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Published: Oct 18, 2022 35 min read
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Flexible Payment OptionsHearing Aids are Available from a Variety of ManufacturersAffordable Hearing Aid Options
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Hearing Aid Type

BTE

RIC & BTE

CIC & ITC

BTE

Price Range

$1,195-$1,995 per pair

$499-$1,399 per ear or $998-$2,798 per pair

$1,500 - $2,950 for a pair

$399-$799 per ear or $299.98-$699.98 per pair

Technology Levels

3

3

Varies by manufacturer

3

Battery Type

Rechargeable and zinc-air

Rechargeable and 312

Lithium ion battery and nickel metal hydride

Rechargeable and 13 zinc-air

Manufacturer Warranty

3 years

12 months

2 years

90 days

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Hearing Aid Type

BTE

Price Range

$1,195-$1,995 per pair

Technology Levels

3

Battery Type

Rechargeable and zinc-air

Manufacturer Warranty

3 years

Flexible Payment Options
Audicus
Our Partner
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Hearing Aid Type

RIC & BTE

Price Range

$499-$1,399 per ear or $998-$2,798 per pair

Technology Levels

3

Battery Type

Rechargeable and 312

Manufacturer Warranty

12 months

Hearing Aids are Available from a Variety of Manufacturers
Eargo
Our Partner
Get Started
Hearing Aid Type

CIC & ITC

Price Range

$1,500 - $2,950 for a pair

Technology Levels

Varies by manufacturer

Battery Type

Lithium ion battery and nickel metal hydride

Manufacturer Warranty

2 years

Affordable Hearing Aid Options
MDHearingAid
Our Partner
Get Started
Hearing Aid Type

BTE

Price Range

$399-$799 per ear or $299.98-$699.98 per pair

Technology Levels

3

Battery Type

Rechargeable and 13 zinc-air

Manufacturer Warranty

90 days

An estimated 15% of American adults — roughly 37.5 million people — suffer from some form of hearing loss, according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Of these, approximately 28.8 million could benefit from a hearing aid.

To help you find the best hearing aid for your particular needs, we’ve compiled a list of the top models in the industry today.

Read on for our list of the six best hearing aids and a guide on how to find the right one for you.

Our Top Picks for Best Hearing Aids

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Best Hearing Aid Reviews

HIGHLIGHTS
Hearing aid type
Behind the ear (BTE) receiver in the canal (RIC)
Type of hearing loss
Mild to severe hearing loss
Technology levels
5 (1X, 2X, 3X, 5X, 7X)
Price range per pair
$2,500-$4,500
Battery type
Rechargeable (lithium-ion)
Features
Bluetooth, Iphone and Android connectivity, hands-free calls, debris and water resistant (IP68), binaural sound processing, feedback cancellation, high-frequency compression, extended dynamic range, tinnitus relief (2X-7X models only)
Manufacturer's warranty
1 year
Pros
  • Sleek design
  • Facemask mode to better hear mask wearers
  • Resistant to debris and water (IP68 rating)
  • 5 colors available
Cons
  • No disposable battery option
  • Tinnitus relief program only available in 2X-7X technology levels
  • No telecoil option

Why we chose the Signia Styletto X: With a very slim profile, tinnitus relief options and a wide array of additional features, the Styletto X is a great all-around option that delivers great sound quality.

The Signia Styletto X is our choice for customers looking for high-quality, lightweight and stylish behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids.

The devices weigh about the same as a set of AirPods, making it among the lightest on the market. The device runs on Signia’s new Xperience platform, which adds improved features, like sound and motion sensing.

The Styletto X series packs a lot of features into its slim housing. First, it offers bluetooth connectivity to Apple devices so you can stream directly into the hearing aid. (Note that you need to purchase the StreamLine Mic separately in order to connect to Android devices.) You can also buy the StreamLine TV to get Dolby quality sound directly from the television.

You also get long runtimes, with up to 19 hours on a single charge, and approximately three more full charges in the case. The case can be charged via USB-C or with Qi-certified wireless chargers.

Most importantly, this series of hearing aids boasts some of the best sound processing technology available today. They feature binaural sound processing, which provides a more natural hearing experience and increased directionality, that is, the ability to recognize where sounds are coming from.

From the 2X level and up, the Styletto X also provides tinnitus relief, which allows the user to focus on different sounds instead of the continuous noise caused by tinnitus. Signia is also, at this moment, the only brand to offer built-in Notch Therapy, which can help relieve tinnitus symptoms in the long term.

HIGHLIGHTS
Hearing aid type
Behind the ear (BTE), receiver in the canal (RIC)
Type of hearing loss
Mild to severe hearing loss
Technology levels
5 (1000, 1200, 1600, 2000, 2400)
Price range per pair
$2,000-$4,000
Battery type
Rechargeable (lithium-ion)
Features
Bluetooth, iOS and Android connectivity, hands-free phone calls, debris and water resistant (IP58), volume/program control button, inertial measurement unit (IMU), directional microphone, user-tuning, remote programming available
Manufacturer's warranty
3 years
Pros
  • Only hearing aid on the market with IMU (movement tracking/fall detection)
  • 3-year manufacturer warranty
  • In-the-canal (ITC) model available
  • Has disposable and rechargeable battery options
  • Seven colors available
Cons
  • Very expensive (average price around $4,376)
  • Only the premium level includes the IMU
  • Rechargeable battery only available on the RIC model

Why we chose the Starkey Livio Edge AI: An industry exclusive built-in IMU, long three-year warranty and a feature-packed premium model make the Livio Edge a perfect companion for people who also want to keep track of their daily activities.

The Starkey Livio Edge AI behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid is a great device if you have an active lifestyle, as it’s the only hearing device on the market that has an inertial measurement unit (IMU) in its circuitry. The IMU includes an accelerometer and a gyroscope with broad tracking capabilities — it can track your heart rate, movement and positioning. This makes it effective at detecting falls as well.

The device displays this information in its “Thrive” app, which keeps track of your daily calorie burn, steps taken and daily movement. However, this feature makes the Starkey Livio AI one of the most expensive devices on this list as well, especially considering that the IMU is only available on the model that costs almost $4,000, so you must consider whether a workout-oriented hearing device is worth it.

The lower-cost models (model numbers 1000-1200) not only lack the IMU, but also other features such as increased background noise filtration and cancellation, which can be very helpful when exercising in urban settings. This means that they’re not ideal for exercise, hiking or similar activities.

The Starkey Livio Edge AI is still a great device for daily wear, though. The IntelliVoicespeech recognition is top notch, even with face masks on. You can also take phone calls and stream directly into the device with an iPhone — unfortunately, you need an additional device to connect to Android phones.

It also boasts a three-year warranty, whereas many hearing aids have one-year warranties.

However, this information was hard to find, as well as some of the documents for the device. While this particular fact was a good surprise, transparency is something to keep in mind when buying Starkey products: look deep into the documentation, read the fine print and ask a lot of questions when talking to a doctor or representative.

HIGHLIGHTS
Hearing aid type
Behind the ear (BTE), microphone and receiver in the ear (M&RIE)
Type of hearing loss
Mild to severe hearing loss
Technology levels
4 (Resound One 4, One 5, One 7, One 9)
Price range per pair
$3,000-$3,700
Battery type
Rechargeable (lithium-ion)
Features
Dual microphones (in the ear and over the ear), Bluetooth, iOS, and Android compatibility, telecoil (only on premium technology level), IP68, handsfree calling, background noise tracker, tinnitus sound generator, wind and noise reduction
Manufacturer's warranty
3 years
Pros
  • Rechargeable, 30-hour battery life
  • Three hours to fully charge
  • Extra microphone inside the receiver improves sound quality
Cons
  • Basic models start at around $3,000
  • Telecoil option only available in premium technology level

Why we chose the Resound One: With up to 30 hours of runtime featuring telecoil, bluetooth connectivity and an innovative microphone in the canal, the Resound One maximizes its behind-the-ear housing.

Most rechargeable hearing aid batteries typically last around 20-24 hours or even less, especially if you’re using it to stream music and/or podcasts. The ReSound One, on the other hand, offers up to 30 hours of battery life on a single charge. The case can also provide up to three full additional charges for the pair.

Another great feature is the inclusion of an additional microphone in the receiver component of the hearing aid, which increases sound localization by 15% when compared to BTE devices with omnidirectional microphones. Also, since the device has two microphones (one inside the receiver and one inside the device’s chassis), it allows you to more accurately recognize where sounds are coming from.

The Resound One also offers several settings for noise/wind reduction and noise tracking. Also, every technology level or model tier includes Resound’s Tinnitus Sound Generator (TSG), which can drown out tinnitus and helps the brain refocus on other sounds.

HIGHLIGHTS
Hearing aid type
Behind the ear (BTE)
Type of hearing loss
Mild to severe hearing loss
Technology levels
3 (More 3, More 2, More 1)
Price range per pair
$2,700-$3,900
Battery type
Rechargeable (lithium-ion)
Features
Hands-free phone calls, iOS and Android compatibility, push button (program, volume, and mute control), telecoil on all technology levels, noise reduction, automatic acclimatization, bass boost, feedback protection, neural noise suppression, IP68
Manufacturer's warranty
1 year
Pros
  • DNN technology improves sound and speech recognition
  • Telecoil compatibility available in all technology levels
  • Seven color models to choose from
Cons
  • It only has three technology levels
  • Starting technology level is expensive, averaging over $2,700

Why we chose the Oticon More: The Oticon More has one of the most advanced sound processing systems out there, using deep neural network technology to recognize and filter sound.

Oticon’s More hearing aid model stands out due to the device’s artificial intelligence, which includes “deep neural network technology” (DNN).

This technology is trained to recognize more than 12 million real-life sounds, helping the wearer’s brain recognize nuanced sounds that would be filtered out otherwise. At the moment, this is the only hearing aid that uses DNN to actually recognize and filter sound.

Additionally, the company’s own Center for Applied Audiology Research states that DNN increases speech understanding by fifteen percent, so you will be able to listen to friends and family more clearly in all situations.

Another great perk is that the Oticon More includes telecoil compatibility in all its technology levels, so you don’t have to worry about spending more for this feature.

The Oticon More can sync with most Apple products for direct streaming and two-way phone calls. It’s only compatible with some Android devices, however, so make sure to check its compatibility page and see if your device is listed.

HIGHLIGHTS
Hearing aid type
Behind the ear (BTE)
Type of hearing loss
Severe to profound hearing loss
Technology levels
4 (P30, P50, P70, P90)
Price range per pair
$2,800-$3,600
Battery type
675 zinc-air
Features
Bluetooth, iOS and Android compatibility, push button (program, volume, and audio control), hands-free calling, IP68, Telecoil on all technology levels, noise reduction, sound amplifier, feedback suppression, Tinnitus balance program on all technology levels, user-preference tuning, auto acclimatization
Manufacturer's warranty
3 years
Pros
  • Compatible with all Bluetooth devices
  • Telecoil and tinnitus balance available in all technology levels
  • 3-year manufacturer warranty
Cons
  • No rechargeable battery option
  • Model is bulkier than other BTEs

Why we chose the Phonak Naida Paradise UP: The Naida Paradise UP with a zinc-air battery provides powerful sound processing for those with profound hearing loss, along with telecoil, bluetooth and a wide array of features.

In addition to its powerful sound processing, the Phonak Naida Paradise UP stands out thanks to its wireless compatibility. This means it can pair with most devices such as phones, tablets and computers to get direct streaming into the hearing aid. Additionally, each of the aid’s technology levels includes telecoil and tinnitus balance, so you can enjoy these features without paying extra, making it a better value than many competitors.

This UP version listed here is the most powerful model, and the most appropriate one for severe hearing loss. The UP uses a zinc-air non-rechargeable battery as opposed to the lithium-ion battery used in other models. This battery is more powerful and more efficient, providing a much more stable and consistent performance.

HIGHLIGHTS
Hearing aid type
Behind the ear (BTE), Receiver in the canal (RIC)
Type of hearing loss
Mild to moderate hearing loss
Technology levels
4 (110, 330, 440)
Price range per pair
$1,971-$3,521
Battery type
Rechargeable (lithium-ion)
Features
Machine-learning capabilities, Bluetooth, iOS connectivity, push button (program and volume control), IP 68, noise reduction, tinnitus balance (Zen program), wind and feedback protection
Manufacturer's warranty
2 years
Pros
  • Unique tinnitus relief program
  • "Soundsense Learn" feature saves and updates your sound preferences
  • Smallest rechargeable lithium-ion battery on the market
Cons
  • Needs additional devices for Android and TV connectivity
  • Remote care/tuning only available through an extra accessory

Why we chose the Widex Moment: Widex provides a unique tinnitus relief program, with a catalog of sounds and techniques, along with an easily customizable sound platform.

There are many hearing aids that address tinnitus, but none do it like the Widex Moment. The device uses a phone app called “Zen” that provides tinnitus relief using music or calming tones. To do this, you access the Zen program on your mobile device, link it to your hearing aid, and cycle through various types of sound that can help you manage tinnitus effectively.

This is part of the Widex Zen Therapy, a four-part approach to not just relieve tinnitus, but decrease symptoms in the long term. The company provides a wide array of resources that can help with tinnitus — including ways to customize your device to fit your particular needs and tips on techniques on how to manage it.

All technology levels come with Widex’s “Soundsense Learn” option, which helps your hearing aid adapt to your surroundings more efficiently. When you’re at a specific location — a family meeting, for example — you can access the Soundsense section of the phone app, and it will prompt you to listen to two sound profiles linked to your vicinity. When you choose your preferred sound setting, the device will record it to a personal noise profile, so that you can access it again if you find yourself in a similarly noisy environment.

HIGHLIGHTS
Hearing aid type
Behind the ear (BTE), Receiver in the canal (RIC)
Type of hearing loss
Mild to moderate hearing loss
Technology levels
2 (B1, B2)
Price range per pair
$999
Battery type
Rechargeable (lithium-ion)
Features
Payable through FSA and HSA, intuitive and guided mobile app for self-tuning, World Volume settings raises low sounds for better awareness
Manufacturer's warranty
1 year
Pros
  • Rechargeable battery with up to 18 hours of runtime
  • Customizable sound profile on mobile app
  • Charges through USB-C
Cons
  • Doesn't stream content from the phone
  • No telecoil

Why we chose it: The Lexie B2 OTC hearing aid, which is powered by Bose, provides the most customizable experience among over-the-counter options, while still maintaining its competitive price.

Now that hearing aids are available over the counter, Lexie has instantly become the most prominent name in the category. The B2, powered by Bose, is the company’s latest version of its popular product.

The Lexie B2 is a self-fitting and self-customizable hearing aid sold for $999 at major retailers, mainly Walgreens and CVS. The guide helps you select wire length and the package includes different domes for the in-canal receiver.

Through the Lexie app, which provides clear instructions, users are able to tune the aid to their particular specifications and preferences. The app provides control for bass and treble, and the World Volume feature, which helps turn up lower surrounding sounds for a more immersive experience, and customizable directionality. You can also preset favorite settings that fit the places you frequent the most.

Unfortunately, the B2 does not stream content from your phone nor does it include telecoil. However, Lexie does offer the Lumen model, which has telecoil and retails for less at $799; it does, however, have fewer features and less customization than the B2 model, though.

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Other Companies We Considered

Some of the hearing aids in this section are direct-to-consumer (DTC) hearing devices, meaning devices that can be purchased directly online or through retailers. DTC devices are ready to be used upon purchase or after fine- tuning at home, without the support of an audiologist.

These types of hearing devices are relatively affordable, making them very popular. However, studies show that DTC devices can potentially deliver poor sound quality and uncomfortably loud sounds.

Eargo - Eargo 5 IIC

HIGHLIGHTS
Hearing aid type
Invisible-in-canal (IIC), direct-to-consumer (DTC)
Type of hearing loss
Mild to moderate hearing loss
Technology levels
1
Price range per pair
$2,950
Battery type
Rechargeable (lithium-ion)
Features
4 preset sound profiles, User preference tuning, noise reduction, feedback cancellation, wind noise reduction, water resistant (no IP stated)
Manufacturer's warranty
2 years
Pros
  • Sleek, invisible-in-canal (IIC) design
  • Rechargeable case
  • 45-day, no-questions-asked return policy
Cons
  • No professional help available for hearing adjustment
  • Some users say the device didn't improve their hearing

Why It Didn’t Make the Cut

Although tuning can help greatly with adjusting the device to your hearing, it won’t be as precise as getting tested and having the device fine-tuned by a professional according to your needs. The company doesn’t offer professional help, so you are left on your own to figure out how to adjust your device.

MD Hearing Aids - Volt Hearing Aid

HIGHLIGHTS
Hearing aid type
Behind-the-ear (BTE), direct-to-consumer (DTC)
Type of hearing loss
Mild to moderate hearing loss
Technology levels
1
Price range per pair
$599.98
Battery type
Rechargeable (lithium-ion)
Features
Sound amplification, rechargeable battery, noise reduction, feedback reduction, water resistant (no IP stated), 4 sound profiles
Manufacturer's warranty
2 years
Pros
  • Inexpensive at $599.98
  • Two-year warranty
  • 45-day risk-free trial period
  • Free shipping on all devices
Cons
  • Sound profiles are preset and you can't change them
  • Money-back guarantee is limited to 45 days

Why It Didn’t Make the Cut

Although affordable, Volt’s lack of programmability could be limiting for users. MD Hearing aids also has a premium model called the “Core” that includes programming via an app, but we can’t recommend that device either for two reasons. First, it isn’t water resistant, so if water ever seeps into it, you’ll have to contact the company for a replacement. Secondly, the Core doesn’t come with rechargeable batteries, so you’ll have to spend extra cash whenever its disposable batteries run out.

Costco - Kirkland Signature 10.0

HIGHLIGHTS
Hearing aid type
Behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-canal (RIC), direct-to-consumer (DTC)
Type of hearing loss
Mild to moderate hearing loss
Technology levels
1
Price range per pair
$1,399.99
Battery type
Rechargeable (lithium-ion)
Features
Telecoil, Bluetooth, iOS and Android connectivity, remote adjustment available, four sound profiles
Manufacturer's warranty
3 years
Pros
  • Device has telecoil and Bluetooth capabilities
  • Hearing aids can be adjusted by professionals at Costco hearing aid centers
  • Charging case included
Cons
  • Not all Costco locations have hearing aid centers
  • Device will likely be set by a hearing instrument specialist
  • You need a Costco membership to access a hearing professional

Why It Didn’t Make the Cut

Not all Costco store locations have a hearing aid center, and they mostly employ hearing instrument specialists, not trained audiologists. These two factors kept the Kirkland 10.0 device out of our top choices.

Signia Active Series

HIGHLIGHTS
Hearing aid type
In-the-ear (ITE)
Type of hearing loss
Mild to severe hearing loss
Technology levels
1
Price range per pair
$2,600-$4,100
Battery type
Rechargeable (lithium-ion)
Features
26 hour runtime, Bluetooth connectivity, speech enhancement, Signia Xperience app, ambient noise control
Manufacturer's warranty
1 year
Pros
  • Long 26-hour runtime
  • Sleek, earbud-style design
  • AI smart assistant helps you determine the best sound settings
Cons
  • Might appear to be too similar to headphones
  • Expensive, premium model surpasses $4,000

Why It Didn’t Make the Cut

The Signia Active hearing aids look exactly like true wireless headphones. While this look could be desirable for users who might be put off by the look of traditional hearing aids, it could also present a problem in settings where headphones would be frowned upon (for example, classrooms and conference rooms). However, what kept the Signia Active out of our main list was its high price, which doesn’t seem to be justified by the features it offers.

Phonak Audéo Fit

HIGHLIGHTS
Hearing aid type
Behind the ear (BTE), receiver in the canal (RIC)
Type of hearing loss
Mild to severe hearing loss
Technology levels
2 (P70, P90)
Price range per pair
$3,300-$3,700
Battery type
Rechargeable (lithium-ion)
Features
Bluetooth, iOS and Android connectivity, hands-free phone calls, debris and water resistant (IP68), physical button, , directional microphone, health tracking
Manufacturer's warranty
1 year
Pros
  • Its health tracking capabilities make it a great option for active lifestyles
  • Physical button makes it much easier to use while on a run
Cons
  • Only two technology levels
  • Outdated micro-USB charging port

Why It Didn’t Make the Cut

While Phonak is a reputable hearing aid brand, the Audéo Fit falls short when it comes to technology levels, features and, most importantly, information. There’s a lack of available information even on the spec sheet, which doesn’t provide essential information such as estimated battery runtime. We found that other competitors within the same price range simply offer more features.

Hearing Aids Guide

When buying a hearing aid, it’s important to understand how they work and the features you may want and/or need for your lifestyle.

Make sure to consult a doctor before starting your buying process, so you know how much hearing loss you have and get help for any underlying conditions that might be causing it.

Read on to learn more about hearing aids.

What are hearing aids and how do they work?

Hearing aids are electronic devices worn in or behind the ear that improve hearing by amplifying sound. Although they can look like earbuds, they are sophisticated devices meant to mitigate hearing loss.

All modern hearing aid brands have three basic parts: a microphone, an amplifier and a speaker. The device’s small microphone receives sound and sends it to a microchip that converts it into a digital signal. The amplifier then increases the strength of the digital signal and the speaker reproduces the amplified sound into the ear.

You’ll need to undergo a hearing test first. Then, a hearing specialist will program the new hearing aid to the specific degree of hearing loss observed in the test. Some hearing aids have automatic features that adjust volume for improved hearing in different environments.

Hearing aids can help with almost all levels of hearing loss, although profound hearing loss is usually handled by a special hearing aid called a cochlear implant, which connects the hearing aid to the inner ear.

Hearing aids vs. cochlear implants

While they both treat hearing loss, these devices work very differently. Hearing aids are wearable devices that can be easily removed. They work by amplifying sound and essentially make it easier for users to detect and understand these sounds.

Cochlear implants, on the other hand, are surgically implanted and connected directly to the auditory nerve. They don’t amplify sound, they transmit signals to this nerve, which the brain then processes and understands them as sound. Cochlear implants are used by deaf people or people with severe hearing loss.

Hearing aids vs. personal sound amplification products (PSAPs)

Also known simply as amplifiers, PSAPs are very similar to hearing aids in look and overall functionality as they amplify sound for the benefit of the user. However, they’re not medical devices whereas hearing aids are made specifically as an aid tohearing loss.

In a sense, PSAPs are an auditory equivalent to binoculars — they pick up and amplify all sounds in the environment. They’re often used for tactical purposes, hobbies or for other activities that require noise enhancement.

Hearing aids, on the other hand, have the capacity to differentiate between different types of sound (for example, they can pick out human speech), process it and then amplify it to the degree needed by the user.

While PSAPs are typically more affordable than hearing aids, they’re not a good substitute. These devices could result in further hearing loss since, without a doctor’s involvement, it will not address the actual root cause of your hearing loss. Additionally, indiscriminate amplification could make sounds loud enough to be harmful to the ear.

Types of hearing aids

There are two main types of hearing aids: behind the ear (BTE) and canal hearing aids. Both styles come in a variety of configurations to best suit the user’s comfort and hearing loss level.

Behind-the-ear style hearing aids

Pros
  • Device position diminishes sound blocking
  • Can address mild to profound hearing loss
  • Chassis size makes it possible to include other functionalities
  • Chassis is more durable
Cons
  • Receivers can break easily and require frequent maintenance
  • Not as discreet as canal hearing aids

Behind-the-ear (BTE) Hearing aids are large casings placed behind the user’s ear, with a tube that redirects sound into the ear canal. Despite this tube, all of the aid’s hardware is inside the case. This means that it can often house bigger and better components, usually making it the most powerful alternative for profound hearing loss and for people who want feature-packed devices.

Receiver-in-canal (RIC) aids, on the other hand, have a speaker inside the ear canal, connected to the rest of the device via a thin wire. This makes them smaller than their BTE counterparts, usually at the expense of more power, rendering them less suitable for people with profound hearing loss. Nevertheless, sound can be clearer due to the speaker being directly placed in the canal, and farther from the microphones, which reduces feedback.

Despite their name, it’s important not to confuse RIC hearing aids with other in-the-canal models described below. While the receiver and speaker are located inside the canal, the rest of the device is placed behind the ear and it’s much bigger than its in-the-canal counterparts, making it more powerful and better suited for severe or profound hearing loss.

In-the-canal style hearing aids

Pros
  • Except for in-the-ear (ITE) models, most canal models are discreet
  • They are custom-molded to your ear canal
  • They use less battery power than BTE models
Cons
  • Batteries are smaller thus have shorter runtimes
  • Can be problematic to put on if you have dexterity challenges
  • Their small size makes it difficult to add features like Bluetooth
  • They are easier to lose or misplace
  • They only address mild to moderate hearing loss

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids can include other in-canal aids, but it’s commonly used to refer to full-shell hearing aids, which are customized to fit into a large portion of the outer ear and are almost completely visible. They provide significant comfort and have a higher chance to fit a telecoil, a small coil that picks up electromagnetic waves from compatible systems used in places like movie theaters and concert stages.

In-the-canal (ITC) aids are slightly smaller and are made to fit inside the ear canal, and only a small part of them is visible from the outside. They can provide better hearing since they’re so close to the eardrum. However, the size does limit the number of features it can have and the device’s amplifying power.

Completely-in-canal (CIC) devices and their smaller cousins, invisible-in-canal (IIC), are very small hearing aids designed and custom made to fit deep inside the ear canal, rendering them almost invisible. This is their main advantage, along with a more natural listening experience.

However, the smaller hearing aids get, the less power they have to amplify and process outside noise. This also limits the amount of features, such as bluetooth connectivity, telecoil and its battery runtime.

Hearing aid technology levels:

All hearing aids come in a variety of technology levels. Technology levels are very important, since they determine how many features the hearing aid has.

When we say features, we don’t just mean physical characteristics, such as telecoil, but programs that are added to the hearing aid’s processor. It’s similar to the features in a smartphone: there’s the device itself and the apps you have installed. In this case, the hearing aid’s features would also include the apps.

Technology levels used to average at around three to four, but nowadays some manufacturers offer from one to six. The table below breaks down the average technology level name, and the features normally found on that level.

Technology level Features
Basic Feedback suppression, noise reduction (1 level), speech compression
Standard Feedback suppression, noise reduction (1-3 levels), speech compression, wind noise management, tinnitus relief, binaural processing
Advanced Feedback suppression, noise reduction (1-4 levels), speech compression, wind noise management, tinnitus relief, binaural processing, wireless capabilities, directional microphone adaptability, auto volume, music enhancer, telecoil
Premium Feedback suppression, noise reduction (1-4 levels), speech compression, wind noise management, tinnitus relief, binaural processing, wireless connectivity capabilities, directional microphone adaptability, auto volume, music enhancer, telecoil, natural sound smoothing, sound classifier, range extenderTelecoil

Telecoil

Telecoil, also known as T-coil, is a coiled copper wire that can be added to your hearing aid. The coil is sensitive to magnetic fields, and it creates a magnetic signal that can be picked up by other objects with a T-coil. This gives you the option to switch from listening with your hearing aid’s microphone to hearing through the signals that’s picked by the coil.

For example, if your hearing aid and your smartphone have a telecoil installed and linked, you would hear what a caller is saying without having to put the phone on your ear. Telecoil is typically offered by hearing aid manufacturers at the advanced technology level, but there are some, like the Phonak Naida Paradise UP, that provide it with every hearing aid level.

Telecoil isn’t limited to phones, since many theaters, cinemas, places of worship, and meeting rooms have what is known as a “Hearing Loop” system. Using a microphone, an amplifier, and a copper loop cable, hearing loops directly transfers sound picked up by the system into your hearing aid’s telecoil.

Things to keep in mind when buying hearing aids

One of the things users might notice first is just how costly hearing aids can be. Keep in mind these are high-tech medical devices meant to help with hearing loss, and will cost upwards of $1,000, often surpassing $3,000.

It’s not just the technology that leads to the high price point — most hearing aids need to be custom-fitted into the user’s ear and manufactured accordingly. There are also any additional features or upgrades, such as bluetooth connectivity, health tracking and tinnitus relief.

Over the counter hearing aids

As of October 17th, 2022, the FDA allowed retailers to sell hearing aids without a prescription due to new legislation by the Biden-Harris administration. Stores like Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and Best Buy have started selling over-the-counter models since then.

Previously, you could get direct-to-consumer (DTC) models that lacked the customization and expert fitting of more specialized models, but these still required a prescription. Now, however, customers can simply purchase a hearing aid at a moment’s notice and, along with the included guides, fit the wire and dome, and customize it to their hearing needs.

It’s important to keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that all hearing aids are available this way nor that prices will immediately plummet. Many of these devices are designed to be molded and custom-fitted by professionals to fit the user’s diagnosis. Nevertheless, brands that were already direct-to-consumer, such as Eargo, can more easily make the switch.

Technology levels raise overall cost

It’s important to check technology levels when comparing hearing aid prices. How much each level costs and the number of features it includes can vary widely depending on the manufacturer.

For example, the Signia Styletto X model has five technology levels which range from $1,808 for the level one tier up to $3,401 for the level five tier. On the other hand, the ReSound One hearing aid has four technology levels and they all range around $3,000.

Most healthcare insurance policies don’t cover hearing aids

Unfortunately, most insurance companies don’t fully cover hearing aids since they see them as elective rather than a necessity.

This could be partially due to the fact that, in the United States alone, 48 million people are affected by hearing loss and hearing aids are fairly expensive devices. Nevertheless, some insurance policies, such as Medicare Part B, do cover other things related to hearing loss, such as diagnostics and balance exams.

However, there is hope for affordable hearing aids in the future, as the Biden administration has issued an executive order that could, among other things, increase the availability of over-the-counter hearing aids. These hearing aids would be programmable, and you could take them to a hearing specialist to fit them to your hearing needs.

Hearing aid longevity

The typical hearing aid life span is between three to seven years, depending on the model, how well you take care of them and how much you use them.

Their longevity is also dependent on the combination of the material used to make its chassis and circuitry, and the hearing aid’s style/type. For instance, an IIC hearing aid is smaller than an RIC one, and its delicate components have a higher risk of being damaged by accident. As another example, CIC hearing aids are more susceptible to moisture and wax damage due to being deep inside the ear canal.

If you want your hearing aids to last as much as possible, we recommend that you clean them thoroughly, bring them to your hearing care provider for adjustment and maintenance and keep them away from damp environments.

Hearing aids are not waterproof

Like many electronics, hearing aids have a debris and water resistance rating known as the ingress protection rating (IP). While the IP rating reflects how resistant a device is to these factors, it does not indicate that a device is entirely waterproof.

For example, a high rating of IP68, which many aids have, means it can withstand a level of submersion (about 1.5 meters) for a certain amount of time (typically 30 minutes).

This still doesn’t mean you should swim or shower with your device, as it can deteriorate over time. The high resistance is mostly meant to help it withstand sweating and accidental drops.

If you leave your devices in damp areas or live in a humid environment, you should take extra precautions to protect them and extend their longevity. You can buy disposable hearing aid dehumidifiers, or even UV light devices that remove humidity overnight.

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How to choose a hearing aid

When choosing a hearing aid, keep in mind your level of hearing loss, your personal preferences and your overall lifestyle. These are expensive medical devices that will be in your ears for the better part of three to seven years.

Consult a hearing care professional

Always consult a hearing care professional, such as an audiologist or an otolaryngologist. You need to check your hearing properly in order to identify your level of hearing loss and any underlying conditions that could be affecting your hearing.

There are countless websites that offer free online hearing tests, but none will be as precise as a professional one.

Also, hearing experts use what is known as “real ear measurements,” a method that guarantees that your hearing aid will be programmed to your exact needs. A proper appointment and care will provide you not only with the information you need regarding your condition, but with the tools to get a hearing aid that fits you comfortably.

Keep an eye on warranties, payment plans and trading discounts

Since hearing aids can be a huge investment, you need to know how to plan financially for them.

First, know how long your warranty is, and whether you’d like to extend it. Most companies allow you to extend your warranty for an extra two to three years. Although this comes at an additional cost, having an extended warranty is very helpful, since it can protect you from having to spend even more on a new pair.

Secondly, check to see if you can pay for your hearing aids in installments. Most manufacturers and hearing centers have payment plan programs designed to make them more accessible. Direct-to-consumer devices can also offer payment plans.

Finally, check to see if your hearing expert allows you to trade in your old hearing aids for new ones. Some companies also allow you to trade them for discounts and upgrade them to newer models.

Look for financial assistance

There are many programs and organizations that can help you obtain or pay for hearing aids. Each organization offers different services and has different requirements, so you need to do a little research before you apply. We have listed a few of these programs below.

Latest News on Hearing Aids

Best Hearing Aids FAQ

What is a hearing aid?

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A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear to improve the sound quality of your hearing. Just like with eyeglasses, the device isn't meant to cure hearing loss, but to aid you if you've lost the ability to hear clearly. Digital hearing aids dominate the market today, as they are more efficient than their previous iteration, analog hearing aids.

How much do hearing aids cost?

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The cost of hearing aids depends on the manufacturer and on the technology level that you select. Prices range from around $2,000 for a basic model all the way up to $10,000 for the most advanced.

How do hearing aids work?

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A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, an amplifier and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds around you and sends them to a microchip for processing. The chip amplifies sounds and converts them into electrical signals. The signals are then converted back into soundwaves by the processor and are then amplified and transmitted to your ear through the hearing aid's speaker.

Why are hearing aids so expensive?

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Hearing aids are medical devices that contain very advanced technology. However, this isn't the only factor impacting their cost. Most hearing aids need to be custom-fitted into the user's ear and adjusted to the level of hearing loss. There are also any additional features or upgrades, such as bluetooth connectivity, health tracking and tinnitus relief that can add to the overall cost.

Where can I buy hearing aids?

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Most hearing aids are sold through hearing aid specialists. You first need to book an appointment with a hearing aid expert, such as an audiologist, who will guide and recommend hearing aid devices based on your hearing loss level and your personal preferences. There are also direct-to-consumer options that are more affordable and don't require an audiologist appointment, but they typically have less features and lack programmable capabilities.

How long do hearing aids last?

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Normally, hearing aids last between three to seven years, depending on the device quality, how often you use them and how well you take care of them. However, some hearing aid parts, like earwax guard and connector tubes, need weekly or monthly replacements.

How We Chose the Best Hearing Aids

To help you find the right hearing aid for your needs, we researched 12 companies and all their respective hearing aid products, focusing on the functionality of each device.

This allowed us to find hearing aid options that fit different lifestyles, and that offered the best features for the price. We focused on four main areas: functionality and lifestyle, features and price, battery, and manufacturer’s warranty.

  • Functionality and lifestyle: Most of our choices are BTE RIC models; this is because this style is the most flexible on the market today, addressing mild to severe hearing loss. However, we also took into consideration different hearing aid user lifestyles when choosing our top devices. For example, if you love exercising or if you suffer from severe hearing loss, you’ll find an option on our list.
  • Features and price: We looked at all included features, especially those included from the basic models to the most premium one, in order to find the best value. Since prices vary greatly from device and technology level, we also chose to list the average price range of each hearing aid.
  • Battery: We evaluated a hearing aid’s battery types, preferring hearing aids that had rechargeable batteries whenever possible.
  • Manufacturer’s warranty: We looked for companies and hearing aids that offered more than the standard one-year manufacturer warranty. Those that offered two or three years scored higher with us.

Summary of Money's Best Hearing Aids of 2022