Hearing Aid Buying Guide: Things to Consider When Purchasing a Hearing Aid

If you are in the market for a new pair of hearing aids, you are in luck! This is an incredible time for hearing aid technology, with dozens of hearing aids boasting sophisticated sound quality and connectivity options to make hearing more accessible in your everyday life.

We understand that looking for a pair of hearing aids can be overwhelming. There are so many different makes, models, and features available that it can be difficult to pare down our decision-making process to elements that are most important. In The New York Times, Alina Tugend writes: “Although it has long been the common wisdom in our country that there is no such thing as too many choices, as psychologists and economists study the issue, the are concluding that an overload of options may actually paralyze people or push them into decisions that are against their own best interest.”

This may be the case as you begin your search for a new pair of hearing aids. So, let us help break down your choices for you with our handy hearing aid buying guide! Here are a few things to consider when buying a new pair of hearing aids.

Your Hearing Ability 

Indeed, hearing aids are really cool electronics: some are as small as two blueberries stacked one on top of the other, and yet they process audio data at incredibly high speeds. These “tiny computers for your ears” are powerful machines that reconnect you to the world around you, improve your relationships with your loved ones, help reduce the risk for dementia, and even bolster your earning power in the workplace.

Before we even get into the awesome features that hearing aids offer, the first thing to consider is your hearing ability. Have you taken a hearing test with a certified hearing professional (audiologist, hearing instrument specialist, etc.)? This is the first step in determining the type of hearing aids you should be using.

Comprehensive hearing exams provide you with important information on your hearing abilities. Mapped out in a visual record called an audiogram, hearing exams will give you measurements on the type, degree, and configuration of your hearing loss. Working with this information, your hearing professional will help you determine the best options for hearing loss treatment.

One factor is the degree of hearing loss that you experience. If you experience a severe high-frequency hearing loss, you might want to consider Phonak hearing aids. High-frequency hearing loss makes it difficult to recognize certain speech sounds (“f”, “s”, “sh”, etc.), to hear high-pitched environmental sounds from alarms to music, and to hear high-pitched speaking voices (common in young children). To address these particular challenges of high-frequency hearing loss, Phonak created SoundRecover, “an innovative non-linear frequency compression algorithm” which “compresses selected high frequency sounds into a lower frequency range” to make the listening experience easier for wearers.

Are you a first-time wearer or have you worn hearing aid before?

If you are a first-time wearer of hearing aids, you may want to consider the Signia Nx, a sophisticated device that offers a feature called Own Voice Processing. Veteran users of hearing aids will already understand this: when you first put on a pair of hearing aids, everything will sound, well, strange. In part, this is because you have access to sounds that you have long missed with untreated hearing loss. Another major reason is that you must get used to the experience of hearing your own voice. Signia’s Own Voice Processing has been found by users to “improve spontaneous acceptance of own voice by 75%.”

Your Connectivity Needs 

Almost everything in our lives connects to our smartphones nowadays – from our car to our television to our speakers to our home security systems. Why should it be any different with a pair of hearing aids?

Smartphone connectivity allows you to connect your hearing aids wirelessly to your iPhone or Android smartphone. With direct wireless smartphone connectivity, you have the option to stream audio from phone calls (iPhone and Android) and multimedia audio from other apps (iPhone only). With conversations streaming directly to your ear(s), you’ll experience the ease of communicating – whether it’s for business or to catch up with a loved one.

If smartphone connectivity is something you want from your hearing aids, the first thing to consider is your smartphone. Do you have an iPhone (iOS) or an Android smartphone?

iPhone Wireless Streaming Options

Some iPhone-compatible hearing aids also have the capability to stream music, video, and other media – in addition to phone calls. If you’re interested in more media capability with your iPhone-compatible hearing aids, check out the Starkey Halo, ReSound LiNX, Signia Pure Charge & Go, Oticon OPN, and Widex Evoke.

Hearing Aid Wireless Phone Audio Wireless Multimedia Audio Hands-Free Calling Available
Starkey Halo iQ ✓**
Resound LiNX 3D ✓**
Signia Pure Charge & Go ✓**
Oticon OPN ✓**
Widex Evoke ✓**
Unitron Moxi All ✓* ✓**
Phonak B-Direct ✓* ✓**

*Streaming to one ear only  **Additional accessory required

Android Wireless Streaming Options

Android users will have to be patient! At this time, no smartphone-compatible hearing aids are able to stream multimedia directly from Android. However, there are some hearing aids that stream phone call audio directly to your hearing aids (unfortunately, the audio is only available in one ear), and if you are willing to purchase an additional accessory with your hearing aids, you can gain access to stereo audio streaming for phone calls and multimedia from your Android smartphone.

Hearing AidWireless Phone AudioWireless Multimedia AudioHands-Free Calling Available

Hearing AidWireless Phone AudioWireless Multimedia AudioHands-Free Calling Available
Unitron Moxi All ✓* ✓**
Phonak B-Direct ✓* ✓**
Starkey Halo iQ ✓** ✓** ✓**
Resound LiNX 3D ✓** ✓** ✓**
Signia Pure Charge & Go ✓** ✓** ✓**
Oticon OPN ✓** ✓** ✓**
Widex Evoke ✓** ✓** ✓**

*Streaming to one ear only  **Additional accessory required

Your Lifestyle

Hearing aids are designed to seamlessly fit into your life. As the designer Bruce Mau once said, “Design is invisible until it fails.” The same might be said of your new hearing aids. In order to select the best pair of hearing aids, you must consider the way you spend your days, seasons, and year.

Do you spend most of your time away from the house? Do you travel for work during the day? Are you constantly streaming calls to your hearing aids? Or do you have poor dexterity? If so,  you may want to consider rechargeable hearing aids that have a long battery life and do not require weekly battery changes. Most of the major manufacturers listed above offer a rechargeable hearing aid solution, the most reliable of which use lithium-ion technology. This provides fast-charging and long battery life, so you can be confident throughout the day. According to our customers, the best rechargeable options on the market today are the Phonak Audeo B-R and the Signia Charge & Go. 

Which hearing aids have lithium-ion rechargeable batteries?

The following hearing aids have the latest lithium-ion technology, which is known to be reliable and long-lasting. 

  • Signia Charge & Go
  • Phonak Audeo B-R

How active are you on a daily basis? Is exercise a part of your regular routine? Do you travel a lot or live in different places during different seasons? You may want to find hearing aids that have higher IP-ratings. Moisture is the natural enemy of all electronics, and the same goes for hearing aids. If you live in a warm climate or travel frequently to warm places, you’ll want hearing aids that can handle the heat. Hearing aids with high IP-ratings are designed with a strong protective covering that keeps sweat, moisture, dust, and debris away from sensitive electronic components.

Which hearing aids are dust and water resistant?

The following hearing aids are rated with an IP-68 rating. This means that they are protected from dust and water immersion at more than 1 meter. This does not mean they are waterproof, but can help with sweat, rain, etc. 

  • Phonak Audeo
  • Signia Pure
  • Widex Evoke

Your Ongoing Hearing Aid Care

Hearing aids are powerful devices, but they will require maintenance from time to time to function properly. When it comes to getting maintenance and repairs for your hearing aids, you will want flexibility to find the provider of your choice. Getting locked into certain brands make it more difficult to receive service and maintenance for your devices. Some hearing aid consumers don’t realize this, but some brands come with “locked” software that only allows providers from a particular chain to adjust them. Locked brands include Miracle-Ear, Bernafon, Beltone, Audibel, Avada, Nu-Ear, Kirkland Signature (Costco) and can significantly hinder the ability for other providers to service your hearing aids.

Instead, look at hearing aids offered by the “Big Six”: Starkey, ReSound, Signia, Widex, Oticon, and Sonova (Phonak and Unitron). These reputable brands offer some of the most advanced hearing technology on the market – and they are serviceable by most hearing professionals in almost any clinic around the country.

Your Hearing Aid Selection

A hearing aid that works well for one person may not be the best solution for another. That is why it is very important to do your research. You can check hearing aid reviews by going to Hearing Tracker and read more information on hearing loss by going to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). In summary, the hearing aids that are best for you may not be the ones that your neighbor or friend wears. In addition, the local clinics in your area may not dislose that they are financially obligated to recommend the brand they told you was best for you. Since most hearing aids can fit a wide variety of hearing losses, the right hearing aid for you depends on lifestyle and preferences. If you are looking for advice on which brands and models might work best for you, call us at 1-833-432-7786 or chat with a HearStore representative

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