Finding the most suitable hearing aid for you or your loved one, fitting your budget, lifestyle, and type of hearing loss can be a daunting task. Over a dozen hearing aid brands on the market develop new models yearly. I was struggling to figure out what the best hearing aid was for our 9-month-old son who has a hearing loss. Since then he has used 3 different hearing aids from 2 different brands. In this article, I’ll give an overview of my research on hearing aid manufacturers and the different options and features they offer. This independent guide will hopefully give you more insight in which brand of hearing aid is best and what model might fit your needs. Then, discuss the options with your audiologist or hearing professional.
Top 8 hearing aid brands list
|Phonak – A Sonova brand. Switzerland. Since 1947. Partners with Unitron, Hansaton, Advanced Bionics and AudioNova. Sonova holds 24% of the market in sales.|
|ReSound – The GN Group. Denmark. Since 1943. 80 countries, 4,100+ employees. Uses iSolate Nanotech to protect their devices from moisture.|
|Signia – Sivantos / Siemens. Singapore. Since 1964. 6,000 employees, 25 countries. 3rd largest hearing conglomerate.|
|Widex Denmark. Since 1956. 100+ countries. Invented the digital in-the-ear hearing aid.|
|Oticon Denmark. Since 1904. 3,000+ employees. invented an internet-connected hearing aid in 2016.|
|Starkey United States. Since 1967. 5,000+ employees. Privately held company.|
|Unitron – Sonova. Canada. Since 1964. 20 international offices. 50 international partners.|
|Bernafon Switzerland. Since 1946. Operates within 70 countries. 500+ employees.|
Other brands are: Earlens, LIZN, Rexton, Beltone, Blamey Saunders, Evertone, Evertone, Sound-n-Dry
Things to consider when choosing a hearing aid brand
Different hearing aid brands pursue a variety of features and designs which help to distinguish them from one another. These include open-fit devices, in-the-canal hearing aids (ITC), completely-in-canal (CIC), behind the ear hearing aids (BTE), receiver-in-canal (RIC), on-the-ear hearing aids (OTE), invisible-in-the-canal (IIC), disposable hearing aids, programmable hearing aids, and eyeglass aids.
Depending on an individual’s requirements, different hearing aid brands can offer devices which optimize one or more criteria, including small size, wearing comfort, volume levels, battery life, high-quality audio reception and reproduction, and aesthetics. Many hearing aid brands now also offer a variety of highly advanced features for wearers, including the ability to program the unit, wireless options, directional microphones, and a technology called “telecoils”, allowing specific audio sources to be plugged directly into the hearing aid for maximal reproduction. By law, all hearing aid brands in the United States are compatible with telephone devices and other public services. It is up to the user to choose the device which best meets his/her specific needs.
Most audiologists have a list of preferred brands for a variety of reasons. One of them could be the availability of a certain brand in your area, another could be gained experience with a specific brand. Financial interests could also play a role. So keep an open mind and take all options into account. Your hearing professional should be able to assist you in understanding these characteristics/features:
- Hearing loss severity. Is the device capable of producing sufficient amplification for a severe or profound hearing loss?
- Cost. A single hearing aid can cost thousands of dollars. Is it covered by your healthcare insurance?
- Aesthetics. This is especially important for kids since they need to be stimulated to wear them. Are they customizable? My son likes to swap colors for instance.
- Audio quality/speech recognition in noise. Does it offer Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) and/or feedback suppression?
- Battery life. Although this highly depends on the amplification level and the user program, you should not have to change the battery every other day.
- Durability. Is the device made of high-quality materials, and is it water resistant?
- Comfort. Try it on and see how it feels!
- Ease of use. Does it come with an app or remote control that is easy to use?
- Compatibility with another device. Can your hearing aid communicate with external microphones, phones, or a Cochlear Implant (if you have one)?
So what is the best brand?
When I was searching for the best hearing aid I was not loyal to a certain brand and I mostly cared about sound quality and features. How do you compare sound quality between brands? You can’t! Sound quality is subjective to a certain extent (it’s a brain thing). A better way is to compare individual models within their category and read reviews of people who actually use them. But since there are so many devices on the market I wanted to make a brand selection first.
My first inclusion criteria were: What are the most reputable hearing aid brands. With most reputable, I mean: which brand invests the most in R&D to develop innovative high-quality products. Second: which brands have the best user reviews. The Consumer Affairs website and Hearing Tracker offer many reviews for example. After reading many of them, I made a list of the brands which I think are leading. They are ordered most to least interesting (to me).
I focussed on the top 4 brands and researched the models that fitted my needs (behind the ear hearing aids for children with a severe hearing loss). If you filter this way, you’ll end up with a list of probably less then 8 hearing aids that you can compare in more depth.
Which brand of hearing aid is best for kids?
The Early Years are critical to a child’s cognitive development. Early intervention in children who are deaf or hard of hearing is very important for their communicating skills later in life. Interventions are not restricted to the use of hearing devices but also learning sign language or a combination of the two.
If you made the decision to fit your kid with hearing aids, start as soon as possible and make sure they meet the needs of your kid. I’ll list a few of the most important features that you have to consider when selecting a hearing aid brand and model:
- Ears grow fast during the first years of their lives. Because of this in-canal devices (ITC, CIC, RIC, and IIC) are not recommended. Choose a Behind-The-Ear model.
- Is your child’s hearing loss progressive? Make sure the hearing aid has enough power to increase the volume in the future.
- Is it compatible with mics (for teacher and parents), multimedia devices, and mobile phones? This is particularly important in modern classrooms.
- Are the hearing aids customizable so kids can express themselves?
- Durability and Safety. Is it water- and dust-resistant? Can your child get to the battery?
The best brand of hearing aid for kids are ReSound, Widex, Opticon, and Phonak since they have the most models available that check all boxes that are crucial for young children in this modern world.
Current models that are specially designed for children are:
Infants and toddlers
- Resound Up Smart
- Phonak Sky™ B
- WIDEX BABY™
- Oticon Sensei
- Resound Up Smart
- ReSound ENZO 3D (I finally chose for this option for my son)
- Phonak Sky™ B
- WIDEX EVOKE, BEYOND, and UNIQUE models
- Oticon Sensei
- ReSound ENZO 3D
- Phonak Audéo Marvel
- Phonak Sky™ B
- WIDEX EVOKE, BEYOND, and UNIQUE models
It takes motivation, support, and time to get used to the new hearing devices. Read my article on How to Get Your Kids to Wear the Hearing Aids
Hearing Aid Prices
Hearing Aid Prices Are Strictly Contingent On Style, Size And Fit Along With Name Brand.
When considering all the different styles and quality of hearing devices, you need to know that there are just as many different hearing aid price ranges. For those that are hearing impaired and require a hearing aid, deciding on the right device can be a daunting task. A common complaint from the hearing impaired is the high cost of hearing aids. Medicare does not cover hearing aids and many insurance companies exclude them as well. The main reason for this is because of sheer numbers. Hearing loss is common with age and the number of hearing-impaired people is far greater than even deaf people. This makes hearing aids a major expense. Commonly, hearing loss is progressive, making it necessary to spend thousands of dollars on hearing devices every few years as hearing loss increases.
There is a very large selection of hearing aids on the market and, as with many things, the better the technology, the higher the price. The best hearing aids being rather costly. There are some nonprofit organizations that help defray the high hearing aid prices, such as the Lions Club, but it is mostly for hearing impaired children. Digital hearing aids tend to be higher in price, some are very expensive. Doing your homework and finding the right style and fit for you will go a long way toward easing the pain of the expense. Hearing aids are one area that you definitely get what you pay for. There are hearing aids priced quite a bit lower, but be sure to weigh the features and design before you buy. Don’t discount these cheaper models right off the bat. Many of them are very good quality, designed with the lower-income hearing impaired in mind. Hearing aid prices run the gambit.
Again, do your research and visit with an ear, nose, and throat specialist. He or she can advise you on the level of hearing enhancement you need. Form there, the style and fit are up to you. Some hearing aids fit right in the hearing canal, making them virtually invisible. Others fit in a way that they will be seen, but all deliver sound to the ear. Generally, the smaller the hearing aid is, the shorter the battery life is and the higher the cost. Replacing the battery often increases the cost of the hearing aid unit. As a rule, the larger the battery, the longer the battery life, making the larger hearing aids more cost-effective. Talking to a doctor can make the hearing aid price easier to deal with, giving you the most for your money.
Final Thoughts on Best Hearing Aid Brands
Most brands provide testing periods, so don’t be hesitant to try more than one hearing aid. You will want to pick a listening device that is both comfortable and will most effectively improve your hearing. Discover what features are readily available. You may wish to ask about the possibility of direct audio input which would enable you to use assistive listening devices which can be found in schools, theatres, and other public places.
It is essential to have a clear picture of all the expenses involving the hearing aid (including batteries and repairs). You might end up going through batteries rather frequently, so remember to compare anticipated battery life with the cost per battery. It is also crucial to check what the warranty covers. You may want to extend the service warranty.
A brand-new listening devices can be a disorienting experience. Become familiar with your listening devices. Make sure you are able to easily put in the new aid, changing the volume control, and changing the batteries before you leave your hearing professional. A common complaint of brand-new users is that their own voice sounds too loud. This generally takes some time to get used to. Another issue is feedback. This is often triggered by a bad fit of the hearing aid or by the buildup of earwax. You will need to see your hearing professional for modifications.