Making Sense of Hearing Aid Technology: A User-Friendly Guide

So Many Choices

Choosing A Hearing Aid Based on Technology

Consider these helpful tips and recommendations from audiologist, Kristen Conners, before buying a hearing aid online.

As an audiologist, I often see my patients grappling with the inundation of information on hearing aids. From TV ads to internet pop-ups, the array of hearing aid options and claims from manufacturers can be overwhelming. In this guide, my goal is to simplify the process of choosing a hearing aid so that you can find the best hearing aid for your level of hearing loss and your lifestyle.

The 5 Hearing Aid Brands

Among the dozens of options we see online and on TV, five hearing aid brands stand out as the best due to their experience and technology:

  1. Resound
  2. Signia
  3. Phonak
  4. Oticon
  5. Starkey

Each of these brands has been at the forefront of hearing aid technology for 50-100+ years.

My approach, as an audiologist, is to recommend the best hearing aid for each patient by considering the person’s specific hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget.

NOTE: Each of the five brands offer the four levels of technology discussed below, and your audiologist can help you choose the most suitable brand and technology for your needs.

Hearing Aid Technology Levels

The four levels of hearing aid technology are: Value, Basic, Advanced, and Premier are all offered from any of the 5 main manufactures as quality options when fit by a licensed audiologist.

I often recommend Resound hearing aids to my patients, particularly the Resound Nexia models, since they’re effective in a wide range of hearing needs.

I will use Resound Nexia hearing aids as an example to illustrate the different hearing aid technology levels available, to help you understand the benefits, common uses, and ways other patients have found the perfect hearing aid for their needs.

Hearing Aid Technology Levels as shown through the ReSound Nexia product line-up
ReSound Nexia hearing aids are available in multiple colors.

A Closer Look at Hearing Aid Technology Levels

Each of the Resound Nexia models showcase technology levels that cater to diverse hearing needs.

What’s nice is every Resound model, from basic to premier, includes rechargeability and Bluetooth connectivity. With bluetooth, patients are able to stream music, TV, movies, and even take phone calls from their phone or other Bluetooth-enabled devices.

1.Value Technology: (Resound Key 4)

Resound Key 4 or “Value technology” really is the minimum level of technology our patients have as an option to help improve their hearing.

This is a good option for patients on a budget with a more basic hearing loss living a quieter lifestyle meaning they are not very active and are often in quiet or moderately noisy places.

While this level of technology gives your audiologist a decent amount of flexibility to program for your specific hearing loss, the amount and types of adjustments they can make is limited compared to the higher levels of technology.

Kristin Conners, Audiologist

Kristen’s Recommendation

Value Technology is best for: Individuals on a budget with basic hearing loss, leading a quieter lifestyle, often in quiet or moderately noisy environments. Ideal for those who need minimal adjustments and are less active.

2.Basic Technology (Resound Nexia 5)

Resound Nexia 5 or “Basic technology” has a few more standard features than the “value” giving your audiologist more flexibility or features to adjust to better meet your hearing needs.

This level is more expensive than the “value” and is designed for patients with a moderately active lifestyle occasionally  finding themselves in noisy places.

Many audiologists use this as their entry level or minimum level of technology they will fit unless the patient has budget restrictions that require them to use the “value” level as an alternative.

Kristin Conners, Audiologist

Kristen’s Recommendation

Basic Technology is best for: Those with a moderately active lifestyle, occasionally in noisy places. Suitable for patients needing more features than the “value” level, but with some budget considerations.

3. Advanced Technology (Resound Nexia 7)

Resound Nexia 7 or “Advanced technology” is the most popular level of hearing aid technology with more advanced features for patients that live active lifestyles and are often in noisy places.

While this is not the most advanced level of technology it is a feature rich product and a very good option for people who go to noisy restaurants, work meetings, and most other social


Kristin Conners, Audiologist

Kristen’s Recommendation

Advanced Technology is best for: Active individuals frequently in noisy environments, like busy restaurants or work meetings. Offers a rich set of features for varied social situations and is the most popular choice for its balance of technology and cost.

4. Premier Technology (Resound Nexia 9)

Resound Nexia 9 or “Premier Technology” is the highest performing level with the most standard features to maximize speech understanding in the most complex listening environments, especially noisy situations.

This level of technology is designed for patients with very active lifestyles who want a product with the most flexibility to fit their specific hearing loss in demanding situations such as at work, restaurants, and other noisy or difficult to hear places.

All types of hearing loss can benefit from Premier Technology providing the most flexibility for your audiologist to help you especially if you have a more complex hearing loss.

Kristin Conners, Audiologist

Kristen’s Recommendation

Premier Technology is best for: People with very active lifestyles who frequent complex listening environments, such as crowded restaurants or workspaces. Ideal for those seeking the highest level of performance and flexibility, especially for complex hearing loss.

Best Hearing Aids for Different Scenarios

Choosing the right hearing aid goes beyond brand and technology levels. We want to align the device with your lifestyle, environment, and specific hearing challenges.


Generally recommended hearing aid: Nexia 7 (Advanced Technology) or Nexia 9 (Premier Technology)

The Resound Nexia 7 and Nexia 9 are the best hearing aids for seniors because they offer advanced features suitable for varied environments, including quiet and noisy settings. The premier technology offers maximum clarity and ease of use, especially for those not adept with technology.

But, age isn’t the best way to determine what hearing aid technology is best for a patient’s situation.

Mild Hearing Loss

Recommended hearing aid: Resound Key 4 (Value Technology) or Resound Nexia 5 (Basic Technology)

The Resound Key 4 and Resound Nexia 5 are suitable for mild hearing loss, offering adequate amplification and clarity without the need for advanced features.

Moderate Hearing Loss

Recommended hearing aid: Resound Nexia 5 (Basic Technology) or Resound Nexia 7 (Advanced Technology)

The Resound Nexia 5 and Nexia 7 are the best hearing aids for moderate hearing loss as they balance performance and cost, providing sufficient features for this level of hearing loss without being overly advanced.

Severe Hearing Loss

Recommended hearing aid: Resound Nexia 9 (Premier Technology)

The Resound Nexia 9 is the best hearing aid for severe hearing loss because it represents the most advanced technology, offering maximal amplification and clarity. This is especially beneficial in challenging listening environments, ensuring the highest level of auditory support for those with severe hearing impairment.

READ MORE: Learn more about the different types of hearing loss, by Audiologist, Kristen Conners.


Recommended hearing aid:  Resound Nexia 9 (Premier Technology)

The Resound Nexia 9 is the best hearing aid for individuals with tinnitus, as its advanced technology often includes specialized features for tinnitus masking, providing significant relief.

READ MORE: What is tinnitus and does it go away? By Audiologist, Kristen Conners.

Musicians & Audiophiles

Recommended hearing aid: Resound Nexia 9 (Premier Technology)

The Resound Nexia 9 is the best hearing aid for musicians because it offers the highest sound quality and fidelity, which helps in discerning complex musical tones and nuances.

READ MORE: How to avoid hearing loss as a musician, by Audiologist, Kristen Conners.

Active Lifestyles

Recommended hearing aid: Resound Nexia 9 (Premier Technology)

The Resound Nexia 9 is ideal for active lifestyles due to its robust performance in diverse and demanding environments. This will help to ensure clarity and comfort during various physical activities.

Background Noise & Noisy Environments

Recommended hearing aid: Resound Nexia 9 (Premier Technology)

The Resound Nexia 9 excels in noisy environments with its superior noise reduction and speech enhancement capabilities, making it the best choice for such settings.

Clarity of Speech, High-Frequency Hearing Loss, and Watching TV

Recommended hearing aid: Resound Nexia 7 (Advanced Technology) or Resound Nexia 9 (Premier Technology)

For those needing clarity of speech and high-frequency sound adjustments, such as when watching TV, the Nexia 7 or Nexia 9 offer enhanced speech clarity and sound quality.

Auditory Processing Disorder

Recommended hearing aid: Resound Nexia 9 (Premier Technology)

The Resound Nexia 9 is recommended for auditory processing disorder due to its enhanced sound processing capabilities and customization options.

Small Ear Canals

Recommended hearing aid: Signia 3AX (Basic Technology) or Signia 5AX (Advanced Technology)

For individuals with small ear canals, the Signia 3AX and 5AX provide comfortable fitting options while balancing technology and comfort.

Dementia Patients

Recommended hearing aid: Resound Nexia 5 (Basic Technology),  Resound Nexia 7 (Advanced Technology), or Resound Nexia 9 (Premier Technology)

For dementia patients, the Resound Nexia 5, 7, or 9 offer a good balance of features and ease of use. This is a great choice for patients requiring consistency and simplicity.

Finding the Perfect Hearing Aid Fit

Regardless of your hearing loss there is a hearing aid solution that will best fit your needs and budget. If you or someone you know is having difficulties hearing you can have them take our online hearing test or make an appointment for a full hearing exam in our office.

About Kristen Conners, Audiologist

Audiologist Kristen Conners, of Orland Hearing Aid Center in Palos Park

Kristen Conners is a leading figure in the field of audiology, known for founding Prescription Hearing, a hearing aid center located in Palos Park, Illinois (near Orland Park). As a dedicated member of the Speech, Language & Hearing Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, she brings a wealth of expertise and a compassionate approach to her practice. Kristen’s commitment to providing outstanding care has earned her a reputation as a trusted and respected audiologist in the Chicagoland community.

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