Decibullz – guest blog post by Natalie Phillips

decibullzlogoI had the opportunity to check out a local company here in Fort Collins, Colorado, called Decibullz.  A friend introduced me to the company, as they wanted to reach into the Audiology community for feedback and input on their product line.  The name initially caught my attention, but as I began to investigate, the company WHY and the products themselves caused me to look at them more closely with an Audiologist’s eye.

Kyle Kirkpatrick, CEO and Founder of Decibullz, sat me down and told me the story of how he grew up a gymnast.  He explained how he was never able to keep any type of comfortable earbuds in his ears during activities, which frustrated him.  He came up with an idea to mold his own earbuds and adjust them to create a good fit, and voila! – a solution to a problem and a company was born!

innovationAs I examined their current products, my son’s moldable mouthpiece used for football was the best way I could relate to how this innovative product works. Using a thermoplastic patented material, Decibullz products include a moldable (and RE-moldable) piece that sits in the concha area of the ear, as well as insert eartips of varying sizes that fit most ears.  This type of system creates a safe solution for consumers, allowing them to have an immediate, somewhat custom fit. Initially offering a hard-wired earbud solution, Decibullz currently offers both earplug and Bluetooth wireless earbud products.


The Decibullz molds have to be heated, and it is recommended to boil water up to 150-170 degrees. The mold is placed into the hot water for 5 minutes, removed and cooled off for 30 seconds, and then inserted in the ear for custom molding. Once molded, the earbud/plugs can be modified using a heating lamp, heating gun, or a hairdryer, OR placed back into boiling water for remolding.

Advantages and key points of discussion include:

  • The ability to have a quick and immediate solution for a custom fit earplug with an NRR 31 rating and custom wireless earbuds without having to wait 1-2 weeks for production
  • Re-moldable in case of growth of ears and any difficulty in initial molding process
  • Modular design to interchange one set of Decibullz molds to be used with multiple Decibullz products (i.e. earplugs AND earbuds)


Currently, these innovative earplugs and wireless earbuds are available at and sold direct-to-consumer at the suggested retail price of $25.99 and $119.99 respectively. An Internet search will quickly reveal that these same products may be purchased at, Cabela’s, and other hunting and outdoor sporting goods stores. Since the material is re-moldable, audiologists have an immediate opportunity to offer consumers a service where the product may either be molded for them or, in the case of a poor do-it-yourself outcome, remolded to achieve an optimal fit and charge an office visit fee.

If this product were made available to audiologists at a discounted price for resale, an innovative product like Decibullz could positively impact a clinical practice in several ways as it will:

  1. help differentiate your practice from only selling hearing aids
  2. provide an immediate, custom hearing protection and listening solution for your patients and consumers
  3. Solve other clinical needs, including expanding the scope of same day services ranging from custom earplugs for  pressure-equalization tube placements to providing other earplug solutions for musicians, security, and dry ear precaution situations
  4. offer new opportunities for chargeable office visits to assist consumers who need help to create a better custom fit they could achieve on their own

Furthermore, if Audiology practices were able to be listed as preferred fitting centers and had the accessibility of providing multiple products for 1 set of earplugs (to purchase direct-to-consumer you would have to purchase the whole kit for each device), this could be a way to get consumers in the door to your office for very little time and very little cost to overhead and supplies. Another option would be to allow the Audiologist to have access to different materials to include multiple colors for swirling, glitter, and glow-in-the-dark materials that only an Audiologist would be able to provide.

top-5-bloggersAll in all, Decibullz earplugs have been ranked as one of the best (Top 5) earplugs for shooting and also have one of the highest noise reduction ratings of 31 NRR for custom earplugs.  As far as sound quality, Decibullz’ wired earbuds were voted the best earphones of 2015  and won a Consumer Electronics Show Innovation Award in 2014 and 2016.  Decibullz has a very promising list of products that I feel I can incorporate into my clinic immediately.  Their collaborative efforts with the Audiology industry also demonstrates that they are interested in providing more products that will work for both consumers and providers.  Stay tuned for their entrance into the industry and check them out at the upcoming Audiology Now in Indianapolis on April 5-8, 2017!

Version 6Dr. Natalie Phillips is the Senior Audiologist with Advanced Otolaryngology and Audiology in Fort Collins, Colorado and Director of Audiology with EarQ.  Dr. Phillips has served on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Academy of Audiology and on various convention committees for the American Academy of Audiology as well as the Support Personnel Task Force.  She is a founding sister of Women Unite, a group of women who’s mission is to inspire, ignite, and assist other women achieve their potential in today’s professional setting.  Dr. Phillips is currently serving as a Global Ambassador and on the Legacy Project Steering Committee for Empowering A Billion Women by 2020 (EBW2020), a global initiative and movement to provide the tools, technology, and resources to empower women as leaders and successful entrepreneurs.

Dr. Phillips has experience developing early hearing detection programs in various hospitals throughout the state of Texas. Her work then took her to Southern California, where she collaborated with a neurotologist, taking over the practice of Dr. William House.  She has participated in research within the field of audiology, including cochlear implants, tinnitus devices and a fully implantable hearing system. Dr. Phillips is particularly interested in tinnitus and has been providing tinnitus and sound sensitivity therapy options to patients for the past 18 years.  She continues to pursue opportunities to participate in humanitarian audiology as well as believes in connecting with people both inside and outside of the hearing industry to be able to make a bigger impact in the world.


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Resource Information At Your Fingertips

information touchIf you have information at your fingertips, it means the information is convenient, easy to find, and easily accessible. The Oaktree Products website offers information at your fingertips beyond product details and pictures that will help you make informed decisions about your clinical supply and/or patients’ communication solution needs.  Not sure which otoscope fits your current needs? Check out the Otoscopes Solutions resource page to learn all about otoscopes including some basics (types, light source technology, battery technology) or to review product comparison tables to help find the perfect pocket, full size or video otoscope for you. Need to identify amplified stethoscope options for your patients with hearing loss and to understand fitting challenges? Read up on all the great information listed in the Amplified Stethoscope resource page. Confused about what is the best alerting system for your patients? Explore the Alerting Systems resource page which will take you through the basics and help assemble the best alerting system for your patient. Be sure to check it out and let us know what you think!



Posted in Amplified Stethoscopes, Audiology, Hearing Assistance Technology, Otoscopes, Headlamps & Earlights | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

BANG! Free Webinar addressing damage from impulse noise & the effectiveness of hearing protection


Some of the most hazardous sounds we hear are brief sounds – noises from impacts and impulses. These arise from sources like household tools, construction, industrial noise, firecrackers, guns, and even automotive airbags. The progression of damage to the ear from such impulse sounds differs from damage to the ear that progressively occurs as a result of long-term exposure to high-level noise. Beyond understanding the various mechanisms and related damage-risk criteria specifically associated with impulse noise, it is important for audiologists to recognize appropriate hearing protection recommendations for such noises, including understanding how hearing protection device efficacy is measured, how these products perform, and suggestions for use.

elliott_berger_300x300-150x150To gain insight on the topic, 3M is offering a free webinar presented by Elliot Berger, M.S. on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm (CST). For nearly 40 years, Mr. Berger has studied hearing protection, hearing conservation, and related topics, and has presented his research in 14 textbook chapters and over 60 published articles. He chairs the ANSI working group on hearing protector attenuation and has served on a National Academy of Science committee evaluating hearing loss in the military. Log in, listen, and learn!

sept22To register for this free seminar, click HERE.  Be sure to first click the ADD TO CALENDAR button to sync with your Outlook or Google calendar. You will minimally be required to enter your email address and title to enter the event. Certificate of participation is available by checking the YES box. Access to the event will be made available 30 minutes prior to the event start time.  I have already registered and hope to see you all there!


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PerfectClean – guest blog post by C.J. Loeffler

PCleanThe PerfectClean®, the first and only system in the world of its kind, is a patented electronic device specially developed for the safe and effective removal of earwax from all types of standard or custom hearing aids.  Each device comes complete with a USB micro cable and wall adapter capable of 100-240vac 50/60hz operating range.  This is achieved by a 90 minute, three-cycle process consisting of washing, drying and disinfecting of the hearing aid receiver.  For optimal care and best results, the recommended use of the PerfectClean is on a daily basis.  What makes this device so unique is the ease of operation.  With just the simple press of a button, the device is able to perform on its own, and turns off at the end of the operation.  To use the PerfectClean all the patient needs to do is place the hearing aids inside, close the lid, and press the power button.

technology-mgMG Development has been in development and field testing of this revolutionary product for over 5 years.  PerfectClean uses our patented Electronic Safe Solution in a 25 minute agitation vortex motion for the ear wax removal.  A second cycle is then followed by forced air heat of 60 minutes, at 113° Fahrenheit to ensure the removal of moisture.  The final cycle is 5 minutes of strong UV-C light for proven 99% disinfection of the hearing aid.  The electronic Safe Solution comes in a plastic refill cartridge that offers your patient approximately 45 cycles of usage.  The PerfectClean also has built-in distinctive light indicators to alert the user when the device is running, requires a new solution refill cartridge, or the filter is in need of cleaning.  All PerfectClean also come with a 2 year warranty.  Get your patients a PerfectClean today so they can also “hear well every day”.

CJ picMy name is C.J. Loeffler, and I am the Director of Sales at MG Development.  Before taking on this role my previous career years were spent in the technology industry.  My background comes from being the National Field Manager of North America for Google, and District Manager for Microsoft.  At MG Development my bold promise is to grow our brand and product line, constantly improving and developing more efficient and quality products to evolve the hearing aid industries hygiene and maintenance care options.  Our goal is to offer a solution to your patients, so they can also stand by our slogan, “hear well every day”.

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Hush™, the World’s First Smart Earplugs – guest blog post by Daniel Lee

snoringSnoring can be very disruptive to one’s sleep and has a much deeper negative impact than may be initially realized. Studies show that spouses lose more than an hour of sleep as a result of their snoring spouses. Also, the sleep they do manage to get is oftentimes so disrupted and fragmented, that a severe debilitating shortage of restful sleep results. There are many who may not even realize the extent that their sleep is disturbed by noise. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Noise can jostle your slumber – causing you to wake, move, shift between stages of sleep, or experience a change in heart rate and blood pressure – so briefly that you don’t remember the next morning”.2 It’s so bad, that couples often resort to extreme measures. Almost a quarter of American couples end up sleeping in separate bedrooms in order to cope.3

tinnitusBeyond snoring, there are many other noises that can disrupt sleep including noisy neighbors or roommates, and unwanted sounds of the city. In addition, tinnitus is a condition that can be quite bothersome for many individuals particularly when trying to fall and/or stay asleep.  Audiologist are involved helping patients manage their tinnitus and now have a new, unique solution to offer some of their patients as a solution at night.

hush productHush is the world’s first smart earplugs designed to block out sound using the combination of two proven methods: 1) passive noise reduction, and 2) noise masking. Like earplugs, Hush’s foam insert earphones passively reduce outside noise up to 30 dB. In addition, the earphones wirelessly pair to any smartphone, providing the user with access to 15 soothing sound tracks that mask any residual unwanted noise. By synergistically combining an earplug with a sound machine, Hush offers your patients an elegant, economical, and effective means of blocking out unwanted noises to help facilitate a good night’s sleep.

hush-appKeep in mind, there are some things that a user will need to be able to hear while using Hush.  Through the use of the Hush app, key notifications will continue to be wirelessly communicated from the user’s smartphone to the smart earplugs. The user has complete control over which notifications will be active, including selecting what phone numbers or alarms will wake the user.  The added bonus is that these alarms will only sound in the user’s ears without waking anybody else.

Marketing aside, while Hush comes with a variety of tips (foam and silicone) that should find a good fit with most people, Hush will not be a perfect fit for everybody. Hush is intentionally designed to be an in-ear device that sits flush inside the concha cavum such that it is comfortable even for side sleepers, but this can vary based on unique ear shapes.

Here are two unique ear characteristics to watch out for that might compromise Hush’s comfort and practical usage for some:

  1. When an individual’s tragus severely obstructs entry to the ear canal, Hush will not be able to fit correctly. This is evident if somebody inserts Hush and the tragus is stretched significantly. Although a person might not initially report discomfort, if the tragus is stretched significantly, it will become uncomfortable over a few hours, making Hush not a viable option for those with tragus-obstructed ear canals.
  2. When an individual’s concha cavum is very shallow, Hush will not be able to sit as flush to the profile of the head as intended. If that individual is a side/stomach sleeper, the protruding Hush may become irritating over a few hours.

For more information on tip choices, see the Oaktree Products LEARN MORE document located on Hush product page on their website.

Hush values our audiologist partners highly and is completely dependent on their expertise for our mutual success.  Where the expertise of an audiologist comes into play is in being
able to identify when Hush would be a good option for a particular person. Our goal with founder imagewith Hush is to maximize the amount of user happiness which is made possible by ensuring Hush is prudently offered to those for whom it would be a good fit. Hush is available to audiologists at Oaktree Products. For product information, contact Oaktree Products at 800.347.1960 and ask for customer service, or email inquires to  Daniel Lee (pictured right)  is one of the founders of Hush, a San Diego based technology company dedicated to improving lives by helping people sleep better.




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Free app turns smart phone into ALD for TV listening

tunityAs previously mentioned in a guest post submitted for my colleague Gyl Kasewurm’s blog (see Hearing industry: rose bush full of thorns or thorn bush full of roses?), the hearing industry has been undergoing a drastic change, bringing the independent private practice owner newer and more challenging competition. Even if you choose to ignore it, the Internet has made it both possible and easy to purchase hearing instruments and hearing-instrument-look-alikes.  Big box stores offer end-users hearing instruments at lower price points while PSAPs continue to ruffle some audiology feathers. The change is happening and technology is becoming more readily accessible to everyone’s fingertips.  For example, there now is a relatively new app that can turn your smart phone into a TV listening device at a press of a button without any additional accessories.

Tunity is a free app that allows anyone with an iPhone or Android to stream audio from a live TV, even when it is muted, directly to the smart phone. When you scan the TV of interest, the app quickly identifies the channel and then automatically streams live, synchronized audio to your smart phone.


So, if you (or your hearing instrument wearing patients) are in a loud bar during March Madness trying to watch your alma mater play amongst the other competing games, you can easily access the audio of your TV of choice and have it streamed directly to your smart phone via the Tunity app. Likewise, if you find yourself in a dorm room situation where you want to watch TV while your roommate needs to study, use the app to direct the audio to your headphones. It is applicable at home, at the airport, in waiting rooms, and any other situation where there is a TV that is hard to hear whether or not you are a hearing instrument wearer. The applications are endless and the app is very cool. As an avid sports fan and frequent traveler, I now personally use it to optimize my TV listening experiences. Check it out for yourself at and let your patients know how they too can optimize their TV-listening experiences with the free Tunity app.

Posted in Audiology, Hearing Assistance Technology, Hearing Instrument Technology, Tools & Accessories | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

How do PSAPs fit into the modern audiology practice? – guest post by Drew Dundas

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with many patients with a common set of complaints. Let me set the scene for you. It’s a morning or an afternoon on a day that ends with ‘y’, and your new patient explains that they have noticed that they’re having increasing difficulty understanding in situations such as restaurants and meetings, when trying to understand a lecture, or that they’re engaged in a nightly battle with a loved one for the TV remote control. ‘Hmm, I think I may have heard that one before,’ you think to yourself and start the case history and diagnostics. Your test results are unremarkable, with a little bit of a high frequency shift, but no red flags or glaring loss of hearing sensitivity. After explaining the test results to the patient, you’re faced with a bit of a dilemma. The subjective impact of these situational listening difficulties often outstrips the objective severity of the hearing profile of the individual.

So, it’s decision time. Do you explain that many people experience these challenges, but that because there isn’t really a significant change in hearing sensitivity as of yet that hearing aids are not an ideal solution at this time, and suggest some listening strategies? Or, do you by default bring up the idea of amplification and assistive technologies like an FM setup?

soluton-wowDay in and day out, I found this to be a frustrating decision to make. We know that the right technology can help these patients and have a substantial positive effect on their overall quality of life, but hard won experience has shown us time and time again that it is a truly rare patient who is able to justify and afford thousands of dollars of technology to address difficulties that arise in only a few situations each day. The solution that has been needed is one that gives patients a speech intelligibility enhancement, maybe a little gain in the right frequency range, an improvement in signal to noise ratio that’s comparable to an FM, and a way to package it all so that the cost to the patient is easy to justify for those few hours a day where the technology is needed. Because it’s likely to be a low cost solution, it shouldn’t take up too much of the clinician’s time, so it should be easy to set up, adjust and use. Oh, and ideally, we don’t want the device to be visually confused with a hearing aid, because the devices have very different purposes. Until recently, there simply hasn’t been a solution that would fulfill these needs, so we were forced to suggest that the patient come back in a year or so for retest, and, well, how often does that really happen?

opportunity-fishOne of the worst things that can happen here for the patient (and the clinician) is to establish the idea that technology isn’t going to help, because once this idea is established, it’s very difficult to alter. It may also explain why many of the patients never return to our practices. Instead, if we can establish and demonstrate that technology can be helpful, we create a therapeutic relationship with the patient that will bring them back to the clinic if and when their difficulty worsens. What a great opportunity for patient and provider alike, especially when we consider that it typically takes years for people to seek assistance and adopt traditional technology after recognizing the existence of a significant problem.

economicsHere’s where PSAPs come into the picture, and equally importantly, into the economics of the dispensing practice. Marketing wisdom suggests that it costs between 5 and 25 times more to capture a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.[1] Further, hearing industry data suggests that once a patient has purchased a solution from a hearing healthcare professional, that there is a 95% probability that they will purchase their next device from that same practice. Third, once technology is adopted, the average product lifecycle is less than five years.[2] Contrast this with the average time to adoption of hearing aids after identification of hearing impairment, at greater than 9 years. From a purely financial perspective, it makes sense to the professional to offer PSAP solutions, as this provides an opportunity to build a relationship with a patient, makes the patient more likely to return to the practice, and opens the door for earlier adoption of hearing aids when audiometrically appropriate. Of course, there’s an extensive set of much more important reasons to offer these technologies to patients who are not yet ideal hearing aid candidates, that fit under the umbrella of improving quality of life.

Evidence suggests that individuals with untreated even mild hearing impairments experience an increased incidence and severity of depression relative to normal hearing deprivationpeers AND those who make use of hearing technologies.[3] They are also more likely to experience fatigue, irritability, anxiety and social isolation.[4] Most recently, researchers have identified a link between untreated hearing impairments and cognitive decline. [5]These problems help to create a compelling argument in favor of adopting assistive listening technologies sooner, rather than later.

PSAP products can provide a ‘gateway’ solution for individuals who are not yet ideal hearing aid candidates. Some products are designed to emphasize signal to noise ratio enhancement, providing many of the features found in high end hearing aid devices in addition to wireless remote microphone technology. Most are intended for situational use only, instead of all day wear. A new generation of these devices has introduced designs that don’t look like hearing aids from the 1970s, and simultaneously provide additional connectivity and great flexibility for the user. Most importantly, they are not visually confused with hearing aids, making it easier for the professional to make the differences in intended use between PSAPs and hearing aids clear to the patient.

mobileWe are now experiencing the first significant step forward in hearing technology since the introduction of digital signal processing. The confluence of mobile computing power, increased connectivity and enhanced communication is combining with commercially available audio processing solutions and hearing science to create a new marketplace, rather than cannibalizing from existing sales. Hearing healthcare professionals now have the opportunity to establish the appropriate time and place for PSAP technology in the hearing journey of the patient. Incorporating these products into your practice helps to maintain the professional’s position of authority relative to hearing healthcare, and furthers the aim of every professional, namely to provide the best solution for the patient and to become a partner in hearing health, for life.

OutreachThe long and short of it is that PSAPs are not a threat to Audiology, or a hearing aid alternative, but rather, they are simply another tool in the box of options, an opportunity to build relationships with new clients, a chance to consider more than a ‘hearing aid or nothing’ and maintain credibility with the patient by providing more than a single approach to dealing with listening difficulties. Most importantly, considering PSAP products for the right patients is another way to serve the highly varied needs of our rapidly expanding patient base. The next time you encounter a patient who isn’t yet a great candidate for full-time amplification but who still reports a lifestyle impact due to situational listening difficulties, why not consider a PSAP product? You just might be surprised.

Dundas_Pro_HeadshotDrew Dundas, PhD, FAAA, CCC-A is President and Chief Technology officer at Soundhawk Corporation in Menlo Par California. Clinically trained as an audiologist at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Dr. Dundas entered the world of hearing research at Vanderbilt University, culminating in a PhD in Audiology and Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Dundas conducted development research into fitting algorithms, compressor design and advanced signal processing while a research audiologist at Starkey Hearing Technologies in Eden Prairie, MN. Prior to joining Soundhawk, he served as director of Audiology and Professor of Otolaryngology in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco where he oversaw clinical operations, resident education, research and made time to work closely with patients of all ages. He has been an invited speaker at State, National and International hearing and balance meetings, published numerous peer-reviewed articles, and co-authored chapters on balance function assessment. He holds multiple US and European patents relating to hearing devices and the personalization of sound.


[1] Gallo, A. (2014). The Value of Keeping the Right Customers. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

[2] Allen, R.L. (2002). Hearing Aids: Reasonable Expectations for the Consumer. AudiologyOnline. Retrieved from

[3] Amieva, H., Ouvrard C., Giolioli, C., Meillon, C., Rullier, L., Dartigues, J.F. (2015). Self-Reported Hearing Loss, Hearing Aids, and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-Year Study. J Am Geriatr Soc, 63(10):2099-104.

[4] Ciorba, A., Bainchini, C., Pelucchi, S., Pastore, A. (2012). The Impact of Hearing Loss on the Quality of Life of Elderly Adults. Clin interv Aging, 7:159-163.

[5] Lin, F.R., Metter, E.J., O’Brien, R.J., Resnick, S.M., Zonderman, A.B., Ferucci, L. (2011). Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia. Arch Neurol, 68(2):214-220.

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DryDome for Hearing Instruments

Siemens-AquarisEvery hearing instrument wearer benefits from a dehumidifier yet not everyone necessarily needs a heavy-duty version to do a sufficient job. The new, compact, and economically priced DryDome from the makers of Dry & Store is the perfect option for proactively extending the life of hearing instruments through daily moisture control.  In one simple touch of the button, the unit produces gentle convection heat (113º F) and automatically shuts off after a continuous 8-hour cycle.  In addition, no DD-D1STDCUSTOMdesiccant is required offering your patients a minimum-fuss means to take care of their investment.  Better yet, Oaktree Products offers a custom printing option for your DryDome (minimum quantity order of 10 required) using UV ink that will not wear off.  The imprint size is relatively small (1″W and 1/2″H) so a logo with relatively limited text is ideal.  For more information on this product, contact customer service toll-free at 800.347.1960 or send them an email at


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