Abram Bailey, AuD, doctor of audiology, based in Austin, Texas, and founder of Hearing Tracker, Inc., which offers reviews and information about hearing aids and hearing professionals. HearingTracker.com
Hearing aids have improved dramatically in recent years. Today’s models boast features such as Bluetooth, motion sensors and artificial intelligence to fade out distracting sounds. Some top picks for you to explore…
Earlens. This innovative solution for mild-to-severe hearing loss uses a processor worn behind the ear that transmits data to a custom-built “lens” that is nonsurgically seated on the eardrum. The soft lens vibrates the eardrum, delivering a range of pitches with little acoustic feedback. Each lens is custom-made based on a mold of the ear and placed by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician, then the device is programmed, calibrated and fine-tuned by an audiologist. You can adjust the settings via your iPhone (currently it is not Android-compatible). You can exercise, shower and swim with the lens in. Only the processor—not the inserted lens—uses a battery, which can be recharged while you sleep. A Bluetooth connection lets you talk and listen to phone calls and other audio streamed from your phone. A pair of Earlens costs $12,000—still less expensive than surgically implanted devices. Some insurance plans may help.
Phonak Virto M-Titanium. This model sits discreetly yet comfortably inside the ear canal. Custom-made from titanium for a precise fit, the Virto M is 15 times stronger than acrylic. An audiologist programs the unit to match your hearing loss. The Virto M gets the maximum rating for moisture and dust protection on the Ingress Protection (IP) rating scale. But if you’re prone to excessive earwax or perspiration, you might consider a different hearing aid. $2,200 to $3,500 per ear.
ReSound One leads the pack for battery life and is in the top tier for Bluetooth connectivity. It uses a unique in-the-ear microphone that delivers a
more natural sound. ReSound One delivers a whopping 30 hours of life per charge on its lithium-ion battery. The charger lets you carry three on-the-go charges. ReSound One is Bluetooth-compatible with both iOS and Android. You can separately purchase the ReSound Phone Clip+, attach it to your lapel, pair it to your phone and make hands-free calls with great sound quality. If you’re shopping at Beltone, you will have to ask for the “Beltone Imagine”—that’s the ReSound One’s Beltone-rebranded name, but it’s the same product. $2,900 to $3,600 per ear.
Phonak Audéo Paradise. No other model beats the Paradise when it comes to Bluetooth prowess. You can connect to eight devices, with two active connections, and it works with Android and iOS. The Paradise boasts an internal accelerometer to detect your movement and adjust sound settings. It enhances speech in quiet environments and features a sophisticated noise-cancellation system. $2,000 to $3,600 per ear, depending on the technology level.
Shopping for hearing aids: Prices often vary wildly. Consider using
HearingTracker’s local discount finder to find the best offers near you. For more information about shopping and paying for hearing aids, search for our story “New, Low-Cost Hearing Aids” at