn’t have a clue. I thought, ‘My God, listen to all this noise.’ I had forgotten certain things made noise. I was blown out of my mind.”

Greener has heard many stories such as this one.

“It brings tears to your eyes,” said Greener. “People don’t realize this is a really huge deal. I’ve had people call me to tell me, and these people thought some of those sounds were lost forever.”

To schedule a hearing exam with Zounds, call 520-829-7800. More information about the company can be found on www.zoundshearingtucson.com.

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