Six of the Best Hearing Aids of 2022

February 5, 2022

Your Unique Needs

The best hearing aids of 2022 are the ones that best meet your unique needs and preferences. These requirements include; Your hearing levels, ear health conditions, lifestyle requirements such as recreational pursuits, hobbies and sports, cosmetic preferences, budget requirements and communication needs. Whether you prefer in person or remote service and care. A hearing care professional should help you identify these factors as part of a counselling process and document hearing and communication goals based on these. As well as establishing a comprehensive case history a good patient centred approach to establishing your hearing and communication goals is the documentation of a Client Orientated Scale of Improvement (COSI). Upon embarking on a hearing rehabilitation program which can include the adoption of hearing aid use the COSI is routinely referred to so as to help gauge levels of improvement. 

Informed Choice

With a vast array of hearing aid styles, brands, technology levels and price points to choose from the counselling process should help identify the best hearing aid solution for you based on the identified factors. To further ensure successful outcomes a professional practice will allow the recommended solution to be trialled over enough time to experience them in a variety of communication environments and not just at home. This could include outings to cafés or restaurants, at social or sports club meetings, at a cinema or live theatre performances, with music, the telephone (both mobile and landline) and in hearing the dialogue of TV with various shows.  Two weeks is barely adequate and we recommend at least 30 days or a month to give opportunity to try them in a variety of settings. It also affords time for some adaptation or acclimatisation especially for first time users. 

Facilitating Adaptation or Acclimatisation

Your hearing has changed gradually over many years so it can take at least several months to for neurological adaptations to occur and to increment the amplification gradually up to optimal levels that ensure you follow speech as well as possible. It also fosters opportunity to develop some good routine habits of usage and correct maintenance of hearing aids. 

Split & Multi Brand Trials

A good independent clinic can provide hearing solutions from most leading brands and tailor that solution to your unique needs. A first recommendation may not necessarily be the only or best possible solution. Sometimes a spit trial of two leading products tailored to your needs can be trialled over two consecutive periods to identify the more favourable solution. This could be the trial of the same style of hearing aids from two different brands of the same style.

For Example:

Phonak Paradise P90 R                      Vs          Oticon More 1 R

Phonak Paradise P90R
Phonak Paradise P90 R Rechargeable Hearing Aids (Premium)
Oticon More 1-R
Premium Oticon More 1-R (Premium)

Or  two different styles of hearing aids such as a custom made completely in the canal (CIC)  or a Mini behind the ear receiver in the canal style instrument (RIC). Yes! custom made in the ear canal hearing aids can also be trialled. It’s an agreement with have with our suppliers that’s they can be returned for credit if deemed unsuitable

For Example:

Phonak Virto Titanium (CIC)                  Vs               Phonak Paradise P90R (RIC)

Phonak Virto Titanium M90
Phonak Paradise P90R
Phonak Paradise P90 R Rechargeable Hearing Aids (Premium)

or Two Technology Levels of the same model hearing aid with different Price Points.

For Example:

Oticon More 1-R  (Premium)       Vs   Oticon Ruby 2- R (Lower Midrange)

Oticon More 1-R
Premium Oticon More 1-R
Oticon Ruby 2-R


                                               

At Harmony Hearing we often provide a split or multi-brand trial to help our clients make that informed choice. After all this is a very important decision as it will affect your hearing and communication ability for years to come. 

 Unfortunately, in the relatively unregulated hearing industry many ‘hearing aid dispensers’ still engage in archaic prescriptive practices. They largely control the decision justifying their recommendation on their purported expertise and experience. This can often be a mask for the lack of true choice from a range of brands (especially with manufacturer owned chains) and what may generate the most profit and commission. You have to question whether their recommendation is truly in your or their own best interests. 

Fitted by a Hearing Care Professional That Follows Best Practices

Hearing aids will only be as beneficial as how well they are fitted. A basic hearing aid fitted properly will outperform a Premium hearing aid fitted badly every day of the week. It is essential to have the hearing aids fitted by a hearing care professional that follows best practices which include verification using Real Ear Measurements (REM’s) to ensure the amplification levels are optimised for your unique ear anatomy which takes into account your unique ear canal volume, ear size and shapes. Due to an unfortunate lack of regulation in the hearing industry many ‘hearing aid dispensers’ deem it adequate to simply program hearing aids to your hearing test (Audiogram). This doesn’t mean they are necessarily optimised for you and you may never know if you could be attaining better hearing outcomes. 

The Latest & Greatest Hearing Aids of 2022

Having outlined the requirements of an accurately tailored hearing aid solution fitted with best practices, late 2021 and early 2022 have seen some excellent advances and innovations in hearing aid technologies from the leading brands including Phonak, Signia, Widex, Oticon and More. 

Phonak Audeo Paradise Life

Developed by leading Swiss manufacturer a great new innovation for 2022 is the release of the new Audeo Paradise Life. These are the only 100% water proof hearing aid to be released onto the market for years. This is due to the additional periling coating and silicone water proofing which allow it to exceed the former ingress protection rating of IP68. The last water proof hearing aid I can recall was the Siemens Aquaris which was unfortunately phased out over five years ago. 

These hearing aids will come as a welcome relief to anyone with hearing loss that’s worried about getting their hearing aids wet. This will include sports people who may sweat profusely and people who are into swimming or water sports or boating for example. There’s no risk to the hearing aids if you accidently forget they are on and jump in the pool or ocean which often happens in Australia’s summer months. 

They possess all the same great features of the already successful Phonak Paradise range being rechargeable, being able to stream audio from a full range of bluetooth devices. They connect to both Apple iOS and Android devices to wirelessly stream Audio. 

They also feature Phonak’s Auto Sense 4.0 giving them the automatic ability to optimise their performance for each unique listening environment with great sound quality and background noise suppression.  Although the Phonak Paradise range came in four technology levels of Phonak Paradise P90-R (Premium), Phonak Paradise P70R (Advanced), Phonak Paradise P50R 9Mid-Range and Phonak Paradise P30R (Basic) the Phonak Paradise Lite will only come initially in the top tier Phonak P90 Life.

Given they are the top tier hearing aids they possess the motion sensors that can tell the difference between when you are stationary or moving. The reason this is beneficial is that when you are stationary such at a dinner table as background noise escalates the adaptive directional microphones focus more in front of you, however when you get up and start walking after about six steps the hearing aids know you are moving and so will not focus their adaptive directional microphones directly in front so you don’t miss the speech of someone you may be walking next to and remain environmentally aware of what’s around you to keep you safe. The motion senses also enable you to use the double tap feature to answer and end your phone calls as well as to start and stop any audio streaming. 

Phonak Active Vent Receivers 

The Phonak Paradise Life hearing aids are also compatible with the innovative new Phonak Active Vent Receivers which automatically switch between open and closed venting depending of the program settings. In the open position the active vent is equivalent to a 3.5mm vent or air channel through the ear mould and in the closed position acts as a completely closed mould.

Benefits of Active Vent Receivers

In late 2021 Phonak introduced the world’s first Active Vent Receivers. These provide numerous benefits. For example, for conversation in a quiet environment the venting can remain open to reduce the occlusion effect, maintain environmental awareness and maximise speech intelligibility. When you go into an environment with higher levels of competing noise the venting can automatically close so as to reduce the environmental noise coming into your ear canals and improve the focus of the adaptive directional microphones on the desired speech signal.  Your Audiologist can also set up additional manual programs where the venting can be set as either open or closed in specific programs for  particular listening situations. For example the set-up of a manual music program so  you know Active Vent is closed to enhance base frequencies and maximise  music quality. Or a manual program for “Speech in Loud Noise” to make the most of microphone narrow directionality or “beam forming” of the microphones so as to focus on the speaker you are facing whilst minimising invasive background noise.

Pros and Cons of Active Vent Receivers

There is an audible click when the magnetic diaphragm of the active vent slides shut which can take some getting used to and it is advisable to deactivate many smart phone notifications such as from text message and emails so you aren’t getting the active vent ‘click’ as it slides shut every time you receive a notification. 

 Active vent receivers are considered an accessory to the hearing aids and because they have mechanical moving parts are more vulnerable to breakdown due to wax or moisture ingress. Breakdowns can be minimised through the routine use of an active de-humidifying chamber that circulates warm air through them to draw out and moisture as well as effective cleaning methods that we coach. Unlike the passive receivers which come with a three year warranty these active receivers comes with a six month warranty and it is even recommended that they are replace approximately every six months to ensure optimal functioning.

 At Harmony Hearing if you choose to use the active receivers  and they breakdown we replace them at cost so to keep you hearing as effectively as possible with minimal expense. Ultimately when you use an Active Vent receiver you attain the best attributes of an open and closed fitting which could be described as the best of both hearing worlds. 

Beam forming microphone focus is effective with active vent receivers

  Focus is on the speech with minimal interference of background noise. Greatly improves signal (speech) to background noise ratios.

Great for Streamed Audio and Music 

For the streaming of audio and music the active vents will automatically close to improve the base frequencies and therefore quality of streamed audio especially music 

Active Vent receivers are only compatible with Phonak Paradise Audeo P-R or Paradise Audeo P-RT. Unfortunately they are not backward compatible with the former Phonak Marvel range even though the three pin receiver wire will connect to them. 

Phonak Paradise Life also have integrated Roger Receivers so you can directly connect to Phonak accessories including the excellent new Roger On microphone. 

Phonak Roger On with adaptive and beam forming microphones

To learn more about Phonak and their great products please click the following link https://harmonyhearing.com.au/hearing-aids-perth/hearing-aid-brands/phonak/

Oticon More R Rechargeable hearing aids

Developed by leading Danish company Oticon (William Demant Holdings

) is their flagship model the Oticon More hearing aids. that feature the worlds first deep neural network. This utilises a form of artificial intelligence or machine learning where the hearing aids were programmed with over 12 million sound scenes and were are able to interpret which sounds where more important like speech and which ones are not important like background noise. Oticon adhere to their research and BrainHearing ™ philosophy when designing their hearing aids which shows that by providing the brain with as full a sound scene as possible it best supports the way our brains interpret and process sounds and switch attention naturally when desired. They claim their chip platform is so fast and precise it can quickly rebalance any sound scene. They say environmental sounds are present but just not overly invasive and the streams of speech are preserved from wherever they are coming from.  Their research shows that this best promotes speech understanding and reduces listening effort even in complex listening environments with competing noise. One of their big innovation was that they More hearing aids could wirelessly stream audio from both Apple iOS and Android smart phones using the ASHA protocol. This blue-tooth streaming being stable and reliable whilst giving a high fidelity to streamed audio. 

 Initially the Oticon More was only released as a rechargeable option with a built in lithium ion button battery. It is a potent rechargeable battery that gives up to 24 hours of wear time on a full charge and only takes about 3 hours from nearly flat. Well past a waking day. 

A  fast 30 minute charge would give around 6 hours of wear time. 

They were released in three tiers of technology and price points being the Oticon More 1 (Premium or Top of the line) Oticon More 2 (Advanced) and Oticon More 3 (Midrange).

Oticon More 1-R
Oticon More 1-R Hearing Aids

Introduced Custom Micro Shell Receiver

Late in 2021 Oticon introduced the option of a new custom made micro shell for its receivers. The receiver is completely embedded in the acrylic shell of the micro-mould. It is made with a vent or air channel that is acoustically optimised for your hearing levels so as to minimise the likelihood of feedback as well as minimise the occlusion effect whilst optimising for the necessary amplification required for your hearing levels. The micro-shell can help reduce management issues as it insert into its custom fitting sweet spot in your ear canals and remains secure. It can also make for a discrete fitting with the receiver wire sitting nice and flush with your temple and the micro shell sitting quite deep in your ear canal. 

New Oticon Custom Micro Shell for Receiver

 New Oticon Smart Charger

Late in 2021 Oticon released their portable Smart Charger which features a build in Lithium Ion rechargeable battery that holds several repeat charges. So even if you are travelling and don’t have access to a power outlet you can recharge your hearing aids three times. With the protective lid closed the charger circulates warm air having a dehumidifying effect to help preserve proper functioning. 

Oticon Smart Charger with several repeat charges for on the go.

Oticon More 312 released

The new year has seen the release of the Oticon More with a disposable 312 sized battery known as the More 312. If you have quite good dexterity and don’t mind swapping out your batteries approximately weekly then this could be a good solution for you. 

To learn more about Oticon and their great products please click on the following link: https://harmonyhearing.com.au/hearing-aids-perth/hearing-aid-brands/oticon/

Completely in the Canal Hearing Aids (CIC) 

There are numerous advantages to using completely in the canal hearing aids (CIC). These can be custom made to fit your ear canal anatomy which offers great comfort, security and acoustic optimisation to your hearing loss. A couple of leading examples of in the canal hearing aids include the custom fitting Phonak Virto Titanium. There’s also the increasingly popular and effective “instant fitting” CIC hearing aids such as the excellent Signia Silk which fit in your ear canal with an appropriately selected silicon sleeve or dome. 

Gent wearing Signia Silk CIC
Lady wearing a Phonak Virto Titanium CIC

 

Discrete

If ear canal anatomy permits the custom in the canal hearing aids can fit quite deep in the ear canal making them discrete if not invisible. Where a deeper fitting can be attained and the device can be made small enough to be categorised as an invisible in the canal (iic) hearing aid.

Not Dislodged by Facemasks

Visual cues become especially important for people with hearing loss to understand what’s being said. Facemasks not only hide important facial expressions and lip reading cues, their elastics over the ear make it easy to dislodge the behind the ear (BTE) or Receiver in the Canal (RIC) style hearing aids. If you’ve ever had one get flung off when you remove your fast mask you’ll understand. We are now encumbered with so much over the ears including spectacle and sunglass frames and even the rim of hats sitting close to the ears. A major advantage of completely in the canal style hearing aids is that they aren’t adversely affected my mask elastics. There’s little risk of then being dislodged or lost. 

More Effective Use of Natural Ear Anatomy

Completely In The Ear (ITE) or even better completely in the Canal (CIC) hearing aids make more effective use of the natural anatomy or shapes of the External Ear (Pinna or Auricle) to direct sound into the ear canal. This better preserves the natural function of the ear in preserving the inter-aural timing and intensity cues as well as our natural forward focus. All the unique folds of the Pinna play a valuable role in our spatial awareness of and the localisation of sound.  Behind the ear BTE and RIC Style hearing aids almost negate the purpose of the Pinna and their function is denigrated to being a simple support for the hearing aid and its microphones.  Much of their sophisticated adaptive directional microphone technology goes into compensating for what we lose when we negate the important function of the anatomy of the external ear. 

Less Wind Turbulence 

Being in the ear canal especially deeper in the canal where anatomy permits it can help protect the microphones from wind turbulence. Behind the ear style hearing aids have to employ quite sophisticated techniques to reduce annoying rushing created by wind turbulence as their microphones are more exposed.

Phonak Virto Marvel Titanium 

The Phonak Virto Marvel Titanium is one of the best fully automatic custom fitting hearing aids on the market. Featuring the Marvel Autosense 3.0 they analyse the acoustic environment you are in and the artificial intelligence selects the ideal autosense mode for that environment. Rather than hop from mode to mode it blends the transition between modes for a seem-less transition. 

Custom Fit & Made from Titanium

Phonak Virto hearing aids are custom shaped for an accurate, secure and comfortable fit in your ear canals. Biometric calibration uses over 1600 data points to precisely calibrate the custom shape to the anatomy of each of your ear canals.

Phonak Marvel Virto Titanium
Robust and Discrete Phonak Marvel Virto M Titanium

There are numerous advantage to custom making the shell of these hearing aids from titanium;

Extra strength leads to a more discrete fitting aid:

The extra durability obtained from using titanium enables a shell to be about half the thickness of ones made from acrylic. This enables them to be made smaller and therefore fit deeper in the ear canal for a more discrete fit. Phonak say this increases the invisibility fit rate by 64%. In other words they can be made as a truly invisible in the canal hearing aid (iic) especially valuable for the cosmetically motivated. Titanium shells are approximately 15x stronger then custom hearing aids made from traditional acrylic they are likely to last longer and be less prone to cracking.

Phonak Virto Marvel Titanium

Signia Silk X

Another excellent choice for people wanting a discrete completely in the ear canal hearing solution is the instant fitting Signia Silk X. It is referred to as instant fitting as it doesn’t require a mould of your ears to be taken as it is coupled to your ear with a carefully selected silicon sleeve or dome that ‘clicks’ on to the receiver tip of the aid. They have excellent sound quality and noise filtering technology making for clarity and comfort in almost any listening situation. 

The top of the line or Premium model is the Signia Silk 7X, which retail for approximately $3000 each. As they are one of the industries smallest hearing aids they fit quite deeply in most ear canals. There’s a pretty good likelihood they will be a true completely in the canal CIC hearing aid or even invisible in the canal hearing aid IIC ear canal anatomy permitting.

Signia Silk X
Signia Silk 7X
Signia Silk X CIC
Signia Silk X in ladies ear canal

The Premium Silk 7X Model Features:

  • 48 Fine Tuning Channels
  • Acoustic sensors
  • Dynamic SoundScape Processing
  • eWindscreen
  • Spatial Speech Focus
  • Extended Bandwidth up to 10KHz
  • Ability to be adjusted by the Signia App 

To learn more about Signia Silk please click the following link:

https://www.signia-pro.com/en/product-portfolio/signia-xperience/silk-x/

Resound One

GN Resound a global leader in hearing aid innovation announced on February the 7th 2022 that it would be adding 2 new Behind the Ear (BTE) style hearing aids to its One range.  They were originally released as receiver in the canal (RIC) style hearing aids which aren’t suitable for everyone for a number of reasons. The new BTE One hearing aids will be realised to suit people with moderate to severe hearing loss and a power device for more severe hearing loss. 

Powerful Recharge-ability 

The receiver in the canal RIC style Resound One provides up to 30 hours use on a full charge or 25 hours with limited streaming of audio. Well past a waking day of wear. A 1 hour charge gives 15 hours of wear time and a quick10 minutes from flat provides approximately 2.5 hours wear time. 

sound One Charging Dock with Repeat Chargers

Tap Control (Motion Sensors)

You can answer and end calls with a simple tap on the hearing aid without having to take the phone of your pocket as the microphones of the hearing aids pick up your voice. This is an excellent solution for conversations whilst multi-tasking such as cooking, gardening or being at work when the phones out of reach. 

Supporting the Brain

Resound One delivers outstanding sound quality with the technology adapted to each individual hearing needs. “Advanced Access Directionality” support spatial awareness in all environments. In higher noise environments they use “Ultra-focus” which uses microphone narrow directionality to focus on the speech in front of your whilst effectively reducing invasive surrounding noises. Resound claim this provides up to 30% better speech understanding in background noise. 

Microphone & Receiver In the Ear (M&RIE)

The receiver in the canal version of Resound One is compatible with the innovative new M&RIE receiver which stands for Microphone and Receiver in the Ear. Each hearing aid has 3 microphones. The two external ones on the body of the hearing aid (on top of the ear) and the third incorporated in the receiver module which sits in the ear canal. This microphone in the ear canal collects sound naturally funnelled into your ear canal by your ears (Pinna). This preserves the natural spectral cues for spatial hearing. This better preserves the Pinna Effect than corrective algorithms used by traditional BTE and RIC hearing aids. The result is improved localisation of where sounds are coming from, improved speech understanding in background noise and improved sound quality.

Microphone and Receiver in the Canal (M&RIE)

Amazingly this doesn’t result in feedback if calibrated properly by your Audiologist. The M&RIE system provides the following benefits;

Replicates the Pinna Effect

The microphone located in the ear canal picks up the sound funnelled in by the natural anatomy of your ears (Pinna). The Pinna and ear canal shape and amplify sound due to their resonant effects. The resonance is unique to each individuals ear canal length, shape and size. The combined effect of the ear canal and concha resonances results in an approximately 15 dB increase in SPL at the ear drum from 2000 to 5000 Hz (von Békésy, 1960) So placing the microphone in your ear canal better preserves natural amplification and your individual spectral cues for spatial hearing also known as the Pinna Effect. 

Better Speech Understanding in Wind

Wind noise for hearing aid users is a common issue that leads to decreased satisfactions Surveys have shown wind noise to be the second largest hearing aid user complaint. Typically for Behind the Ear (BTE) and Receiver In the Canal (RIC) users the microphones are positioned above and behind the ear where the greatest turbulent air flow occurs. This can cause invasive wind turbulence noise (roaring sound). The M&RIE microphone and receiver module situated in the ear canal is protected from wind turbulence. When high turbulence is detected the input from the microphone in the ear canal is prioritised. This has been shown to substantially reduce wind turbulence by up to 19dB. Ideal for any out-door activities. 

Please see the following video demonstration:

Candidacy for Marie

People with mild to severe hearing loss can benefit from M&RIE. With any hearing aid fitting the acoustic coupling to the ear canal requires careful selection. There needs to be a balance between the need to reduce occlusion, risk of feedback and the levels of low frequency amplification required.

The ability to incorporate a microphone in the receiver is made possible by digital feedback cancellation advances. Previously there would have been too much risk of feedback to have the microphone and receiver so close to one another. 

Quality design & colour range

The new shells are of the One RIC range are of higher quality and more robust than the former Resound LinX range with a sturdy push button. They are also quite a unique stylist shape with excellent colour range to match hair and skin tones. 

Resound One Colour Range

Widex Moment

Widex Moment hearing aids improve on natural and clear sound quality. They minimise the delay of the sound delivered from the hearing aid speaker (receiver) and that of the incoming natural sound that also reaches the ear drum. This eliminates an echo’e sound quality inherent in many hearing aids.

ZeroDelay™ Pure Sound

To do this the new Widex Moment micro-chip uses two signal pathways with improvements in processing speed and design. Widex call it ZeroDelay™ technology. Widex claim it processes sound faster than any other digital hearing aid. The processing delay between the microphone and the receiver is reduced below 0.5 milli-seconds.

Tiny & Mighty Rechargeable Battery

Widex claim Moment has the smallest lithium ion rechargeable battery and it certainly is potent. 4 hours of charge gives between 16 and 29 hours of wear time depending on the duration of audio streaming you do. A brief 30 minute charge giving 4 hours of wear time and 4 hours to reach a full charge from nearly flat and give you between 16 and 29 hours of wear time depending on the amount of audio streaming you do.

Stream Audio from Apple iOS and Android Devices

You can directly stream audio from both Apple iOS and Android devices through Widex Moment hearing aids.

Conclusion:

As discussed there are numerous considerations to determine the best hearing aid solution for your unique needs. You can see the world’s leading manufacturers have all brought impressive new innovations to the market in late 2021 and early 2022 despite global challenges. By seeking the services of a good independent practice, you are more likely to be given unbiased guidance, afforded true choice and have hearing aids and accessories more accurately matched to your needs and wants.

At Harmony Hearing we enjoy learning about your unique lifestyle and communication needs. Our careful processes of hearing health testing and goal setting ensures we pinpoint the best solution from the huge range of available options. We provide some of the most competitive up front prices on the latest leading brand hearing aids and accessories. These are all on display on our online store at https://harmonyhearing.com.au/shop/ You can also view our flexible aftercare packages and schedule of service fees.

If you have any queries about any of the products on offer or services please don’t hesitate to call us on 1800 020 406 or email us at [email protected]

We look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Andrew Mackendrick (Clinical Audiologist) 

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