Hearing aids have come a long way from the whistling annoyances of decades past. Today’s models utilize advanced technology to provide clear audio and filter out unwanted noise. They come in different types to fit various lifestyles and budgets.
Finding the right model for you depends upon a number of factors, including your level of hearing loss and comfort preferences. These little devices can be expensive, so we also considered budgets and the best value models, too. Our selections for the best hearing aids utilize advanced technology and are designed for ears of all shapes and sizes.
How We Picked The Best Hearing Aids
The types and number of hearing aids on the market continue to grow, but we looked for a number of specific factors and features to find the best models.
— Battery Life: Advanced hearing aid features can eat through battery life inconveniently fast. We looked for models that not only had decent battery life but also included economical options for either battery replacement or recharging.
— Ease of Recharging or Battery Replacement: Hearing aids that come with a portable battery charger or have disposable batteries that are easy to replace were more likely to make our list.
— Style Options: Some hearing aids only come in one style, while others come in various styles to fit different user preferences. Every style has its pros and cons, so we were more likely to include the hearing aid on our list if it came in more than one style. However, a solid performance history was enough to get a hearing aid on our list, even if style options were limited.
— Features: We researched how the blend features and design worked together to best serve the targeted user. The available features can range from directional microphones and telecoils to wireless connectivity and remote controls. The models that made our list balanced features with price and practicality for their targeted customers. For example, one of the models on our list has a unique technology that helps wearers with tinnitus, while another has extra power to amplify sound for those with severe hearing loss.
Best Hearing Aids: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Lively
Why It Made The Cut: The Lively hearing aids’ value goes beyond the hearing aids themselves to customer service that includes trained professionals that adjust the hearing aids to the individual user.
— Type/Types Available: RIC
— Bluetooth: Yes
— Adjustment: App or audiologist consultation
— Warranty: Three years
— Price includes access to an audiology team
— Choice between disposable battery or rechargeable
— Easy to make adjustments through the app
— No in-person consultations
Lively gets the top spot not only for the quality of their hearing aids and the features they offer but for the support that comes with your purchase. They make three hearing aids, with a model that has a traditional disposable battery as well as two models with rechargeable batteries. All three models fall on the lower end of the price range and offer financing to pay for them in monthly installments.
All consultations are done online, including your initial hearing test. The test provides insights into the type of hearing aid that would be best for you and gives the Lively audiology team information to help adjust your chosen hearing aid. If you have problems with your hearing aid, you can contact the audiology team through the app at any time without an appointment for the full three-year period of the warranty. The app also lets you customize your settings yourself.
Lively packs their hearing aids with helpful technology, including Bluetooth capabilities to connect directly with compatible devices as well as hands-free calling options with iPhones 11 and newer. The rechargeable models come with a charging case that takes three hours to produce a full 30-hour charge.
While the Lively hearing aids offer excellent technology and reasonable prices, the one thing they don’t include is in-person consultations. If you prefer to talk to someone face-to-face, this probably isn’t the right hearing aid for you.
Best Budget: Audicus
Why It Made The Cut: Audicus focuses on affordability yet still offers several styles to provide choices for those on a tighter budget.
— Type/Types Available: BTE, RIC, ITC
— Bluetooth: Yes
— Adjustment: App
— Warranty: One year
— Wide range of styles and features in various price ranges
— Bluetooth capabilities available
— Relatively affordable invisible hearing aids
— Offers a hearing aid membership program to help with ongoing costs
— No in-person consultations
Audicus offer some of the best value and best cheap hearing aids on the market. Yet, their affordable hearing aids still have excellent features, including three models with Bluetooth capabilities for direct connections to compatible devices. Overall, their models provide cheap hearing aids that aren’t subpar or lacking in professional support.
Currently, Audicus offers six hearing aids in three styles. Their invisible hearing aids and Bluetooth models offer some of the best prices for the technology. Audicus also helps you customize your hearing aids with either hearing tests of their own or one that you bring from an outside source. They offer earpieces of different shapes and sizes to accommodate a range of different ear canal shapes.
Audicus further adds value by using a monthly membership program to cut long-term costs. Their monthly membership fee covers the costs of accessories, insurance if the hearing aids ever get damaged, and a new set of hearing aids every 18 months. However, we like that you don’t have to have a monthly membership to buy a pair of affordable hearing aids through their website.
They have a somewhat shorter one-year warranty. However, you get access to trained professionals who can help you make adjustments to your hearing aids through the accompanying app. (That’s also where users can make their own adjustments.)
Best for Tinnitus: Widex Moment
Why It Made The Cut: Widex uses their Zen technology to calm tinnitus using fractal musical tones while amplifying the sounds needed for daily interactions.
— Type/Types Available: BTE, RIC, ITE, CIC
— Bluetooth: Yes
— Adjustment: App
— Warranty: Varies by retailer
— Zen technology uses sound therapy to both mask and treat tinnitus
— Widex Moment available in a wide range of styles
— Uses technology that reduces the time it takes to hear sounds
— Some unauthorized dealers may sell Widex Moment without a warranty
The Widex Moment comes in a wide range of types and sizes to fit different lifestyles and ear shapes. What sets it apart is the Moment’s Widex Zen technology, which uses sound therapy to reduce the effects of tinnitus over time. The sound therapy consists of fractal musical tones, a series of chimes played at random to minimize tinnitus. The randomness of the tones prevents the brain from adapting, so the treatments continue to work overtime. This technology differs from the standard tinnitus masking, which relies on white noise to cover ringing in the ears.
However, the Moment also comes with Bluetooth technology to connect the hearing aids to Widex apps, where you can customize your hearing experience. Widex also implements technology that reduces the time it takes for the amplified sounds to reach the eardrum, reducing delay and tinny sounds in the ears.
The Widex Moment comes with a warranty. However, the warranty varies by the retailer because Widex does not directly sell the hearing aids themselves. They only partner with retailers that require in-person consultations from trained professionals. That stipulation is required for the warranty, both the Widex and the retailers, to remain valid. You have to watch out for online, unauthorized retailers. If you happen to buy from an unauthorized retailer, the hearing aids won’t be covered by any warranty.
Best for Severe Hearing Loss: Phonak Naida Paradise
Why It Made The Cut: The Naida Paradis is loaded with power and features that not only amplify but clarify to help those with severe hearing loss.
— Type/Types Available: BTE
— Bluetooth: Yes
— Adjustment: App or manual, depending on model
— Warranty: One-year, also depends on the retailer
— Two power options
— Rechargeable and disposable battery options
— Purchase includes local, in-person fitting
— Autosense technology automatically adjusts to the sound environment
— Stream two Bluetooth devices at once
— Warranty varies by retailer
Phonak is one of the most popular hearing aid brands among audiologists. They're also one of the most expensive. For individuals with severe hearing loss, the Paradise line, in particular the Naida, is one of the best options available. This BTE design includes several special features, including speech enhancement, noise cancellation, and motion sensor hearing that enhances your listening experience when you’re walking and talking in a noisy environment.
The Naida also includes Autosense technology that automatically adjusts the settings for the surrounding environment. For example, if you find yourself in a noisy cafeteria that suddenly clears out, Autosense adjusts the settings so that you can still hear your dining companion.
Naida is the BTE option of the Paradise line. As such, it offers incredible power in either a rechargeable battery or traditional disposable battery design. That extra power allows even those with severe hearing loss to better interact with their environment. One model offers Bluetooth control through an app, and the other works through tap control. The Naida connects and streams up to two Bluetooth devices at once. That allows you to watch TV and answer a phone call without disrupting the Bluetooth connection.
The downside is that the Naida is expensive, though Phonak offers payment plans to offset the initial cost. The other downside is the variability of the warranty. Phonak offers a one-year warranty on defective materials, but any other additional warranties must come through the retailer, which means warranty length can vary greatly by location.
Best for Seniors: Starkey EvolvAI
Why It Made The Cut: Starkey EvovAI provides a fall-alert feature and excellent customization, from the style to the features to help seniors get a hearing aid that fits their lifestyle.
— Type/Types Available: BTE, RIC, ITE, CIC
— Bluetooth: Yes
— Adjustment: App and Manual
— Warranty: 30-day with variable additional coverage depending on a purchased warranty package
— Excellent selection of types and features
— All models are Bluetooth-compatible
— Fall-alert feature
— Includes additional activity tracking
— Might be too feature-rich for some people
Starkey EvolvAI has an expansive line of hearing aids designed for the unique needs of seniors. The hearing aids and accompanying app combine everything you need to benefit your hearing with health tracking and general information assistance on the side.
This line includes everything from large (and powerful) BTE models to small, unobtrusive CIC hearing aids. Features vary by model, but you have options that include two-way audio, which can stream your voice to select iPad and iPhone models (like some of the best tablets for seniors) for hands-free communication. The speech enhancement feature uses AI technology to tailor what you near to the environments you encounter most often.
Starkey offers app or manual tap control. The Thrive app allows users to make adjustments to their settings but also track additional information like steps, movement, and exercise time. This is also where seniors get extra protection from falls and accidents. Information sent from the hearing aids can send an alert in case of an emergency. The app also offers a “Find My Hearing Aid” feature that provides a timestamp and location to locate missing hearing aids.
All of those features can enhance seniors' ability to interact with their environment while providing extra safety and convenience. However, some models may be a little feature-rich for those who are less than tech-savvy.
Things to Consider Before Buying Hearing Aids
Types of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids come in a wide variety of sizes and styles. Your level of hearing loss, the shape of your ear canal, and any special features you need can help you narrow down which type would be right for you. Make sure to consult your audiologist for their recommendations as well.
— Completely in the Canal (CIC) or Mini CIC: Completely in the canal or CIC hearing aids are molded and customized to fit inside the ear canal. These models are also known as invisible hearing aids because they're the smallest and least visible type. CIC hearing aids are less likely to pick up wind noise, but they don’t provide as much volume as larger models. In general, they’re best suited for mild to moderate hearing loss.
However, because they’re so small, they have an equally small battery with a short life. Replacing those batteries can be difficult if you lack finger dexterity. Their small size may also limit the kind of features they can offer. For example, this type of hearing aid often doesn’t have a directional microphone or volume control. These small hearing aids are also more likely to get clogged with earwax.
— In the Canal (ITC): ITC hearing aids fit partially inside the ear canal and require a custom mold for a secure fit. They’re designed to help mild to moderate hearing loss. These models are less visible than most, except for CIC. They typically come with more features than a CIC model because of their larger size. However, they're still small, which means a small battery and potential problems changing the battery. They can also get clogged with earwax.
— In the Ear (ITE): ITE hearing aids come in one of two styles — full shell or half shell. A full shell ITE fills the bowl-shaped area of the outer ear. A half shell fills only the lower portion of this same area. ITE hearing aids can help with mild to severe hearing loss and are usually equipped with directional microphones.
These larger hearing aids typically include additional features like volume control, Bluetooth, or telecoils. They have larger batteries that also come with longer battery life. Some models may include rechargeable batteries. These more visible models can be susceptible to wind noise, and they can still get clogged by earwax.
— Behind the Ear (BTE): A behind-the-ear hearing aid fits over the top of the ear and has a tube that connects to an earpiece that fits inside the ear canal. Each earpiece is custom-made for a better fit. These models can improve most types of hearing loss.
While these hearing aids are some of the largest, they often have the most features and functionality. There are now some mini models that are more streamlined and less visible, too. BTE hearing aids typically have directional microphones, several volume or amplification options, and may have a rechargeable battery option. However, they are susceptible to wind noise.
— Receiver in Canal (RIC) or Receiver in the Ear (RITE): RIC and RITE hearing aids are very similar to BTE models. However, instead of tubing connecting the earpiece to the speaker or receiver inside the ear canal, they have a small wire. That wire makes them less visible than a BTE model.
Like BTEs, these hearing aids usually have directional microphones and more advanced features. They often have rechargeable batteries as well. The inner earpiece, however, can still get clogged with earwax.
— Open Fit: An open-fit hearing aid is a subtype of a BTE. Open fit models have an open dome in the ear that allows low-frequency sounds to naturally enter the ear canal. The hearing aid then amplifies high-frequency sounds. This particular style suits people who can still hear low-frequency sounds but have mild to moderate hearing loss in the higher frequencies.
Open fit hearing aids don’t fill your ears like some of the other designs, but they can be more difficult to insert, and they are still visible.
Warranty and Trial Period
Warranties and trial periods can save you from investing in a hearing aid that just doesn’t work for you. Not every hearing aid comes with a warranty, but they’re often worth paying a little extra for in case your hearing aid gets damaged.
Trial periods are a great way to make sure you get a good fit and find a hearing aid that works for you in the long term. Trial periods typically vary from 30 to 90 days.
Today’s hearing aids come with many additional features. The nature of your hearing loss and any additional medical conditions that you have, like tinnitus, can help you determine which features would be most helpful.
— Digital Noise Reduction: The best digital hearing aids have digital noise reduction technology. It may come under a different name, but these technologies reduce background noise and amplify the human voice and other targeted sounds.
— Feedback Suppression: If soundwaves escape the ear canal around the hearing aid and hit the hearing aid’s microphone, feedback in the form of screeches and whistles is what you hear. Hearing aids with feedback suppression help prevent embarrassing and uncomfortable feedback episodes.
— Tinnitus Masking: Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, can be a serious problem when you have hearing loss. Some hearing aids have technology that helps mask that ringing to help you better pick out the sounds you do want to hear, like the human voice.
— Telecoils: Telecoils can help you talk on the phone when using a telecoil-compatible telephone. They work by amplifying the sounds from the compatible telephone and reducing background noise. Telecoils may also be able to connect to a public induction loop system, which is sometimes used in public venues like theaters or churches.
— Variable Programming: Variable programming allows you to preprogram hearing aid settings for different events or situations. You can then pick the right pre-setting to fit the environment.
— Synchronization: Synchronization is designed for people with two hearing aids. The synchronization feature simultaneously makes adjustments to both hearing aids. For example, if you turn the volume up or make an adjustment to background noise, that same adjustment is made in the other hearing aid.
— Bluetooth Capabilities: A Bluetooth hearing aid can connect to an accompanying app, where you can make adjustments to the hearing aid settings. They may also connect to a phone, TV, or another device so that the audio goes directly through the hearing aid.
— Rechargeable Batteries: Rechargeable batteries can save you a lot of money. Most of the time, they don’t need to be removed from the hearing aids to get recharged. These models typically come with a charging base into which the hearing aid can fit for recharging much, like a wireless earbud.
— Directional Microphones: Directional microphones are aimed toward the front of the wearer to improve the hearing of sounds coming from that direction. They also offer some noise reduction for sounds that are beside or behind you. Directional microphones can be helpful in crowded environments with a lot of background noise.
Q. How much do hearing aids cost?
On average, hearing aids cost between $1,000 to $4,000 per ear. Hearing aids are pricey because you’re not just paying for the hearing aid. Their price is typically bundled with an appointment with an audiologist, custom fittings, and follow-up care and maintenance.
Q. Where do I recycle my hearing aids?
Some nonprofit organizations and hearing aid manufacturers accept old hearing aids and refurbish them for use for low-income individuals. The Hearing Aid Project is one such organization. Contact your current hearing aid manufacturer or the manufacturer of your old hearing aid to see if they accept donated hearing aids for refurbishment.
Q. How long does it take for your brain to adjust to a hearing aid?
It takes about 12 weeks (three months) for your brain to adjust to the new sounds and sensations of a hearing aid. At first, the hearing aid might feel disorienting or seem like it’s not helping at all. It takes time to find the right settings and situations in which the hearing aid is most useful.
Q. How do I clean my hearing aid?
You should clean your hearing aids every night. A wax pick and gentle brush can be used to clear the hearing aids of debris. However, be gentle. Always wash your hands before cleaning your hearing aid, and take it out before showering, applying makeup, or using hair products. You can also use a smart earwax removal tool to pre-clean the ear canal before putting in the hearing aid.
Q. Can wearing a hearing aid make your hearing worse?
Hearing aids don’t typically make your hearing worse. However, many people report that their hearing without the hearing aid gets worse after they've been using a hearing aid regularly. That’s not because your natural hearing has gotten worse. It’s because the brain has adapted to hearing sounds with the help of a hearing aid. It actually means the hearing aid is working.
The Lively hearing aids offer an excellent mix of features, fit, and technical support. That access can make sure you get setting small adjustments that enhance your ability to hear and interact in a variety of environments. If you’re looking for both variety and features that help and protect seniors, the Starkey EvolvAI line is the place to start. There are a wide range of styles as well as features, including fall alerts and help finding misplaced hearing aids.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.