Which Hearing Aid Is Right for You? Findings From AgingInPlace.org’s Hearing Aid and Testing Research Summit

Updated: Nov 02, 2022

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Hearing aids have come a long way in their development since they were first invented in the 1920s, and they now constitute an affordable, discreet, and functional answer to adult-onset hearing loss. So when your hearing begins to suffer, you have options.

At AgingInPlace.org (AIP), we strive to bring our readers thorough and up-to-date information about hearing aids, which means we are committed to testing and researching products so our recommendations can help you find the right hearing aids. That’s why in July 2022, we held a Hearing Aid Testing and Research Summit at 3S Health’s headquarters in Raleigh, N.C.

The process of selecting and purchasing hearing aids can seem daunting and arduous, especially if it’s your first time. So 13 members of our team, four audiologists, and 25 focus group participants (in-person and virtual) gathered to test a variety of popular hearing aid models to collect proprietary, original, and useful information that we could share with our older adult audience.

Testing Data 

  • Brands Reviewed: 10
  • Products Tested: 15
  • Number of Tests Performed: 459
  • Team Members On-Site: 13
  • Medical Experts On-Site: 4
  • Testing Hours Completed: 14
  • Focus Groups Conducted: 2
  • Total Hours of Work: 500+

Why We Conducted the Summit

The internet is full of product review sites, and it can be difficult to distinguish between clickbait and quality, unbiased, in-depth review sites based on sound practices and high standards. Of course, the best product reviews come from firsthand experience with the products.

At AIP, we strive to continuously uphold and build on our reputation of providing trustworthy, impartial, and valuable reporting on products and services related to aging in place. We spend hours researching products and services, which includes analyzing consumer reviews and interviewing medical professionals. Plus, all our articles are medically reviewed by audiologists for medical accuracy.

“We conducted this summit in order to make sure we’re getting our own proprietary, unbiased data to be able to make our own judgments and testing scores, so that we can directly share those research results with our readers,” said Chelsea Burns, one of the summit’s organizers and older adult content specialist. “So that they can make the best purchasing decisions for themselves and their health.”

How We Prepared for the Summit

Selecting Models to Test

Preparation began with determining which hearing aids to include in the summit. The models tested were selected based on recommendations from audiologists and research into the most commonly purchased models of 2022. We purposefully included a range in the types of hearing aid devices, as well as models that treated different forms of hearing loss: mild, asymmetric, near complete. Also considered were models that fell within varied pricing brackets.

Hearing Aids Tested*

Manufacturer
Audicus
ModelAura
TypeCompletely-in-canal (CIC)
Audicus
ModelClara
TypeReceiver-in-canal (RIC)
Audicus
ModelDia II
TypeBehind-the-ear (BTE)
Audicus
ModelOmni
TypeReceiver-in-canal (RIC)
Audien
ModelAtom
TypeIn-the-canal (ITC)
Audien
ModelAtom Pro
TypeIn-the-canal (ITC)
Eargo
ModelEargo 6
TypeCompletely-in-canal (CIC)
Lively
ModelLively 2 Pro
TypeReceiver-in-canal (RIC)
MDHearing
ModelVolt Max
TypeBehind-the-ear (BTE)
Phonak
ModelNaida Paradise
TypeBehind-the-ear (BTE)
Resound
ModelReSound One
TypeReceiver-in-canal (RIC)
Signia
ModelActive
TypeIn-the-canal (ITC)
Signia
ModelSilk X
TypeCompletely-in-canal (CIC)
Starkey
ModelEvolv AI
TypeReceiver-in-canal (RIC)
Widex
ModelMoment BTE 13
TypeBehind-the-ear (BTE)

*We contacted the manufacturers and ordered the models for testing, which we returned after testing was complete. No gifts or incentives were received from any of these companies.

Testing Categories and Methodology

We identified seven testing categories based on discussions with audiologists, hearing aid users, and hearing aid brands, and more than 4,000 hours of research:

Initial Features: Upon opening and setting up the hearing aids for the first time, we evaluated the features from the perspective of a first-time user. This initial assessment looked at packaging, clarity of instructions, whether there was a smartphone app, and, if so, how long it took to install. We also looked at whether the model included a telecoil, which is a small coil inside a hearing aid that couples the device with telephones or assistive listening devices (like TV streaming accessories). Paying special attention to the domes, which help allow for a comfortable fit, we assessed how many extras were included and how long it took to change them out.

Overall, we evaluated these initial features:

  • Unboxing experience
  • Smartphone app initial download
  • Battery
  • Programming modes
  • Volume adjustment
  • Telecoil
  • Extra domes and tips

App Functionality: For models with corresponding smartphone apps, we tested how accessible and intuitive the apps were for first-time learners. We looked at how many attempts it took to connect the app, how user-friendly it was, and if we were able to successfully connect to customer service.

Testing the app functionality included these aspects:

  • Ease of pairing
  • Customer service
  • User-friendliness

Battery Charging/Replacement: For models with disposable batteries, we tested how easy they were to change. Hearing aids (and their batteries) can be notoriously small and hard to handle, so it was important to assess how easy or difficult it was to insert and remove the hearing aids into the charger as well as the hearing aid. When placing the batteries, we timed how long it took to replace them and noted issues—including how easy it was to open the battery door and whether the batteries were prone to flying out upon removal.

Other considerations included whether the devices alert the user when the battery needs charging or replacing, as well as whether the devices notify the user when fully charged. Also important to note were what kind of charging port (USB-C, Micro USB, etc.) a hearing aid model uses and the length of the charging cord. For hearing aids with charging stations, we noted what kind of charging port they use and how long the charging cord was. Some hearing aids employ special charging features like “Quick Charge,” which offers hours of battery life in just a few minutes.

All battery considerations fell under these subcategories:

  • Clear alerts
  • Ease of use
  • Charging cord
  • Other features

Bluetooth Functionality: One of the most exciting and helpful advancements for hearing aids in recent years has been the inclusion of Bluetooth technology. It allows hearing aid adjustments remotely through the smartphone app, audio streaming from smartphones and other devices, hands-free calling, and more. But just because a hearing aid has Bluetooth doesn’t mean that it has all of these capabilities.

When testing for Bluetooth, we considered how easy it was to connect Bluetooth for the first time and make adjustments through the app. Examining the setup instructions and whether the Bluetooth function connected automatically through the app or required us to go through the phone’s settings, as well as how long it took to connect were all important parts of the testing process. Additionally, separate pairing is a helpful feature if someone wants to use only one hearing aid at a time to stream audio or phone calls. Some hearing aids can pair with multiple devices, while others only pair with one at a time. We considered how easy it is to disconnect and “forget” a device in the case that you accidentally connect to the wrong one, which is a common problem for many hearing aid users.

All Bluetooth testing fell under these subcategories:

  • Ease of pairing
  • Number of Bluetooth connections
  • Ease of use and disconnection

Cleaning: Every hearing aid will need regular care and maintenance. Because they’re so small, hearing aids can be a challenge for older adults to clean, which is why we thoroughly tested the cleaning process

All cleaning testing fell under these subcategories:

  • Cleaning steps
  • Included tools
  • Cleaning agent and moisture sensitivities
  • Wax filters

Durability: Though hearing aid users try their best to treat them with care, we know that life happens, and with such small devices, they’re bound to get dropped or wet at some point. We conducted a drop test, dropping each model 10 times from a height of 7.5 feet and noted any damage.

Next, we conducted a water test. Many hearing aids come with an IP rating, which means they are water resistant up to a certain depth for varying lengths of time. For the hearing aids that have an IP rating, we tested the claims by submerging them in a water tank for 30 minutes each. We then checked each model to determine if it still worked properly. In addition, some hearing aids have nanotechnology or water-resistant coating. This means that the device repels moisture and water droplets exceptionally well and is easier to handle. For hearing aids that claim to use this technology, we applied water droplets to each device and noted how the droplets behaved.

Durability testing subcategories included:

  • Drop test
  • Water test

Selecting Summit Attendees

Audiologists

We brought additional expertise to the summit by including four licensed and experienced audiologists. These on-site audiologists not only helped with the planning phase but assured quality control in testing procedures and weighing of scores during the summit.

Sheri Mello, Au.D., F-AAA: Dr. Mello received her bachelor’s of science from Dominican College, her master’s of science in education from Northeastern University, and her doctor of audiology from the Arizona School of Health Sciences. She has been a practicing audiologist since 1988 and currently owns Raleigh Hearing and Tinnitus Center.

“We are here to serve individuals who have become disconnected and frustrated due to their hearing difficulties. The industry is more confusing than ever for the consumer to navigate. It takes a professional who has a passion to help others and a good solid background to be able to program today’s hearing aid technology to meet everyone’s personal listening needs.”

Sheri Mello, Au.D., F-AAA

Brad Ingrao, Au.D.: Dr. Ingrao has been practicing clinical audiology since the 1990s. He has a bachelor’s degree in education of the speech and hearing handicapped, a master’s degree in audiology, and a doctorate in audiology. He is an active member of the Hearing Loss Association of America, including the National Association, the Florida State Association, several local chapters, and a guest presenter for the newly formed Veterans Virtual Chapter. In addition, Dr. Ingrao is on the board of directors for the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss. Dr. Ingrao is known as an early adopter of technologies, a computer geek, and an author and lecturer who makes complex topics understandable. He has worked in private practice, in educational audiology, for the hearing aid industry, at Veteran Affairs, and has taught at universities.

Jacquelyn C. J. Lovitt, Au.D.: Dr. Lovitt received both her bachelor’s and doctor of audiology degrees from Ohio State University and completed her residency at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. She has worked at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where she was named senior master clinician. During her time there, she independently developed a multidisciplinary, holistic central auditory processing evaluation and management protocol and eventually created a one-week seminar for military and VA audiologists. She has sat on multidisciplinary teams for traumatic brain injury and pediatric craniofacial abnormalities. In addition, she has served as a subject matter expert to the Department of Defense and VA for central auditory processing disorders. She co-founded the Capital Institute of Hearing & Balance.

Candice Ortiz-Hawkins, Au.D.: Dr. Ortiz-Hawkins is a nationally recognized American Board of Audiology Certified Audiologist, United States Army veteran, speaker, and author on hearing health care practices. She has expertise in tinnitus evaluation and treatment, auditory hallucination management, and hearing monitoring for patients who are undergoing medical treatment which can cause hearing loss (ototoxic monitoring). She has additional expertise in electrophysiologic evaluations and atypical hearing losses and hearing aid fittings.

She received her bachelor of arts in communication sciences and disorders from Wayne State University and her doctor of audiology (AuD) from the University of South Florida. She completed her residency at the Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and The House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles. She worked at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for over a decade where she developed programs for newborn hearing screening and ototoxic monitoring for patients undergoing treatment for cancer, infectious diseases, and pulmonary disorders and was named associate master clinician. She co-founded the Capital Institute of Hearing & Balance with Dr. Lovitt.

Focus Group Participants

We invited hearing aid users and non-users alike to participate in our focus groups and conducted a nationwide search for participants using in-house referrals, social media, and printed flyers. Attendees could participate in-person or online and were offered a $75 gift card for their time. Ultimately, we secured 13 current hearing aid users and 12 prospective hearing aid users.

How We Conducted the Summit

The summit was conducted without sponsorship or bias. We used sound research methodology and reliable reporting, and we evaluated each model from the user’s perspective. The summit included over 14 hours of testing, followed by in-depth analysis and interpretation of the data collected.

Focus Groups

Hearing Aid User Focus Group

We gathered 13 participants who already own and use hearing aids (three in-person and 10 virtual), three AIP team members, and two audiologists during a two-hour hearing aid user focus groups session. The meeting was also observed by representatives from the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Our goal was to get a general understanding of everyone’s experiences acquiring and using their hearing aids, which included common difficulties and positive observations.

Acquiring Hearing Aids

We asked our attendees if they had hesitated before purchasing their hearing aids and if so, why? While some users admitted that being self conscious was a reason for hesitancy, the majority of the group were accepting of their situation and noted they would rather hear better than worry about outside perceptions. Today, some devices are nearly undetectable, which can help alleviate concerns about hearing aid visibility. In fact, one user stated that their piano teacher didn’t notice her hearing aids for six months—and that was with her sitting right next to her every week.

Tech Features

Attendees shared an overall appreciation for the newer features such as easy-to-use phone apps and Bluetooth connectivity. Apps allow for simple volume changes and the use of preset programs for different environments like restaurants, movies, or music listening, while Bluetooth allows for hands-free phone conversations right through the hearing aids. Focus group participants also appreciated the ability to locate lost hearing aids with their phone apps. Losing their devices is a common fear and complaint across the board for hearing aid users.

Tip/Dome Sizing

When it comes to fit and comfort, it’s clear that multiple dome/tip size options are imperative. Ill-fitting aids can be excessively itchy, prone to falling out, or prone to getting stuck. One user had a stressful experience when her aid got stuck in one ear overnight because the tip was too small. She was grateful to get the correct tip size from her supplying office and experienced no further problems.

Hearing Aids and Masks

While the summit was conducted shortly after pandemic-related mask requirements were lifted for most areas of the U.S., we discussed how facemasks impacted hearing aid users. One common frustration among almost everyone in the group was that putting on and taking off a facemask often interfered with the fit of the hearing aids and frequently ended up pulling them out. Many participants chose not to wear their aids at all with a mask, or to leave the mask on all day (even alone in the car) in order to avoid repeatedly pulling them out. The combination of eyeglasses, hearing aids, and facemask was especially troublesome for many attendees. It’s also worth noting that face masking created issues for those with diminished hearing who rely on reading lips and facial expressions to help them communicate.

New Hearing Aid Experiences

New hearing aids take a little getting used to. When trying new hearing aids, most attendees reported an itchy sensation that subsided over time. There were also a few reports of a “tinny” sound that became less noticeable over time. Overall, most of the participants in the group were happy with their hearing aids and grateful for the improvements in their interactions with others.

Often the catalyst in getting hearing aids in the first place is at the insistence of a partner, so there were many reports of happy spouses once they began regularly wearing their devices.

It’s important to note that most participants enjoyed improved hearing—not perfect hearing—with the use of their aids. Many people are not aware that hearing aids can’t solve all hearing problems and don’t cure hearing loss. Rather, they are intended to improve hearing comprehension while they are worn.

Rechargeable Batteries and Water Resistance

Hearing aids can be rechargeable or have replaceable batteries. Those who used models with rechargeable batteries really appreciated this feature. It allows you to bypass the difficulties that come with replacing tiny batteries and only takes, on average, three to five hours to fully charge the battery. Dr. Ortiz-Hawkins noted that the move to rechargeable batteries allowed hearing aids to become more water resistant, even waterproof, because they no longer required a battery door that would allow in moisture. She recommended people use a dehumidifier at night in order to extend the life and functionality of their aids. Some charging cases even have built-in dehumidifying capabilities—something worth looking for if you’re in the market for purchasing new hearing aids. One of our participants said she regularly swims laps with her aids in place, something that would have been impossible before rechargeable aids were developed.

Means of Purchasing

Our participants ran the gamut as far as how they purchased their aids. Some went through Costco, several through private audiologists, and some did their shopping online. Regardless of the method of purchase, everyone seemed to have received the help they needed regarding fittings and functionality and were pleased with their service providers and their hearing aids. This is no surprise. Based on an AgingInPlace.org survey of 1,000 hearing aid users, 87.4% of respondents considered their hearing aids a worthwhile purchase.

Prospective Hearing Aid User Focus Group

Our second focus group consisted of 12 potential hearing aid users (three in-person and nine virtual): three AIP team members, two audiologists, and NCOA representatives. We spent two hours discussing their experiences with hearing loss and reasons for not yet purchasing devices.

Hearing Loss and Frequencies

Several participants noticed an inability to hear women’s and children’s voices. An audiologist explained that both noise-induced and age-related hearing loss affects the higher frequencies first, so it makes sense that someone would notice this at the beginning of their hearing loss.

Hearing Loss and Social Interactions

All participants agreed that their hearing loss caused social interactions to feel awkward, and that it was cumbersome asking people to repeat themselves over and over again. Many noted that it was easier to communicate in one-on-one settings and avoid groups. Lip reading and facial expressions help with speech comprehension and often a partner acts as an interpreter. Many people experiencing hearing loss will isolate or only go out with their partner or other support person.

Stigma Around Hearing Loss

All participants agreed that the stigma around hearing aids seems to be declining. One participant hypothesized that it’s a direct result of the baby boomer generation—which an estimated 73 million people fall under—all dealing with the same problems. It also helps that hearing aids are small and discreet and contain “very cool technology.” Many people were surprised to see just how small hearing aids have become in the last few years and how sophisticated the apps and Bluetooth features are now. However, one participant was concerned about wearing hearing aids during the job interview process. They already felt older compared to the competition and didn’t want to risk adding to that perception.

Reluctance to Buy

With prices usually starting around $1,500–$2,000 and going up to $5,000–$6,000, some participants reported price and discomfort as the most common reasons they had not yet purchased devices. Also, as one participant stated, “It’s just an admission that I’m getting old.” Many also said they had friends or relatives that had reported problems with their devices, which added to their reluctance to make a purchase. The common report from users experiencing a “tinny” sound was off-putting to some participants. Many participants said if they did buy hearing aids, they’d want ones that have newer tech features like apps and Bluetooth connectivity.

The Process of Acquiring Hearing Aids

The team at AIP asked the audiologists the best way to begin the process of getting hearing aids, which was to start by seeing an audiologist. One group member chimed in that her mom’s audiologist had become her best friend, she visited so frequently. But, if you don’t have access to an audiologist, don’t let that stop you. Go to a clinic with a hearing specialist. You should always get your hearing tested first even if for over-the-counter devices. Online hearing tests are an option if you don’t have access to an audiologist. A hearing test is critical and can reveal that hearing aids won’t work for you, or you could have a medical condition requiring an ear, nose, and throat evaluation.

Using an Audiologist

Dr. Mello noted that audiologists need to do a better job of educating the public about exactly what hearing is and what hearing aids can do.

“In general, an audiologist who has an Au.D. degree should be competent to evaluate your hearing, determine if hearing aids will help you, help you select hearing aids, and verify that those hearing aids are in fact helping you,” said Dr. Mello. “The hearing aids are important, but the hearing care provider is much more important. You’re going to be on a journey with this hearing care provider for years, and so you want to make sure you’re with somebody you’re comfortable with, and that you’re confident is going to take your best interest, and help you get to your best hearing, and understand your listening needs … So you want to have a good rapport and confidence in the person that you’re going to work with.”

Trial Periods and Replacements

Finally, all hearing aids are required to have a trial period. It will generally be anywhere from 30 to 180 days. Of course, hearing aid manufacturers differ, but generally, you can expect to get five to seven years of functioning use with regular care and upkeep. Many companies will encourage you to replace them every three years or so because they discontinue models that frequently and will no longer manufacture replacement parts. If your hearing changes significantly, you may need to get new aids too. Because people tend to back off from social interactions when they first lose their hearing, then start doing more activities once they acquire hearing aids, your needs might change drastically enough to require a more sophisticated device. Or, reversely, maybe you retire and now have less complicated needs.

Testing, Scoring, and Results

Initial Features

We’d like to call out three models, the Audicus Omni, the Eargo 6, and the MDHearing Volt Max, for excellent unboxing and initial feature experiences. Here’s a complete breakdown of our findings for all 15 models below:

Model: Audicus Aura
  • Unboxing: Somewhat difficult to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Good 
  • Battery: Replaceable
  • App:
  • Programmable Modes:
  • Volume Adjustment: Easy
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips:
Model: Audicus Clara
  • Unboxing: Easy to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Good
  • Battery: Replaceable
  • App:
  • Programmable Modes:
  • Volume Adjustment: Easy
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: Audicus Dia II
  • Unboxing: Easy to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Good
  • Battery: Replaceable
  • App:
  • Programmable Modes:
  • Volume Adjustment: Easy
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: Audicus Omni
  • Unboxing: Easy to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Good 
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • App: Installed in less than 20 seconds; includes settings, volume, and support
  • Programmable Modes:
  • Volume Adjustment: Easy through app
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: Audien Atom
  • Unboxing: Easy to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Full instructions found on YouTube 
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • App:
  • Programmable Modes:
  • Volume Adjustment: Dial on back of device, easy but not convenient
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: Audien Atom Pro
  • Unboxing: Easy to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Full instructions found on YouTube 
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • App:
  • Programmable Modes:
  • Volume Adjustment: Dial on back of device, easy but not convenient
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: Eargo 6
  • Unboxing: Easy to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Good
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • App: Connected Easily
  • Programmable Modes: 6 modes
  • Volume Adjustment:
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: Lively 2 Pro
  • Unboxing: Easy to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Excellent
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • App: Installed easily in less than 20 seconds
  • Programmable Modes: 4 modes
  • Volume Adjustment: Easy, button on device or slider on app
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: MDHearing Volt Max
  • Unboxing: Easy to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Good
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • App: Installed easily in less than 20 seconds
  • Programmable Modes:
  • Volume Adjustment: Dial on device or through app
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: Phonak Naida Paradise
  • Unboxing: Somewhat difficult to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Good and thorough
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • App: Installed easily in less than 20 seconds
  • Programmable Modes: Button on device or through app
  • Volume Adjustment: Button on device or through app
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: ReSound One
  • Unboxing: Easy to open, quality packaging
  • Clarity of instructions: Four different manuals makes it a bit confusing
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • App: Somewhat difficult to connect
  • Programmable Modes: Audiologist programs them for you, switch by holding down button on device for three seconds
  • Volume Adjustment: Same button on device as for changing programs which can cause confusion
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: Signia Active
  • Unboxing: Easy to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Somewhat easy
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • App: It took two attempts
  • Programmable Modes:
  • Volume Adjustment: Easy through app
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: Signia Silk X
  • Unboxing: Easy to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Average
  • Battery: Replaceable
  • App: Audiologist had to help set up
  • Programmable Modes: Audiologist programs them for you, switch through app
  • Volume Adjustment: Easy through app
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: Starkey Evolv AI
  • Unboxing: Easy to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Average
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • App: Took about a minute
  • Programmable Modes: Programmed by audiologist
  • Volume Adjustment: Easy through app or on device
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 
Model: Widex Moment BTE 13
  • Unboxing: Easy to open
  • Clarity of instructions: Hard to follow; small font
  • Battery: Replaceable
  • App: Easy to install in less than 20 seconds
  • Programmable Modes: 1 default or 15 programmable by audiologist
  • Volume Adjustment: Through switch on device or app
  • Telecoil:
  • Extra Domes/Tips: 

App Functionality

The Eargo 6 had a particularly user-friendly app with excellent customer service. Following are our findings for the 10 models that come with a phone app:

Model: Audicus Omni

Attempts to connect: One attempt
App to customer service connection: Unable to connect
Ease of use: Easy to use for volume and setting control; customer service request was confusing

Model: Eargo 6

Connecting hearing aid to app: One attempt
How long to connect from app to customer service: 11 seconds, 13 seconds, and 1 minute
Ease of use: Easy to use

Model: Lively 2 Pro

Connecting hearing aid to app: Three attempts
How long to connect from app to customer service: 10 seconds
Ease of use: Good for changing volume and settings, difficulty to get customer service

Model: MDHearing Volt Max

Connecting hearing aid to app: One attempt
How long to connect from app to customer service: Waited three minutes then left callback number
Ease of use: Average

Model: Phonak Naida Paradise

Connecting hearing aid to app: One attempt
How long to connect from app to customer service: Could not test
Ease of use: Easy to use

Model: ReSound One

Connecting hearing aid to app: Took several tries and at least 15 minutes
How long to connect from app to customer service: Must be enabled by audiologist
Ease of use: Easy to use, many adjustable settings

Model: Signia Active

Connecting hearing aid to app: One attempt (20 seconds)
How long to connect from app to customer service: Can only contact through email on app
Ease of use: Somewhat easy to use

Model: Signia Silk X

Connecting hearing aid to app: One attempt (20 seconds)
How long to connect from app to customer service: Can only contact through email on app
Ease of use: Somewhat easy to use

Model: Starkey Evolv AI

Connecting hearing aid to app: One attempt (connects immediately)
How long to connect from app to customer service: Could not connect
Ease of use: Easy to use with a lot of adjustments possible, can access manuals though app

Model: Widex Moment BTE 13

Connecting hearing aid to app: One attempt
How long to connect from app to customer service: NA
Ease of use: User friendly but lacks customer service

Battery Replacement

The Widex Moment BTE 13 had the easiest-to-change batteries of the five models with replaceable batteries. Following are our findings with those models.

Model
Audicus Aura
Alert when batteries need changing Beeps when 30 minutes of battery life left
Time it takes to change batteries 40 and 47 seconds to change both
Ease of changing battery Door easy to open, but difficulty to replace due to small size of both device and battery
Audicus Clara
Alert when batteries need changing Beeps when 30 minutes of battery life left
Time it takes to change batteries 32 and 46 seconds to change both
Ease of changing battery Door easy to open, Not easy to insert new battery
Audicus Dia II
Alert when batteries need changing Beeps when low
Time it takes to change batteries 36 and 53 seconds to change both
Ease of changing battery Door fairly easy to open, battery fairly easy to insert
Signia Silk X
Alert when batteries need changing Alert signal
Time it takes to change batteries 43 and 72 seconds
Ease of changing battery Very difficult to pop in and out, dropped battery on floor and lost
Widex Moment BTE 13
Alert when batteries need changing Sound alert
Time it takes to change batteries 8 and 16 seconds to change one (only given one)
Ease of changing battery Door easy to open, batteries easy to change

Battery Charging

Of the eight models with rechargeable batteries, we found the Audicus Omni, the Lively 2 Pro, and the ReSound One to have the best user experiences. Following are our findings for the 8 rechargeable models that we tested.

Model
Audicus Omni
Alerts when battery is low
Alerts when charging
Alerts when fully charged
Charging cord type USB
Length of cord 3 feet
Replaceable charging cord
Quick charge feature
Audien Atom
Alerts when battery is low
Alerts when charging
Alerts when fully charged
Charging cord type USB-C
Length of cord 1.5 feet
Replaceable charging cord
Quick charge feature
Audien Atom Pro
Alerts when battery is low
Alerts when charging
Alerts when fully charged
Charging cord type USB-C
Length of cord 1.5 feet
Replaceable charging cord
Quick charge feature
Eargo 6
Alerts when battery is low
Alerts when charging
Alerts when fully charged
Charging cord type USB-C
Length of cord 4 feet, 8 inches
Replaceable charging cord
Quick charge feature
Lively 2 Pro
Alerts when battery is low
Alerts when charging
Alerts when fully charged
Charging cord type USB-C
Length of cord 3.5 feet
Replaceable charging cord
Quick charge feature 30-minute charge gives 8 hours of battery life
MDHearing Volt Max
Alerts when battery is low
Alerts when charging
Alerts when fully charged
Charging cord type USB-C
Length of cord 3 feet, 1 inch
Replaceable charging cord
Quick charge feature
ReSound One
Alerts when battery is low
Alerts when charging
Alerts when fully charged
Charging cord type USB-C
Length of cord 3 feet, 10 inches
Replaceable charging cord
Quick charge feature
Starkey Evolv AI
Alerts when battery is low
Alerts when charging
Alerts when fully charged
Charging cord type Micro USB
Length of cord 4 feet, 10 inches
Replaceable charging cord
Quick charge feature

Bluetooth Functionality

Nine models have Bluetooth capabilities. The Widex Moment BTE 13 and the Phonak Naida Paradise had exceptional Bluetooth functionality.

Here are our findings for the nine models we tested with Bluetooth:

Model: Audicus Omni

Bluetooth capabilities: Device adjustments, streaming audio, hands-free calling
Ease of use: Easy and intuitive
Pairing mode: Automatic; both must be paired to connect
Attempts to connect: One attempt (2 minutes)

Model: Eargo 6

Bluetooth capabilities: Device adjustments
Ease of use: Intuitive
Pairing mode: Pairs when you install app; both must be paired to connect
Attempts to connect: One attempt (10 minutes)

Model: Lively 2 Pro

Bluetooth capabilities: Device adjustments, streaming audio, hands-free calling
Ease of use: Easy and intuitive; doesn’t work on older iPhones
Pairing mode: Pairs through settings; both must be paired to connect
Attempts to connect: One attempt (5 minutes)

Model: MDHearing Volt Max

Bluetooth capabilities: Device adjustments
Ease of use: Easy and intuitive
Pairing mode: Pairs when you install app; only one needs to be paired
Attempts to connect: Two attempts (5 minutes)

Model: Phonak Naida Paradise

Bluetooth capabilities: Device adjustments, streaming audio, hands-free calling
Ease of use: Easy and intuitive
Pairing mode: Pairs through settings; only one needs to be paired
Attempts to connect: One attempt (2 minutes)

Model: ReSound One

Bluetooth capabilities: Volume, settings, streaming, hands-free calling
Ease of use: Intuitive
Pairing mode: Turn off device then turn back on; only one needs to be paired
Attempts to connect: One attempt (5 minutes)

Model: Signia Active

Bluetooth capabilities: Device adjustments, streaming audio, live listen
Ease of use: Easy and intuitive
Pairing mode: Pairs through settings; both must be paired to connect
Attempts to connect: One attempt (5 minutes)

Model: Starkey Evolv AI

Bluetooth capabilities: Adjustments via app, streaming audio, and phone calls via mobile phone
Ease of use: Easy and intuitive
Pairing mode: Turn off and then back on; only one needs to be paired
Attempts to connect: One attempt (3 minutes, but got disconnected)

Model: Widex Moment BTE 13

Bluetooth capabilities: Device adjustments, streaming, live sound, hands-free calling
Ease of use: Easy
Pairing mode: Paired through settings; only one needs to be paired
Attempts to connect: One attempt (1 minute)

Cleaning

All hearing aids must be cleaned regularly. Cleaning generally includes wiping them down with a dry cloth, removing wax build-up, and replacing wax guards. Most hearing aids are sensitive to moisture and harsh chemical agents, so those should be avoided. Some models include extra wax filters, while others do not. The Signia Active stands out in this category because it’s very easy to clean and care for with only daily dry wiping and cleaning of tips required.

Durability

It’s clear that models with replaceable batteries are less durable than those with rechargeable batteries. The door required for replacing batteries is prone to opening after drops and letting in moisture. The Audicus Omni, Lively 2 Pro, and Signia Active all passed the drop and water tests.

Durability Test Findings

Model
Audicus Aura
Drop test (10 times) Battery door opened 4/10 times, one scratch noted
Water resistant? IP rating?
Water test N/A
Audicus Clara
Drop test (10 times) Battery door opened 2/10 times
Water resistant? IP rating? ✅ IP 68
Water test Volume still worked
Audicus Dia II
Drop test (10 times) No damage
Water resistant? IP rating?
Water test N/A
Audicus Omni
Drop test (10 times) No damage
Water resistant? IP rating? ✅ IP 68
Water test Volume still worked
Audien Atom
Drop test (10 times) No damage
Water resistant? IP rating?
Water test N/A
Audien Atom Pro
Drop test (10 times) No damage
Water resistant? IP rating?
Water test N/A
Eargo 6
Drop test (10 times) No damage
Water resistant? IP rating? ✅ IP X7
Water test Volume still worked
Lively 2 Pro
Drop test (10 times) No damage
Water resistant? IP rating? ✅ IP 68
Water test Volume still worked
MDHearing Volt Max
Drop test (10 times) No damage
Water resistant? IP rating?
Water test N/A
Phonak Naida Paradise
Drop test (10 times) Crack at base after drop No. 6
Water resistant? IP rating? ✅ IP 68
Water test Volume still worked
ReSound One
Drop test (10 times) No damage
Water resistant? IP rating? Info unavailable
Water test N/A
Signia Active
Drop test (10 times) No damage
Water resistant? IP rating? ✅ IP 68
Water test Volume still worked
Signia Silk X
Drop test (10 times) No damage
Water resistant? IP rating?
Water test N/A
Starkey Evolv AI
Drop test (10 times) No damage
Water resistant? IP rating? Info unavailable
Water test N/A
Widex Moment BTE 13
Drop test (10 times) Battery door opened 1/10 times
Water resistant? IP rating? ✅ IP rating unlisted
Water test N/A

Compilation of Findings and Final Scoring

We were able to utilize all of the data gathered from the summit and combine it with additional research on each of the models to give you a comprehensive overall score. The summit data was combined into a “Features and Functionality” score. We then added additional scoring for “User Experience” (which included drop testing, Bluetooth pairing, and functionality after submerging); “Pricing” (which considered cost, warranty, and free trial periods); and the manufacturers’ Better Business Bureau grades.

Taking into account all of the parameters evaluated, the Lively 2 Pro is the overall winner. It’s followed by the Widex Moment BTE 13, then the Starkey Evolv AI. If features and functionality are your main concern, the winner in that category is the Widex Moment BTE 13. The Audicus Dia II is the best when it comes to pricing considerations. It’s important to note that hearing aids can cost anywhere between $99–$8,000.

See our article, “Best Cheap Hearing Aids” for an in-depth evaluation of the less expensive options. Following is our scoring breakdown of all parameters considered.

Model
Audicus Aura
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 4
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 2
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 4
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 5
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 15
Audicus Clara
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 11
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 2
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 4
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 5
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 22
Audicus Dia II
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 4
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 3
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 5
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 5
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 17
Audicus Omni
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 17
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 3
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 4
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 5
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 29
Audien Atom
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 8
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 3
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 5
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 4
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 20
Audien Atom Pro
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 9
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 3
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 5
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 4
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 21
Eargo 6
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 16
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 3
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 4
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 5
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 28
Lively 2 Pro
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 22
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 3
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 4
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 5
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 34
MDHearing Volt Max
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 18
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 2
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 4
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 0*
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 24
Phonak Naida Paradise
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 21
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 2
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 3
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 5
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 31
ReSound One
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 23
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 3
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 3
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 0
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 29
Signia Silk X
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 12
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 3
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 3
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 0
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 18
Signia Active
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 20
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 3
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 4
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 0
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 27
Starkey Evolv AI
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 22
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 3
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 2
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 5
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 32
Widex Moment BTE 13
Features & Functionality (out of 28 possible points) 25
User Experience (out of 3 possible points) 3
Pricing (out of 5 possible points) 3
Reputation & Credibility (out of 5 possible points) 0
Total Score (out of 41 possible points) 31

*This manufacturer currently has a B grade with the BBB but has been flagged for violating advertising policies

In Conclusion

Hearing loss is not just an annoyance. Even mild untreated hearing loss can have serious negative effects on an individual’s social, psychological, cognitive, and overall health. Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to the following effects:

  • Irritability, negativism, and anger
  • Fatigue, tension, stress, and depression
  • Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
  • Social rejection and loneliness
  • Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
  • impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
  • Reduced job performance and earning power
  • Diminished psychological and overall health
  • Increased number of falls and accidents
  • Potential decrease in cognitive skills
  • Reduced short-term memory
  • Higher incidence of dementia

Because of the serious deleterious effects of untreated hearing loss, our team spent over 500 hours total in the planning, execution, and analysis of the data acquired during the summit. Our first on-site hearing aid summit provided us with first-hand information in order to better rate and make recommendations to our audience.

If you have any questions regarding our methodology or findings, please reach out to us at aginginplace.org/contact-us.

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WRITTEN BY

Lauren Sherman, M.S., is a health content writer with a master's degree in human genetics from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center, laboratory experience at National Jewish Health, and clinical experience at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She has extensively researched products to help those wanting to age in place such as medical alert systems, walk-in tubs, adjustable beds, and oxygen concentrators.

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Sherman Lauren. "Which Hearing Aid Is Right for You? Findings From AgingInPlace.org’s Hearing Aid and Testing Research Summit" AgingInPlace.org. Nov 02, 2022. Web. Apr 05, 2024. <https://aginginplace.org/hearing-aids/research-summit/>.

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Sherman L. (2022, Nov 02). Which Hearing Aid Is Right for You? Findings From AgingInPlace.org’s Hearing Aid and Testing Research Summit. AgingInPlace.org. https://aginginplace.org/hearing-aids/research-summit/

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Lauren Sherman, "Which Hearing Aid Is Right for You? Findings From AgingInPlace.org’s Hearing Aid and Testing Research Summit," last modified: Nov 02, 2022, https://aginginplace.org/hearing-aids/research-summit/.