Everyone has at least one area of interest they know everything about. Whether it’s the Man City starting lineup from 1950 to the present day, the name and backstory of every villain Batman has ever fought, or the mechanisms behind every model of BMW, everyone should be proud of their esoteric and rarely useful knowledge.
While you may know a lot about a specific field, we’d bet against you knowing too much about hearing aids – otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be on this article. And, as is the case with most topics, there is a lot to know regarding hearing aids.
That’s why we’re here – to clear the air on all things hearing aid. We’ll go over the best hearing aid brands and models, their features, and rough estimates of prices, but if you’re interested in hearing it from a human rather than words on a screen, then you can arrange a free hearing test. You’ll be able to assess your need for a hearing aid, as well as which hearing aid would be best for you.
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”
The “Big Six” are the six largest hearing aid manufacturers, who own a whopping 98% of the market share. In the past year alone, just over 150,000 hearing aids were sold in the UK every month.
We’re going to look at the best and most unique hearing aid models offered by each of the Big Six, and help you decide which hearing aids are the right choice for you.
What will we be looking at?
We’ll be looking at the individual models that each company produces, the features and cost estimates, and general reception from the public. Some things to remember:
- 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 level of 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
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||£2,000||Oticon OPN 1|
|Phonak||£2,250||Phonak Audéo Marvel 90|
|ReSound||£1,810||LiNX 3D 9|
|Signia||£1.930||Motion Charge&Go Nx|
|Starkey||£2,000||Starkey Livio AI 2400|
So, without further ado, here are the Big Six hearing aid brands…
Widex hearing aids
A family-owned Danish company that breezed onto the scene in 1956, one of Widex’s claims to fame is its CO2-neutral building. ‘56 may feel like a long time ago, but in terms of the Big Six, Widex is on the younger side.
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 dubbed “the world’s first smart hearing aid,” but what makes it so smart? According to 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 apply them to similar situations.” By all accounts, this hearing aid’s reputation for “smartness” is well earned.
Where pricing is concerned, you’ll find that Widex is fairly expensive. The Widex EVOKE will cost around £2,320.
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 £2,550.
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.” Its 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
The Opn S is currently Oticon’s flagship model. It has two very nice features, known as BrainHearing and ConnectClip.
BrainHearing is a technology that lets the hearing aid scan your 360° environment. This might sound like what any given hearing aid would do, but a lot of hearing aids are actually directional, meaning they often take in the sound of what you’re looking at (i.e. where your head is pointed.) BrainHearing allows for omnidirectional hearing, which is a lot more natural.
ConnectClip, meanwhile, 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 of 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 most premium model of the Opn S can cost anywhere around the mid £2,000s.
Oticon Opn Play
The second model we’ll discuss is the Opn Play, which is a hearing aid designed solely for children. Available in multiple “groovy” colours, it’s highly resistant to forms of external punishment, such as dust, water, physical damage, and even curious fingers trying to look inside.
It also has its own 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 attention of potentially thieving children, even in its most basic colours. 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 to cost around £1,780.
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
The Marvel is a unification of every great feature included in Phonak’s previous models. These features include Bluetooth capabilities, stellar sound quality, and a rechargeable battery.
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 £2,100.
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. It has an extremely long battery life to make up for the fact that it needs to be changed by a professional. 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 a nearby qualified specialist.
The Lyric has a unique subscription model, costing £120 a month.
ReSound hearing aid models
Whatever the Danes were going through in the ‘40s, it had a seismic effect on the world of audiology. Another Danish company founded in 1943, ReSound “constantly strives to develop better solutions that help people rediscover hearing so they can live rich, active, and fulfilling lives.” ReSound prides itself on breaking ground through pioneering new technologies for hearing aids.
We’ll be looking at ReSound’s LiNX Quattro 9, and the Enya 4.
The Quattro includes noise tracking, adjustable directional mixing, Android connectivity, and a whole host of other features. It also comes with a rechargeable battery, but this does cost a bit more on top of the already considerable price.
The LiNX Quattro 9 should cost around £2,110, 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 lack of confusing features – along with the low price point – are very welcoming to anyone confused by the industry.
The Enya 4 is far cheaper than the Quattro, clocking in at about £1,100, 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 its “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 imagine 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, so he’s happy to be sporting one.
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 and perform 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 £1,700.
Pure Charge&Go Nx
When it comes to 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 just 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 when being processed, so OVP is quite a plus. Complaints about the model are minor, usually citing the unremarkable design.
The Pure Charge&Go Nx costs around £1,700, 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, in fact, that everyone’s favourite 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 technically different models, they sport similar features. Starkey seems to be very forward-thinking when it comes to active lifestyles for those with hearing loss – it provides 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 appearance. 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 theoretically invisible to the naked eye.
Both of these hearing aids can connect to your smartphone, and both have very impressive battery lives, ranging from three days to two weeks.
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 £1,850 – this is certainly still at the cheaper end of the spectrum, but the real savings come with the more basic models.
Getting a hearing aid on the NHS
In the UK, we’re fortunate enough to have the NHS, which does indeed offer hearing aids – but unfortunately, you don’t get to choose which brand you want. They’ll usually be BTE, you’ll have to wait for a while, and follow up appointments might be difficult. If you want to know more about the benefits of going private vs getting hearing aids on the NHS, read our comprehensive NHS hearing aids guide.
The hearing aid industry 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.
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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