Hearing Aid Technology Levels Explained

Most leading hearing aid manufacturers release a certain model in three to five technology levels. This can be confusing as to why one is better than another. Originally there were typically three technology levels known as Low End, Mid-Range and High End in the profession. Then a fourth category was introduced and the levels were called Basic, Standard, Advanced and Premium. It reflects the feature set designed to help them perform well in complex listening environments. So as to better filter out the competing noise to improve listening comfort and enhance speech clarity.

Hearing Aid Brands Technology Levels

Leading Danish company Oticon have released their flagship Oticon hearing aid models in three tiers of technology. The More 1 being the top of the line or Premium model. The More 2 being Advanced and the More 3 considered upper-midrange. The following technology document shows the feature set of these models. Premium Oticon More 1 has the widest bandwidth of up to 10KHz. 64 digital channels and up to 10dB of neural noise suppression. Compared to the Advanced More 2 which has 48 Channels and an 8KHz bandwidth. There’s a legitimate feature set designed to give the More 1 superior performance in challenging listening situation than More 2.

Oticon More Technology Guide

In 2022 Oticon released their new entry level models the Oticon Zircon 1mini RITE and Oticon Zircon 2 Mini BTE. These are more the Entry level and Basic level hearing aids. See the following feature set guide.

Zircon Product Guide
Oticon Zircon Product GuideAl

Although the Zircon models look identical to More they aren’t on the Oticon’s flagship operating system called Open Sound Navigator. They still represent excellent technology with high end features for lower end hearing aids at an affordable price.

Another leading brand example is Phonak who’s latest generation Phonak Paradise family. They come in four technology levels. The Phonak Paradise P90 (Premium), Paradise P70 (Advanced), Paradise P50 (Mid-Range) and Paradise P30 (Basic). These technology levels apply to all their styles. For example the Paradise Audeo Receiver in the Canal (RIC) style. The custom fitting in the canal models called the Paradise Virto P (ITE, ITC, ITC & CIC). The following technology guide shows the four levels.

Phonak Technology levels.

Technology Counselling Guides.

Quite often brands will produce counselling guide. This aim to illustrate the expected performance enhancements as you move to higher technology levels. The following counselling guide was produced by Unitron to indicate the expected performance in the situation examples. You can see the Unitron T Pro has a 5 Star Rating for all the listening situations.

Unitron technology levels

What’s the suitable technology level for me?

Consider it a long term investment in hearing health and well-being.

At Harmony Hearing we advocate going for the best technology level within your budget. After all it is your hearing all day, every day for years to come. In years to follow I’m sure you’ll encounter challenging listening situations with competing noise. The improved noise filtering and listening comfort is worth the little extra investment. Especially if you consider a quality pair of hearing aids can last a decade if well looked after. Many people choose to upgrade every five to seven years as the technology evolves and improves.

Matching Your Lifestyle and Budget

The hearing aid technology you need is based on both your lifestyle and your budget. In an ideal world, it would be solely based on your lifestyle needs, because they are the most important. Unfortunately, in the real world, you need to balance that against your budget. In the paragraphs below I will explain the different technology levels and the lifestyle needs they equate to. Hearing aids have dramatically changed over the last five to ten years, they work better than they ever have before. On top of that, hearing aid accessories and their efficacy have exploded in the last few years.

Entry Level or Basic hearing aid Technology

Basic or entry-level hearing aids are just that, Basic. They have the essential ingredients to amplify sound and help you hear better in less challenging environments. Suitable If you lead a relatively quiet lifestyle and mainly want to hear the TV and your Wife better. Basic level hearing aids will allow you to converse more easily in small groups. However, if background noise escalates they won’t provide much noise filtering and therefore listening comfort.

Standard Hearing Aid Technology

Aimed at people who are a little more active. They give slightly better noise filtering. Also more accurate shaping of the amplification to your hearing levels across the frequency range. May allow different features such as a receiver in the canal style RIC. Instead of a thin tube to deliver the sound into your ear canal like many basic hearing aids have.

Advanced Hearing Aid Technology

Ideal for active people in delivering good sound quality and speech clarity in most listening situations. Many manufacturers reserve their top features for Advanced and Premium hearing aids. A higher number of digital processing channels and better noise filtering accompany Advanced hearing aids. They also coordinate more functions binaurally. i.e. share more information via their bluetooth connection as a wireless pair.

Premium Hearing Aid Technology

This level of technology is where the hearing aid brands include all their highest end and latest features. These are designed to give you the best clarify and most comfort in complex listening environments. This is a dynamic environment where speech is coming from varying directions. Also there is significant levels of competing background noise. Premium hearing aids will give; The best speech understanding, the most listening comfort and the least listening effort. Even a living room with the TV going and the wife talking is a complex listening situation.

Counselling You to Make an Empowered Choice

As your Audiologist we discuss the hearing and communication environments you would like to hear better in. We document these as communication goals so as to gauge your levels of improvement. Perhaps you’ve grown avoidant of social engagements. This may be because it lacked enjoyment due to not being able to hear and engage in the conversation. You could have felt left out or embarrassed or simply left out. If we can help you confidently hear in such environments then you may want to go to those engagements again.

Don’t Delay Getting Assistance

We encourage you to try the professional hearing services on offer at Harmony Hearing & Audiology. Hearing is a primary sense and it can be life changing for the better to have it working optimally again. To book a FREE consultation simply call us on 1800 020 406. Or email https://harmonyhearing.com.au/book-an-appointment/ and let us know a time that suits.