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With So Many Hearing Aid Brands, Which One Is Right?

One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, “what are the best brands of hearing aids?” Most people asking that question are missing the most critical points about purchasing new hearing aids.

There are several excellent hearing aid brands, but most people focus so much on the features and advertising, they overlook what’s really important.

I will say that Hearing Haven is currently fitting mostly Phonak and Unitron (a Phonak company) hearing aids.

There are also other great brands that I won’t cover here, but read on. You’ll see why that may not be the question you should be asking.

When the best hearing aid brand doesn’t matter

Don’t be too fast to spend hundreds, or even several thousand dollars on new hearing aids. If you have an old pair of hearing aids, they can be restored to like-new condition with the proper hearing aid repair service. Many manufacturers discontinue repair of their own hearing aids after 3-5 years, but at Hearing Haven we repair hearing aids from two years old to two decades old .

Best Hearing Aids, Worst Results – What went wrong?

I’ve seen some of the best hearing aid brands in the world provide clients poor results. These are often people who purchased an instrument that was highly advertised, or recommended to them by a friend, but it just didn’t seem to work right for them.

After struggling for months or even years, they were referred to Hearing Haven. They may have come in for a hearing aid repair, or just wanted to hear well. What they didn’t know when they ordered their hearing instruments is this: the most important choice is not what brand you choose, but who you work with to select, fit, and adjust the hearing aids.

There are several big differences between hearing aids and other consumer products. These include:

  • Your hearing loss is unique. Some are easy to correct, some are much more difficult to correct with amplification. An experienced hearing aid fitter can program and fine tune a hearing aid to take advantage of all its capabilities. An inexperienced newbie can take an excellent hearing aid and mess with the programming until it makes the user hear worse with it than without it.
  • The most advanced and expensive digital hearing aids have the most adjustments and programming abilities. This complexity creates a higher learning curve, and makes it even easier for someone not familiar with the model to thoroughly mess it up.
  • The quality and accuracy of your ear impression is important. To prevent a hearing aid from whistling, a digital hearing aid may cut gain and/or the high frequencies, which will reduce the feedback, but at the expense of speech understanding. A good brand of hearing aid made from a poor ear impression will limit the results you would otherwise get.
  • The model selection of the hearing aid makes a big difference. Each manufacturer has “entry level”, “mid level”, and “high end” selections. If someone orders a well known brand name, but the seller selects the economy model, there may be disappointments ahead.

The fitting and dispensing of hearing aids is more of an art and craft than a science. The best fitters and dispensers seem to have a “touch” for it that can’t be learned from books, or even school. It is much more important to choose who you work with than which hearing aid brand you select.

Also, hearing is such a subjective sense. Just as some people love Mexican food and others don’t, some people love to hear “crispness and sharpness”, and others prefer a more mellow sound. A good hearing aid specialist will know which brands and models emphasize the highs more, and which are mellow sounding. Your friend may “love” the way his hearing aid sounds, but that brand may not be best for your preferences and needs.

Considerations when investing in hearing aids:

Remember, who you get your hearing aid from is more important than the brand. Look for someone that you can trust, that you are comfortable working with, and that has many satisfied clients that recommend him/her. You might begin by asking anyone you know or see who wears hearing aids if they are satisfied with the person that fit them, and would they recommend them.

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Hearing Haven

Don’t get stuck on one brand and model to the exclusion of all others. If you want the adjustments and fitting procedure to be in your favor, do one of these two things:

1) If you don’t really care what brand you get, and you just want to hear as best as you can, try to go with the brand that the hearing aid specialist recommends and likes to fit. It is difficult to become an expert in adjusting all of the brands made. If someone has been fitting one particular brand for several years, and has gone to schooling and seminars on the best ways to program and adjust that particular brand, he/she will do a much better job making you happy if you use their recommendation.

2) If you feel you really must have a particular brand and/or model of hearing aid, try to buy it from someone who specializes in that brand, even if you have to drive a little farther.

It does help to do research ahead of time, and become familiar with the buzz words and key features of current hearing instruments. When you read a report of someone who had a bad experience with a particular new model, remember that the results may be because of the person who fit and adjusted the hearing aid, not from the brand itself. When it comes to your health and happiness, do research first, and then get recommendations and referrals about who to see.