What are the Best Hearing Aids for the Money  - What are the Best hearing aids on the market?   Question and Answer Time Two answers to that question.   1.  The "best" hearing aids for the money will always be what you can afford and what is best for your particular level of hearing loss.  Every hearing aid has a fitting range - where it works best for a particular hearing loss. 2.  What are the best hearing aids on the market?   We think Open Fit, Open Ear or the Receiver in the Canal (RICs or RITE) Hearing Aids are the best for the money and best hearing aids on the market - that is our opinion...for a couple reasons but first the numbers.  Did you know that Open Fit, Open Ear and RIC hearing aids now account for 63% of all hearing aid sales. Q.  Why are Open Fit Open Ear and RIC hearing aids the best on the market? Overall satisfaction ratings are significantly higher for open ear - open fit RIC hearing aids 85% vs. 76% over other traditional hearing aids. The general consensus among experts, users and sellers on the appeal of the open ear - open fit and RIC hearing aids are as follows:
  • It’s nearly invisible due to the use of thin-tubes.
  • Occlusion is reduced; therefore there is a reduction in the
  • aversion of the sound of chewing, swallowing, and the sound of the consumer’s voice.
  • They are more natural sounding and overall sound quality is better.
  • Feedback is reduced, especially for RIC hearing aids.
  • There is also a debate as to whether the open fit hearing aids obviate the impact of directional microphones.
Open Fit, Open Ear and RIC hearing aid product features offer:  Ease/battery change, Fit/comfort, Ease of insertion/removal from ear, Reliability, Visibility, Frequency of cleaning, Battery life, Warranty, On-going expense, Ease/volume adjustment The #1 reason why hearing aid sellers like to sell Open Fit, Open Ear and RIC hearing aids are...lower return rates.   That means they stick with customers.   Less returns means happier customers    More Open Fit, Open Ear and RIC hearing aids are sold but there is a much lower return rate - which is under 10% most of times - if the seller is doing a good job - in contrast,  IN the EARs have a notoriously high return rates - 30% to 40% in some cases.   That is also true with the larger Behind the Ears - for severe to profound hearing loss - expectations are usually so high that is nearly impossible to meet incredibly high expectations. Open fit hearing aids appeal more to males than traditional style hearing aids (64% vs. 58%). Q.  What are best hearing aids for clarity? With respect to sound quality and signal processing, Open Ear Open Fit and RIC hearing aids are rated between 10%-13% points higher than traditional style hearing aids on all 11 variables measured in this category.   Such as: Clearness tone/sound, Sound of voice, Natural sounding, Directionality, Able to hear soft sounds, Whistling/feedback/buzzing, Richness of sound/fidelity, Comfort with loud sounds, Chewing/swallowing sound, Use In noisy situations, Wind noise Of the 19 listening situations (different possible sound environments) measured, four show significant improvements in consumer satisfaction correlated with Open Ear Open Fit and RIC hearing aid usage: performance on cell phones (80% vs. 65%) and telephones (83% vs. 70%), in large group situations (76% vs. 66%) and in the schoolroom/classroom (68% vs. 57%). Q.  What are best hearing aids for seniors - for the elderly? At age 65, one out of three people has some level of hearing loss.  The top 6 reasons seniors or elderly choose open ear - open fit or RIC hearing aids are: less occlusion, fit and comfort, better sound quality,  better benefit, less visibility, and better directionality (less background noise). Open Ear Open Fit or RIC hearing aids influenced more affluent customers and more active elderly consumers to come forward for a solution for their hearing loss; they also tapped into segments of people with milder hearing losses. Q.  What are best hearing aids for mild to severe high frequency hearing loss? About 48 million adults report some degree of mild hearing loss. People with severe hearing loss represent about 10% of the total population of those with a hearing impairment.  Open Fit, Open Ear and RIC hearing aids can cover hearing loss from mild to severe high frequency hearing loss.   Open Fit, Open Ear and RIC hearing aids now account for 63% of all hearing aid sales. Q. What are the Best Hearing Aids for Noisy Environments? Controlling for degree of hearing loss, open ear, open fit and RIC hearing aids offer significant improvements in overall satisfaction, cosmetics, sound quality in all areas - especially Noisy Environments-minimizing background noise, and multiple environmental listening utility (memories). Q.  What are the best non visible hearing aids? open ear - open fit or RIC hearing aids are shown to be superior in reducing visibility (88% vs. 75% over traditional aids) and warranty  (76% vs. 66%). One Last Question,  where is the best place to buy hearing aids? www.centuryhearingaids.com   Statistical references provided by MarkeTrak and Sergei Kochkin, PhD, is Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute, Washington, DC. Readers may contact Dr. Kochkin at [email protected] REFERENCES 1. Kochkin S: MarkeTrak VIII: Customer satisfaction with hearing aids is slowly increas- ing. Hear J 2010;63(1):19-32 2. Kochkin S, Beck D, Christensen L, Compton-Conley C, Fligor B, Kricos P, McSpaden J, Mueller HG, Nilsson M, Northern J, Powers T, Sweetow R, Taylor B, Turner R: MarkeTrak VIII: The impact of the hearing healthcare professional on hearing aid user success. Hear Rev 2010;17(4):12-34. 3. Kirkwood D: Resilient hearing aid industry records rising sales despite a troubled economy. Hear J 2009;62(12):11-16. 4. Kochkin S: MarkeTrak VIII: 25-Year trends in the hearing health market. Hear Rev 2009;16(10):12-31. 5. Kochkin S: Thin Tube Mini-BTE Survey. Unpublished study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute for the Hearing Industries Association. September 2006. www.betterhearing.org/hia/Thin_Tube_miniBTE_survey.ppt 6. Kirkwood D: Survey probes reason for BTE boom. Hear J 2006;59(11):8. 7. DiLulio R: Not your father’s hearing aid. Hear Rev March/April 2007. 8. Hoen M, Fabry D: Hearing aids with external receivers: can they offer power and cosmetics? Hear J 2007;60(1):28-34. 9. Schweitzer C, Jessee S: The value proposition of open-fit hearing aids. Hear Rev September 2006. 10. Fabry D. Facts versus myths: The “skinny” on open-fit hearing aids. Hear Rev May 2006. 11. Kuk F, Keenan D, Ludvigsen C: Efficacy of an open-fitting hearing aid. Hear Rev February 2005.