Compare hearing aids from Starkey, Bernafon, Phonak, Oticon, ReSound and Signia on their effectiveness, comfort and fit, style and appearance, ease of use, value for money and overall customer satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
It’s a vital sense, but easy to take for granted. However, many Australians are affected by various types of hearing loss. But with technology improving significantly in recent decades, hearing aids are the primary solution for hearing loss, with various models and styles available for consumers who need them.
Unfortunately, countering hearing loss isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, with hearing loss as individual as the person, and hearing aids needing to be just as unique in order to be truly effective. Nearly two in five (37%) of respondents to our latest survey said that their hearing aid has changed their life for the better, with a fifth of respondents (20%) saying they wished they had gotten their hearing aid earlier.
To find out what’s best, we surveyed more than 500 consumers for their feedback on the hearing aid(s) they purchased and used within the last five years. Brands were scored on effectiveness, ease of use, comfort and fit, appearance and style, value for money and overall satisfaction. Those that received at least 30 responses are compared in our ratings.
This year, the answer was loud and clear. Starkey rated best for overall satisfaction and received five-star reviews across all categories!
Here are the best brands of hearing aids in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2021 review:
Starkey appeared as Aussies’ favourite, achieving first place with five stars for overall satisfaction and across the board. Bernafon and Phonak followed behind on four stars overall, while the remaining brands ended on three stars for overall satisfaction. Phonak was the only other brand that managed to score full marks in any category, this time impressing consumers on appearance and style.
Here are some of the key findings from our latest survey of consumers who own hearing aids.
Wearing a hearing aid can sometimes make it a little more difficult to keep up an active lifestyle, but Starkey provides a solution with its Livio range. It’s claimed to be a ‘healthable’ hearing aid that allows users to proactively monitor their health by bridging the gap between healthcare and consumer tech. These Starkey hearing aids use integrated sensors and artificial intelligence to help users stay healthy and make the experience of wearing a hearing instrument fairly simple and comfortable.
These hearing aids link to Starkey’s Thrive app, which lets you switch to Mask Mode, as well as transcribe, send reminders, track level of physical movement and gives users a ‘brain score’ based on social engagement and time spent actively listening. There are several models available, including the Livio, Livio AI and Livio Edge AI.
Starkey offers hearing aids for people with either bilateral or single-sided hearing loss. You can also choose whether the hearing aid is rechargeable. Styles available include behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-canal (RIC), in-the-ear (ITE) or in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid.
You can additionally visit Starkey’s website to get a free online hearing test. But keep in mind that it won’t be the same as getting checked by a hearing professional or audiologist, and you should still book an evaluation in person when you can.
If you’re searching for a hearing device that can help you better focus in conversations, Bernafon’s Zerena collection is designed to improve speech in situations where it can be hard to understand due to background noise. It can also stream sound from various audio devices and provides a full day of use on a single charge. Similar to the Zerena range, hearing aids from Bernafon’s Viron and Alpha series are suitable for people with mild to profound hearing loss. Although the Viron range offers more styles to choose from and is available as receiver-in-ear (RITE), behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), completely-in-canal (CIC), in-the-canal (ITC) and invisible-in-canal (IIC).
Bernafon’s hearing aids can be controlled by downloading the Bernafon EasyControl-A to your smartphone. This lets you adjust the volume, change listening programs, find your hearing aids and check the battery status. Bernafon also allows you to conduct an online hearing test through its website. But remember to take the result as a guide only and consult a professional for a thorough examination.
If you’re a parent searching for the best hearing aids for kids and teenagers, it might be worth checking out Phonak’s Sky range. It offers options specifically designed for infants, toddlers, school-age children and teens, as well as children who are likely to need cochlear implants in the future. For children at school, the brand’s Roger range provides microphones to help them hear in classrooms and stream multimedia presentations. The brand additionally provides the Phonak Marvel collection for teens, which allows them to connect their hearing aid to iOS, Android and Bluetooth-enabled smartphones. Plus, while most brands stick to skin-tone colours, the Marvel line-up lets you design your own colourful combo with additional fun, bright shades.
For adults, Phonak offers a unique alternative with the Lyric hearing aid. Designed to sit inside the ear, it’s claimed to be 100% invisible and can be worn 24/7. However, the Lyric can only be purchased with a yearly subscription (includes replacement and servicing) and must be returned at the end of each period for a replacement. You can head to their website to find plenty of resources on hearing loss, plus Phonak’s various apps and an online hearing test.
Oticon is another brand worth checking out if you’re looking for hearing aids for children, especially since it provides a variety of support services. If your child is under the age of 18, they can access specially priced extended warranties, repairs within 48 hours, free hearing aid care kits and free SafeLine retention cords. There are also materials for kids, teens, parents and teachers.
Oticon’s Opn Play range is suitable for children of all ages and features a 360° soundscape to help them understand sounds from all directions. It’s also claimed to be tough enough to withstand kids’ active lifestyles, dust and to be water-resistant, hypoallergenic and free from 200 potentially harmful materials. Alternatively, Oticon’s Xceed Play hearing aids are designed for children with severe to profound hearing loss.
Otherwise, you can find plenty of behind-the-ear (BTE) and in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids for adults, with options available to suit hearing loss severities ranging from mild to profound. Most devices come with audio streaming and connectivity, and with telecoil and loop systems. There are also several rechargeable options.
ReSound describes everyone’s hearing as like a fingerprint and unique to the individual, which is why it aims to make the sound quality as natural as possible. This is particularly visible with the latest One range, which uses M&RIE. This approach uses a microphone and receiver-in-ear (RIE) design to collect sound based on your specific ear shape, allowing you to hear sound like you naturally would but in a way that’s amplified and clearer. You can even hear the difference by going to the brand’s website. There are a few examples to compare how certain situations, like being in a restaurant or walking in a windy area, can sound with a ReSound One hearing aid versus a hearing device without M&RIE.
For people with severe to profound hearing loss, ReSound’s ENZO Q line promises there won’t be any whistling or squealing noise when your hearing volume is turned up. The brand also claims it will still let you appreciate your surroundings by not blocking out all background noise in order to help you understand speech. Other hearing aid models include ReSound LiNX Quattro and ReSound Key. These are generally rechargeable.
ReSound also offers live assistance so you can get help from a hearing care professional via video calls. You can also do an at-home test of your hearing aids with a hearing care professional who will then update your hearing aids to suit your preferences.
Signia is another brand that claims it doesn’t just cut off all background noise to improve speech understanding. In fact, the brand now even produces hearing aids with Augment Xperience (AX) which uses two separate processors. This apparently lets you focus on a particular sound, such as a conversation with your friend, whilst simultaneously enjoying background noise (i.e. nature) in a way that isn’t distracting. You can find this feature on Signia’s Pure Charge&Go models.
Signia is also breaking away from the same skin-tone shade many consumers are often limited to, with several models noticeably resembling trendy wireless earphones. One example is the ActivePro. It features sound sensors that adjusts to all acoustic environments and improves speech understanding, allowing you to better understand what’s being said from any direction in any situation. Plus, the hearing aids are Bluetooth compatible. These come with a pocket-sized charging case that provides up to 26 hours’ worth of use with a single charge.
Another similar option for people with busy and active lifestyles is Signia’s Motion X hearing aids, which are described to have a flexible behind-the-ear (BTE) fit and promise 61 hours of use on a single charge. Many Signia hearing aids are now compatible with Signia Assistant, which you can access through the Signia app. It’s claimed to use artificial intelligence when offering support and learns your preferences on sound quality, for example, in order to provide increasingly tailored solutions. Some other ranges include Signia Active, Styletto, Silk X, Pure and Motion X.
The brands featured in this year’s ratings aren’t the only options worth keeping an ear out for. Here’s a list of several more brands you might want to consider:
Picking the best hearing aid depends on factors like size, features, preferred style of fit, and whether it’s a digital or analogue (manually adjustable) device. The nature and severity of your hearing loss, lifestyle, eyesight and the shape of your inner and outer ear also play a part.
Here are several different types of hearing aids you can find:
Most respondents to our survey purchased a behind-the-ear device (54%), followed by a mini behind-the-ear hearing aid (29%), in-the-canal (15%) and completely-in-canal (2%).
Hearing aids generally cost between $1,000 and $8,000, but prices will depend on factors like size, features, style of fit, and whether it’s a digital or analogue device. Compared to analogue hearing aids, digital hearing aids are typically more expensive due to modern features, such as automatic adjustment settings. In the case of our survey respondents, the average amount spent on a new hearing aid was $1,742.
Hearing aids are currently not covered by Medicare. However, you can claim some of the costs through certain health insurance extras policies.
Alternatively, the Australian Government Hearing Services Program offers eligible individuals fully subsidised hearing devices and specialist hearing services such as hearing assessments. The program also provides other forms of support, including advice as well as repairs and maintenance (fees payable). Eligible persons include any of the following:
If you are not eligible but still need assistance, you might still be able to have a hearing aid fitted at a reduced cost through a hearing aid bank. But please make sure to read all the information on the Australian Government Hearing Services Program’s website, and use the eligibility checker before applying.
Hearing loss can and will affect many people in a variety of different ways and severities, meaning that just because one brand and model works for one person, doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. As a result, it’s best to consider which features really appeal to you, because there’s little point in paying for several extra functions that you’re unlikely to use. Seek expert advice on the type of features you may need and be sure to consult your local GP or otolaryngologist before you make a purchase decision.
Hearing aids could certainly improve your life for the better, but they are also a major investment. Prices vary considerably between brands and models, but you could easily spend thousands of dollars on what could be considered a ‘run of the mill’ device. Our survey found that Aussie consumers who have bought a hearing aid in the last five years spent an average of $1,742!
About one in 10 respondents (9%) wished they had spent more on a better hearing aid, but 15% were of the opinion that they paid too much! So, it’s best to look into what you really need, and want, out of your new hearing aids, as well as take the advice from experts on board before you make a purchase.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Canstar Blue surveyed more than 9,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased a hearing aid in the last five years (i.e. a device worn on or in the ear to amplify sound) – in this case, 519 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
Below are the previous winners of Canstar Blue’s hearing aids review: