Many of you probably wish you would have never needed to read an article on the best hearing aids, but lets face it, as we age, hearing loss does begin to step into our lives and become more apparent, forcing us to take action. What does this all mean? Are we doomed to walk around with behind the ear hearing aids that make us look and feel ancient or are there more options that could do the job just right without making us feel like we're ready for the rocking chair?
A hearing aid is simply an advanced customized sound amplification device which is used to help individuals with hearing impairments hear better. They have a microphone which picks up the sound, an amplifier that increases the volume of sounds, and a receiver which acts to send the sound into the ear canal. In many new modern hearing aids, the microphones transmit sound to a computer chip; through this the volume is adjusted and the sound frequencies are amplified making is easier for you to hear.
No matter which hearing aid we end up going with, it needs to perform well and often choosing the right one can be a headache in itself. In our buyer's guide on hearing aids, we'll get down to the nitty gritty, starting by going through the types of hearing aids available, the best hearing air brands, our Top 10 reviews of hearing aids, and a detailed guide to what you should look for before purchasing. Stay tuned for our FAQ where we'll answer some of your questions as well as provide information throughout the article on hearing aid comparison & prices evaluations to show you which will be best for you.
Types of Product
I'm sure when you think hearing aid, you're mind instantly goes to the massive behind the ear hearing aids your grandparents use to wear. Although these models do exist, they've come leaps and bounds with the years and are definitely not the horrible old age things we once knew. Still not convinced, there are other options available.
The majority of hearing aids share the same electrical components; how they differ is in design, technology used (analog or digital) and additional features they offer. For the purpose of this guide, we will go through the conventional hearing aids rather than those required for individuals who cannot wear conventional pieces and must go with options such as a BAHA (bone anchored hearing aids) or similar.
The most common and well known design. The microphone and other small components are contained in a case that goes behind the ear. An earmold or earpiece inside the ear connects to this case by way of a piece of clear tubing. Easy to clean, operate, and durable, the behind-the-ear model is not only for elderly, it is also ideal for children. When a child ages and they require a different size of hearing aid, it's much more cost effective when you can simply replace earmolds rather than needing to change the entire device completely.
Similar to the BTE are the Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) or Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids. In these hearing aids, the earmold has been replaced by an open dome which doesn't block the ear canal completely. In this design, the speaker is situated closer to the eardrum and the microphone and processor of the hearing aid are contained in the behind the ear case.
A recent development of the open style is RIC where the receiver (the speaker) is situated in the ear canal. These hearing aids are also highly cosmetic, often being much less visible than a custom aid. For a smaller option to the behind the ear, the Mini BTE is one of the newest designs on the market. The tube that normally connects the hearing aid to the ear is thinner on this design and virtually invisible. If you're concerned with the look of a bulky behind-the-ear hearing aid then the Mini BTE is a great option.
Within this model, you will notice that the microphone and all other components are housed within the molded earpiece which sits inside the outer part of the ear. The ITE is slightly more discreet that the BTE however is larger and holds more functions than the in-the-canal or fully-in-the-canal models. This full shell model is best for use with individuals requiring more power in a device.
The In-the-canal (ITC) and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) aids both have all their electrical parts contained in small cases which fit part way or completely into the ear canal. Slightly difficult to handle due to their size, these hearing aids are the smallest available on the market. The ITC or known as half shell model is more suited to those with slight to moderate hearing loss.
There are plenty of Hearing aid manufactures out there to buy from, making the search for a hearing aid that much more difficult. While some focus more on research & development, others manufacture for the budget minded consumer, or simply for individuals looking for a discreet product that's more suited to their cosmetic preference. Take a look below at a few of the best hearing aid brands, two of which happen to be businesses created or based out of Denmark.
Founded in 1943, ReSound are owned by the GN ReSound Group. With their headquarters based in Denmark, they were the first large hearing company which introduced open-fit hearing devices. They have been credited with the creation of a new sound processing system; with this as well as their many advancements and innovations have been a company that's at the top of their game. Most recently, they have come out with their iPhone compatible hearing device!
Today known as the William Demant Holding Group, Oticon, a Danish company, was created by Hans Demant and his wife in 1904. There philosophy from the begging was ''People First'' and together with their vision to create the best hearing aid, came out with the first digital hearing device the world had seen, called the Digifocus. Now-a-days, they focus on what they call their BrainHearing technology, a fascinating and incredible innovation which is quickly gaining movement in popularity.
For anyone who could never afford a hearing aid before, Embrace hearing is the answer to the prayers of many individuals suffering from hearing loss. This recently launched start up has come out with three lines of hearing aids, priced from between $300 and $700; incredible value considering the average price of a hearing aid only starts at $1000. Why have they been able to offer such low prices? The fact that this company's German manufacturer has only just entered the market and isn't yet tied to any exclusive partnerships.
Other notable brands with solid reputations include:
Miracle, Starkey, Phonak, Unitron, Signia, and Widex
Overview of the Top 5 Product Models
What makes a top model hearing aid? In our list of consideration, following our top product models, we'll go more in detail however, what you need to know right now is that a top model is one that must show consistency in performance. All of the top 5 product models we have below do just that and are proven worth their money in plenty of hearing aid reviews.
As you age, not only does your hearing generally worsen but so does your memory. Topping our list at #1, the Oticon-Opn helps you understand conversations with less effort. This incredible device is the first hearing aid that has been released which is proven to work with the brain to help you hear better and remember more of the conversations your ears take in.
A winner of many awards such as the Red Dot Design and the CES Innovation award, both won in 2017, the Opn BTE 13, comes out on top for it's performance, reliability, and superior features. Designed and created with forward thinking concepts, this device is the world's first internet connected hearing aid. Customers commenting on various hearing aid reviews love this new option to stay connected and comment on the reliability of the 2.4 GHz wireless connectivity.
What makes this device so great is that it maximizes the benefits of open sound technology to those with significant levels of hearing loss. The Opn BTE 13 is user friendly, is able to be powered by either standard or rechargeable batteries, boasts a long battery life, has LED indicator lights, features a telecoil and is compact. It also features Tinnitus SoundSupport™, helping you manage the symptoms of tinnitus and allows you to experience the full benefits of open sound.
Buy Direct - From $1600
Embrace Hearing H-700
If you haven't yet heard of this hearing aid, you're going to want to check it out. We've put the H-700 from Embrace Hearing at #2 for its high quality at an affordable price. Praised by hundreds of users, this BTE RIC hearing aid is the one of the most economic options on the market. It's features include wind blocking capabilities, directional microphones, custom programming, is bluetooth enabled and is covered under a 2 year warranty. Available in 7 colors as well as the option to add additional features make this hearing aid highly customizable.
The superior feature of this device is that in addition to the excellent live program optimization, there is the option to add what they call Speechbeam, which uses a binaural signal processing technology. Speechbeam works by leveraging 4 additional sound processing channels to identify the direction of speech, offering the user 360 degree hearing. For an additional $300 per ear this technology is available to you.
Buy Direct (ADD AFFILIATE LINK) - $949
Pure 13BT Primax Signia
For revolutionized precise hearing, we introduce you to the world's first earring aid that offers audiological benefit through the use of bluetooth. The data that is collected from this feature provides an overview of the user's specific acoustic environment; enabling the highest level of hearing while on the move.
The 13BT Primax is packed full of great features and characteristics some of which include, built in directional microphones, teleCare 2.0, iPhone motion sensory, lP67 waterproof rating, and exchangeable housing for changing out the color to one of the 11 available, if you so wish.
In addition to all of the superior characteristics of this product, it is being labeled as a 'smart device' on many reviews of hearing aids. One of the unique features offered in this device is its ability to track your sound profile over time based on exposure, similar to how you would track your activity on a Fitbit. This feature allows you to be more aware of your daily exposure to dangerous sounds and helps you protect your hearing from deteriorating further. What else makes makes this a 'smart device' for reviewers? The bluetooth connectivity, tinnitus therapy, and HD e2e all contribute to giving the 13BT the label of 'smart device'.
Want to know more about the connective capability of this device, take a look at this video
Buy Direct (ADD AFFILIATE LINK) - From $3,500
ReSound Enzo 3D
With an unmatched sound quality and a highly developed fine-tuning comprehension, users of the ReSound Enzo 3D will easily be able to see the benefit to their hearing ability with the use of these hearing aids. Best for individuals with severe to extreme hearing loss. The groundbreaking feature of this hearing aid is what they call, ReSound Assist which allows users to communicate with their hearing care professionals in any moment on the go. No need to schedule an appointment to review the latest information on your hearing when you have everything at the touch of a button. ReSound Assist can be accessed by the app, ReSound Smart 3D™, available from the App Store & Google Play.
This 3rd generation binaural quality hearing aid is the smallest and most powerful on the market, commonly referred to as a Made for iPhone (MFi) hearing solution. This model is known for having the highest amplification in the industry without feedback. The ReSound Enzo 3D comes in 2 BTE styles and is available in 10 different colors.
Buy Direct (ADD AFFILIATE LINK) - From $1500
Phonak Brio 2
Listening is made easy thanks to the Brio 2 from Phonak. With the ability to automatically blend the best programs in real time in order to match your sound environment, you'll be guaranteed high quality performance suited to your needs and environment. Exclusively sold by the Kirkland brand, you can purchase your set of Phonak Brio 2 at Costco.
One of the most loved features by reviewers is what is called Phonak ComPilot Air. Essentially this is a clip on streamer which offers great stereo sound quality while still allowing you to enjoy your music in high quality sound. As with most of these hearing devices, their top features can be controlled by way of an app. Simply install the Phonak Remote Control App to access the Phonak ComPilot Air feature. In addition to this, the Phonak also has bluetooth connectivity. Available in 8 colors to suit any style, dust and water resistant, and designed to be slim and lightweight.
Buy on Amazon (ADD AFFILIATE LINK) - From $2999
Remaining 5 of the Top 10 Products - Best Electronic Earplugs
Not quite making the top 5, these next 5 hearing aids will do the job just fine.
Starkey Muse i2400 - $1,700, Buy Direct (ADD AFFILIATE LINK)
Unitron Stride M - $1,899, Buy Direct (ADD AFFILIATE LINK)
LiNX 3D - $1,200, Buy Direct (ADD AFFILIATE LINK)
Vitro B Titanium by Phonak - $ 2,235, Buy Direct (ADD AFFILIATE LINK)
Siemens Pure RIC - $1,299, Buy Direct (ADD AFFILIATE LINK)
The best hearing aid for you is one the fits your lifestyle. There are many things to consider when looking to purchase a hearing aid which is why we've summed it all up for you in our list of considerations.
Hearing Aid Prices: A single hearing aid can range anywhere from $1000 - $4000. Before you buy, find out exactly what this includes (i.e. Fitting, warranty).
Type: This will be determined by how severe your hearing loss is. The greater the hearing loss you have, the more power you will require, therefore as an example, the hearing aids best suited for you would be behind-the-ear models or receiver-in-canal aids.
Hearing Aid Quality: The best way to measure quality in a hearing aid is by looking at the consistency. Finding a model which offers this consistency should be one of your highest concerns. Examples of superior consistent quality would be things such as a high fidelity with fine tuning and an absence of feedback.
Format: A hearing aid can either be analog or digital. The analog models will be more basic and serve the main function of amplifying sounds. Digital devices will analyze sounds using a processor or microchip. The function of these chips is to enhance sound and work with the output to suit your specific hearing needs.
Telecoil: Some models come with this feature which makes it easier to talk on the telephone (must be hearing-aid-compatible). With a built in small copper coil, any background noise that enters the speaker is filtered out and only the sounds of the telephone receiver are picked up. Some models have a feature that automatically switches to this setting when you pick up the phone. Others work by transmitting the signal over to your other ear and allowing you to talk using one hearing aid while hearing the receiver sounds in both ears.
Maintenance: Some models will require more consistent maintenance than others. Make sure you select a manufacture with a high integrity and level of customer service to assist you when you require maintenance.
Although these aren't the features that will directly lead to a purchase decision between one product or the other, they are still important.
Directional microphones (allows for better situational awareness)
Direct audio input or Wireless connectivity
Ability to synchronize your pair
IP rating (Ingres protection refers to the degree the hearing aid is protected against dust and wind)
Automatic noise level adjustment
Multiple program settings
Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) - blocks out background noise
Low battery indicator sounds
What if I can't afford one of these hearing aids?
There exist many programs such as ones offered in the United States, often under the name of something along the lines of vocational rehabilitation. For example, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers individuals a discount. Most insurance plans do not offer full coverage for hearing aids however consultations and initial purchases are often offered at a reduced cost. Check here (ADD LINK: https://www.healthyhearing.com/help/hearing-aids/insurance-financial-assistance) for more information on insurance coverage for hearing aids.
How should I clean and maintain my hearing aid?
The best way to know how to care for your hearing aid is by referring to the manual that comes with your device. Typically it is recommended that you keep up with daily maintenance by cleaning your hearing piece with a soft dry cloth. On occasion you will need to take your hearing aid into a hearing health profession for a deep cleaning, these are most often offered free of charge.
Do all of the hearing aids mentioned have the same components?
Yes. Most hearing aids have several of the same electronic components; these include, a microphone, amplifier circuitry, and a small loudspeaker (receiver) which delivers the sound that has been amplified into the ear canal.
Are hearing amplifiers the same as hearing aids?
No. Hearing amplifiers amplify sound to make it louder whereas hearing aids are programmed in a way to make sounds louder while also differentiating noises. Hearing amplifiers should be worn with caution as they can lead to damage of hearing due to excessive amplification.
Not everyone will require the same type of hearing aid even if they are in the same category of hearing loss. The best hearing aid for you is one that can be adapted to your needs so that you can gain the most benefit from your device. There is no denying that the cost of a hearing aid can feel like a small fortune however if you have a hearing impairment, it is vital you invest in your health and quality of life by investing in the best hearing aid device. If money is no option and you seek the highest quality then the Pure 13BT Primax Signia will be a great choice however, if you're looking for the best value for your dollar, we'd suggest going with our #1 pick, the Oticon Opn BTE 13 Power Plus. Before you go ahead and purchase a hearing aid, it's important to do a hearing aid comparison & price evaluations of multiple models to make sure that you're investing in the best product for your lifestyle and needs.