Compare hearing aids from Oticon, ReSound and Siemens-Signia on their effectiveness, comfort and fit, style and appearance, ease of use, value for money and overall customer satisfaction.
It’s a vital sense, but easy to take for granted. However, many Australians are affected by various types of hearing loss. With technology improving significantly in recent decades, hearing aids are the primary solution for hearing loss, with various models and styles available for consumers.
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 effective. While it may prove to be an ongoing process, 71% of respondents to our latest survey on the subject said that their hearing aid has changed their life for the better, with almost half of respondents (46%) saying they wished they had gotten their hearing aid earlier.
With health projections indicating that nearly one in every four Aussies will have some type of hearing loss by 2050, it may not hurt to brush up on your knowledge of hearing aids and the products available. As a result, whether you’re currently in the market for a hearing aid, or just keen to learn more about the subject, our 2019 customer review is worth considering.
We’ve sought the opinions of hundreds of consumers who currently own and use a hearing aid, to find out which brands are rated highest by the people who know best – those who use them day in, day out. Four of the biggest brands in the market – Unitron, ReSound, Oticon and Siemens-Signia – have been rated this year on factors including effectiveness, comfort and value for money, because hearing aids are generally not cheap!
Canstar Blue’s 2019 hearing aids review has seen four brands compared, rated in the following order for overall satisfaction:
Unitron was rated five stars for overall satisfaction, while ReSound, Oticon and Siemens-Signia were all left on four stars apiece. Unitron was the only brand to achieve top marks in any category this year.
Here are some of the key findings from our latest survey of consumers who own hearing aids.
So, we know hearing aids aren’t cheap, but they can certainly deliver great value for money, especially if you get the one that’s right for you. Here’s a guide to the four brands in our 2019 review and what they have to offer.
Unitron is a Canadian hearing aid manufacturer, founded in 1964. It offers behind-the-ear, in-the-ear and receiver-in-canal options. In 2019, Unitron received five stars for overall satisfaction as well as for all other key variables, including effectiveness, value for money, comfort & fit, ease of use and appearance.
Moxi Fit is part of Unitron’s receiver-in-canal (RIC) range. Every style in the Moxi RIC family is said to be designed to meet the patient’s needs. At a glance, its main features are a multi-function button with an indicator light, allowing you to switch between listening programs, change the volume level, and accept or reject phone calls depending on your customised fitting. It has a dome design to hold the speaker unit in place in your ear canal, plus a retention piece to help prevent the dome from slipping out.
The Moxi Fit hearing aids can be connected to your mobile phone via Bluetooth. They also connect to a TV connector, giving you access to different audio sources such as a TV or computer. In addition, you can use the Remote Plus app to share in-the-moment impressions on your hearing aid.
For a behind-the-ear option, you might like to consider the Stride range. Driven by Tempus, this line is boasted for impressive aesthetics, a comfortable fit, and intuitive controls. The design has a slim tube with a custom made earmold that attaches to the hearing aid via the earhook. The Rocker switch allows you to adjust the volume, while the push button can either be used as the program control, the volume control, or a combination of both.
The Stride M unit features SoundNav technology, said to identify and classify seven different types of environments, including conversations in a quiet, noisy or crowded area, plus in small groups. Other systems include SpeechPro, stated to provide optimal speech understanding from all directions, plus Wind Control, claimed to automatically reduce wind noise to improve listening comfort.
The Insera family of in-the-ear hearing instruments uses EarMatch modelling processes that are stated to optimise the directional microphone performance for different ear shapes. The options in this range include a full shell, half shell, mini canal, completely-in-the-canal and invisible-in-the-canal units.
Insera hearing aids feature similar technology to the models above with app compatibility. The uControl app allows users to adjust the hearing aid and share feedback on performance. The design has a rotary dial for volume control and comes with an optional remote control to switch between different listening programs and change the volume settings. You can connect the Insera hearing aids to external audio sources by using the uDirect optional wireless accessory.
Unitron has a number of hearing aid accessories, including charger power packs, rechargeable kits and remote controls. Plus, there’s a uDirect 3 device, which is a hands-free accessory to directly connect to communication and entertainment devices.
ReSound has a wide variety of hearing aids for both outside and the inside-in-the-ear. For those looking for an outside-the-ear model, ReSound offers behind-the-ear and receiver-in-ear models, while offering invisible-in-canal, completely-in-canal, in-the-canal, in-the-ear and mic-in-helix options for those after an in-the-ear model. The brand received four stars for overall satisfaction, as well as most other categories, except for ease of use and appearance, where it was rated three stars.
For those looking for a behind-the-ear model, ReSound offers the ENZO series, which includes a variety of different functions to help improve day-to-day life. Features include Spatial Sense, which assists with directional listening and identifying from which direction the sounds came from, plus a Smart Hearing system, which adapts to the noise around you for a more comfortable experience.
ReSound also provides an app for your smartphone, which allows you to alter settings to optimise your listening experience, regardless of the environment around you. The ENZO models are also available in a variety of colours, all of which are covered with iSolate nanotech to apparently ensure your hearing aids are kept safe. The ENZO models are available with wireless connectivity, allowing users to stream music, phone calls and other entertainment to the hearing aids.
For those not sure which type of hearing aid they would prefer, ReSound’s Enya range is available in all styles, making the decision easier for consumers. Features include adaptive directionality to keep you on top of the conversation, as well as a wind reduction feature. The DFS II feature will also ensure that high pitch whistling is eliminated, ensuring that you don’t experience any discomfort while wearing your aids.
Other systems include a Tinnitus Sound Generator to counter tinnitus, as well as wireless connectivity. The Enya models are also protected from dust, water and earwax via their nanotech covering and come in a variety of colours for personal preference.
If you need a hearing aid for your child, then ReSound Up Smart could be the option for you, with this range specifically catered for children. ReSound includes Surround Sound features in all models, allowing children to experience clear sounds in all environments, in addition to wireless connectivity so they can enjoy their favourite movies and TV shows. With the ReSound app, kids can easily adjust the settings, as well as use the handy Finder function for when they lose their hearing aids.
Available in a range of colours, the Up Smart range is available in a variety of fits, including the Stick and Go adhesive for young children, as well as the Clip and Go, and the Bend and Go which allow the hearing aids to stay in place regardless of how energetic and active your child is. ReSound also offers a Multi Mic which can be clipped onto your clothing and is said to allow your child to hear you speak in a noisy environment up to 25 metres away, handy for those busy environments.
ReSound also provides a variety of accessories such as remote controls, TV streamers and PhoneClips to help with various day-to-day activities.
Oticon offers a variety of hearing aids. Styles include the invisible-in-the-canal, completely-in-the-canal, as well as in-the-ear models. This year, Oticon was rated four stars for overall satisfaction, effectiveness, comfort, ease of use and appearance. It was three stars on value for money.
Oticon’s premier model, the Alta2, is available in a variety of styles and colours, including the traditional behind-the-ear model, as well as a designRITE style for a more ergonomic feeling. Additionally, it is also available for in-the-ear models, for those after something a little more discreet.
Oticon’s Speech Guard feature will help you focus on particular sounds, as well as assist in drowning out white noise around you. With directional microphones, you’ll be able to keep track of the conversation, as well as what’s happening on the TV or the radio. The Alta2 also contains the YouMatic feature, which allows the hearing aid to be finely tuned to match your hearing preferences, allowing you to hear more, or less, of what’s going on around you. Additional features include built-in Tinnitus SoundSupport as well as a feedback management system allowing for comfort and safety while you wear your hearing aid. The Alta2 is primarily used for any hearing loss between 60 and 105dB HL.
Available in behind-the-ear models, as well as the in-the-ear models, the Nera2 series comes in plenty of colours and options to suit your personal preferences. Similarly to the Alta2 model, the Nera2 is suitable for hearing loss between 60 and 105dB HL, with many of the same functions to allow for easy use as well as comfort and functionality.
The Nera2 is entirely nano-coated for dirt and moisture protection, with the speaker connection covered by a shell to ensure that your hearing aids remain safe and intact. The Nera2 will also ensure you’re not straining to hear someone, with the Soft Speech Booster allowing you to focus in on quiet conversations through the Inium Sense processor.
Cheaper than the other series, the Ria2 model will provide plenty of comfort and support for consumers. Available in similar styles and colours, Ria2 aids may suit those with hearing loss between 60 and 100dB HL. Including features such as YouMatic and Tinnitus SoundSupport in addition to the protective coating for durable hearing aids.
Oticon also offers a ConnectLine service, which allows users to transform their hearing aids into wireless communication and entertainment tools. Compatible with your smartphone, laptop and other personal devices through the StreamerPro system, Oticon looks to keep you involved in all aspects of life. Oticon also operates over 100 hearing centres all around Australia to help you find the perfect fit, or alter your hearing aids as you need.
Siemens-Signia has a strong focus on the health sector, with a wide variety of hearing aids, including plenty of different fits, styles and products available to suit different needs and preferences. Included in the range are the popular behind-the-ear models, as well as the in-the-ear and in-the-canal models. The brand got four stars for overall satisfaction this year, but three stars in every other rated category.
For those after a discreet hearing aid, the Ace series is Siemens-Signia’s tiniest in-canal receiver, with the rest of the product sitting behind-the-ear. The Ace series also helps manage Tinnitus, as well as including directional microphones to help you focus on conversations or the TV. Available in four different lengths and power levels to suit many usage needs, the Ace series is also said to be resistant to moisture, sweat, dust and dirt, making it comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
The Ace hearing aid is available in a variety of models, including a 7bx, 5bx and 3bx, depending on your specific needs. If you’re not sure what might be the best fit for you, Siemens-Signia provides a chart on its website, outlining which rating could be more suitable for you. The Ace series is also compatible with your smartphone, meaning you can adjust the settings via your phone.
For those not sure what type of fit they’re looking for, the Insio model may be more your type. Said to be ideal for individual ear hearing loss, as well as general hearing loss, the Insio series is said to include binaural OneMic directionality, prompting the ear to naturally focus on noises in front of you, making it perfect for when you need to focus on personal conversations.
The Insio series is also wirelessly controllable through Bluetooth, and is available in a range of designs, including in-the-ear, in-the-canal, completely-in-canal and invisibly-in-canal to suit your own preference. Other features include directional microphones, a vent for optimal ear ventilation and a windscreen to reduce wind noise. The Insio series will also assist with Tinnitus through its Notch Therapy function.
For consumers after a traditional behind-the-ear model, the Pure series will be the one for you. Features include directional microphones and Tinnitus manager, with the Pure models able to be paired with the easyTek app and products, allowing for more convenient usage. The easyTek app also allows you to keep an eye on the battery life of your hearing aid, handy for when you need to charge. The Pure series is also battery-free, and chargeable through the eCharger for convenience.
Siemens-Signia hearing aids are also available in a variety of colours, meaning they can blend in or stand out, depending on your preference.
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 appeal to you, because there’s little point 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 three years spent an average of over $2,140!
Almost a third of respondents (30%) wished they had spent more on a better hearing aid, but 32% 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 hearing aids, as well as take the advice from experts on board before you make a purchase.
Photo Credit: Pixel-Shot/shutterstock.com
Canstar Blue surveyed 6,000 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/s in the last 5 years (i.e. a device worn on or in the ear to amplify sound) – in this case, 334 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.
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