The Best Hearing Aid
A question we get almost every day is:
"What makes the best hearing aid?"
The answer is relatively simple. The best hearing aid is the one that meets your needs with regard to your degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget. Many hearing aids today have extremely comparable features across the major brands, with certain manufacturers having improvements on a single feature, often iPhone compatibility, rechargeable batteries, or water resistant coatings.
These features are specific to each type of hearing aid, and the best way to find out what will work for you is to provide your hearing healthcare provider with as much information as possible. Important details to share include how often you go out for dinner at restaurants, whether you go to church or synagogue, or if you need to be able to hear and understand to do your job.
Hearing Aid Technology is always changing and improving and it can be difficult to keep up with all the new features, so we put together a complete list below.
Here is a quick breakdown of the major hearing aid features that are included in our best hearing aids.
Environmental Transition System
This is a software feature that allows hearing aids to detect what type of environment the listener is in and adapt accordingly. This means that the hearing aid will change its settings automatically depending on if you are in a quiet room, a noisy restaurant, or a large church setting.
This year, Starkey and Audibel added a Music program to the automatic system. Music is one of the most beautiful and enjoyable sounds we hear, and we listen to it differently than we do conversation.
Ear-to-Ear Binaural Imaging
Another great feature is hearing aids now can “talk’ to one another wirelessly. Older hearing aids had their own volume levels and programs, and it was a hassle to adjust the left and right hearing aids to be at the same volume. New hearing aids send signals back and forth constantly, and are always at the same matched volume and program settings.
Adaptive Directional Microphones
One of the best innovations in hearing aid technology is the adaptive microphone. This feature allows a hearing aid to focus on a specific person talking to you and block out other sounds. Many people feel overwhelmed when there are many voices at once and their hearing aids force them to hear the entire room, and adaptive microphones help you hear only what you want to hear.
WhistleFree Feedback Cancellation
When hearing aids aren’t all the way in your ear, the extra air gaps can cause sound to “feed back” into the hearing aids, generally resulting in a whistle or a squeal. New feedback detection helps the hearing aid to know when it is feeding back and stop almost as soon as it starts.
iPhone Streaming and Remote Control
Hearing aids at their core are a very advanced microphone and speaker system, hooked up to a tiny microcomputer. This means that if you have an iPhone enabled hearing aid, you can route your calls, music, or navigation directions from your phone directly to your hearing aids.
New software developed by Starkey also allows you to control your hearing aids with an app on your iPhone, and even program “memories” for specific places. Your phone has geo-location tools in it, so you can set your hearing aids to go into a special mode when you visit church, your favorite restaurant, or your grandchildren’s school. You can also use your phone to find your hearing aids if you lose them, which is quite possibly the most useful feature ever.
The only hearing problem more common than hearing loss is Tinnitus, the term for ringing in the ears. New hearing aids come with Tinnitus programs that allows a hearing provider to cancel out your tinnitus sounds with more pleasant things to listen to. Common programs include raindrops, ocean breezes, and white noise, all of which can drown out tinnitus and help you forget the ringing.
Moisture and Wax Resistance
The most common issue that people have with their hearing aids is that they are blocked with earwax, dirt or sweat. A special nano-coating was developed that provides extreme water resistance and allows the hearing aids to tough out the elements more effectively.
Some of our hearing aids now come with rechargeable batteries so that you can simply place them on a dock instead of having to buy batteries every few months. The rechargeable options can also fit a hearing aid battery if you forget your charger on a trip, making them fully backwards compatible.
Differences between Models
The highest quality hearing aids often have "all the bells and whistles", and are very capable of functioning in a wide variety of situations. However, you may not need the full set of features, and more value focused hearing aid might be the one that is best for you. Your hearing healthcare provider will recommend the device that suits your situation the best, and will bundle a service package in so that your instruments will stay clean, well maintained, and in the best condition for as long as possible.
The best hearing aid is the one that is well programmed to your hearing loss, as the instruments do very little out of the box. This is one of the reasons that hearing aids aren't sold online, is because people don't realize that 90% of the value is to be had from a trained professional configuring the hearing aid to your ear. Your hearing loss has been developing for your entire life, and the experiences and loud, damaging noises you've had are different from what anyone else might have had. The job of the audiologist or hearing instrument specialist fitting your hearing aid is to carefully test and analyze your hearing, then meticulously program your instruments to line up with your current hearing loss.
For more information about hearing instruments and hearing aids, please read our other article on Hearing Aid Technology.
If you live in Iowa, near one of our clinics and would like to make an appointment at one of our clinics, please call to get your free hearing test. Here is a list of our hearing healthcare clinic locations.
Last Updated: 3/30/2017