Best hearing aids 2016 – what to look for
We are very often asked what is the best hearing aid on the market… and its a very difficult question to answer given that there are so many factors to consider.
What I can say with absolute certainty is that a hearing aid will never give back perfect hearing (contrary to what the marketing pieces will tell you!), but some features in 2016’s line up will recover much more than previous generations and do a simply stunning job of recreating sounds in a manner very similar to the way the human ears hear naturally.
Natural hearing through a hearing aid? surely not
Let me explain, your ears are designed to work as a pair. we can only locate sounds correctly when we hear in a balanced fashion. older hearing devices worked independently of one another which meant the left one might go into noise reduction independently of the right, throwing the wearer off balance in the noisy situations where its most essential that they stay in tune.
The latest hearing devices can communicate to each other across your head and are constantly checking the sound environment so their adaptive features work together and ensure you hear in a finely balanced manner… the result, clearer and more natural hearing.
So what really goes on that makes the difference?
Here is the techy bit…. but before I get to it I cannot stress how essential it is that your new hearing aids are fitted and tuned by an expert with the right equipment. there’s no use buying a second-hand set on-line and just popping them in… also there little use in buying the latest hearing devices from a low-cost (or an expensive) retailer and not have them tuned properly from the start.
The secret to getting maximum success from your hearing aids is to have them fitted to international tuning standards using probe microphones which sit close to your eardrums. it’s the only way to know that the sound you should be receiving is actually making it to your eardrums correctly.
We use a scale for sound levels called the decibel scale, and in a normal hearing ear this ranges from 0 decibels (barely audible) to 100 decibels (almost painful). it’s not uncommon for a person with a hearing loss to have a reduced range of hearing which is restricted to as little as 10 or 20 decibels.
This gives us very little room to play with and sounds will go from inaudible to painfully loud in an extremely short space.
Some hearing care professionals don’t care much about the accuracy of the fittings but we do, this is because we know each decibel improvement we can give our patients can offer up to 3% better speech clarity, and also just a few decibels of a difference in each ear can throw out the important balance we need to hear well in background noise, places such as restaurants, cars, or out in the street can be extremely hard to hear in to start with, let alone with badly tuned hearing aids.
At The Hearing Clinic UK we don’t just use probe microphone measurements as standard, we go a whole leap further in our exclusive Sound Lounges.
Visit us to discover our Sound Lounge
Imagine having your audiologist sit with you in that place you find the most difficult to hear in…. be it the car, or at the golf clubhouse, fine tuning your hearing aids in real-time. making tiny but very significant tuning adjustments to squeeze every last bit of clarity from your ears that they can.
Then imagine switching again to your favourite piece of music and having it surround the room whilst your new music setting is adjusted to the exact tone you love the most….
This is all possible and more.
So back to the best hearing aids of 2016… what should they have in them to bring back the most natural hearing possible?
Essential features for 2016 include
- Ear to ear wireless communication to ensure perfect balance
- Binaural beam forming to help in background noise
- Adjustable noise reduction so you can tailor the right amount to help you hear more when you need to and less when you don’t
- Adjustable compression – essential to help you hear well in the most challenging environments (fast gives better speech clarity – slow is more comfortable)
- iPhone or smart phone compatibility and adjustability – remote control from your phone and get the best from your hearing aids
- Wireless communication with your phone for taking calls, listening to music and hearing voice prompts
- Wireless communication to your other devices such as TV’s, computers, radio’s
Why trust our opinion?? we are an independent hearing care practice and have fitted hearing aids on thousands of patients over the years.
Introducing the ReSound Linx squared 9
Nothing in the market comes close to offering all these features across more products and styles than ReSound – their latest version of the Linx hearing aid is simply stunning.
The Linx range is one of only two that offer direct to iPhone compatibility meaning you don’t require any inbetween devices to carry on your person. The Linx is also available from ultra small invisible in the canal sizes (not bluetooth compatible due to size) all the way through to super power behind the ear styles.
Our expert panel of clinicians rate the devices 5 star and the patient feedback is undoubtedly the best we have ever received.
Introducing the Phonak V90
The flagship product from the Swiss manufacturer Phonak is a triumph of technology!
This latest offering has an incredible artificially intelligent microchip and advances software allowing a tremendous range of features to help the hard of hearing in difficult environments.
In particular the Autosense feature blends a number of these sound enhancement features into specific settings which makes speech clear and background noises less obtrusive.
Again like the ReSound devices the Phonak are available from the smallest invisible in the canal devices to the super high power versions.
Also available from the Phonak family is the latest version of the worlds smallest hearing device, the Lyric
A world of invisible hearing
With Lyric, there are no batteries to change, no maintenance is needed, and no daily insertion or removal is required. Users need only visit their audiologist every few months, whereupon Lyric is quickly and easily replaced with a new device. Using a magnetic adjustment tool, users can adjust the volume themselves and turn the device on and off.
It is the go to solution for patients looking for the ultimate in discretion coupled with excellent sound quality.
Introducing – Widex Unique 440
The Unique 440 is the latest in a long line of super advanced hearing devices from one of Denmark’s finest manufacturers.
The Unique 440 uses Widex’s new U-platform chip which processes sounds across 15 channels. Using “Sound Class Technology” the hearing aid classifies what kind of environment you are currently in out of a choice of nine possible and adjusts itself accordingly to maximise your ability to hear speech sounds clearly. The 440 has the most channels in the range and also has a “High Frequency Boost” feature that isn’t available in the lower models to give additional clarity when needed.
Wind noise attenuation
One claim that Widex can make is to have industry leading wind noise reduction. The Unique 440 can attenuate more wind noise than any other hearing aid out there, no matter the direction the wind is coming from, even from directly ahead
Introducing – Starkey Halo and Z Series
Starkey recently introduced one of the first Made for iPhone hearing aids, the Halo. At the time of release, it was only available in a RIC style. Now Starkey has released Halo in a behind the ear style. It still has all the great features of the original Halo, with two style choices, Receiver in the canal and behind the ear.
Halo is now compatible not just with apple technology but also select Android phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 / S 5.
Starkey also recently launched their Z Series, which features their BluWave 4.0 operating system and the 900sync Technology. This technology allows for a more robust wireless system that is virtually drop-free connectivity, with increased streaming range and less susceptibility to interference.