What is the Best Hearing Aid?
I am often asked, “What is the best hearing aid?” Honestly, this is an impossible question to answer. Every major hearing instrument manufacturer has a complete product line that can significantly improve hearing in all listening situations. Each offers a wide variety of styles and power ranges with many features and benefits. So, what is the best hearing aid?
The simple answer is that they all make the best products AND none of them make the best products. Let me explain...
The problem with selecting the “best” hearing aids is that everybody’s ears perceive sound differently. The most successful fittings are achieved by selecting the instruments that will provide maximum performance in all listening environments while working within the parameters of your hearing impairment.
As your audiologist, I must determine which product will perform best for the way your ears encode sounds. This encoding analysis is done in the testing room. The testing will establish the slightest sound levels that you can hear (threshold levels), your most comfortable listening levels and the loudest sounds you can tolerate without discomfort. Once I have this data, I’ll select the products that will reproduce sounds in the same manner your ears perceive them.
Ultimately, the hearing aids that parallel the way your ears process sounds are the “best” hearing aids for you.
Water Resistant Hearing Aids
Your hearing aids are subjected daily to perspiration and moisture from the environment. Both can cause battery contact corrosion and reduced component reliability.
Water is also an enemy to hearing aids at the pool or beach. Communication can be difficult should you decide to remove your devices to prevent damage. However, here is some good news! The latest technology removes the worry about getting your instruments wet.
Fortunately, all of the manufacturers we use provide a moisture-resistant hearing aid coating at no additional cost. Water resistance is made possible through an innovative process called nano-coating. Nano-coating is molecularly bonded to the surface material of the hearing aid and acts as a liquid repellent. Liquids simply form beads and roll off the instruments.
The use of nano-coating broadens the situations where you can wear your hearing aids. You can sit in a jacuzzi or swimming pool with confidence. A sudden rain shower or being accidentally sprayed by a neighbor’s sprinkler will not harm your devices. However, most of the manufacturers recommend that you do not shower or swim when wearing your instruments.
Nano-coating is another invisible feature of modern technology that will add more life and enjoyment to your next hearing aid purchase.
Recent Developments in Hearing Technology
Oticon, Siemens and Phonak have just introduced products that set new standards for hearing aid performance.
Each features significant improvements in understanding speech in noisy and challenging listening environments. Additionally, advancements in connectivity make it even simpler to access signals from the audio devices you use daily. Here is a closer look at these new technologies.
Oticon’s new designRITE™
Oticon’s new designRITE™ product line features the latest version of the Inium microchip’s brain-based hearing technology. These receiver-in-the-canal style hearing instruments use the innovative Youmatic system. Youmatic is an interactive question and answer process that addresses each patient’s cognitive abilities, sound perception and listening needs. The complex algorithm analyzes the information to provide a customized hearing aid response. This results in improved audibility and understanding in all listening environments.
Spatial Sound 2.0
Spatial Sound 2.0 is a technology that controls the wireless communication between the right and left hearing aids. The system finds all sources of sounds (speech, traffic, etc.) and prioritizes them, giving preference to speech. The computer then homes in on the speech sounds that are closest to you and maintains the naturally occurring loudness differences between ears. Listeners can more easily identify the location and distance of sounds, resulting in a truer perception of the sound environment.
Speech Guard E
Speech Guard E uses artificial intelligence to identify, process and code speech sounds. The algorithm creates a precise replication of speech information. This feature keeps voices distinct from one another and separates them from competing background noises.
Effortless hearing across the range with Siemens primax™.
Whatever the situation or preference – RIC, BTE, or ITE – Siemens offers the natural ease of listening all day long with primax™.
Outstanding primax hearing aid technology is available in performance levels 7px, 5px, and 3px. From Ace™ primax and Pure® primax RICs to Motion® primax standard BTEs and Insio™ primax ITEs, there’s a perfect hearing aid for almost every hearing loss. Plus, with its CROS Pure solution, primax also offers wearers with unaidable hearing loss in one ear easier all-around listening.
In addition, there’s a range of advanced accessories available for these new hearing aids. With their extended connectivity options to external devices via easyTek™, or discreet hearing aid remote control via the touchControl™ App and easyTek™ App, primax makes life even easier for wearers.
Phonak has introduced the new Venture operating system for its Audeo V™ behind-the-ear product line.
The Audeo V can be fitted to those whose hearing losses range from mild to severe. Placing the receiver/speaker in the earmold makes the hearing aid about one-half the size of more conventional behind-the-ear products.
Audeo V’s Autosense Operating System
Audeo V’s Autosense Operating System captures and analyzes the sound environment. Then it precisely blends elements from an array of programs in real time to maximize listening performance and pleasure.
The Speech In Car
The Speech In Car program reduces in-car noise while microphones focus automatically to the side, rear or front, depending on where the listener is sitting in relation to the speaker.
The Speech in Loud Noise
The Speech in Loud Noise program incorporates a stereo zoom algorithm that adapts to loud noise, increasing speech understanding by up to 60 percent over previous models.
Those who I have fitted with these new technologies are reporting that the performance exceeds their expectations. If you have not upgraded your hearing instruments in the past three years, I encourage you to come in for a demonstration.