These AI-Powered Hearing Aids Can Tweak Audio Quality on the Fly

Signia was an early mover in the in-ear hearing aid world when it released its Active Pro line two years ago, and the industry has continued to evolve dramatically since. While there are plenty more in-ear aids on the market today, Signia’s bread and butter is found in the more traditional side of the hearing aid world, with new behind-the-ear models launching regularly.

The latest of these is the Pure Charge&Go IX. The IX in the name isn’t a Roman number nine but rather shorthand for Integrated Xperience, which Signia claims is “the world’s first hearing tech platform capable of pinpointing multiple conversation partners in real time, providing unprecedented sound clarity and definition for wearers in multi-speaker scenarios.” The company says the IX is built around a wholly new platform focused on optimizing multiparty conversations in noisy environments. The ability to “process speech separate from background sounds,” the company says, means you can still inhabit your environment without overpowering dialog—tracking multiple speakers without the wearer even having to turn their head.

Signia says the hearing aids are so good they improve the listening experience even if you don’t have a hearing impairment. My hearing loss is mild but measurable—and holding steady, based on a new audiogram that was created in the process of writing this review—so I had high hopes that the days of asking for people to repeat themselves, then nodding and smiling when I didn’t catch it the second time, were soon going away.

But first, the fitting. Signia’s Pure Charge&Go IX are not over-the-counter aids and rather require a professional fitting by an audiologist; this can be done online or in person, depending on the physician. I visited a local doctor who took me through a full hearing test to create a fresh audiogram and then fitted me with the aids and adjusted their programming onsite. The entire visit took about 45 minutes.

Photograph: Signia

As noted earlier, these are classic behind-the-ear aids, and they’re not the smallest I’ve seen, weighing 2.8 grams each. The silver color scheme is dated but not offensively ugly, at least. Getting the receiver positioned in the ear canal is tricky—a problem I have with all behind-the-ear aids—and even after weeks of testing I was still spending a minute or more fiddling with them to get things seated just so each time I put them on.

Physical controls are basic, with a rocker button on the back side of each aid. Both rockers control volume universally for both hearing aids, whichever aid you use. Charging is done via the included standard magnetic case. It contains juice for about three charges, each good for 18 hours and sometimes more. It also comes with a second, case-less charger. Both connect via USB cable; a single power adapter is included in the box. My doctor included three types of ear tips to try, including closed, open, and hybrid style “vented” tips. In addition to amplifying ambient sound, the hearing aids can do double duty as streaming media earbuds and can process voice calls. As with most hearing aids, they aren’t the best at this, with a tinny quality and minimal bass response, but it beats having to take them out if you want to make a quick phone call.

Signia’s app has evolved slightly since I last used it in 2021. It remains a straightforward system, letting you adjust volume universally or by ear, tweak balance between “sharp” and “soft” (I usually preferred soft, which helped avert a cymbal-like zing on words that start with s and ch), and specify directions around you that you’d like to focus on or tune out. Various programs can be set (“live music,” “outdoor sport,” etc.), but these need to be created by a professional, though the AI-powered Signia Assistant can make minor tweaks on the fly, like making voices a bit clearer. I found the assistant to be effective, though there’s only so far it can go. For major changes you’ll need to get your doctor involved again.