Choosing the "best" hearing aid on the market may not be as straightforward as it seems. When it comes to hearing aids, it's not so much about the brand, but rather the source from where you acquire your device and the level of support provided by the provider. Here's why:
Most hearing aids, regardless of the brand, offer similar capabilities. What sets one apart from the other is often the quality of the service provided by the hearing healthcare professional, the continuous support for the device, and the overall customer experience.
Hearing aids are generally divided into different technology levels: lower essential, essential, basic or standard, advanced, and premium.
These categories determine their channels, ranging from 4 up to 20. However, it's worth noting that a higher cost and a "premium" label do not always equate to a better hearing experience. A basic model could serve your needs just as effectively, depending on your hearing loss and lifestyle. The key here is understanding your unique hearing needs and finding a hearing aid that suits those needs.
Let's look at some examples in the hearing aid industry. The Sonova group manufactures Phonak, Unitron, and Hansaton hearing aids. These devices are similar on the inside - sharing the same technology chip and being compatible with the same accessories. But they are designed differently on the outside, providing a range of options to suit individual aesthetic preferences.
Similarly, WS Audiology is the main manufacturer behind several hearing aid brands, including Signia, Widex, Audioservice, Rexton, A&M hearing, and Coselgi. Again, the primary difference between these brands is often the exterior design and pricing strategy, not the technology itself. For instance, the cost of Signia hearing aids is usually higher due to branding and marketing, not necessarily because it offers superior technology.
Even within a single manufacturer, such as Starkey Laboratories, several brands exist including STARKEY, AUDIBEL, NUEAR, MICROTECH, and SOUNDGEAR. Each offers different designs and aesthetic options, but all are underpinned by the same base technology.
With all this in mind, it becomes clear that the "best" hearing aid isn't about the brand, but about the support and services you receive from the hearing aid provider. It is crucial to purchase hearing aids from a local supplier who can offer you ongoing support, maintenance, and adjustments.
So, when you're in the market for a new hearing aid, don't just look at the brand name and price tag. Consider the services that come along with the device, and choose a provider who you can trust to support you in your journey towards better hearing.
A few words about each manufacturer :
Unitron, a global company founded in 1964 and headquartered in Canada, is renowned for its innovative approach to designing hearing solutions. A member of the Sonova Group since 2000, Unitron has upheld a strong commitment to understanding the people who use their products, allowing them to create hearing aids that truly improve life experiences.
Unitron's history is marked by a series of technological advancements and design innovations. In the 1970s, they were among the first to develop a power BTE (behind-the-ear) hearing aid. By the 1980s, Unitron was gaining recognition for the development of custom in-the-ear hearing aids and a pioneering remote control system.
The 1990s saw Unitron introduce the industry's first fully automatic hearing aid, followed by the release of one of the first digital hearing aids. Into the 2000s, they continued their legacy of innovation, introducing features like advanced speech recognition technology and machine learning capabilities.
Unitron's patient-centric approach is exemplified in their Flex ecosystem, which allows patients to test drive different technology levels before committing to a purchase. This approach underscores Unitron's dedication to improving the hearing aid experience.
As of today, Unitron is a globally recognized brand, offering services in over 70 countries. They continue to deliver on their promise of creating smart, user-friendly hearing solutions, backed by personalized service and cutting-edge technology. Unitron's commitment to helping people hear and understand conversations better has solidified their standing in the hearing aid industry.
Phonak, part of the Swiss-based Sonova Group, is a leading global provider of hearing solutions. Since its inception in 1947 in Zurich, Phonak has been committed to changing lives and reconnecting people to the beauty of sound by creating state-of-the-art hearing aids and assistive listening devices.
Over the years, Phonak has made significant advancements in the hearing aid industry, with a reputation for pioneering research, patient-driven design, and a thorough understanding of audiologic expertise. These elements have been instrumental in the company's development of innovative hearing solutions.
Phonak's hearing aids are known for their superior sound quality and features such as AutoSense OS, a cutting-edge automatic adjustment system, and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Phonak was also one of the first to pioneer true wireless connectivity in hearing aids, allowing users to connect their hearing aids directly to their mobile phones or TVs.
One of Phonak's core philosophies is the belief that all people should have access to the best possible hearing aids, regardless of their type of hearing loss. This belief has led to the creation of diverse product lines catering to all ages and degrees of hearing loss, from mild to profound.
In recent years, Phonak has made strides in the development of pediatric solutions, with hearing aids designed specifically for children and infants, like the Phonak Sky range. They've also created a portfolio of solutions for single-sided hearing loss.
Phonak's commitment to improving life quality for those with hearing loss, combined with their spirit of innovation, solidifies their position as a leader in the field of hearing solutions.
Hansaton, a German hearing aid manufacturer, was founded in 1957 and has been part of the Swiss Sonova Group since 2015. Hansaton has been designing and distributing high-quality hearing systems for over 60 years, guided by a mission to help people with hearing loss improve their quality of life.
Known for their user-friendly devices, Hansaton hearing aids are designed with both functionality and aesthetics in mind. They offer a broad range of behind-the-ear and in-the-ear hearing aid models to accommodate various degrees and types of hearing loss.
Hansaton's products are equipped with the latest technology, offering features such as noise and wind noise management, directional microphones for better speech understanding in noisy environments, and wireless connectivity for streaming audio directly from smartphones or other devices.
The company also offers rechargeable hearing aids, which eliminate the need for frequent battery changes. Their AQ sound XC Pro model, for example, is a rechargeable device that uses lithium-ion batteries, providing a full day of use including audio streaming.
As part of the Sonova Group, Hansaton also benefits from the shared technology and research advancements within the group. This allows them to continually innovate and improve their product offerings, providing better solutions for those with hearing loss.
Through their commitment to quality, innovation, and design, Hansaton strives to offer people with hearing loss the opportunity to rediscover the richness of the world of sound.
AudioService, founded in 1977, is a German hearing aid manufacturer known for innovative hearing systems and high-quality products. Initially, the company started its operations with the production of in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids, and they quickly gained a strong position in the market.
In 1997, the firm became a part of the internationally renowned William Demant Holding Group, which is one of the world's largest hearing aid manufacturers. This strategic move allowed AudioService to access greater resources and expertise, further enhancing their product offerings.
While AudioService started with in-the-ear hearing aids, they have since expanded their portfolio to include a wide range of hearing aid types and technologies to meet varying customer needs. Today, their product line includes both ITE and BTE (behind-the-ear) devices, equipped with cutting-edge technology.
AudioService holds a strong commitment to improving the quality of life for those with hearing loss. With this goal in mind, they continue to invest in research and development, ensuring they are at the forefront of hearing aid technology.
In 2019, WS Audiology acquired the AudioService brand, further strengthening their position in the global market. As part of WS Audiology, AudioService continues to offer high-quality and innovative hearing aids, enhancing their ability to serve those with hearing loss better.
Signia is a prominent hearing aid brand that emerged from the Sivantos Group, a global leader in hearing aid technology. Its roots can be traced back to Siemens Audiologische Technik (SAT), the hearing aid division of Siemens AG, a renowned German conglomerate.
In 2015, Siemens' audiology business was spun off and rebranded as Sivantos, which began introducing hearing aids under the Signia brand name. Signia quickly made its mark on the industry, incorporating innovative technologies into its products and setting new standards for audiological engineering.
Signia hearing aids are known for their exceptional sound quality, cutting-edge technology, and sophisticated designs. They were one of the first brands to pioneer rechargeable hearing aid technology and to introduce Own Voice Processing (OVP™), which significantly improves users' perception of their own voice.
In 2019, Sivantos and the Danish hearing aid manufacturer Widex merged to form WS Audiology.
Widex is a well-known Danish hearing aid manufacturer that is renowned for its commitment to quality, innovation, and design. The company was founded in 1956 by Christian Tøpholm and Erik Westermann, both of whom had family members with hearing loss. This personal connection to the issue laid the foundation for Widex's dedication to improving the quality of life for people with hearing impairments.
From the very beginning, Widex set out to break new ground in the hearing aid industry. They launched their first behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid model just a year after their founding, and since then, they have consistently introduced new technologies and design concepts to the market.
Widex has a long history of firsts in the industry. They were the first to develop an entirely digital in-the-ear hearing aid, as well as the first to utilize artificial intelligence in a hearing aid. The company's unique approach to sound, focusing on natural audibility, has resulted in hearing aids with superior sound quality.
Despite the merge, Widex continues to maintain its identity and commitment to providing high-quality, innovative hearing solutions. Their advanced technology, coupled with their desire to provide natural sound, makes Widex a respected name in the hearing aid industry.
A&M Hearing is a brand associated with WS Audiology, a global leader in the manufacturing and distribution of hearing aids. Despite being lesser-known compared to some of the other brands under the WS Audiology umbrella, A&M Hearing provides quality hearing solutions that are both reliable and cost-effective.
The company focuses on developing straightforward, easy-to-use hearing aids that deliver excellent sound quality. They understand that hearing aids need to be comfortable and functional, and their products reflect these core values. A&M Hearing aims to make better hearing accessible to everyone, even those on a tighter budget.
One of the main benefits of choosing A&M Hearing aids is the extensive network of audiology professionals associated with WS Audiology. Customers not only get a quality product but also gain access to a wealth of knowledge and support from experienced professionals. This comprehensive approach ensures users get the most out of their hearing aids.
A&M Hearing's commitment to accessibility, affordability, and quality makes them a strong choice for individuals seeking effective hearing solutions without unnecessary complexity or high costs.
Starkey Hearing Technologies, based in the United States, is a recognized pioneer in the hearing aid industry with a rich history dating back to 1967. Founded by William F. Austin, the company's mission has always been rooted in "connecting people and changing lives" with advanced hearing solutions.
Starkey is well-known for their innovative approach to hearing aid design and functionality. They have been at the forefront of several major advancements in hearing technology over the years, including the development of the industry's first in-canal hearing aid and the first custom, fully programmable invisible hearing aid.
Starkey is also renowned for their philanthropy through the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which has provided over 1 million hearing aids to people in need around the world. This dedication to helping others underlines Starkey's commitment not only to innovation, but also to social responsibility.
Starkey's product line is diverse, designed to cater to various degrees of hearing loss and lifestyle requirements. With a global network of professionals to provide comprehensive hearing health care, Starkey continues to deliver on their promise of better hearing for a better life.
In terms of its global presence, Starkey products are sold in more than 100 markets worldwide, highlighting their far-reaching influence and reputation in the field of audiology.
Microtech Hearing Technologies, a brand under the umbrella of Starkey Laboratories, has been serving individuals with hearing loss for over 30 years. With a strong commitment to providing exceptional products and customer service, the company has established itself as a trusted manufacturer within the hearing aid industry.
Originally, Microtech focused on creating cutting-edge custom hearing solutions. They gained recognition for their advanced technologies and exceptional fit, designed for optimal user comfort.
Even though Microtech is a separate brand, it benefits from the extensive research and development of its parent company, Starkey. Microtech hearing aids incorporate many of the same advanced features and technologies found in Starkey products, including digital processing and wireless connectivity.
As a brand, Microtech is committed to providing high-quality hearing solutions that are accessible and user-friendly. They offer a range of styles and designs to cater to varying degrees of hearing loss and lifestyle needs, allowing individuals to find the hearing aid that best fits their unique requirements.
It's worth noting that while Microtech provides outstanding products, the ongoing support and service from hearing care professionals are equally important. This holistic approach to hearing health ensures users can get the most out of their hearing aids and lead a life with improved auditory experiences.
Sonova Holding AG is a globally recognized and leading provider of innovative hearing care solutions. Established in 1947 and headquartered in Stäfa, Switzerland, Sonova Group has built a reputation as a trusted provider across the entire hearing care spectrum.
The group operates through several core business brands, including Phonak, Unitron, and Hansaton, which provide a broad range of hearing aids and accessories. It also has a dedicated brand, Advanced Bionics, that caters to cochlear implant systems. In addition, the Sonova Group extends its hearing care portfolio through business partnerships, offering audiological care in the form of professional audiological services and comfort audio products.
Sonova stands out for its commitment to innovative design and the development of state-of-the-art technology. The group's extensive R&D facilities enable it to remain at the forefront of the hearing care industry, continually evolving and improving its product offerings to enhance users' hearing experiences. With a robust global presence, the Sonova Group reaches millions of people, helping to improve their hearing and quality of life.
A defining characteristic of Sonova is its patient-centric approach. It recognizes the value of comprehensive audiological care, extending beyond the provision of hearing aids to include professional services that support the ongoing needs of the hearing-impaired community. Its dedicated network of audiologists and customer support ensures that every user gains optimal benefits from their devices and enjoys an improved quality of life.
WS Audiology is a prominent force in the global hearing aid industry, renowned for its advanced and comprehensive hearing solutions. Formed in 2019 from the merger of two established entities, Widex and Sivantos, WS Audiology brought together over 140 years of collective experience to forge a new path in hearing care innovation.
Headquartered in Lynge, Denmark, and Singapore, WS Audiology operates in over 125 markets worldwide. Its broad portfolio of brands, which includes Signia, Widex, AudioService, Rexton, A&M Hearing, and Coselgi, caters to a diverse range of hearing needs and budgets, ensuring broad accessibility to quality hearing solutions.
WS Audiology's commitment to innovation is apparent in its robust research and development initiatives. It consistently works towards pushing the boundaries of technology to improve the sound quality, performance, and user experience offered by its hearing aids. For example, it was one of the first companies to introduce AI-driven hearing aids, demonstrating its future-focused approach.
Beyond its product offerings, WS Audiology emphasizes a patient-centric model of care. The company acknowledges the importance of professional audiological services in complementing its products, ensuring that patients have the necessary support for their hearing journey. WS Audiology's commitment to improving lives through better hearing manifests in every aspect of its operations, making it a highly respected player in the hearing care industry.
Sonova Group, WS Audiology, and Starkey Laboratories represent three of the most influential entities in the hearing care industry, each boasting its unique strengths and primary areas of focus.
All three - Sonova, WS Audiology, and Starkey - have a solid foundation in the hearing care industry and are dedicated to enhancing lives through better hearing. They offer a diverse range of hearing aid solutions across various brands, ensuring they cater to all types of hearing loss and lifestyle needs. Also, each organization invests heavily in research and development, pushing the boundaries of what's possible with hearing aid technology.
However, slight differences exist in their approach to technology and patient care, owing to their unique histories and philosophies. Sonova has a long-standing reputation, WS Audiology represents a newer, merged entity combining two strong lineages, and Starkey, with its US-based roots, is recognized for numerous industry firsts.
Ultimately, the choice between Sonova, WS Audiology, and Starkey's products will likely depend on individual patient needs, preferences, and the professional advice of their hearing care provider.