Walkers Game Ear


August 17, 2010, 04:51 PM
I'm not sure what is the best place to ask, but I was wondering about the Walker's Game Ear as a replacement for a regular hearing aid? My hearing aid went kaput and it looks to me as though the Walkers are a good bit cheaper.
Any thoughts?
Jim Williams

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August 17, 2010, 08:43 PM
Hi Jim. I'm no expert, but I do wear bilateral hearing aids. My guess is that the Walker addresses volume only. Turn it up or down to adjust. As you know, hearing loss has more to do with the loss of various frequencies. Most good hearing aids are tuned to address your unique deficits. I "hear" you though...the real suckers are expensive!

August 17, 2010, 10:46 PM
I have purchased several reasonably priced hearing aids from hearinghelpexpress.com and have been very happy with them. I've been using both the custom fit in the ear and the behind the ear with custom earpieces. They send you the material to make the mold yourself. I've also gone to the gunshow and had somebody make molds for me. They were making me custom earplugs and for a small extra fee they made molds I could send off to order more hearing aids.

.38 Special
August 17, 2010, 11:54 PM
I sell hearing aids for a living. It would help if I knew what you were using. If you've been happy with a low-end hearing aid, you may be happy with something from Walker's. If you've been wearing a good quality unit fitted by a competent professional, you may be disappointed, though. You should also know that most hearing aids can be repaired unless they are over six or seven years old.

Beyond that, Walker's offers a complete range, including several different instruments under the "Game Ear" name. Their top end stuff is actually pretty decent, though they're telling some fibs about what they actually do. For example, they claim one setting in their advanced instruments is for "Turkey/Elk" and another is for "Whitetail/Bear/Moose" when in fact those settings are directional microphones for background noise reduction, while the other provides broader spectrum of sound (more volume from both ends of the spectrum) for better sounding music. Lord knows how they came up with the "turkey/elk/deer/etc." nonsense.

At any rate, the Game Ear instruments are all really low end. Among other things, they are all single channel/single microphone instruments, which just means they are going to increase the volume of all pitches by the same amount and make no real effort to reduce background noise. This may be helpful for a hunter with approximately normal hearing, but if used as a substitute for a hearing aid is likely to drive you batty in a very short time. And anything that fits into place with a foam plug or other one-size-fits-all solution is unlikely to be comfortable and secure.

The experience I've had with DIY earmolding kits has been uniformly bad -- although someone who had success with them wouldn't be in my office in the first place. From my point of view, even professionally done ear impressions have to be modified or remade in perhaps 20 percent of cases. This is (or should be, by any reputable clinic) done at no charge, and where possible, while you wait. So if you are doing it yourself, you may have instant success, but if you don't, you'll be wishing you'd gone to your friendly local clinic in the first place.

August 18, 2010, 08:29 AM
The thing that kept me away from hearing aid professionals was the huge markup. I figured anybody that could offer me 2 for 1 pricing after seeing me gasp for air over the price was making an awful lot of money on what they were selling. I would be interested in seeing some advertised prices of brand names from different vendors. Hopefully it's not like matresses where you can't compare prices because everybody makes up their own brand names even if the manufacturer is the same.

August 18, 2010, 09:57 AM
To pull it back toward guns:
I got to try out some Walkers one day because I hate that I can't hear with plugs in my darn ears when I am at the range. I am just not a yelling kind of person.

I went ahead and got some off-brand electronic muffs with a directional mic on each muff. I love the things at the range because I put in regular ear plugs and then put the muffs over them, but turn the muffs up loud enough that talking is back to regular volume. Yes this kills the batteries in the muffs, but after a day at the range even with a .308 on the line my ears are fine and the whole time I can still carry on a regular conversation.

August 18, 2010, 08:36 PM
Actually this is what caused me to order a new set of hearing aids. I was in a training class and couldn't hear the instructions. For the next class I bought some electonic hearing protection and wore my behind the ear hearing aids. I could hear then but the muffs rode on the on/off switch and kept shutting them off. When I got the inside the ear aids I was back in the game. I get a little bit of echo but I can live with it.

.38 Special
August 19, 2010, 12:54 AM
Yeah, Bigbob, the markup is pretty significant. Part of it justified by paying for all that education, and part of it by the $100,000 of testing and fitting equipment in my office, and part of it for the simple fact that hearing aid users tend to need a lot more follow-up than, say the wearers of corrective lenses.

Having said that, the sticker shock can still be pretty intense. I do hear from folks that are really happy with their online hearing aid purchases, FWIW. But I also hear a lot of horror stories too.

Also FWIW, you might take a look at Costco, if you haven't already. Their business model is a little different from that of an individual clinic ("Get 'em sold and get 'em out" vs "We're here for everything you need") but they do have the lowest mark up of any brick-and-mortar-with-a-licensed-professional business that I'm aware of.

Plus, after you get sick of their customer service, you can come to my clinic right nearby!

.38 Special
August 19, 2010, 01:00 AM
Oh, and while I'm at it, it is a fact that many hearing aids are actually made by one company and marked as another. Costco, for instance, sells "Kirkland" hearing aids, which are actually Rextons -- and Rexton is a subsidiary of Siemens and uses Siemens technology. The upshot is that Siemens makes great hearing aids, so by default, Rexton and Kirkland work just fine. The downside is that unless you're an "insider" you won't know what is what. Moreover, even if you try to compare features -- like the number of channels -- you can't do it because many things are either given different names by different manufacturers, or a manufacturer simply changes the meaning of the words. (Siemens, for instance, gives an honest accounting of the number of channels, while Walker's adds up a whole bunch of things that aren't technically "channels" and then makes wildly dishonest claims about how many channels they have.)

Nice racket, eh?

August 19, 2010, 08:34 AM
Thanks for the good info .38 special. I certainly don't begrudge anybody earning a living and my situation is similar. I spent a lot of time and money getting my education and certifications and get paid accordingly also. I have the same approach when I'm buying guns, I figure oure what I want and try to find it at the best price to get the most bang for my buck. The exception is if there is not a significant difference in price I buy from a local brick and mortar store to hopefully help them stay in business. I'm going to send you a PM and see if you have some good hearing aids I can afford.

August 24, 2010, 03:27 PM
Thanks for all the input, guys. I'llprobably have to shell out more than I want.

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