Have you ever gone to a candy store and been overwhelmed by the shelves upon shelves of different options? You get so accosted by the colors and logos and end up buying something that isn’t close to what you were looking for in the first place. You may have felt a similar sensation if you’ve ever dipped your toe into the hearing aid world.
To make your life easier, we've compiled a list of the “The Big Six.” No, not the group of supervillains who teamed up to bring down our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. No, “The Big Six” refers to the six largest hearing aid manufacturers.
The main hearing aid brands are:
If you’d rather hear it from the horse’s mouth, however, you can always use our form to book a free consultation with a hearing healthcare specialist near you. There you’ll be able to discuss hearing aids and your various options face-to-face.
When we surveyed 2,019 people who visited Clear Living (which is a purely coincidental number, we assure you), we found that a massive 61% (1,229 people) did not wear hearing aids.
When we asked these people, there were three main reasons: reliability, overall cost, and uncertainty. These are all rational concerns, so in this article, we’ll do our best to look at every big hearing aid brand, and break them down enough that these three concerns are a thing of the past
Before we begin, we should stress that this article is not sponsored by any of the brands listed below. All information listed is objective and fair to the best of our knowledge and research.
The “Big Six”
We’re going to look at the best and most unique hearing aid models offered by each of the Big Six, as well as a surprise up-and-comer, known as Eargo, and help you decide which hearing aids are the right choice for you.
We’ll be looking at the top hearing aid brands and the models they offer:
- Widex EVOKE hearing aids
- Widex UNIQUE hearing aid
- Oticon Opn S hearing aid
- Oticon Opn Play hearing aid
- Phonak Audeo Marvel hearing aid
- Phonak Lyric hearing aid
- ReSound LiNX Quattro 9 hearing aids
- ReSound Enya 4 hearing aid
- Signia Styletto hearing aid
- Signia Pure Charge&Go Nx hearing aids
- Starkey Livio hearing aid
- Starkey Picasso hearing aid
- Eargo Plus hearing aids
- Eargo Neo hearing aid
What will we be looking at?
First we’ll have a brief look at each company, their philosophy and their history.
Then we’ll look at the individual models that each company produces, the features and cost estimates, and general reception from the public. Some things to remember:
- Most hearing aid manufacturers are fairly protective about their costs, so any prices we mention are approximations based on third party information
- Since we’re looking at the best hearing aids, you can assume they’ll all be pretty good quality. Any problems we mention will be pulled from individual reviews and shouldn’t be viewed as overarching problems with every single product
- This quality means they’ll also be the most expensive models within their brands. If these price tags worry you, you’ll be able to drop down a couple levels and save with a cheaper model
What are hearing aid price bundles?
We spoke to Florida-based audiologist Dr. Lindsey Banks about hearing aid pricing, and here’s what she had to say:
“So, when a patient is given a cost quote for the hearing aid, it typically includes the time/services needed by the professional to test, fit, counsel, and follow-up with the patient and their new hearing aids. Some professionals “bundle” their services in the cost of the hearing aids, while others “unbundle” the cost of the actual device price from the cost of the services they provide. And then there are all sorts of semi-bundled methods.
“[Bundled packages are] typically going to be more, because the patient is paying for the professional's services up front instead of on a per-visit basis. The service costs may be included for the entire lifetime of the hearing aid, or for a period of time, like one year. The included services should be outlined in their purchase contract.
“The price to get hearing aids that are unbundled from the service costs may be less, but the follow-up services or visits with the professional will be a paid service. So, while they may pay less up front, the patient can have office-visit charges when they come in to see the professional for hearing aid adjustments, cleanings, etc.
“The prices that the professional sets for a hearing aid will depend on whether it's bundled or unbundled with the services, as well as the single-unit cost the manufacturer is charging them to purchase the device. These single-unit costs are negotiated with each manufacturer and that is also why many hearing aid professionals are a part of a buying group to get better pricing on the aids.”
Big Six Average Pricing
Here is a table of the average prices of the hearing aids we've looked at for each of these brands.
|Brand||Average Hearing Aid Price||Our Top Pick|
|Oticon||$2,600||Oticon OPN 1|
|Phonak||$2,900||Phonak Audéo Marvel 90|
|ReSound||$2,350||LiNX 3D 9|
|Signia||$2,500||Motion Charge&Go Nx|
|Starkey||$2,600||Starkey Livio AI 2400|
So, without further ado, here are the Big Six hearing aid brands.
Widex hearing aid models
A family-owned Danish company that breezed onto the scene in 1956, one of Widex’s claims to fame is their CO2-neutral building. ‘56 may feel like a long time ago, but in terms of the Big Six, Widex is on the younger side. As the stereotype goes, the younger people are always about the newest technology, and this stereotype seems to apply to companies too. Widex is always blowing forward, looking to the best tech that can improve their products.
The two Widex models we’ll be looking at are the EVOKE and the UNIQUE. We’re not shouting, that’s just what they’re called.
Firstly, The EVOKE. It’s titled “the world’s first smart hearing aid,” but what makes it so smart? According to the Widex SoundSense Technology, the longer you use EVOKE, the more it evolves. This doesn’t only apply to you, however, as everyone’s data is collected anonymously and used to make the EVOKE hearing experience better.
The Fluid Sound Analyzer reacts to your environment, and responds accordingly. It also claims to “remember all changes you make and intelligently applies them to similar situations.” By all accounts, the “smartness” of this hearing aid is well earned.
Where pricing is concerned, you’ll find that Widex is fairly expensive. The Widex EVOKE will cost around $3,000.
The UNIQUE is a hearing aid for any active lifestyle. It claims to have the best noise reduction system, which means that sounds can be heard even in windy environments (anyone who’s tried to have a phone call in the wind knows how important this is.) It also detects the user’s listening situation and adapts appropriately, meaning they’ll be hearing the most appropriate sound for their time and place.
Widex UNIQUE will be a little bit more than the EVOKE at around $3,300.
Oticon hearing aid models
Founded in 1904, Oticon is a member of the old guard in the hearing aid world. Another Danish company, Oticon was started by a man whose wife was hard-of-hearing. This planted the seed of wanting to help his wife through developing hearing technology. As you can imagine, the company that sprouted from this goal claims to be “People First.” This mantra is “the promise to empower people to communicate freely, interact naturally and participate actively.”
While we’re only talking about two models per company, Oticon coincidentally only really has two models worth discussing. You can obviously reach further back into their catalogue to get some older models for lower prices, but as far as their current products go, we have the Oticon Opn S and the Oticon Opn Play.
Oticon Opn S
This might sound like what any given hearing aid would do, but a lot of hearing aids are actually directional. This means they often take in the sound of what you’re looking at (where your head is pointed.) BrainHearing allows omnidirectional hearing, which is a lot more natural.
ConnectClip is a nifty little attachment that can transform your hearing aid into a headset. It can connect to any compatible device and act as a go-between from that device to your hearing aid, allowing you to hear music or phone calls. It can also be clipped onto lecturers or speakers so that you can hear any speeches from a distance.
As far as negative reports go, there have been a couple users who claim the hearing aid cuts out, and might need multiple visits to your hearing specialist to perfect the tuning.
When discussing cost, Oticon can be pretty pricey. The highest model of the Opn S can cost anywhere around the low $3,000s.
Oticon Opn Play
The second model we’ll discuss is the Opn Play, which is a hearing aid designed solely for children. Multiple “groovy” colors can entice a child with hearing loss to go for an Opn Play. It’s very resistant to punishment, like dust, water, physical damage, and even curious fingers trying to look inside.
It also has a watered down version of the ConnectClip called the “AmigoFM.” This can be given to any teacher before class, and streams their voice directly to the child’s hearing aid.
As far as cons go, it might catch the eye of potentially malicious children, even in its most basic colors. This is somewhat unavoidable, however, and shouldn’t be counted against the device. As it’s intended for children, it’s also somewhat barebones in terms of additional features, which is understandable.
The Opn Play is estimated at around $2,300.
Phonak hearing aid models
Phonak is a brand of hearing aids under the Sonova holding. Sonova and its brands account for 24% of global hearing aid sales, so it’s definitely a big fish in the audiology world. Making its splash back in 1947, Phonak claims to be “passionate about creating hearing solutions that change people’s lives to thrive socially and emotionally.”
Due to its size, Phonak produces numerous types of models. The two we’ll be looking at here are the Phonak Audéo Marvel 90 and the Phonak Lyric.
Audéo Marvel 90
If it sounds like we don’t have a lot to say, it’s because there aren't too many amazing features that are unique to the Marvel. Instead, it takes features from other hearing aids and combines them into one. Public reception is generally great, with the only complaints being related to the battery life (~16 hours) or the high price.
Looking at cost, the Marvel is around $2,800.
The Lyric is Phonak’s most unique hearing aid. Rather than being worn on the outside of the ear, the Lyric is implanted into the ear canal. This means it’s entirely invisible, and has an extremely long battery life. This is independence that most other hearing aids don’t offer, which makes the Lyric a great idea for anyone with an active lifestyle. However, since the battery can only be changed by a professional, there is a bit of dependence on being nearby a qualified specialist.
The Lyric has a unique subscription model, costing $160 a month.
ReSound hearing aid models
Another Danish company founded in 1943 (whatever the Danes were going through in the ‘40s definitely rocked the world of audiology.) ReSound “constantly strives to develop better solutions that help people rediscover hearing so they can live rich, active and fulfilling lives.” ReSound prides themselves on breaking ground through pioneering new technologies for hearing aids.
We’ll be looking at ReSound’s LiNX Quattro 9, and the Enya 4.
LiNX Quattro 9
We’ll start off by letting you know, the LiNX Quattro is about to get a new feature in November that allows Android connectivity, so if that’s something you’d be interested in, you may want to wait. Otherwise, the product is the same as what’s currently on the market.
The Quattro includes noise tracking, adjustable directional mixing, and a whole host of other features. You can get a rechargeable battery for the Quattro, but it does cost a bit more on top of the already considerable price.
The LiNX Quattro 9 should cost around $2,740, which is certainly a bit steep.
On the other hand, the Enya 4 is one of the cheapest hearing aids that money can buy. It offers great sound quality and app compatibility, but otherwise doesn’t do much. It’s ideal for anyone just starting out on their hearing healthcare journey, as the as the lack of confusing features – along with the low price point – are very welcoming to anyone confused by this industry.
The Enya 4 is far cheaper than the Quattro, clocking in at about $1,500, and possibly even cheaper if you go for an older model.
Signia hearing aid models
In 1878 (yes, 1878,) Werner von Siemens (yes, the tech company Siemens) discovered that voice signals can be amplified via electrical means. Since then, Signia has been zapping across the planet, eager to expand their “proud history of entrepreneurship, courage, scientific curiosity and the will to help others.” Signia is owned by Sivantos, which used to be owned by Siemens. We know it’s complicated, but in order to stop you from frying your brain, just imagine Signia as its own company.
The two Signia models we’ll be looking at are the Styletto Connect and the Pure Charge&Go Nx.
The Styletto has found its champion in Manuel Cortez. A German-Portugese actor, photographer, and style expert, you can see that image would be very important to him. Yet, as the name Styletto would imply, it’s one of the more stylish hearing aids on the market.
As far as features go, it boasts Bluetooth connectivity, a portable charger, and compatibility with the myHearing App, through which you can get professional help, as well as remote adjustments. Any complaints we found related to somewhat spotty Bluetooth connections, and a shorter-than-usual battery life.
The price for the Styletto is very reasonable, clocking in at around $2,200.
Pure Charge&Go Nx
Next, the Pure Charge&Go Nx. Convenience is the name of the game. It’s on the smaller side of the hearing aid spectrum, being a discreet behind-the-ear device. Its biggest draws, however, come in the form of its wireless charging and its OVP. Wireless charging is what it sounds like – place the hearing aids on their inductive charger, and they’ll automatically be juiced up – no wires required.
OVP stands for Own Voice Processing, which provides the user with a natural-sounding voice. A large complaint from first-time hearing aid users is that their own voice sounds unnatural, so OVP is quite a plus. Complaints about the model are very minor, usually citing the unremarkable design.
The Pure Charge&Go Nx costs around $2,200, which is a very decent price for a product that has such high standards of quality.
Starkey hearing aid models
Blazing onto the scene in 1967, Starkey is this article’s first and only good ol’ American company. It's so American, that our own President Ronald Reagan was fitted for a pair of Starkey hearing aids back in the ‘80s! Starkey also has a burning passion for a good cause. Every purchase of a Starkey hearing aid incurs a donation to the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which supplies hearing aids to underprivileged people around the world.
As you can tell from their placement, Starkey is the cheapest of the Big Six. The two heavy hitters we’ll be looking at here are the Starkey Livio 2400 and the Picasso i2400.
Livio and Picasso
We’ll go over both hearing aids at once, since while they’re different models, they have similar features. Starkey seems to be very forward-thinking when it comes to active lifestyles for those with hearing loss. They provide a load of different channels and frequencies, which allow for easy listening in a variety of settings, whether it’s a windy hike or a loud concert.
The main difference between the Livio and the Picasso is their forms. The Livio is what people picture when they think of a hearing aid, curving around behind the ear. The Picasso is a more interior hearing aid, being worn in the ear canal. One Picasso design is even known as “invisible-in-canal” design, which means it’s theoretical invisible to the naked eye.
Both of these hearing aids can connect to your smartphone, and have very impressive battery lives, ranging from three days to two weeks of life.
When looking at prices, even though we said that Starkey is the cheapest, these models will be around the same as the others we’ve discussed. Starkey’s thriftiness only makes a substantial difference when looking at their back catalogue. These two models discussed seem to be around $2,400. This is certainly still on the cheaper side of the spectrum, but the real savings come with the more basic models.
Eargo hearing aid models
The Big Six have had a solid grip on the hearing aid industry for quite a while now. However, as though a purifying light beamed down onto the world of hearing technology, Eargo threw its hat into the ring. Founded in 2010, Eargo is a very young company. But just like any fan of the LA Rams’ Jared Goff knows, youth is no reason to be underestimated. One of their hearing aids was already listed as one of TIME’s best inventions of 2018.
Eargo’s main philosophy seems to hinge on ease of use. In a world full of confusing product names and features that all seem to do similar things, Eargo tries to simplify the process. They supply only three products, two of which we’ll discuss here: Eargo Plus and Eargo Neo.
Firstly, their base model, ironically called the Eargo Plus, intended for first-time hearing aid users. Some of the highlight features include cyclable sound profiles, near-invisibility, and a portable charging case.
The near-invisibility is thanks to Eargo’s soon-to-be-iconic silicon fibers. These suspend the hearing aid in the middle of the ear canal, rather than blocking your ear entirely like most other hearing aids. This allows for more comfort and a better hearing experience.
As far as pricing goes, Eargo actually lists their product prices on their website! We can definitively tell you that the Eargo Plus will cost you $1,650, or a monthly payment of $77.
Their newest model with a more suitable name, Eargo Neo, is currently Eargo’s most advanced product. Rather than the silicon fibers, Eargo Neo uses silicon buds, which look similar to flower petals. These are a bit more comfortable and reliable. The biggest addition, however, are the Neo’s customizable sound profiles. With these, the user can perfectly craft their hearing aid’s range and frequency through an app.
The Neo will run you $2,750, or monthly payments of $127.
All in all
Despite how accessible the hearing aid industry should be, it can be a real nightmare to navigate. Hopefully we’ve given you a leg up, or at least a starting point that allows you to understand what you want or need in a hearing aid.
|Brand||Hearing Aid||Best Feature|
|Widex||EVOKE||Adaptable SoundSense technology|
|William Demant/Oticon||Oticon Opn S||Omnidirectional hearing|
|Sonova/Phonak||Audéo Marvel 90||Unification of most great features|
|ReSound||LiNX Quattro 9||Android connectivity|
|Siemens/Signia||Pure Charge&Go Nx||Wireless charging|
|Eargo||Eargo Neo||Comfortable ear fibers|
However, if you have unanswered questions or problems, you might want to book a free consultation with a hearing healthcare professional near you. If you use our quick and easy form, you’ll be directed to your nearest hearing specialist, who will be happy to offer you a free consultation where you can ask any questions you may have.
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