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www.hearingaidreview.org.uk has been put together by me, Robert Donnan. I’m an independent private ‘hearing aid dispenser’ (HCPC registered). This is the protected name qualification required in the UK to be able to ‘sell’ or prescribe hearing aids. There is a general habit of ‘us’ describing ourselves as AUDIOLOGISTS. I am personally ok with this term, even though it is primarily used to describe an NHS trained person who measures hearing. It is not a protected term, and describes a person concerned with the measurement and understanding of hearing levels.

It is regrettable that the qualifications required are often over-stated.  So I am seeing terms such as consultant audiologist, cerumenologist and consultant which must be an attempt to overstate our qualifications?

The skill required to program a hearing aid is extremely minimal. The labour required to explain outcome expectations, the rehabilitation period, how to use hearing aids; and the servicing needed after purchase is where all the value is be gained. So my job is all to do with HARD WORK, PATIENCE, PERSEVERANCE and being part of an organised business that is capable of actually providing the long term package included in the price. I myself have worked a minimum six days a week for over 10 years in my attempt to uphold my duties.

It’s a tough job providing products that most people don’t want to face up to getting in the first place, and meeting people’s expectations of how they should hear in background noise, which are often, frankly, not met.

So, there is a lot of hype and ‘sales’/ overly optimistic language used when discussing private hearing aids (see an example below). This is as a result of the high level of consumer scepticism and doubt, the NHS hearing aid availability, the difficulty in defining how well a person actually hears (it’s very individual and opinion-driven) and the low level of training required to become a private hearing aid dispenser.

You need to approach this subject with great CARE, DILIGENCE, SUPPORT from someone who’s opinion you value and in my humble opinion, you should demand an UNCONDITIONAL FREE TRIAL.

What’s a private hearing aid dispenser?

What’s the difference between NHS and private?

Who reviews hearing aids for us?
Our 3 testers are real hearing aid wearers.
Right now, by coincidence, all three are male.
All three are employed in the IT sector.
All have suffered from a long term or congenital complex hearing loss, ranging from mild-to-moderate, severe to profound.

They have all agreed to test new hearing products that come to market in return for receiving free hearing aids. Each model tested by all three persons is evaluated in short, easy-to-understand language that we can all understand.

So this is not your typical hearing aid review website
We are not including end-users who will typically bundle the service they have received together with the hearing aid sound quality.
We are not including audiologists’ views.
Nor are we listing manufacturers’ blurb.
Our idea is to get ‘into’ the products themselves, so in effect, this is a hearing aid product review website.

Which hearing aids are our 3 REVIEWERS wearing day-to-day?
BL is wearing OTICON OPN 1 with micro moulds.
AD is wearing SIGNIA NITRO power BTEs with Starkey E2108 ear moulds.
MR is wearing PHONAK AUDEO V90 10 with ComPilot Air II.

How do we decide which hearing aids to test?
We are influenced by world & European sales:
So we’d be more inclined to try hearing aids from the following:
Phonak
Oticon
Resound
Starkey
Widex
Signia
in that order.

Stars that rate hearing aids are often NOT REVIEWS
These are instead arbitrarily placed next to hearing aid models as an opinion by the author only. You can spot this straight away as older models / lower spec. models will be marked with less stars, and the most expensive models with 5 stars.

OCTOBER 2018

Best Overall Hearing Aid

  1. Oticon Opn 1

Best 5 Professional Hearing Aids

  1. Oticon Opn 1
  2. Phonak Audeo M90
  3. Phonak Audeo M90-R
  4. Phonak Audeo B90-10
  5. Resound LiNX Quattro 961

Best Mainstream Hearing Aids

  1. Phonak Audeo M50-R
  2. Resound LiNX Quattro 561
  3. Phonak Audeo M50-D
  4. Phonak Audeo V50-10
  5. Oticon Opn 3

Best Budget Hearing Aids

  1. Phonak Audeo V30-10
  2. Phonak Virto V30 CIC
  3. Phonak Virto Q30 CIC

MOST POPULAR QUESTIONS

Why are hearing aids so expensive?

  • High refund rates of High Street chains
  • Variability of hearing outcomes
  • Difficulty in assessing improvements
  • Labour intensive (fine tuning appointments)

What’s the Best Hearing Aid?

  • The one that you like the best
  • You can only discover this through a trial process
  • Oticon Opn 1 is the most technologically advanced hearing aid
  • However, some of our best reviews are from people that have not spent a lot of money (purchased budget hearing aids)

Where’s the best place to go?

  • We are biased – & believe Independents offer the best overall experience
  • Which? magazine agrees: in their last 3 surveys of end-users’ findings
  • Boots score well in second place, as the best large retailer
  • The Independent you visit should be well established, with good evidence of service (reviews)
  • It is advisable to deal with someone quite local to you

What do they cost?

  • Thanks to the internet, there is now a fairly clear understanding about what these cost
  • The most expensive products cost about £3000 per pair. If you seek out the better suppliers, you might have to pay £4000
  • Two-thirds of what you pay is for the after care (not the hearing aids)
  • Continuity of service is very important (so many dissatisfied users comment that the person they saw was different every time)

What makes a great hearing aid?
Primarily, it will be your willingness and diligence.
A trial before you pay anything always helps.
Pay some attention to world sales figures.
Oticon and Phonak are doing the best.

Budget model reviews

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iStock_000012110875_Small       image.resize.310.310-4   Phonak logo - RGB 300dpi

 

PHONAK Q30:

“A new level in affordable hearing delight. Understanding speech is the priority. Surprising size and looks. Best value for non-wireless performance”

 

Our Verdict:

This older chip model, from 2015 is still available. Why would you buy this? Well, the manufacturer leads in the market, the production facilities in Warrington are superb, and the back-up is the best. In today’s competitive market, you should be able to negotiate a free trial on all hearing aids. Just ask.

PRICE TO PAY: Around £900 to £1300 for a pair

 


APPEARANCE AND FEEL:

(the weight, size, shape, how well it fits ergonomically to the ear; the thickness and flexibility of the wire; the shell construction, quality, finish, IP properties, construction of buttons / switches / battery compartment)

4 STARS

Outstanding build quality. Customisable with programming button, volume wheel, twin mics, T-coil, non-slip shell, extraction cord, etc. Avoid the SmartGuard wax guard (too delicate) – ask for cerustop wax guard to be fitted. The re-shells to fix poor fit problems are carried out quickly throughout the whole 2 year warranty period, making this the best basic hearing aid you can buy via a HCPC registered audiologist.

 


SOUND PRODUCTION:

(tested for how natural sounds are; how owner’s voice sounds; quality of classical and popular amplified music; naturalness of everyday quiet sounds such as indicator click, and loud sounds such as toilet flush, wind)

3 STARS

The Q30 usually sounds great for typical hearing losses especially age-related. A little harsh for high pitched sounds.

 


BACKGROUND NOISE PERFORMANCE:

(how well the instrument appears to cope with the suppression of background noises, such as party speech babble, traffic noise, loud wind noise, car engine sound)

2 STARS

Copes well in one-to-one and small groups. Adequate in noisy places.

 


EASE OF PROGRAMMING:

(from the audiologist perspective – how easy and user-friendly the programming software is: this can affect the quality of the results for the end-user)

3 STARS

Wired programming through Target software – easy to understand interface makes programming really straight-forward.

 


MAINTENANCE & RUNNING COSTS:

(cost of out-of-warranty repairs, cost of shell repairs, spare parts, ease of procuring replacement parts, consumables such as domes, wax guards, receiver wires; shell integrity when put under stress)

5 STARS

Parts are easy to get and lowish in cost.

 


OTHER COMMENTS:

The larger part of the cost is set aside for the audiologist’s professional services over a prolonged period. To allow for fine-tuning, retests, and re-calibration.

 

3 STARS

Overall Score in class: By MR (Nov 2017) worn for 2 weeks

 

 

                                           

iStock_000012110875_Small           Phonak logo - RGB 300dpi

 

PHONAK VIRTO V30

:  “Audibly big. Visibly small. With a unique design that fits perfectly into your ear canal for ultimate comfort, there is no other hearing aid this small, capable of this much performance.
• Individually crafted to perfectly fit your ear canal
• Combining performance and discretion
• Ultimate wearing comfort and sound quality”

Also available in RIC style (the Audeo V30)

 

PHONAK VIRTO V30 

(Budget hearing aid, In-the-Ear, CIC tested)

Our Verdict:
In today’s competitive market, you should be able to negotiate a free trial on all hearing aids. Just ask.

PRICE TO PAY: Around £1200 to £1500 for a pair

 


APPEARANCE AND FEEL:

(the weight, size, shape, how well it fits ergonomically to the ear; the thickness and flexibility of the wire; the shell construction, quality, finish, IP properties, construction of buttons / switches / battery compartment)

4 STARS

Outstanding build quality, programming button fitted as standard can get pressed accidentally. Avoid the SmartGuard wax guard (too delicate). Re-shells to fix poor fit problems are carried out quickly throughout the whole 2 year warranty period.

 


SOUND PRODUCTION:

(tested for how natural sounds are; how owner’s voice sounds; quality of classical and popular amplified music; naturalness of everyday quiet sounds such as indicator click, and loud sounds such as toilet flush, wind)

3 STARS

The V30 usually sounds great. A little harsh for high pitched sounds.

 


BACKGROUND NOISE PERFORMANCE:

(how well the instrument appears to cope with the suppression of background noises, such as party speech babble, traffic noise, loud wind noise, car engine sound)

3 STARS

Seems to adjust very smoothly in moderate background noise. Not so sure in very noisy environments. But for the money……

 


EASE OF PROGRAMMING:

(from the audiologist perspective – how easy and user-friendly the programming software is: this can affect the quality of the results for the end-user)

5 STARS

Superior wireless connection via iCube II, easy to understand interface makes programming really straight-forward.

 


MAINTENANCE & RUNNING COSTS:

(cost of out-of-warranty repairs, cost of shell repairs, spare parts, ease of procuring replacement parts, consumables such as domes, wax guards, receiver wires; shell integrity when put under stress)

5 STARS

Parts are easy to get and lowish in cost.

 


OTHER COMMENT: The best ever hearing aid chip? – is now within reach of almost everyone. This aid even has ear to ear buttons (press the right aid button to turn up the volume of both aids, left for down) and wireless-to-Bluetooth (works with streaming devices such as ComPilot Air II).

image.resize.310.310         4 STARS

By BL (September 2017) worn for 4 days

 

 

 

 

iStock_000012110875_Small            Phonak logo - RGB 300dpi

 

PHONAK AUDEO V30 10: 

“Phonak Audéo V is a Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) hearing aid, making it highly discreet. The fashion and fun colors ensure we have something to suit every style”

 

Our Verdict: A feature-packed RIC aid that will be adequate for the majority of hearing losses. A truly convincing product in the affordable price bracket.
In today’s competitive market, you should be able to negotiate a free trial on all hearing aids. Just ask.

PRICE TO PAY: Around £1200 to £1500 for a pair

 


APPEARANCE AND FEEL:

(the weight, size, shape, how well it fits ergonomically to the ear; the thickness and flexibility of the wire; the shell construction, quality, finish, IP properties, construction of buttons / switches / battery compartment)

5 STARS

Robust, attractive design, with wireless (ear to ear) button, Bluetooth and Wireless connectivity all fitted into the tiny shell.

 


SOUND PRODUCTION:

(tested for how natural sounds are; how owner’s voice sounds; quality of classical and popular amplified music; naturalness of everyday quiet sounds such as indicator click, and loud sounds such as toilet flush, wind)

3 STARS

The V30 usually sounds great. A little harsh for high pitched sounds.

 


BACKGROUND NOISE PERFORMANCE:

(how well the instrument appears to cope with the suppression of background noises, such as party speech babble, traffic noise, loud wind noise, car engine sound)

4 STARS

Seems to adjust very smoothly in moderate background noise. Less positive in noise and wind.

 


EASE OF PROGRAMMING:

(from the audiologist perspective – how easy and user-friendly the programming software is: this can affect the quality of the results for the end-user)

5 STARS

Superior wireless connection via iCube II, easy to understand interface makes programming really straight-forward.

 


MAINTENANCE & RUNNING COSTS:

(cost of out-of-warranty repairs, cost of shell repairs, spare parts, ease of procuring replacement parts, consumables such as domes, wax guards, receiver wires; shell integrity when put under stress)

5 STARS

Parts are easy to get and lowish in cost.

 


OTHER COMMENTS: The best ever hearing aid chip? – is now within reach of almost everyone. This aid even has ear to ear buttons (press the right aid button to turn up the volume of both aids, left for down) and wireless-to-Bluetooth (works with streaming devices such as ComPilot Air II).
image.resize.310.310-35 STARS

Overall score in class: By BL (Jan 2018)