My patients are constantly being bombarded with all sorts of information about hearing aids from ads on TV, newspapers, and the internet. This includes a variety of advertisements and claims that can make picking the right hearing aid for their loss and lifestyle overwhelming. Below, I give you a general overview of the different options available to help you select the hearing aid that’s best for you.
While there are a lot of advertisements for dozens of different hearing aid brands, there are really only 5 premier brands that offer the best technology with proven track record for helping the hearing impaired. These companies include Signia, Resound, Phonak, Oticon, and Starkey and they have been manufacturing hearing aids from 50 to over 100 years. I have experience using all of these manufacturers and will choose different products from each depending on the needs of my patients. However, each offer 4 similar levels of technology that your audiologist will review with you and select the best option for you based on your hearing loss, how active your lifestyle is, and your budget.
The four levels of technology include value, basic, advanced, and premier are all offered from any of the 5 main manufactures are quality options when fit by a licensed audiologist. One of the manufactures I use the most is Signia and more specifically their AX product which I will use as the example to differentiate the technology levels.
Signia has feature rich models with good standard features included on all levels of their hearing aids including rechargeability even on their basic model so you never have to deal with buying and changing batteries. In addition, all of our hearing aids regardless of technology level include Bluetooth connectivity. With Bluetooth connectivity the hearing aid user can stream music, TV, movies etc from their phone or other Bluetooth enabled devices directly into their hearing aids. In addition, newly released technology makes it possible for hands free telephone calls streamed directly from your cell phone to your hearing aids simply by tapping a button on your hearing aids answer and conduct calls.
So lets review the 4 levels of technology using the Signia brand as the example. The four levels include the Signia 2AX which is the “value” or minimum level of technology a patient should wear. Next is the Signia 3X or “basic” technology level followed by the Signa 5AX or “advanced” level of technology, and finally the Signa 7AX or “premier” technology level. As you move up in technology starting with 2AX on up to the 7AX, the number of standard features increases along with the price. The more standard features a hearing aid has increases it ability to precisely fit your hearing loss and its ability to reduce noise and amplify speech so you can better understand people in noisy places such as restaurants.
Signia 2AX 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.
Signia 3AX 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 sometimes finding themselves in noisy places. Many audiologist 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.
Signia 5AX or “Advanced technology” is our most popular level of 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 very good option for people who go to noisy restaurants, work meetings, and most other social situations.
Signia 7AX or “Premier technology” is our 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 this level of technology providing the most flexibility for your audiologist to help you especially if you a more complex hearing loss.
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.