Comfort Contego – HAT worth checking out!

The Comfort Contego is one of my favorite personal listening devices not only because of its sleek design, but because it offers so much versatility. As shown on the left, the unit is comprised of two components: 1) the receiver (far left) and 2) the transmitter (on the right).  Both the receiver and the transmitter are equipped with microphones. To amplify conversations that occur in close proximity, the listener uses the receiver as a stand-alone unit to amplify speech, increasing the volume and changing microphone directionality (omnidirectional vs. directional) of the receiver unit as needed. For conversations of interest occurring further away (i.e. lecture, classroom, business meeting), the transmitter is used by the speaker to wirelessly send information to the receiver (up to 75 feet). The user has complete control of the volume and microphone directionality of the transmitter via the function buttons accessible on the receiver.

As of January 2011, the Comfort Contego will be packaged with a Telephone Kit, allowing users to directly connect the transmitter to the telephone for wireless transmission of phone conversations to the receiver.  Optional TV adapter allows wireless TV listening.  The Comfort Contego is a rechargeable personal listening device equipped with lithium-ion rechargeable batteries and charger. The unit may be used with headphones or t-coil equipped hearing instruments via induction devices such as neckloops.  Check out the FAQs about the Comfort Contego as well as the 12-page Contego brochure for more information. Be sure to read up on the advantages of this product over analog systems in the ATE-feature via This product is available at Oaktree Products so feel free to call cutomer service at 800.347.1960 or e-mail Oaktree at for more information. If you are interested in ALDs but don’t have time, this is one product that is worth checking out!

About AU Bankaitis

A.U. Bankaitis, PhD is a clinical Audiologist with extensive clinical, research, and business experience within the hearing industry. Dr. Bankaitis created this blog to educate her colleagues on viable product solutions for their patients and/or clinical practice.
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18 Responses to Comfort Contego – HAT worth checking out!

  1. mary whalen says:

    I have a Smartlink that I use with a hearing aid and CI. I misplaced the boot that goes on the hearing aid, and I am considering a less costly alternative. I teach so it is vital that whatever system I use works for me at a distance and in a classroom setting. Any thoughts on this? I return to the college where I work in a couple of weeks so any help is appreciated.

  2. Alan Segal says:

    The Comfort Contego is an amazing ALD. My patients are very happy with it. I’m so disappointed that the Companion Mic will not be available sooner. Seems like a business opportunity for the Contego folks to come up with lower cost additional transmitters, ala the Companion Mic system.

  3. Dan Schwartz says:

    @AU: In a followup on the issue of latency for the Bellman Audio Domino, my own observation is that it is probably on the low side towards 10mSec, as when I use it with my high powered headset w/custom earmolds, it’s easily driven into an unstable condition (squealing via feedback).

    Also, keep in mind that a typical digital hearing aid or CI processor will have a theoretical minimum 40mSec latency built in, which is a function of the “chunk size” of samples needed for the discrete Fourier transforms used for the signal processing; and this 40 mSec is added into any group delay from the radio system~

  4. Pingback: Series on FM: Soliciting User Experiences&c. « The Hearing Blog

  5. Dan Schwartz says:

    Although they have differences, the Bellman Audio Domino Classic costs $200 less, and performs as well as the Comfort Contego. While the Contego has a zoom mic, the Audio Domino Classic has a tone control on the receiver, and also when stereo is input into the transmitter jack, the system switches to digital stereo (more on this in a moment).

    Previously, A.U. raised a point about the 40ms latency of the Audio Domino vs 10ms delay in the Contego (vs. no latency with analog!) and how it can interfere with lipreading cues. [Note:In googling Comfort Contego specifications there is no mention of latency.] From personal experience, I haven’t noticed any latency issues; but more importantly, if either system is used with a TV, it is important to note that with the shift from NTSC to HDTV the lead/lag for the separate AC3 and MPEG audio streams can be up to 150mSec (and in practice is often much higher), so the (supposed) 30ms delta between the two doesn’t seem to be a factor.

    Now, let’s say your patient wants a zoom mic on the transmitter & receiver: With the Contego, the user has to walk over and manually switch the transmitter. But, remember when I said above that the Bellman Audio Domino Classic transmits in digital stereo? Well, so does the Audio Domino Pro… But also, the Pro version does something Really Clever: The audio from the omni mic rides on the left channel simultaneously with the audio from the zoom mic! This way, the user need only push the button on the receiver to “zoom” the transmitter, saving endless user fiddling.

    My friend Sarah, who blogs on her Speak Up Librarian website received upon my recommendation the Audio Domino Pro from her employer to use at work. She wrote two extensive first-person reviews here and here that are worth reading.

    Finally, I welcome everyone’s own observations of FM ALD’s, whether good or bad; clinician or user, on The Hearing Blog’s article covering all things FM.

    Dan Schwartz
    Editor, The Hearing Blog

    • Minor correction:
      For the Audio Domino Pro,

      “The audio from the omni mic rides on the left channel simultaneously with the audio from the zoom mic riding on the right channel.

      Also, from correspondence with A.U., she points out that the Contego has a 20 hour battery life vs 8 hours for the Audio Domino. In my own daily use, I get about 7-8 hours on the transmitter and about 11 hours on the receiver. That being said, in addition to the 120/240 VAC power supply, the Audio Domino charges from a powered (6 pin) USB connection, so when the user is sitting at their laptop, they can plug in to recharge~

      • aubankaitis says:

        i don’t recall indicating 20 hours of use; I will look up the general manufacturer’s assessments to see if that is what is consistent with what you had outlined in your comment. Certainly, as with any device, the volume will dictate battery usage, etc. and you have to take individual variances related to that into considertion

  6. Harriet Jacobster says:

    Hi Alan,
    It can be a problem introducing new technology even to our most seasoned hearing aid users. Have you tried giving your patients an in-office demo of the Contego? Maybe at one of the follow-ups, you can give a quick “aural rehab” lesson, put some background noise on and let them see for themselves the difference between hearing with just the hearing aid and hearing with the Contego.

    • Alan Segal says:

      Thanks Harriet (sorry for the response delay). I will find the time to incorporate a demo. Seems obvious doesn’t it?! I don’t have the Contego and the owners won’t spring for the cost of an office demo model. I do have the Companion Mic that I can use though. “film at eleven” 🙂

      Alan Segal

      • aubankaitis says:

        Alan, get in touch with me and I will see what I can work out with Comfort Audio about getting a demo in your office if you think that will make a difference in educating your patients about technology and getting their buy in; we can figure something out to help you help your patients. au

  7. Alan Segal says:

    99% of my patients won’t wear such a device even if it means the difference between hearing and not hearing. I have offered to loan and even discount similar products such as the Companion Mic but most people either don’t want to call attention to their hearing loss or ask friends, relatives to put on the transmitter in public places. Suggestions welcome.

    • aubankaitis says:

      Alan, my colleagues at Wash U who have had success with the Contego in terms of having their current hearing instrument wearing patients additionally invest in that technology. For clarification purposes, are the the 99% of your patients that you are referring to current hearing instrument wearers or are some of them wearers and some of them not?

    • aubankaitis says:

      I spoke with Audiology at Wash U and from their perspective, they have been successful in patients buying into the Contego when the patient is already a current wearer of hearing instruments. Demonstration of the product is key as they appreciate the wireless aspect. As current wearers of amplification, I suspect there are no issues with these patients accepting a personal listening system such as the Contego as discretion is not a main area of concern. Based on their feedback, for NON-hearing instrument wearers who do have a communication need, something like the PockeTalker, which is relatively more affordable, seems to be the unit of choice. Again, this is just a snapshot of what has worked with one clinic. Not sure if this helps but thought I would at least share.

      • Alan Segal says:

        Thanks AU,

        The folks who reject the Companion Mic and Contego are divided into two groups: 1) patients who already own hearing aids are reluctant to invest in another expensive product. The mindset seems to be, I’ve already paid $XXXX for these hearing aids, I’m not going to put any more money into them. 2) new hearing aid patients reject the ALD due to “visibility” and in my opinion, lack of assertiveness (asking people to wear a wireless mic).
        For all of us in the field, it’s a problem of perhaps overselling the noise reduction capabilities of the hearing aids and not making patients aware of the effects of auditory aging. i.e. your hearing aids are going to need a little help.
        I may start fitting less expensive models so the ALD is a little more palatible.

      • Dan Schwartz says:

        @Alan: The Etymotic Companion Mic is no longer made, as some parts are not available.

        • aubankaitis says:

          Re: Companion Mics; Etymotic is working on an updated version. Not sure if it will be called the same thing but this product will be available in the future

          A.U. Bankaitis, PhD
          Vice President, Oaktree Products, Inc.
          716 Crown Industrial Court
          Chesterfield, MO 63005
          636.530.6158 (fax)

          The NEW

      • Dan Schwartz says:

        AU: Unfortunately, Dr Abonso himself wrote me in March that it will be years before there’s an updated version of the Companion Mic.

        I have a set for my personal use; and in fact it’s back there because two of the three transmitters are bad.

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