Hearing is a vital sense, and easy to take for granted, but for many Australians hearing loss is an everyday reality. Hearing aids are the primary solution for hearing loss, with various models and styles available, but while there have been significant improvements in technology in recent decades, countering hearing loss isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, hearing loss is as individual as the person, and hearing aids need to be just as unique in order to be truly effective. It’s likely you will need to shop around between brands and types before you settle on a device that’s right for you. Our review compares hearings aids on customer satisfaction, so you can find out what other Aussies think about the compared brands before you go ahead with a purchase. Think of it like asking hundreds of your closest mates which hearing aids they think is best!
Canstar Blue surveyed 409 Australians for their feedback on the hearing aid(s) they’ve purchased and used in the last five years. Note: this includes a device worn on or in the ear to amplify sound.
Respondents rate their satisfaction with their hearing aid brand(s) from zero to ten, where zero is extremely dissatisfied and ten is extremely satisfied. Brand satisfaction was rated by respondents on the following criteria:
The winning brand is the one that receives the highest Overall satisfaction rating once all the scores from the Overall satisfaction criteria are combined and averaged.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included, so not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The brands rated in this survey are listed below in order of best overall satisfaction.
• Starkey & Oticon
Starkey rated five stars for user-friendliness, value for money, durability, and overall satisfaction, while tied winner Oticon earned five-star reviews for design, battery and charging performance, durability, and overall satisfaction. Amplifon was the only other brand to win five stars, namely for durability.
Find more detailed information on our ratings methodology.
Starkey sounded out five stars for user-friendliness, value for money, durability, and overall satisfaction. It finished up with four stars for design and battery and charging performance.
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 and Evolv range. These Starkey hearing aids use integrated sensors and artificial intelligence to seamlessly connects and adapt to each person’s lifestyle. The Evolv AI makes up to 55 million automatic adjustments per hour. These devices also 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.
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), in-the-canal (ITC), completely-in-canal (CIC), or invisible (IIC) hearing aids.
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.
Oticon achieved five stars for design, battery and charging performance, durability, and overall satisfaction. It rated four stars for user-friendliness and value for money.
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.
Signia scored a clean four stars in every research category including for user-friendliness, value for money, design, battery and charging performance, durability, and overall satisfaction.
Signia is another brand that claims it doesn’t just cut off all background noise to improve speech understanding. 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 adjust 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 AX, Silk X, Pure, Motion X, and Insio Charge&Go AX.
Phonak earned four stars for user-friendliness, design, battery and charging performance, plus three stars for value for money, durability, and overall satisfaction.
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 Invisible Lyric hearing aid. Designed to sit inside the ear, it’s claimed to be 100% invisible and can be worn 24/7, even during exercise, while you shower and you sleep. 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 the website to find plenty of resources on hearing loss, plus Phonak’s various apps and an online hearing test.
ReSound rated four stars for user-friendliness, value for money, and design. It got three stars for battery and charging performance, durability, and overall satisfaction.
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 sounds 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.
Amplifon enjoyed a five-star rating for durability and four stars for battery charging and performance. It settled with three stars for user-friendliness, value for money, design, and overall satisfaction.
Amplifon offers a range of hearing aids to cater to those seeking an invisible device, to ones that sit snugly behind your ear, all with their own features and technology. There are four product lines within Amplifon: ampli-mini, ampli-connect, ampli-energy and ampli-easy. Across the range you can expect to find discreet designs, custom fits, Bluetooth capabilities and long-lasting battery life.
A particular standout is the ampli-mini, a hearing aid described as ‘small but mighty,’ and one that promises to be virtually unnoticeable. It’s manufactured using custom ear moulds, providing ultimate comfort and a superior fit. For those on a budget, Amplifon also offers the ampli-easy range, characterised by basic, but essential capabilities, a comfortable light fit and easy-to-use technology.
Amplifon includes comprehensive information about hearing loss and aids on its website, as well as an online hearing test and the option to book an appointment at one of its clinics across Australia.
Unitron rounded up the results with four stars for durability and three stars in the remaining categories, including user-friendliness, battery charging and performance, value for money, design, and overall satisfaction.
Unitron has receiver-in-canal (RIC), behind-the-ear (BTE) and in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids available, in its Moxi, Stride, and Insera ranges, respectively. These hearing aids are battery-operated (some have rechargeable batteries), with push button controls and telecoil. Most devices from Unitron are Bluetooth-compatible and use the Remote Plus app to fine-tune the specifications of the hearing aids remotely.
Also available with the hearing aids is a selection of accessories. Some are designed to improve hearing in busy environments, like the lapel mic and remote controls, while others allow users to expand their connection to multiple smart devices, using the uDirect 3, uTV 3 and TV Connector.
Unitron offers information on how to book a hearing test and find a clinic or fitting specialist through the website, as well as an online hearing test.
Not all hearing aid brands in the market qualify for our ratings (based on minimum survey sample size), but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth considering. Here are several more to check out before making a purchase decision.
Canstar Blue’s buying guide gives you everything you need to know about hearing aids – like the different types you can get, additional features, cost, and rebate eligibility – so you can decide what’s right for you.
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 the different types of hearing aids you can find:
Most respondents to our survey had purchased a behind-the-ear device (55%), followed by a mini behind-the-ear hearing aid (22%), in-the-canal (22%), and completely-in-canal (1%).
While hearing aids cannot restore your hearing, they can improve your ability to hear sounds in the world around you, and with the growing number of features included in many devices, these improvements can expand your world to multiple devices, situations and environments.
Here are some of the most common features available in modern hearing aids:
Our research found that background noise management was the most popular hearing aid feature among users surveyed (51%), followed by Bluetooth connectivity (31%), speech enhancement (28%), automatic loudness adjustment (27%), automatic control option (20%), complete digitalisation (19%), and whistling management system (17%).
Hearing aids generally cost between $1,200 and $8,000, but prices will depend on factors like size, features, style of fit, and whether it’s a digital or analogue device. Generally, prices increase with the sophistication of technology. 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 $1,771.
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.
Our survey results suggest Starkey and Oticon are clear winners when it comes to hearing aids, with both brands rating five stars for durability, overall satisfaction, and other categories.
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. About one in 10 respondents (14%) wished they had spent more on a better hearing aid, but 16% believed 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.
Megan is Canstar Blue’s Home & Lifestyle Editor, leading the team that focuses on consumer products and services, ranging from supermarkets and groceries to home and personal appliances and retail stores. She interprets Canstar Blue’s bespoke research on the thousands of brands that we compare, rate and review, to help shoppers make better purchasing decisions.
Samantha Howse is Canstar Blue’s Consumer Research Specialist, coordinating the consumer research program behind our customer satisfaction awards across Canstar and Canstar Blue in Australia and New Zealand. Sam has earned a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from Griffith University and, with seven years in market research and 2 years in marketing, she is experienced in survey design, implementation and analysis, coupled with an understanding of marketing principles and best practice.
Photo credit: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock
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