Hearing Aid Technology Explained

What Does Hearing Aid Technolgy Level Mean?

Hearing aids have traditionally been split into three technology levels, in the past, a low, a mid and a high. These technology levels signified the level of features that were packed into the hearing aids. I have said elsewhere that you should consider features like apps. Basically, each feature is an app designed to do something to help you hear. As you move up the tech levels, those apps get more advanced and deliver better results.

What's The Difference Between Technology Levels in Hearing Aids?

In general, the difference between technology levels is what they do for you in complex sound situations. The higher the technology level, the better it will work in complex sound situations. All hearing aid technology levels will help you hear better, but the higher the technology level, the better you will hear in noisy situations. You can see a Unitron technology level explanation below.

Unitron technology levels

How Many Hearing Aid Technology Levels?

Again, in general, there are three or four technology levels depending on the hearing aid brand. For instance, Resound and Signia offer three levels of technology in their hearing aids which are premium, mid-end and basic. However, Phonak offer four levels of technology, basic, standard, advanced and premium. While Oticon at present offers three levels of hearing aid technology in the Opn platform, they are to bring out two lower level technology offerings soon as are Signia. Your understanding needs to be based on Low, mid and high, because most hearing aid technology offerings fall within those bands. Even though Phonak offers four levels, in essence, they have a basic, a lower mid, an upper mid and a premium technology level. If you always consider the three bands of tech, you can pretty much work out what fits were.

What Hearing Aid Technology Do I Need

The hearing aid technology you need is based on both your lifestyle and your budget. In an ideal world, it would be solely based on your lifestyle needs, because they are the most important. Unfortunately, in the real world, you need to balance that against your budget. In the paragraphs below I will explain the different technology levels and the lifestyle needs they equate to. Hearing aids have dramatically changed over the last five to ten years, they work better than they ever have before. On top of that, hearing aid accessories and their efficacy have exploded in the last few years. Even a basic set of hearing aids when paired to a remote microphone will dramatically increase your ability to hear in a noisy situation if you are sitting with one person. My advice is always the same, buy the very best hearing aids you can afford, and if they don't necessarily deliver for all of your lifestyle needs, well then consider accessories that will fill the gap.

In the following paragraphs, I will split hearing aid technology into four levels using the model used by Phonak, Widex and others. As I said, even if a brand offers five levels of tech, once you work within the low, mid, high framework, you will pretty much always be able to work out where you are. So, let's take a look at hearing aid technology.

Basic technology hearing aids

Basic or entry-level hearing aids tend to be pretty basic, however, that is not to say that they won't help you. As I said your needs are based on your lifestyle, so if you have a relatively sedentary life and you just want to hear the TV and radio clearly, these are for you. Basic level hearing aids will also allow you to converse easily with small groups and give assistance in moderately noisy situations. However, once the noise raises beyond that, they will struggle. If you pair these devices to a remote microphone, you will find that you get a bit more help, some remote microphones are just for clipping on a partner, so they will help if you are in a restaurant or pub. Other remote mics also act as a desk mic, these devices are smarter and may help with small groups in noisy situations.

Lower-mid technology hearing aids

The lower mid-level of technology is second from the bottom, in general, they are lower mid-level and not advanced basic. I know that seems to be an arbitrary description, but there is merit to it. The basic hearing aids in most ranges tend to offer simple older features, whereas, the lower mid-level tends to offer simpler newer features. It basically means that the features in the lower mid are usually more advanced and more modern. These devices are aimed at people who are a little more active. The features in these hearing aids are designed to help you hear in slightly more challenging sound situations. This level of technology is designed for someone who is more active in their life.

Upper-mid technology hearing aids

This level of technology is almost as good as the premium technology. In recent years hearing aid brands have packed these hearing aids with some of their best features. They do limit them somewhat and there is a clear reason why you would still go for the premium level. However, having said that, these devices are pretty excellent in general. This level of tech is ideal for active people delivering good sound quality and speech clarity in most situations they will find themselves in. When combined with good accessories, these hearing aids really are pretty excellent.

Premium level hearing aids

This level of technology is where the hearing aid brands introduce all of their very latest features. Pretty much simply put, if you have to hear every word said no matter what the sound environment is, well then this is the level of technology you need to consider. They are designed to handle the most complex sound situations and deliver the best speech clarity and most natural sound.

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Hearing Aid Features

I said earlier, you should consider hearing aid features in the same way you consider apps. Hearing aids have a core operating system which is designed to help you hear better. That core system gives you the amplification you need in the different areas that you need it. The different technology levels offer better versions of that core operating system. What they also offer is better features or apps.

Noise Reduction

Let's look at noise reduction for instance, in lower levels of technology the noise reduction app may be less featured or it is an older app. In higher levels of technology, the noise reduction may be a brand new app that uses the very latest features. In the highest level of technology the noise reduction app on one hearing aid actually collaborates with the noise reduction app on the other.

I think this is the easiest way to frame the concept, most people understand the idea of apps now. This concept can be used across the different features in hearing aids, it is as true for directional microphones and feedback management as it is for noise reduction. There is a huge amount of hearing aid features and they are often called different things by different hearing aid brands just to make it more confusing. If you have specific questions about any hearing aid feature, feel free to contact us and we will explain it for you.


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Feb 25, 2018 | | Fremantle , WA

5 of 5

I was very pleased with every aspect of buying new upgraded hearing aids from Harmony. I have been wearing aids for about 10 years and never before have I had much choice being committed to once brand. There was no rush or pressurising and I appreciated the months free trial before I had to purchase. The aids themselves have made a big difference to my life especially for phone calls. I would recommend Harmony to Anyone. Thank you!

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