The Quality difference between various hearing aid technology levels

Which Hearing Aid is the Best

Hearing aid technology levels are arbitrary levels set by suppliers and hearing aid retailers to separate hearing aids into different performance and hearing aid price categories. Different manufacturers have different levels and some have fewer or more levels. At Value Hearing & Tinnitus Solutions, we use 5 different levels to group different manufacturer’s technology into. They increase in price as they go up towards premium.

 

The technology levels we use are as follows:

Government level: 

  • Generally those hearing aids provided free of charge to pensioners under the office of Hearing Services Voucher scheme. There are many hearing aids available in this class of instrument. Some are almost 8 years old, while others are more modern. So mileage varies very much. Some clinics purposely choose the worst of the bunch to incentivise their pensioners to top-up to more expensive models. Value Hearing has chosen to work with the best models in this space, so your need to top-up is reduced as much as possible

Essential Level: 

  • This is the first level of technology we supply. These aids are automatic, but have limited noise reduction capabilities.

Basic Level: 

  • This is a step above the Essential level and includes more automatic features and a little more noise reduction

Advanced Level: 

  • This level is generally as good as the previous generation (of the same brand)’s Premium level. They generally have pretty good noise reduction, but lack some of the cutting edge features of the current generation Premium models.

Premium Level: 

  • This is the best that a current manufacturer currently has available. It contains all the top end features. Some manufacturers may have a sub premium and then a premium model with only a few features difference. Examples here are Oticon and Unitron

 

Is one technology better quality than another?

In essence NO. Although there are certainly quality differences between different manufacturers, there is no quality difference between levels.

To clarify, quality in this instance pertains to reliability and the quality of the parts used in the hearing aid.

All hearing aids in a particular manufacturer’s range, actually use exactly the same parts, chip, speakers, microphone etc. as any other level in that range.  What happens in the factory is that a whole slew of blank slate hearing aids of the exact same quality is produced. One of the steps in the process is then to load software onto that blank slate. The software is what determines the features of the hearing aid, not the hardware parts.

So an essential level of one manufacturer has the same parts as the premium level. The only difference is that the software on the premium model unlocks a lot more features and performance than found in the essential level.

One manufacturer, Unitron, actually allows users to have their hearing aid technology upgraded to a higher level in the clinic, by simply paying an upgrade fee. This is something we hope to see other manufacturers take on board as well.

 

Are you saying that all manufacturer’s hearing aid technology is equal?

No, definitely not! Most manufacturers develop their own chips and there are some big differences in capability between these chips. These relate to what is possible with the software, which relates to how well they perform in different situations.

Different manufacturers have a different focus when developing their software. This is discussed under each of the brands (see Our Brands in the navigation)

 

Technology levels can be abused!

Some retailers use technology levels to fool consumers. What they do is assign technology levels such as Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum or Diamond and then combine that with the Manufacturer’s name. An example would be Resound Gold or Bernafon Silver. These tactics make it very difficult for the consumer to price shop as such a product does not exist anywhere outside the retailer making these assignments. Always make sure you know the exact manufacturer model when quoted on hearing aids to avoid being tricked into expensive pricing.

We have caught on to what models fit with which ranges though, so feel free to contact us if you have a hearing aid with such a designation, that you want more clarity on.

 

Which Technology level is right for me?

The question of which hearing aid is best for me is one that we see more often than we’d like. The reason this is so pervasive has to do with how hearing aids are often selected.

Traditionally Hearing aids are selected by hearing professionals based on your hearing ability in QUIET, your lifestyle and budget. Ironically traditional testing, which is still widely employed “forgets” about assessing an individual’s hearing ability in noise and using that as part of the selection process.

The result of this hearing aid selection process is that people often end up with hearing aids that work well in quiet, but has very mixed results in noise. Some people end up overpaying significantly for their hearing aids as they get sold on all the bells and whistles on account of having an active lifestyle (read – they actually go out for meals at times).

We have been assessing our clients’ ability to hear not only in quiet but also in noise, for the last 8+ years. Doing this has helped us refine a Unique hearing aid selection process, not currently used anywhere else. Our process allows us to not only match your test results to a hearing aid that will work in quiet but also match it to a hearing aid that will at the same time work well for you in noise. Due to the number of hearing instrument brands we carry, we can then find the best value product in our range that will deliver you optimal performance at the best value.

 

If you are interested in going through our unique process, then book your appointment today.

 

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10 Comments to “ The Quality difference between various hearing aid technology levels”

  1. Jacquie Haywood says :Reply

    This is a very interesting article, I would like to add I never had this kind of information made available to me when I was working and was using Lions Hearing for my hearing aids.

    1. christo says :Reply

      I am happy to know you like it Jacquie. Let me know if there are topics of interest you’d like to see more of. I am open to giving our clients what they want.

  2. Rick says :Reply

    Let me say at the outset that I am a client of Value Hearing. I took the plunge and went for the Premium model (both ears). The hit to the hip pocket is now not even a memory but the quality of the devices is a reminder every waking hour that it pays to get something that works. My parents in law got their aids on the pension and the difference is unbelievable…to the point where they hardly use theirs because they have so much trouble hearing properly with them. Hearing properly is such an essential part of life, you need beg, borrow or steal your way into aids that work for you.

    1. christo says :Reply

      Hi Rick,

      Thank you for your comments. I am sorry to read that your family did not get such a great outcome with their pension hearing aids. It doesn’t surprise me and is one of the reason’s we have kept out of the Office of Hearing Services market since our inception.

  3. Jennifer says :Reply

    I found mine to be mostly useful and when I complain the audiologist tells me that if I could have afforded the $10,000 ones instead of the $6,000 I would have been fine – only he never mentioned that when he sold them to me. I find I can hear fine I just cant understand a word that being said . His comment was it better with them or with out them – of course its better with them but it didn’t solve my problem .

    1. christo says :Reply

      Hi Jennifer, That certainly does not sound like a satisfactory outcome or attitude from the clinician. Have you sought a second opinion elsewhere at all?

  4. Jan says :Reply

    Hi Christo
    I don’t understand why you won’t accept the voucher from the government. Isn’t it worth $2000.00?
    I was under the impression that the value of the voucher comes off the cost of the hearing aid you choose to buy.
    And to be honest – I feel if your on the pension your not good enough because you say you only deal with self-funded retirees!!!
    I’m interested in your explanation for this so I can make a decision.
    Regards
    Jan

    1. christo says :Reply

      To be able to accept the OHS voucher, one needs to be signed up to the OHS contract. Our clinicians are actually registered to do voucher work, the company has just not committed to the contract This contract brings with it much red tape that dictates very much how the business should and can be run. This incurs many costs and overheads and limits the flexibility of the business. There are many providers (most in fact) that do accept the voucher, so voucher holders are well served elsewhere. We found a niche in serving self funded Australians with hearing loss at a much higher level than if we were held back by the bureaucracy of the OHS system.

      As it stands our self-funded clients do not have to subsidise administrative or time costs incurred by the OHS system or by being a jack of all trades, like many of our peers are. We can focus our offering on being the best possible provider for our self-funded niche while being fair in our rates.

      This does not exclude pensioners nor discriminate against you. We have many pensioners who who are not happy with the OHS system and who are enjoying our services. They simply decided to fund their own hearing aids at our fair rates while obtaining service and outcomes second to none. Our level of service offerings would not be possible or feasible if we were contracted to OHS. Hence our decision not be be.

      We always recommend voucher holders explore the OHS system thoroughly before taking us up on our services as there are a few diamonds in the rough when it comes to providers.

      Kind Regards,

      Christo

  5. Ken says :Reply

    Very informative and well said. I like your honesty.

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