Best Hearing Aids Brands
Over 36 million Americans experience some degree of hearing loss, and hearing aids – small sound amplification devices worn inside or around a person’s ear – are one of the most common ways people manage it. Today, the need for hearing aids is growing as more people are diagnosed with hearing loss each year.
While there are many types of hearing aids and many causes of hearing loss, the purpose of a hearing aid is always the same: to amplify sound and improve the wearer’s quality of life. Hearing aids can vary in placement, features and pricing.
About hearing aids
What is a hearing aid?
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that make it easier for wearers to hear the variety of sounds around them. Hearing aids help people hear their loved ones, listen to their favorite music or movies and be more aware of the environment around them. Hearing aids are different from cochlear implants, which are designed to help people with profound hearing loss. Another similar but different product is a sound amplification device, which is used primarily for amplifying certain sounds in quiet environments. Though they might seem similar to hearing aids, sound amplification devices are not substitutes for hearing aids.
How do hearing aids work?
Hearing aids consist of four basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, receiver and battery. The microphone picks up sound waves from the wearer’s environment, converts the sound waves into electrical signals and sends them to the amplifier. The amplifier boosts the power of the signals and sends them to the inner ear and brain. For this process to work, a small battery must power the hearing aid.
The battery is one of the most essential parts of a hearing aid. Without it, the hearing aid won’t work. Hearing aids with larger batteries tend to last longer—up to two weeks in some cases. Smaller batteries can work for three to five days and are often rechargeable. The chart below details the average lifespan of hearing aids according to their battery size:
|Size 10||3-7 days|
|Size 312||3-10 days|
|Size 13||6-14 days|
|Size 675||9-20 days|
For sound to travel through a hearing aid, it must begin at the microphone. The microphone picks up sound waves created by the wearer’s surroundings. Some hearing aids feature a directional microphone, which focuses on picking up the sound directly in front of the wearer. Other microphones are designed to pick up sounds from multiple directions. The next step is determined by whether a hearing aid is digital or analog.
In digital hearing aids, the sound waves will be analyzed by a processing chip, which will select whether sound waves should be amplified or neutralized. The selected sound waves will be sent to an amplifier. In analog hearing aids, the sound waves will go straight to an amplifier without being analyzed. The amplifier will strengthen the signals and send them to a receiver (or speaker). In an in-the-ear hearing aid (ITE), the signals are sent through a tube in the ear mold, which rests in the ear canal. In a behind-the-ear hearing aid (BTE), the sounds are sent through a thin wire to a receiver in the ear. The inner ear then translates those sounds into electrical impulses, which are processed by the brain.
Compare Top Hearing Aid Reviews
|Miracle-Ear Hearing Aids|
Read 1997 Reviews
Choose from 10 hearing aid models from $1000-$4000. Top models offer rechargeable hearing aids, Bluetooth capability, speech isolation and remote control. Adjust settings with a simple button or switch.
|Zounds Hearing Aids||Read 428 Reviews|
Choose from four models featuring noise reduction, feedback cancellation and improved speech intelligibility. Prices average $2,300. Models come equipped with a button or switch control, and remote and Bluetooth are optional.
Read 220 Reviews
Choose from three models starting at $699. Fully customizable, buyers can choose size, shape, hearing loss level and button or remote control. All hearing aids offer wind block, Bluetooth capability and a 2-3 year warranty.
|Beltone Hearing Aids|
Read 593 Reviews
Available in seven styles, prices range from $995-$4000. Advanced technology promises clear sound, speech intelligibility and 360-degree awareness. Hearing aids are controlled by button or switch with an optional remote.
|ReSound Hearing Aids|
Read 153 Reviews
Choose from nine styles in a variety of colors. Starting at $1899, features include binaural directionality, noise reduction and smartphone control. Remote control and wireless charging options available.
|Widex Hearing Aids|
Read 129 Reviews
Choose from four models plus a customizable version. Hearing aids feature smart technology that adapts to your preferences over time. They also feature Bluetooth capability, button control and app and remote options.
|Costco Hearing Aid Center|
Read 43 Reviews
Choose from six styles. Starting at $999, features include wireless charging, remote control and Bluetooth compatibility. Free product demonstrations, hearing test, cleanings, and loss and damage coverage available.
|Oticon Hearing Aids|
Read 62 Reviews
Offering 16 adult models and five for youth, hearing aids feature a 360-degree soundscape, tinnitus relief and rechargeable batteries. Starting at $1599, models offer switch control, remote control and Bluetooth capability.
|Phonak Hearing Aids|
Read 78 Reviews
20 models are offered starting at $850. Hearing aids offer noise cancellation, improved speech intelligibility and enhanced distance hearing. Some models also include rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth capability.
|Starkey Hearing Aids|
Read 41 Reviews
Choose from over six models starting at $1799. Hearing aids offer speech intelligibility, feedback cancellation and wax resistance. Along with button and switch control, options for iPhone and remote control are available.
Hearing aid types
When choosing a hearing aid, one of the most important considerations is how it fits on a person’s ear. Whether you buy hearing aids online or by visiting your local audiologist, it’s important to make sure the fit is right. The fit of a hearing aid not only affects the way it feels but also how it works. Different fits are better for different types of hearing difficulties.
- Open-fit hearing aids: Open-fit hearing aids are designed to fit behind your ear and are much smaller than standard behind the ear versions. The typical design uses a small tube or wire to transfer sound to the ear canal, which makes them less noticeable than other types of hearing aids. They also cancel noise feedback.
- Behind-the-ear hearing aids (BTE): Behind-the-ear hearing aids are plastic and rest behind the wearer’s ear. They are often used for children because they are easy to wear on different ear types and easy to clean. They have a small plastic tube that connects them to a rubber ear mold that sits inside the outer ear and ear canal. BTE hearing aids are larger than other types of hearing aids and offer a high level of amplification.
- On-the-ear hearing aids (OTE): These are smaller versions of the behind-the-ear hearing aids that are less visible and offer increased comfort. They are sometimes called open-fit behind-the-ear hearing aids.
- In-the-ear hearing aids (ITE): This type of hearing aid sits in the outer portion of the ear, making it easy to insert and remove. It’s more visible than some of the smaller styles but can offer extra sound features. This model is a good option for those with mild to severe hearing loss.
- In-the-canal hearing aids (ITC): ITC hearing aids are a discreet option that show only a small portion of the hearing aid outside the ear canal. They stay in place well but may not offer as many features as larger styles. ITC hearing aids are a great option for mild to moderately severe hearing impairment. ITC hearing aids come in two sizes, usually referred to as canal and completely-in-canal hearing aids.
- Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC): IIC hearing aids are custom-fitted and placed farther down in the ear canal, making them virtually invisible. They can provide natural sound but may lack the directionality of more visible styles. They work well for mild to moderate hearing loss.
- Completely-in-canal (CIC): Designed to mold inside the ear canal, this is one of the most unobtrusive designs available. It’s less visible than many other styles, but it doesn’t offer the volume control and amplification levels available on other types of hearing aids. It is a good choice for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
- Receiver-in-canal (RIC): RICs rest behind the ear like BTEs, but they typically have a smaller casing and are connected with wires instead of tubing. The design may get clogged more easily than some others, but it offers wearers the advantage of creating less distortion. It’s a good choice for those with mild to severe hearing loss.
Analog vs. digital hearing aids
What is a conventional analog hearing aid?
Conventional analog hearing aids work by making sound waves louder. They are not able to distinguish between speech and noise. These hearing aids have become less popular as digital hearing aids have developed, and they are no longer available for purchase in most areas.
What is a digital hearing aid?
A digital hearing aid is designed with digital circuitry that works by breaking up sounds waves before they are amplified. Digital technology can be used in many different types of hearing aids and has the benefit of providing a more flexible, personalized hearing system than a traditional analog style. They are also designed with computer chips that help distinguish speech from other sounds.
What is the difference between an analog and digital hearing aid?
Hearing aids are made with two types of technology: analog and digital. Analog hearing aids are less popular in today’s market and generally cost less than digital hearing aids. Analog hearing aids amplify all of the sound waves in an environment (both speech and unwanted noise). More advanced analog hearing aids may have settings for different environments, which allows users to switch from one setting in a quiet location, such as a library, to a different setting in a noisy location, such as a concert hall.
Digital hearing aids do more than amplify sound. They separate speech from noise. Digital hearing aids can analyze and separate sound waves according to their pitch to amplify the more desirable ones. This extra process reduces background noise, like restaurant chatter, or high-frequency white noise, such as the hiss of an A/C unit. This added feature makes digital hearing aids more popular among consumers but also more expensive.
Hearing aid features
Besides knowing the cost of hearing aids, it's also important to know what to look for in hearing aids. The best hearing aids reduce feedback and irrelevant background noise, enhance speech and use innovative technology. A hearing aid with these features will help ensure you have an optimal experience:
Digital noise reduction (DNR)
For those without hearing loss, the brain automatically filters out background noise. People with hearing loss, however, have more difficulty homing in on specific sounds, such as the voice of someone speaking to them in a crowded room. Hearing aids help by amplifying sound, but they don’t distinguish between important sounds you need to hear and distracting background noise. Hearing aids with the ability to reduce background noise can improve your ability to hear the right sounds, such as people speaking to you, while drowning out the unnecessary sounds around you.
- Directional microphone: A directional microphone reduces noise that comes in from the sides and back and amplifies the sound from the front. Some high-tech hearing aids can adapt the direction of the microphone automatically by mapping and responding to the sounds in a person’s environment.
- Multiple channels: In order to reduce unavoidable ambient noise, such as the whirring of fans or humming of machines, many hearing aids are equipped with multiple channels. Channels that pick up ambient sound are reduced, while other channels that amplify speech or voice sounds are prioritized.
- Wind noise manager: Wind blowing across a hearing aid produces a loud and distracting sound, just like blowing directly into a microphone. Many hearing aids are equipped with electronic features that can reduce extra sound created by blowing wind.
Electronic interference can cause hearing aids to emit an unpleasant, high-pitched, whistling sound. Many hearing aids are now equipped with technology to reduce such problems.
- Feedback reduction technology: While the fit or shape of a hearing aid can help control feedback, there is now technology that can help reduce feedback as well. This feedback suppression technology requires a calibration test, after which it is able to detect and reduce feedback.
- Proper fitting: Feedback in hearing aids can happen when sounds leak back to a hearing aid’s microphone. The better your ear mold fits, the less likely it is to produce feedback, since feedback can happen when sound waves move through the ear canal around the hearing aid. Growing children or adults who have recently lost weight may find that their hearing aid mold needs to be resized to avoid feedback.
In addition to reducing background noise, many hearing aids are outfitted with technology that helps them enhance speech. This technology can help people listen to others’ voices and noises they intend to hear.
- Speech detecting directionality: In addition to reducing noise from the sides and behind a listener, the directional microphone increases the sound of noise in front of a wearer. This is a great help in situations where a speaker will be across from you, such as in a classroom setting or when sitting across from a loved one at a table. Some devices are equipped with technology that allows them to detect speech sounds and amplify those while suppressing other sounds.
- Wide dynamic range compression: This feature helps increase quiet sounds more than loud sounds so that listeners can hear voices and conversations, which are often lower in volume than unnecessary background or atmospheric noise.
Programmable hearing aids
Programmable hearing aids are digital hearing aids that can be programmed with different settings for different environments with varying noise levels and acoustics, such as a classroom or restaurant. If the hearing aids are kept at a constant volume, they can be too quiet in some settings and uncomfortably loud in others.
- Pre-programmed hearing aids: The simplest hearing aids come pre-programmed by your audiologist or hearing aid specialist at a volume that is recommended for your level of hearing loss. For example, children’s hearing aids are typically pre-programmed to prevent children from inadvertently turning the volume up too loud and damaging their eardrums.
- Button operated: Some hearing aids have a very small button on the earpiece you can press to switch between pre-programmed settings as you change environments. For instance, you may have one setting for the office and another for home.
- Remote control operated: Some hearing aids have separate remote control devices to adjust volume and program preferences for various times of the day. These remotes may also allow you to switch between two or more pre-programmed settings.
- Computer chip operated: Some hearing aids are equipped with technology that senses a change in location and switches programs based on the sounds it detects in the new environment.
Additional hearing aid features
Smart technology, such as Bluetooth compatibility, is making an impact in the hearing aid industry. Some manufacturers are incorporating technological innovations to improve the wearer’s experience and the device’s effectiveness and efficiency.
- Telephone compatibility: Electronic interference from telephone conversations can cause problems with hearing aids, and many hearing aid users avoid talking on the phone for this reason. Some hearing aids have a special technology called a telecoil that can reduce feedback and increase sound clarity while wearers are talking on the phone. The telecoil transmits sound information from the telephone by a magnetic signal rather than an acoustic signal, which prevents feedback.
- Mobile apps: Some hearing aid companies have developed mobile apps that allow users to program the sound level on their hearing aids from their mobile device. You can also stream music to your hearing aids through the app, receive mobile notifications when you need to replace your batteries and more.
- IFTTT connection: Some hearing aids can to connect to the internet and use a web-based service called If This Then That, or IFTTT. The service uses applets to program your hearing aids and other smart devices in your home to respond to one another in certain circumstances. For example, you may add an IFTTT applet so that if you turn off your hearing aids at night, then all the lights in your home will turn off and your security system will turn on.
Hearing aid expert reviews
Headquartered in Minnesota, Miracle-Ear is one of the oldest and most trusted hearing aid companies in the United States. Miracle-Ear has been a well-known name in the hearing aid industry since its founding over 65 years ago. It operates both corporately-owned and franchised locations that offer hearing evaluations, hearing aid consultations, fittings, maintenance and more.
Founded in 1940, Beltone is one of America’s oldest hearing aid companies. The Chicago-based company manufactures its own hearing aids and sells them in over 50 countries worldwide. Its target market is patients 50 years old and above.
Founded in 1943, ReSound is an international hearing aid company headquartered in Ballerup, Denmark. ReSound is one of the largest suppliers of hearing aids in the world with distributors in more than 80 countries and more than 4,100 employees worldwide.
Embrace Hearing offers consumers a discreet, affordable and customized hearing aid that can help with any amount of hearing loss, including severe hearing loss. The company is based in the United States, and they ship their German technology hearing aids anywhere in the world.
Century Hearing Aids was founded in 2010 to provide affordable, quality hearing aids to consumers. Century is a family-owned company with the express goal of putting the customer first. Century is also veteran-owned and offers military discounts to active service members and military veterans.
hear.com is an online company that partners with hearing aid providers and audiologists around the world. It sells hearing aids from all major manufacturers at every price point to help individuals address their hearing loss. It was founded in 2011 and is headquartered in Miami, Florida.
Zounds Hearing was founded by Sam Thomasson, an engineer and medical device developer who has a hearing-impaired daughter and wanted to improve on existing hearing aid technology for her and others with hearing loss. Zounds strives to create hearing aids for today’s world, compatible with cell phones, car communication systems and televisions. Zounds hearing aids are available throughout nearly all of the contiguous United States.
Oticon is a Denmark-based manufacturer of hearing aids. Founded in 1904 by a man who wanted to help his hearing-impaired wife, Oticon is one of the longest-lived hearing aid companies in the world. The company has American headquarters in New Jersey and has long been at the forefront of hearing and auditory research.
Founded in 1956, Widex is a hearing aid manufacturer based in Denmark. Widex is a hearing aid industry leader, ranking among the top six manufacturers worldwide. Its products are sold through independent clinical practices in over 100 countries. Widex specializes in innovative digital technology. In fact, Widex invented the first digital in-the-ear hearing aid.
Rexton is a hearing aid brand and division of Sivantos Group, a major hearing aid manufacturer based in Singapore. Rexton has been creating hearing aids for more than 50 years and has distributors in many countries around the world.
Unitron is a global company that designs and manufacturers hearing aids. Unitron has been in business for more than 50 years and has 20 international offices and 50 international partners. Unitron hearing aids are sold at many hearing clinics and audiology offices throughout the United States and many other countries.
Phonak is an international hearing aid manufacturer with subsidiaries and distribution partners in more than 100 countries. Founded in 1947, Phonak is a member of the Sonova group of hearing aid companies.
HearingPlanet is a hearing aid distributor. While they do not perform hearing evaluations, HearingPlanet partners with hearing clinics to help customers with hearing loss understand their options prior to purchasing hearing aids. They provide telephone and email-based consultations and partner with over 1,600 clinics throughout the United States to help you get a full hearing evaluation from professionals.
Costco is a multinational chain of membership-based wholesale stores with locations throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Spain. Costco Hearing Aid Center is a division of Costco, available in select locations. Costco Hearing Aid Center offers hearing tests, checkups and hearing aids for purchase.
MDHearingAid is a discount hearing aid provider, specializing in basic hearing aids for the budget-conscious consumer. Founded by an ear, nose and throat doctor, Sreekant Cherukuri, in Chicago, MDHearingAid seeks to create the highest-quality hearing aid at the lowest possible price. The MDHearingAid line amplifies sounds associated with the human voice and decreases sounds associated with noise.
As one of the world's largest membership based warehouse retail chains, Sam's Club offers a range of specialty services to its customers. Some Sam’s Clubs feature a Hearing Solutions center, and select models of hearing aids are also available for purchase on Sam’s Club’s website.
Signia Hearing Aids, formerly known as Siemens Hearing Aids, is the United States division of Sivantos, a global hearing aid corporation. Signia draws on the technological innovation of Siemens, which has been a leading innovator in the hearing support industry since Werner von Siemens developed a telephone receiver for the hearing impaired in 1878.
Founded in 1967, Starkey Hearing Technologies is an American-owned company that partners with customers, manufacturers and facilities around the world to provide innovative hearing solutions for consumers. Starkey believes every person has the right to hear the world around them, which is why they make a donation to the Starkey Hearing Foundation with every purchase made. To date, they have helped donate over 1 million hearing aids globally.
LIZN ApS is a sound solutions company based in Denmark. It has developed a prescription-free, unique solution for individuals with difficulty hearing speech in noisy situations. LIZN Hearphones are simple earbuds that are affordable, portable and helpful for those with mild hearing loss or no hearing loss at all but who simply want a bit of help hearing in crowded environments. The Hearphones are available for preorder and will ship in summer 2017.
- Simple, effective speech amplification: Hearphones feature both advanced sound processing and directional microphones that help you hear someone talking directly to you while simultaneously blocking the sound of background noise. They are great for classroom settings, noisy restaurants, concerts and more. They offer two amplification levels, normal and boost, depending on how much sound amplification you require.
- Affordable and accessible: Standard hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars, which is unreasonable for those who have difficulty hearing only in noisy environments and otherwise do not need hearing support. LIZN Hearphones are available for only $149 plus shipping and can be purchased online without requiring a visit to a hearing specialist.
- Complete solution: When you purchase LIZN Hearphones, you receive two Hearphones (left and right), three sizes of eartips (small, medium and large), a charger, carrying case, USB cable, manual and warranty. There is no need to purchase any additional accessories.
- Color options: LIZN Hearphones offer an attractive hearing solution. They are rounded and resemble typical earbuds used to listen to music. They are available in four stylish colors: antracite grey, cafe latte, ruby red and dark ocean blue.
- No hassle returns: LIZN offers customers a 14-day no-hassle return policy. If the Hearphones don’t work for you, you can return them for a refund.
- Best for: people with mild to moderate hearing loss who need hearing support in noisy environments.
Earlens is an innovative hearing aid system that reduces feedback, increases sound frequency range and reduces environmental noise. Earlens looks like a conventional behind-the-ear hearing aid when you’re wearing it. But unlike conventional hearing aids that use speakers to amplify sound, Earlens turns sound into light and transmits it directly to your eardrum. This new technology creates a crisper, more natural sound. Earlens hearing aids are available from select ear, nose and throat physicians across the United States. Earlens Corporation is headquartered in Menlo Park, California.
- How it works: If your ENT determines you’re a good candidate for Earlens, they’ll take a mold of your eardrum. Then Earlens will make a custom-fit lens that your ENT will place directly on your eardrum in a painless, quick procedure. The lens stays in place using surface tension, much like a contact lens. A behind-the-ear processor transmits sound down a tube into your ear canal, where it is converted into light that reflects onto the lens to activate your hearing.
- Better sound quality: Earlens hearing aids can help you hear a broad sound frequency range from 125-10,000Hz, more than triple the range of conventional hearing aids. They also deliver a crisper sound with less whistling feedback and less environmental and wind noise.
- Programmable: The Earlens processor can be programmed for various noise environments like a quiet dinner, a loud concert or a classroom. You can choose from four custom programs and 20 channels.
- Rechargeable: You’ll never need to purchase hearing aid batteries if you use Earlens. The processor contains rechargeable batteries, so you simply dock the processor to its charger when you go to bed at night. The processor fully recharges in four hours and holds its charge for 24 hours.
- Warranty: Earlens hearing aids come with a three-year warranty. You’ll get a new lens once a year during those three years, and you’ll also receive free software updates.
- Best for: people with hearing loss who want to reduce whistling feedback and hear better in noisy environments.
Compare Top Hearing Aid Reviews
Read 308 Reviews
Choose models from eight manufacturers. Hearing aids are sorted into three categories: basic, mid-range and premium. Pricing ranges from $799-$3,100. Bluetooth capability and noise reduction available.
|MDHearingAid||Read 25 Reviews|
Choose from three different models starting at $399.99. Hearing aids offer digital sound processing, noise reduction, feedback cancellation and 3-4 environment settings. Control volume with a dial, button, or smartphone app.
|Sam's Club Hearing Aids|
Read 13 Reviews
15 models are available starting around $350. Both behind-the-ear and in-ear hearing aids are offered. Hearing aids feature feedback suppression, various memory settings and push-button control.
Read 10 Reviews
With over 20 models available, hearing aids are designed for a range of conditions from hearing loss to tinnitus. Starting at $1,299, their hearing aids offer directional microphones, tinnitus therapy and Bluetooth connectivity.
|Century Hearing Aids|
Read 47 Reviews
Choose from three models starting at $399. Features include feedback cancellation, speech enhancement and four environments settings. All models include a manual volume control button.
Compare up to three hearing aid models across 167 different models. Hearing aids start at $1500 and can include Bluetooth, TV integration, noise reduction, speech enhancement and rechargeable batteries.
|Rexton Hearing Aids||Read Reviews|
Choose from nine models starting at $980. All models include a voice ranger, tinnitus relief and music enhancement. Hearing aids are moisture, dirt and wax resistant. Control with button, optional remote or via smartphone app.
Read 7 Reviews
Choose from five models starting at $1,300. Focusing on speech intelligibility, all models include feedback reduction and basic switch controls. Optional features include remote control and rechargeable batteries.
|Earlens||Read Expert Review|
This hearing aid uses light to activate the natural hearing system. A physician places a custom-fit lens in the ear, resulting in crisp highs and full lows without whistling. The procedure and equipment starts at $6,000.
|LIZN||Read Expert Review|
These hear pieces cost $149 a pair. The finger touch system responds to a single tap to change volume levels and a double tap to switch from hearing mode to earphone mode by connecting to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.