A survey by Hearing Tracker and UBS Evidence Lab, found that although Internet and iPhone connectivity are being touted as the coolest, new hearing aid features on the market, better sound quality is still the number one feature for consumers being fit with hearing aids.
The survey polled more than 360 audiologists on the brands and features hearing aid patients are asking for. Here’s a breakdown of what the survey found:
Most important features in a hearing aid:
- Sound quality 56%
- Reliability 17%
- Value for money 12%
- Service 6%
- Ease of use 4%
- Ease of fit 2%
- Connectivity 1%
Audiologist also rated the top hearing aid manufacturers, known as the Big Six, which include William Demant (Bernafon, Oticon and Sonic brands), Sonova (Lyric, Phonak and Unitron), GN (ReSound, Interton), Starkey (Audibel, MicroTech and NuEar), Sivantos—formerly known as Siemens (Signia, Rexton) and Widex.
William Demant’s Oticon brand took the lead in current customer satisfaction, sales momentum and overall popularity:
- Patient satisfaction: 86% responded that patients were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with Oticon hearing aids, followed by Sonova’s Phonak brand (82%) and GN’s ReSound brand (81%).
- Sales momentum: More than half (57%) said they expect sales of Oticon hearing aids to be “somewhat” or “significantly” higher over the past three months, with Phonak (46%) and ReSound (40%) following.
- Popularity: Oticon also won the current patient popularity parade, with 61% of respondents saying the brand’s popularity was “somewhat” or “definitely going up,” followed by ReSound (54%) and Phonak (51%).
What makes Oticon and the big six ahead of the others?
Below is a list of some of the exciting technologies that will be introduced in 2017 from top hearing aid manufacturers.
Oticon’s Opn™-When Oticon introduced Opn 1 people were a bit confused—if hearing aids no longer used directionality to diminish background noise wouldn’t it be impossible to hear someone speaking, wouldn’t your refrigerator hum sound as loud as your spouse? The answer turned out to be a big fat no. Opn 1’s Velox platform is able to allow all the sounds in an environment, avoiding tunnel hearing, while keeping the ability to focus on speakers or wanted noise. Having 360* of sound available allows a person to orient themselves in an environment and has been shown to reduce the amount of effort a person uses to pay attention. Look for Oticon to expand this inclusive sound trend in 2017 when they roll out Opn 2 and Opn 3. These 2017 releases promise to offer two new speaker levels allowing for greater access to sounds and better understanding in noise. In addition, these hearing aids will be available with the new PowerFlex Mold—Oticon’s highest yet standard in comfort and performance. In addition, the miniFit receivers available in 2017 will make Opn available to people with even severe or profound hearing loss. Opn has also been awarded with 2017 CES Innovations Awards in two categories–Tech for a Better World and Wearable Technologies.
Phonak’s Audeo B-R-This rechargeable hearing aid allows 24 hours of use on one charge. And it takes only three hours of charging to get you that 24 hours, but if you’re in a rush you can charge these hearing aids for just 30 minutes to get six hours of use. According to the manufacturer, these hearing aids have 40% more power that other rechargeable hearing aids and sport a lithium ion battery dynamic enough to fully support Phonak’s advanced AutoSense OS allowing features and technology that seamlessly adapts to listening environments.
Signia’s Cellion™- Another rechargeable hearing aid and this one comes with an easy to use charging station. Not only can you just lay it upon the recharging station, with barely a glance toward it, but once down, your hearing aid shuts off. And unlike other rechargeable batteries, this battery lasts a really, really long time. According to the manufacturer, “The battery lasts for a particularly long time—up to two days* after a four hour charge and for at least seven hours after just 30 minutes express charging.” Wow! That’s fantastic. In addition, Signia’s myHearing™ App will provide connectivity and independence for the user.
Resound’s ENZO2™- This super power hearing aid is still incredibly small. It’s designed to give people with profound or severe hearing loss the same kind of features that the Linx provided for those with less profound hearing loss. Like the Linx it connects to advanced technologies like the iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Designated as a “smart hearing aid,” the manufacturer says it has, “exceptional hearing experience with greater audibility, better speech understanding, and improved spatial awareness, enabling people to live their life closer to normal than ever before.” ENZO2™ has some advanced features including customizable options that use your phone and Spatial SenseTM. Spatial SenseTM makes it easier for you to locate the source of a sound and also to customize what sounds you’d like to focus on. Although it’s made for iPhone, this hearing aid can be adapted for use with other phones by using their Phone Clip+.
Starkey’s Halo 2- This wireless Invisible-In-the-Canal hearing aid is another made for iPhone product, but can also connect to some Android products. Still, its claim to fame is the fact that it can connect to almost any Apple product, including the Apple Watch. By using Starkey’s much talked about TruLink™ remote control app you can easily tweak your hearing aid settings through your phone. In addition, these hearing aids have an advanced operating system—yep, just like a computer—that allows them to detect when you re-encounter a prior listening environment. In other words, when you arrive home, your hearing aid sets your hearing aid settings to match your “at home” preferences. According to the manufacturer, this hearing aid comes equipped with, “Acuity™ Directionality designed to improve speech audibility in difficult listening situations along with Speech Shift.” It also has a tinnitus feature that is customizable via TruLink™.
Widex’s Beyond Fusion2- This receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid accommodates most hearing losses and most budgets as its available in three different technology levels. This hearing aid follows the Made for iPhone trend is able to connect directly with Apple products, streaming conversations, music and movies directly from your iPhone. Like other newer hearing aids, this one comes with its own app that allows users more freedom and self-direction than previous hearing aids. This app gives users control over volume, frequency, directionality and streaming of the listening environment. Features include Smartwind Manager™ to reduce wind noise (a big market for Widex) and PowerSaver Plus™ which helps support functions without using up all your battery.
Interested in test driving a pair of these hearing aids? Let us connect you with a hearing professional in your area. Call 888.902.9310 to schedule an appointment at a clinic near you or click here.