Latest Hearing Aid Reviews

An estimated 48 million Australians suffer from some form of hearing loss the vast majority of them older adults. Almost one-third of people ages 65 to 74 report bad hearing, and the number rises to about half by age 75, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Evidence is mounting that untreated hearing loss is a significant national health concern, and studies have linked it with other serious health problems, including depression, a decline in memory and concentration, and perhaps even dementia.
An estimated 28.8 million Australians could benefit from using hearing aids. Although over-the-counter hearing aids may be available soon (see “OTC Hearing Aids?” below), for now, you’ll need to get a hearing aid fitted by an audiologist or another hearing healthcare provider. Our buying guide can help you figure out where to get a hearing aid and what to look for.

A lot happened in the world of hearing aids last year, with all major manufacturers releasing new innovative products. The class of 2021 offers superior sound processing, excellent wireless connectivity, and pandemic friendly telehealth capabilities. But each product has its strengths and weaknesses, and we’ve waded through the options to find the very best hearing aids on the market for 2021.

Which Features Are Important?

In our survey, 53 percent of people who wear hearing aids said that rechargeable batteries were one of the most important features they looked for when purchasing a hearing aid. Smartphone capabilities or tinnitus masking was noted as most important by 43 percent, and 42 percent said automatic noise level adjustment was most important.

Forty-one percent said that the option of multiple program settings (allowing users to optimize aids for a variety of environments, such as quiet rooms and loud restaurants) was one of the most important features they looked for. Forty percent mentioned advanced microphone features, and 37 percent said wireless connectivity to other devices was most important.

Other key features, according to hearing aid experts, include the following:

Telecoil

An option on many modern hearing aids, a telecoil is a small sensor or copper wire that is placed in the hearing aid. When activated, it wirelessly picks up a magnetic signal from hearing-aid-compatible telephones and public address systems such as those that may be in conference rooms, concert halls, museums, taxis, and even subway trains and converts that energy into sound. An audio induction loop, or hearing loop, which is a wire that circles a telecoil-compatible room or space, emits the signal that the telecoil picks up.
Such technologies help people especially those with moderate to profound hearing loss to better understand a speaker’s voice by making it louder and eliminating most background noise and reverberation. Ask your provider for a manual T-switch, which enables seamless connection to loop systems. Your provider should also activate your telecoil and show you how to use it.

Directional Microphone

Many modern hearing aids have a directional microphone, which helps you converse in noisy environments by making the audio signal in front of you louder than the noise from the rear or sides. This technology works best when you are close to the sound source. Almost all hearing aids with this feature are able to automatically switch between directional and omnidirectional settings, depending on the environment. Advanced versions can focus behind the listener or to the listener’s side. A negative: It’s prone to picking up wind noise.

Feedback Suppression

Feedback suppression, or digital feedback reduction, helps quell high-pitched whistling sounds. Most modern hearing aids include this feature, but its effectiveness differs from aid to aid. It’s useful for minimizing feedback if you’re close to the telephone or if the aid is slightly dislodged from your ear when you move your jaw. It can also allow for much more venting, comfort, and better sound quality for listeners who have good hearing in the lowest pitches. A proper fit can also reduce feedback.

Digital Noise Reduction (DNR)

Improves listener comfort and communication in noisy environments by blocking out some background noise. This makes it easier to hear and understand speech, though it is not a fix for all situations.

Other Hearing Aid Features Worth Noting

Most newer aids also have low-battery indicator sounds, wax guards to prevent buildup, automatic and manual volume control, wireless connectivity between hearing aids, data logging, and a memory of your listening preferences. Another newer feature is direct audio input, which allows users to connect directly to a television or another electronic device.

At the higher end, Bluetooth wireless technology allows users to stream music and calls from computers, smartphones, and TVs directly through their hearing aid. Some aids also have frequency shifting technology (for those with hearing problems in the highest pitches) and accessories such as remote microphones (sometimes called “spouse mics”), advanced smartphone remotes, and more.

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