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Bluetooth Hearing Aids

November 1, 2018

1:55 pm

There was a time when mobile phones were just meant to make calls, and it was enough to have a TV which picked up the available channels. This is no longer the case. Over the last decade technological advancements have allowed our devices to become far more integrated.

Home appliances which communicate over the internet and a phone which connects to your TV are becoming standard. The minimum we expect of our personal devices, is for them to be able to talk to each other. Hearing aids, which are personal devices in every sense of the word, have also been touched by this wake of integrated technologies.

Hearing aids are no longer just a tool to improve the wearer’s ability to engage in conversation: They can seamlessly help the user engage with a myriad of technologies. The introduction of Bluetooth hearing aids has contributed greatly to this advancement.

On this page, you will find all the information you need to know to decide whether Bluetooth hearing aids are right for you, or your loved one.

In This Review:

What Are Bluetooth Hearing Aids?

Bluetooth hearing aids are transformative wireless devices which enable those with hearing loss to hear environmental sounds more clearly, as well as connect directly to other electrical technology such as mobile phones and TVs for a seamless listening experience.

Hearing aids typically work by detecting sound waves, processing them and then amplifying the sound in a manner that meets the user’s personal needs. Although this technology is usually very successful, sounds from electrical sources have always been tricky to deal with and it is common for a whistling sound to accompany sound processed from mobile phones.

Bluetooth hearing aids are a great solution to this problem. They avoid any whistling by wirelessly receiving a signal directly from an electrical device- such as a mobile phone- for processing and delivery to the user’s ears, instead of only picking up the audio signals from the room. This makes them suitable for anyone who wants to experience a richer sound as they engage with other pieces of technology.

Devices that can be paired with Bluetooth hearing aids

bluetooth hearing aids devices

Bluetooth hearing aids can receive sound from any electrical devices that, 1) produce sound and 2) are Bluetooth enabled. This includes devices that have become an intimate part of our personal lives, devices such as:

  • TV
  • Laptops/Computers
  • Tablets
  • Mobile Phones
  • Baby monitors
  • Doorbells

Bluetooth hearing aids can also connect to both Apple and Android devices, in some cases directly and in others via an intermediary device known as a streamer.

Why Get Bluetooth Hearing Aids?

To appreciate the difference that a Bluetooth hearing aid can make, let’s consider a potential real life scenario. You are at home watching a movie with a loved one, when your phone rings. (It’s a call you have to attend to.)

With normal hearing aids, the quality of sound received from the TV may not be rich. Then, when holding the phone up to your ear, this may bring with it some discomfort from the low quality audio, or notorious whistling sound some hearing aids can produce when combined with smartphones.

Now let us consider the same scenario with a Bluetooth hearing aid.

The sound from the TV can be streamed directly to you, with the freedom to adjust volume and other features of the sound independently from what your loved one is listening to. In addition, when the call comes in, the Bluetooth hearing aid acts as a hands-free device, notifying you of the incoming call and allowing you to answer with the simple push of a button. As the sound is being transmitted directly from the phone to your hearing aid, there are no distortions or feedback noises. The experience is a smooth one, switching between TV to phone and back again when the call is done.

The Benefits of Bluetooth Hearing Aids

The first benefit you will notice is that with Bluetooth hearing aids, you can easily switch between multiple devices as you stream sound from any Bluetooth-enabled device to your hearing aid. That’s your TV, phone and tablet among others. And there’s more, with Bluetooth hearing aids, you can also:

        Personalize the listening experience you enjoy best in different environments

        Remotely control your hearing aid programs and settings

        Be more efficient and discreet in the use of your hearing aid

        Have direct access to a hearing professional through the use of Bluetooth hearing aid apps

As mentioned earlier, it’s no longer a matter of just restoring hearing but improving overall quality of life and the ability to fully engage with everyday technology.

Start your journey to crystal clear hearing with a free hearing test and consultation.

bluetooth symbol How Do Bluetooth Hearing Aids Work?

Bluetooth hearing aids take advantage of a wireless means of communication based on high frequency waves (2.4GHz) to transfer data over short distances (10 to 100m). First developed by Ericsson in 1994 for the purposes of wireless headsets, Bluetooth technology is now used by over 30,0000 technology manufacturers worldwide, making it a true cross platform technology. It is for this reason that Bluetooth hearing aids are able to enhance quality of life by enabling interaction with multiple devices.

Bluetooth technology can be used to transfer data (audio, files, broadcasts) in two forms:

  1. The first is Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate which is used in  wireless speakers, headsets, and hands-free car systems. Although effective, this method consumes a lot of power.
  2. The second is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which was introduced in the latest specifications from Bluetooth 4.0 onwards. BLE has reduced power consumption while maintaining the same range of communication, making it ideal for use in devices such as fitness trackers and Bluetooth hearing aids.

Due to the latest innovations, Bluetooth hearing aids do not consume a lot of power, lasting anywhere between 1-6 days depending on the type of battery and how long the Bluetooth feature is used to stream audio from other devices to the hearing aid.


Best Bluetooth Hearing Aids

Some Bluetooth hearing aids are able to connect directly to Bluetooth enabled devices whereas others require an intermediary device, which will transmit sound to the hearing aid from the electrical device. Then there are those that were “Made For iPhone”; as the name suggests, these Bluetooth hearing aids directly connect to only iPhones and other Apple products, connecting to any other device will require an intermediary streaming device.

Bluetooth hearing aids and accompanying Bluetooth hearing aid apps are widely available. With all the variations, this can make you spoilt for choice or very confused. Below you can find 5 of the best Bluetooth hearing aids:

Device: Phonak Audeo Marvel

Phonak Audeo Marvel Bluetooth Hearing Aids

  • Apple or Android: Connects to all Bluetooth enabled devices including Apple and Android phones.
  • Streamer or direct: Direct streaming eliminates need for intermediary streamer
  • Compatible Bluetooth hearing aid app: Yes
  • Binaural streaming: Yes
  • Battery Type: Lithium Ion rechargeable
  • Tinnitus masker: Yes
  • Price: From $1,300

Device: Starkey Halo 2

Starkey Halo 2 Bluetooth Hearing Aids

  • Apple or Android: Made for iPhone
  • Streamer or direct: Direct for Apple, intermediary required for Android
  • Compatible Bluetooth hearing aid app: Yes
  • Binaural streaming: Yes
  • Battery Type: Size 13/312
  • Tinnitus masker: Yes
  • Price: From $1,500

Device: Resound Linx Quattro

Resound Linx Quattro Bluetooth Hearing Aids

  • Apple or Android: Connects all Bluetooth enabled devices including Apple and Android phones.
  • Streamer or direct: Direct for Apple, intermediary required for Android
  • Compatible Bluetooth hearing aid app: Yes
  • Binaural streaming: Yes
  • Battery Type: Lithium Ion rechargeable
  • Tinnitus masker: Yes
  • Price: $2,200+

Device: Signia Pure 312 Nx

Signia Pure 312 NX Bluetooth Hearing Aids

  • Apple or Android: Made for iPhone
  • Streamer or direct: Direct for Apple, intermediary required for Android
  • Compatible Bluetooth hearing aid app: Yes
  • Binaural streaming: Yes
  • Battery Type: Lithium Ion rechargeable
  • Tinnitus masker: Yes
  • Price: From $1,300

Device: Oticon OPN

Oticon OPN Bluetooth Hearing Aid

  • Apple or Android: Made for iPhone
  • Streamer or direct: Direct for Apple, intermediary required for Android
  • Compatible Bluetooth hearing aid app: Yes
  • Binaural streaming: Yes
  • Battery Type: Lithium Ion rechargeable
  • Tinnitus masker: Yes
  • Price: From $1,500

Get a free hearing test and consultation and make your first move towards clear hearing.


Bluetooth Hearing Aid Apps

Audeo Marvel Bluetooth Hearing Aid App available on iOS and the Google Play StoreWith Bluetooth hearing aids able to connect seamlessly to multiple devices, one has to wonder how it can all be managed. Well, there’s an app for that!

Actually there are multiple apps for that, with many manufacturers having built their own Bluetooth hearing aid apps to work alongside their Bluetooth hearing aids.

  • Phonak recently released a line of Audéo Marvel Bluetooth hearing aids which are able to connect to both Apple and Android devices without an intermediary streamer. Along with your hearing aids you are provided with a range of bluetooth hearing aid apps, such as the Phonak “RemoteControl App” (right) made for you to set up connections between devices.
  • Other manufacturers have also produced their own customised Bluetooth hearing aid apps; Oticon has “ON”, Starkey has “TruLink”, GN Resound has “Control”, Miracle Ear has “MEcontrol” and Bernafon has “Easy Control – A”.
  • As a standard, many of these apps allow the user to adjust volume, change settings and check battery status. Others include additional functionality like measuring intensity of sound exposure and connecting to a hearing professional who can remotely adjust the settings of your hearing aid.  

How Much Do Bluetooth Hearing Aids Cost?

Bluetooth has become a standard feature for most hearing aids meaning that for most manufacturers there are no additional costs. That being said, Bluetooth hearing aids will come in various types with varying degrees of technology from basic to premium. This can make the price of Bluetooth hearing aids range from $1,400 to $3,000+.

For Bluetooth hearing aids that do not connect directly to devices, remember that you would have to purchase a relatively inexpensive streaming accessory to act as an intermediary device.

Ultimately the price you pay for a Bluetooth hearing aid will depend largely on your personal needs and the available technology. You may even have the option to pick and choose what you pay for, altering the final price of your hearing aid.

Speaking to a specialist will help you match your needs to what is available, helping you make a decision and giving you the best value for money.

Start your journey to crystal clear hearing with a free hearing test and consultation.

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Thomas Tagoe is a neuroscientist and science communicator affiliated to the University of Ghana. He holds a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Leicester (UK) and his research into how exposure to loud sound causes hearing deficits has been published in international journals and major news outlets including the BBC, CNN and The Conversation. Aside research, Thomas has a passion for sharing his love of everything science and does this through an organisation he co-founded to build capacity in individuals through outreach activities. Outside his scientific pursuits, Thomas is an avid reader and enjoys a good game of basketball.

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