We have selected the top model hearing aids from five leading manufacturers to discuss in this article. Despite this great technology, it is necessary to choose a clinic that follows best practices to obtain great outcomes.
Signia Pure Charge and Go
New Signia Pure Charge and Go is on the new ‘Xperience’ chip platform. It uses motion sensors to help the hearing aid decide how to manipulate microphone directionality and help you hear better in background noise and whilst on the move.
The Pure Charge and Go X has been improved on the original charge and go with 20% better battery life with their Lithium Ion battery. They give approximately 23 hours of wear time without streaming and 20 hours when you stream for up to 5 hours in a day. It also has an Inductive charging case with a lid and a rocker switch for easy volume control adjustments if your smartphone is not handy. The will directly stream audio from any apple product. Signia have also made improvements to their App that makes for easy adjustment of volume or programs optimised for different listening environments without having to reach back and feel for the rocker switch. You can also control microphone direction in that you can steer the focus of the microphones manually to pick up sound from any direction you choose.
You can also access Signia’s remote care enabling you to have a fine tuning virtual appointment with your Audiologist without having to go to their office. It is also 16% smaller than their previous charge and go hearing aid.
Phonak Audeo Marvel 2.0
Enables direct connection to both apple and android products for direct audio streaming as it uses ‘Bluetooth classic’. You can also answer and end phone calls from the hearing aids itself using the rocker switch. In fact the phone doesn’t need to be on you, only within about a 20m radius as it relies on the microphones of the hearing aids to pick up your voice and relay it off.
They rolled out the release of their tele-coil models toward the end of 2019. The tele-coil adds a little extra breadth to base of the hearing aids. It enables inductive connection to a loop system within select public facilities such as cinema’s, churches and some live theatres. It comes in either rechargeable or non-rechargeable versions. The rechargeable versions provide approximately 30 hours of battery life and the Lithium Ion battery only takes 3 hours to charge.
The new MyPhonak App allows you to adjust volume, programs and also has a new graphic equaliser slider like function that enables you to adjust the frequency response to a degree i.e. You can manage the relative treble and base response to modify sound quality if desired. You can also access their Remote Support facility for real time remote adjustability with your Audiologist or clinician.
A highlight of the new Marvel hearing aids is their AutoSense 3.0 which give the hearing aids the ability to automatically optimise their performance for different listening environments. They now have 8 Autosense modes in their Premium Audeo M90 hearing aids.
The ‘Speech in Loud noise’ mode is only automatic in Phonak’s premium Audeo M90 models and it can be added as a manual program in the Advanced Audeo M70. This automatic mode only activates when background noise escalates high and there’s a poor signal to noise ratio. That is the signal of speech relative to background noise.
This is in fact Phonak’s ‘Stereo Zoom’ function which creates a relatively narrow beam of microphone focus to the front so as to improve the speech signal from the front whilst significantly reducing noise coming from the sides and behind.
Also exclusive to the premium M90’s models is the speech in car mode ideal for optimising conversation when commuting with a significant other. Also music is an Autosense mode in the premium model for best music perseveration.
A unique feature of the Phonak Marvel hearing aids is that they have an integrated Roger Receiver. This allows you to directly connect to a Phonak Roger Select iN, a Roger Pen iN and a Roger Table Mic 2 iN. These additional accessories have directional microphones to enhance signal to noise ratio’s in complex listening environments such as board meetings or dinner table outings.
Oticon OPN S
The new Opn S range utilises the Open Sound Navigator platform to preserve the sound scape and the speech streams from where ever they are coming from. They claim their chip platform is so fast it can adequately attenuate noise between speech sounds. By preserving the sound scape more naturally Oticon argue the user is able to switch attention naturally to speech coming from different directions. This reduces listening effort and improves speech understanding. Oticon present that if directional microphones are too beamforming it can be restrictive therefore fatiguing to a listener who needs to selectively attend to speech coming from a different directions. With the new Velox S chip platform Oticon claim users can now receive an additional 15% better speech understanding, 10% reduced listening effort and 10% better memory recall over and above their original Opn hearing aids.
The feedback manager has been substantially improved using Oticon’s new Open Sound Optimiser which user breaker signals to prevent feedback before it occurs. This pro-active feedback cancelling system eliminates feedback within 90ms even when caused by provocative activity around the wearers ears such as putting a hat on or off or giving someone a hug. Traditional feedback suppression systems can take a much longer, up to 500ms to cancel feedback and include phases of gain reduction before the system restabilises.This may cause the listener to miss important speech cues.
Opn Sound Booster is Oticon’s way of improving speech understanding coming from the front in noisy situations.
Oticon Opn hearing aids connect directly to the Apple iPhone, but require Oticon’s Connect Clip to connect to Android devices.
They have also updated their Oticon On App in late 2019 in the aim of making it more user friendly. This allows you to adjust the volume and programs and has innovative features such as a hearing aid finder function. The Oticon Opn range also includes lithium ion rechargeable, telecoil and power user functions. The expanded portfolio enables a broader range of user to access the Opn Sound technology.
Has a number of unique features including an Automatic Sound Classifier system that automatically switches between 11 environmental settings to optimise the hearing aid performance in each setting.
There’s also the Zen Tones that manage tinnitus using fractal tones. Fractal tones are musical type tones that are non-repeatable so you don’t tune out from them (called habituation) andare also dichotic in that there are different tones played to each ear. They can be used at the same time as your regular hearing aid program so you can gain the benefits of tinnitus inhibition from both the Zen tones and your regular amplification.
These hearing aids have the ability to learn your preferred settings in different environments by using comparative AB settings. The instruments will then Automatically adjust to your preferred settings in a particular acoustic environment. This machine learning represents a form of artificial intelligence. It also has a tele-coil for use in public vebues which have a loop system installed. There is also a linear input range of 113dB which can help enhance music quality or when trying to follow speech in a noisy environment.
Starkey Livio AI
Is unique in that it has motion sensors to track activity levels and can detect falls. The Livio AI works in close collaboration with its smart phone Thrive App which tracks the data. It tracks two key areas. Your body score in which you are engaged in physical activity and your brain score in which it tracks the time you spend engaged in social activities or streaming audio into your hearing aids & how complex your listening environments are. This gives a total Thrive Score aimed at motivating individuals to become more physically and socially interactive to enhance overall health. You can use the App to adjust volume and it has a four band frequency equaliser to adjust the frequency response i.e. relative treble to base. You can also adjust the microphone directionality manually to focus on a chosen direction. You can also directly stream audio from an apple device but not an android device.
Unitron Moxi Jump R
Being the sister company to Phonak, Unitrons’ new Moxi Jump R is similar to the Phonak Marvel R with similar charge capacity of its Lithium Ion battery and it uses SoundNav 3.0 rather than Autosense 3.0. It is similarly compatible with both Android and Apple for direct audio streaming and hands free phone call use. The Moxi Jump R is a little thicker and has a battery life of approximately 16 hours compared to Phonak Marvel’s 30 hours. It doesn’t allow for connection to Roger devices.
A key feature that differentiates Unitron Moxi Jump from Phonak Marvel is the Flex Upgrade ability. That is the ability to purchase a lower level of technology and in the future pay the difference to have the hearing aids upgraded to a higher level of technology.
Resound Linx Quattro
Can connect to Googles Pixl android phone and Apple iPhone for direct audio streaming. As more android phones are released with android 10 operating systems and Bluetooth 5. Comes in rechargeable and non-rechargeable versions. The non-rechargeable version is a little thicker in that it uses a size 13 battery. The lithium ion rechargeable version enables up to 30 hours of wear time and as long as 24 hours if you are streaming audio 50% of the time.
They are very fast charging in that it only takes about 3 hours to reach full charge. The charger case itself also stores repeat charges if you unplug it when you are on the move.
It has the highest input dynamic range on the market of 116dB. This can both enhance music quality and speech understanding in background noise. It has one of the most intuitive smart phone Apps called the Smart 3D App. You can adjust volume, change programs and manipulate a 3 band graphic equaliser to modify frequency response. You can adjust noise reduction and manually steer microphone directionality.
You can also receive remote adjustments from your Audiologist or clinician to upload into your hearing aids. There are also some excellent accessories such as the Resound Multi-Mic which gives rechargeable users access to a tele-coil.These are currently 5 of the best hearing aid models on the market from 5 separate leading hearing aid brands moving into the new decade. The best hearing aid for you really depends on your specific wants and needs. Helping you make an informed choice to maximise benefits and enjoyment is part of the role of your hearing health care professional. If you would like more information or to schedule a complimentary trial of any of these great hearing aid models please don’t hesitate to contact us at Harmony Hearing & Audiology