To people regularly browsing the internet for hearing a often aids (that’d be me), the Otofonix Helix looks quite familiar. The setup of a pair of BTE hearing aids with a sleek charging base had a brief popularity, before the rechargeable travel case because the norm. Although the configuration is hardly revolutionary, the Otofonix Helix is still very much an Otofonix hearing aid. And this is good news.
Earlier Otofonix models already offer great experiences. The Otofonix Encore is one of few hearing aids with a telecoil function, and I often refer to the Encore and Elite as examples of higher-end hearing aids. With the introduction of this new model, how does the Helix stack up against the old favorites?
In this review, we’ll find out. I’ll go through the key features of the Helix first, then discuss who benefits most from buying this hearing amplifier. Next, I’ll examine the pros and cons of the Otofonix Helix before giving you alternative models and a buying recommendation.
As always, I have summarized my findings in a visual 30-second review. If you’d like to skip all the reading and get straight to the conclusion, simply click here.
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Key features of the Otofonix Helix
The first key feature of the Otofonix Helix is that it comes as a pair of hearing aids. Most models hearing amplifiers come individually, so you’ll have to buy two if you want to wear one in both ears. The Otofonix Helix is also rechargeable, so you never have to worry about batteries. Simply pop the amplifiers in the charging base overnight, and take them out in the morning for a full day’s use. The charging base itself uses a USB charger, which is easily replaced.
Please note: this paragraph only applies to the 2020 model of the Otofonix Helix: A more unique feature of the Helix is the telecoil function. A telecoil is a rare feature in hearing amplifiers, and before only came with the Otofonix Encore. This function allows you to directly connect to different environments that offer a telecoil: many theaters, churches, and drive-thrus with restaurants or banks will offer a telecoil connection. This way, you don’t have to rely on the amplifier picking up the right sounds, but the sound source is directly connected to your ear.
Also read: What is a telecoil (and do you need one)?
Each of the other listening programs uses dual direction microphones. This better mimics the natural way your ear works, and helps the device focus on the sounds you want to hear most. It also gives you a more directional feel, giving depth to the sounds that are amplified.
Who is this hearing amplifier for?
With a 42 dB peak gain, the Helix has the same output as its older brothers, the Otofonix Elite and Otofonix Encore (although the encore can output 53 dB by changing the configuration). The dual microphones, noise cancellation technology, and telecoil function essentially ensure that you don’t need the full peak gain, as the amplified sounds are of better quality. Compare it to a pair of headphones you’d use to listen to music. If you’re wearing noise-cancelling headphones to listen to music, you wouldn’t need to turn the volume up as much compared to headphones that don’t drown out background noise.
Furthermore, the bells and whistles attached to the Helix help make this hearing amplifier a great alternative to prescription hearing aids – unless you suffer from profound hearing loss.
How well does the Otofonix Helix work?
The Otofonix Helix works like a charm. It truly is a prime example of how close hearing amplifiers can come to prescription hearing aids. It offers “magic domes”, which are a hybrid between the closed domes (more power) and open domes (more comfort) that used to be the only two options.
The Helix has ten volume levels and three different listening programs. Otofonix claims four listening programs, but one of these is the telecoil function. The remaining three give you a normal listening experience, a program for noisy environments with additional noise cancelling, and a setting without noise cancelling, which is called ‘TV mode’.
The Otofonix Helix comes with a shockproof travel case, cleaning supplies, and domes and sound tubes in three different sizes.
What’s not to like about the Otofonix Helix?
There’s nothing actually wrong with the Otofonix Helix, so get ready for some nitpicking. The package doesn’t come with closed domes, but you can order them for $2.50. If you ask, I’m sure they’ll send you a set with the purchase of your Helix.
It’s only available in one color: beige. You can only buy a pair.
The newer models no longer have a telecoil function.
What is the difference between the 2020 and the 2021 Otofonix Helix?
In 2021, Otofonix came out with an improved version of the Helix. All the key features are still there, but Otofonix have made some improvements. The main differences between 2020 and 2021 versions of the Helix are size (see image) and the four listening programs. Instead of the telecoil function, the latest Otofonix Helix offers four traditional listening programs.
Hearing amplifiers that are good alternatives
As I mentioned in the introduction, the Otofonix Helix is one of many new hearing amplifiers that come in this popular configuration. That also means there are plenty of alternatives. At the same time, it’s hard to improve on the Helix (at the price point of $649). The Neosonic MX and Neosonic MX-RIC are the best alternatives – they are often a bit cheaper (the MX is now around $200 cheaper) and offer a higher dB peak gain, but lack a telecoil function. Otofonix has brought out a newer model that combines the rechargeable battery with smartphone controls: the Otofonix Groove.
For a more budget-friendly option, a pair of Otofonix Elite hearing amplifiers might be a good alternative. You give up some extras such as the rechargeable batteries, the telecoil function, and the dual microphones, but it’s still a good choice.
Lastly, if you insist on a different color (grey), a pair of Otofonix Encore amplifiers offers nearly the same device (minus the rechargeable batteries) for a similar price.
Should you buy the Otofonix Helix?
Not really. Don’t get me wrong, these are great, but their main competitor, the Neosonic MX, is $200 cheaper. That’s a no-brainer, and Otofonix should lower their price to catch up. Nevertheless, these amplifiers have all the bells and whistles you’d expect, making them a suitable alternative for prescription hearing aids. The little extras such as rechargeable batteries and a telecoil function help elevate the Helix above the competition.
In July 2023, the Helix was $695 on the company website.