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A life without limitations – adventures all over the world

Right whales in the Atlantic Ocean – shooting for a nature documentary

An innovative product from Sonova brand Phonak is changing lives: Lyric is the world’s only 100% invisible hearing aid – and documentary filmmaker Wolfgang Tins is one of its many enthusiastic users. The tiny device, which he can wear 24/7 for months without changing the battery, has accompanied his travels across the seven seas.

What does the ocean sound like? “It’s different everywhere you go!” says Wolfgang Tins. “In the tropics, there is a constant loud crackling sound. It’s from pistol shrimps, making such quick movements with their claws that they can stir up sand and even kill small creatures, or there are whales having a conversation; all the species have separate languages, each with its own grammar. And you hear dolphins when they are still several miles away. If they spot you, they’ll deliberately send out clicks to you, and if they want to know a bit more about who’s passing by, you’ll hear a creaking that goes from low frequencies to ultrasound – then the dolphins will even know if I’ve just had something to eat or if I’ve ever broken a bone. When they’re very close, you feel the echo location sounds on your chest as if you were standing in front of the bass bins in a disco.”

You could almost say that Wolfgang Tins is at home underwater – he has spent more than 2,000 hours of his life there. Looking back on this life, the 69-year-old says it’s possible his hearing loss is partly an occupational hazard – he even carried on diving against his better judgment when his partner had malaria and an expensive film project was threatened with collapse.

Wolfgang Tins getting ready for shooting on the Indonesian coast.

Wolfgang Tins is a marine biologist and documentary film-maker, and in 2010, he also became one of the first “Lyric” customers in Germany. You might even call this device made by the Sonova brand Phonak a “contact lens for the ear”, as trained hearing care professionals fit the Lyric into the ear canal in such a way that it is completely invisible from the outside while also making use of the natural anatomy of the ear to channel sound. Thanks to its innovative battery, it can remain in the ear for months* at a time – changing batteries, regular cleaning, and daily fitting are all no longer required. Lyric sits comfortably in the ear canal and adapts perfectly to the anatomy of the ear. This minimizes background noise and the sound quality is exceptional – you can get on with your day and forget you are even wearing a hearing aid.

The device has been designed for mild to moderate hearing loss and is especially intended for users looking for clear, natural sound who don’t wish to use a standard device, either for cosmetic reasons or because they are complicated to use. Lyric's invisibility in the ear is not the most relevant benefit for Tins: “For me, a hearing aid is a bit like a pair of glasses for the ears. I don’t care if you can see it or not.” Nevertheless, his hearing care professional convinced him to try Lyric out.

With Lyric, there’s nothing to get in the way of pillow talk.

Wolfgang Tins

Tins was initially skeptical: He had previously used hearing aids with lots of useful features. At concerts he could choose between music or spoken-word settings, and if he felt like taking in a movie of an evening when his wife wanted to read a book in peace, he could link his device to the TV set via Bluetooth to watch television – and his wife would hear nothing.

But Tins has since become a big fan of Lyric. He can wear the device just as easily in the shower** as on the tennis court and he enjoys all its advantages: “Lyric is water and sweat resistant, and I can call plays with my tennis partner so quietly that the opponents can't hear a thing, in a doubles match when you’re really raising a sweat.” Lyric has also changed his nights. Having taken off his hearing aid to sleep, Wolfgang Tins often failed to hear the high beeping of the alarm clock, or even his wife speaking softly. Tins jokingly used to refer to the annoying wait as he refitted his old standard device whenever he snuggled up to his wife as the “cuddle warning”. “With Lyric, there’s nothing to get in the way of pillow talk.”

Tins is also amazed by Lyric’s technical capabilities: “I find it fascinating how they can pack so much technology into such a tiny device!” The biology graduate is no slouch in technical matters himself: right after graduating, he decided against staying at university and traveled out into the world to capture the wonders of Nature with a camera, and technical chops were essential: “We were often shooting miles off-piste, and if you are going to be stuck out in the middle of the jungle for six or seven weeks, you have to know how to fix things yourself.”

I find it fascinating how they can pack so much technology into such a tiny device!

Wolfgang Tins

There’s a chance Tins might have to dismantle a lens and rebuild it on his next trip as well, but he certainly won’t be called upon to take a screwdriver to his hearing aid. The 69-year-old is planning an expedition to the Maroni River, which marks the border of French Guiana; he filmed thousands of leatherback turtles laying their eggs on the shore several years ago, and he now wishes to return to see if the escalating environmental destruction there has at least spared these, the largest species of turtle on Earth (they can weigh up to 1800 lb). Once again, he’s going to be spending weeks on end traveling through the wilderness – and he’d be lost without his Lyric.

The documentary film-maker is now wearing the third generation of Lyric, which Sonova introduced in 2014. Its energy-saving chip, simplified programming, and improved water-resistance enable Tins to live a life without limitations. Diving is the only thing Lyric can’t be used for (yet), but Wolfgang Tins says he can hear the love songs of the humpbacks in the Caribbean anyway.

Phonak Lyric: you don’t have to see good hearing

Lyric has been unique from the very start: the world’s only 100% invisible hearing aid can easily be worn 24/7 for months at a time*. Whether at work, at the gym, in the shower, or at night – Lyric can cope with everything you throw at it and provides excellent, natural sound, all without the hassles usually associated with a hearing aid, like cleaning it or changing the battery. It’s a winning proposition: 93% of Lyric-wearers would recommend the device to a friend or relative***. This makes Lyric the ideal solution for people with mild to moderate hearing loss who are looking for a discreet and uncomplicated solution.

More information

* Individual replacement needs may vary. Duration of device battery life varies by patient and is subject to individual ear conditions.
** Lyric is water resistant, not waterproof, and should not be completely submerged underwater.
*** Based on a telephone poll of 100 Lyric users who had been wearing the device for at least 30 days.