A Comprehensive Guide to Hearing Aids
Some of the Best Hearing Aids in Singapore
While there are many types of hearing aids sold in Singapore there is no industry standard to hearing aids names. This makes making comparisons between hearing aid models confusing.
In this article, we help you understand the meaning behind hearing aid names and introduce to you some of the best hearing aids available in the market, so that you know everything about the hearing aid your hearing healthcare professional recommends to you.
Each hearing aid model has a 5 part naming system that includes information on the brand, style, processing chip, technology level and battery. As we go through the different name components, we will use examples from the 2 most popular brands of hearing aids in Singapore: Phonak and GN Resound.
Phonak Audeo B90 R | Resound LiNX Quattro 962
The first word of any hearing aid name tells you about the brand. Brand names are important in the “hearing aid world” as each brand has its own unique sound quality and features. When it comes to brands, we recommend consumers only purchase hearing aids from the top 6; Phonak, Resound, Siemens, Widex, Starkey and Oticon. These brands spend millions of investment in research and development. And they lead the market in terms of sound quality, fit, durability and functions.
Phonak was founded in 1947 in Zurich, Switzerland and is current part of SONOVA Holding AG.
Their latest hearing aid technologies include AutoSense OS, Phonak rechargeable technology and direct connectivity.
With roots that reach all the way back to 1943, ReSound has pioneered the hearing aid industry and was the first to deliver 2.4GHz technology in hearing aids for direct connectivity and the world’s first Made for iPhone® hearing aid with direct stereo sound streaming.
Phonak Audeo B90 R | Resound LiNX Quattro 9 62
The name of the hearing aid model also reveals the style of the hearing aid. Selecting the right style of hearing aid is important as it affects ease of use, durability and most important, aesthetics. The styles can be split into 2 main categories: Outer the ear styles and Inside the ear styles.
Outside the Ear
- Receiver In The Ear (RITE)/Receiver in the Canal (RIC)
RITE is the most popular style in the market today as it is exceptionally discreet, versatile and suitable for all types of hearing loss. The main body of the hearing aid sits behind the ear while the receiver or microphone sits in the ear canal. It has less feedback problems as there is great separation between the microphone and electronic components. The microphone, along with its a variety of disposable ear tips and can be changed immediately in clinic unlike other styles which have to be sent back to the factory for alterations.
Phonak names all RITE styles Audeo
Resound’s styles are coded by number:
61: RITE with a larger size 13 battery (left)
62: RITE with a smaller size 312 battery (right)
- Behind The Ear (BTE)
This is a traditional style where all the electronic components of the hearing aid sit behind the ear. The hearing aid is attached to a silicon or plastic ear mould which transfers the sound into the ear canal. BTE is one of the more durable styles as the electronic components are kept away from the ear canal which can affect the components due to ear wax, discharge or moisture. BTE is usually built bigger than RIC and recommended for patients with eyesight and dexterity issues. BTE models also comprises of powerful microphones and can be fitted on more profound hearing losses.
Phonak’s BTE style has its own name: Bolero. Phonak also has a range of BTEs for profound losses called: Naida
Resound’s BTE styles are coded by number
77: BTE with a size 13 battery
88: BTE with a size 13 battery with for more severe hearing losses
Inside the ear
Inside the ear styles hearing aids are another popular option as they are lightweight and built to fit inside the ear canal. Their position inside the ear makes it easier to use telephones and headphones. They are also more comfortable for those who wear glasses. In the ear styles require a high level of customization and they are not suitable for everyone especially those with more severe hearing losses or small ear canals.
Phonak’s Inside the Ear style has its own name: Virto
Resound’s Inside the Ear styles follow conventional naming practices. E.g., Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC), Mic In Helix (MIH)
IIC is the smallest custom made style available in the market. It is placed deep in the ear canal and is almost invisible. It is a good solution for users who have a mild to moderate hearing loss and want discreet hearing aids. However due to its small size the user may have to compromise on useful hearing aid technologies like directional microphone or wireless connectivity.
CIC is the second smallest custom made hearing aid style. It is a good option for users who want a small discreet size and yet want to benefit from the latest features of modern hearing aids. The hearing aids can be customized to include directional microphones and the more popular volume/program control button. It is overall a good option for mild to moderate hearing loss users.
ITC aids are the most popular custom made style used by patients. They are built to sit in the ear canal and are less visible than ITE option. The advantage of the ITC style over the CIC is that due to its size it can include more options such as dual microphone and wireless functionality which can allow the hearing aids to connect to smart phones directly in order to stream calls and music.
ITE is the biggest custom made style available where the hearing aid components are housed to sit comfortably in the visible part of a user’s ear. ITE is the easiest to manage due to the size, and are suitable for users with moderate-to-severe hearing loss. Also, ITE has the most features and the longest battery life among the custom-made styles.
MIH is the newest custom-made style on the market and is only available by Resound. The main body of the hearing aid sits snugly in the canal of the user while the microphone of the hearing aid is built to be placed in the user’s helix. As such users can opt for a smaller device without compromising on the wireless features.
Phonak Audeo B90 R | Resound LiNX 3D 9 62
Finally, each battery size is usually added to the end of a product name to designate what size battery the product uses (10, 13, 312, R etc.) The battery size usually affects the hearing aid size (see image below) as well as how frequent the battery has to be changed.
Phonak includes the battery size/type at the end of the name
R: Rechargeable battery
10/13/312: Disposable battery according to size
Resound’s naming system is more complicated and designates a numerical code according to the battery
61: RIC style Rechargeable battery
62: RIC style with size 13 disposable battery
Phonak Audeo B 90 R | Resound LiNX Quattro 9 62
The tiny but powerful processing chip is the “brain” of the hearing aid. It provides all the processing power and features of a hearing aid. The “brain” in combination with the interior architecture of the hearing aid forms the platform. The best processing chips/platform scan and analyse the sound environment quickly and process sounds accurately so users can distinguish between speech and noise without losing authenticity and natural sound quality. This means users are able to follow rapidly changing conversations with multiple speakers in noisy environments. Users are also able to locate, follow and switch focus depending on the sound they want to hear. We always recommend the latest platform as they often mean a smaller sized hearing aid, lower power consumption and increased performance.
Phonak Audeo B 90 R
Phonak include a letter in each product name to represent platform and processing chip:
M: Marvel Platform (6th generation platform)
B: Belong Platform (5th generation platform)
V: Venture Platform (4th generation platform)
Resound LiNX Quattro 9 62
Resound includes the platform in its core name to represent processing chip:
LiNX Quattro (6th platform)
LiNX 3D (5th generation)
LiNX Sq (4th generation)
HEARING AID PRICES AND TECHNOLOGY LEVEL
Among all the factors that go into determining the cost of a hearing aid, the major factor that determines the price point is the technology level. When a manufacturer releases a hearing aid model, the manufacturer will release up to 5 variations of the models to suit different needs and consumer groups.
For most hearing aid models, technology levels are assigned using a number scale. Higher numbers represent a higher level of technology:
Phonak Audeo B 90 R
Phonak technology levels are written in a 2 digit format
90: premium level (most features)
70: advanced level
50: standard level
30: basic level (least features)
To find out more, click the image below see Phonak’s pdf guide to their technology features.
Resound LiNX Quattro 9 62
Resound’s technology levels are written in a single digit
9: Premium (most features)
Here is a rough guide to the technology levels and the expected cost. Do note that hearing aid prices varie according to the brand, the platform, style of the hearing aid, special features as well as bundles provided by your hearing aid manufacturer.
SGD $5,800 – 7,500 per hearing aid
Investment cost of $3.50 per day (Over a period of 5 years)
Premium hearing aids comprises of all the latest technology in noise management, such as noise management in car, loud noises, echo support and has the maximum amount of customisable programs and sound processing channels the manufacturer has to offer. Other options available include rechargeable batteries, iphone connectivity and remote programming.
SGD $4,000 – 5,100 per hearing aid
Investment cost $2.50 per day (Over a period of 5 years)
Advanced hearing aids comprises of most of the latest technology in noise management, speech enhancement, wireless features and have customisable programs, optimum sound processing channels. Other options available include rechargeable batteries, iphone connectivity and remote programming.
SGD $2,500 – 3950 per hearing aid
Investment cost $1.75 per day (Over a period of 5 years)
Standard hearing aids comprises of basic latest technology in noise management, speech enhancement, wireless features and allow users to converse with colleagues or chat over the phone.
SGD $1,600 – 2,200 per hearing aid
Investment cost $1.00 per day (Over a period of 5 years)
Basic hearing aids comprises of essential technology in noise management, speech enhancement and aid users in their daily conversations in quiet environments.
SGD $600 – 1,200 per hearing aid
Investment cost $0.50 per day (Over a period of 5 years)
Budget hearing aids comprises of limited noise management system and aid users in listening in quiet environments.