Consumer Guide 2 - Page 10

Hearing Aid Brands ‘True’ hearing aids are devices where a suitably qualified person fits them. There are only a handful of hearing aid brands to choose from: PHONAK have a dominant market share (and Unitron is part of the same group). They have an impressive range of FM and Digital Roger add-on listening devices (1), they are innovative in terms of Bluetooth connectivity (to mobiles, iPads, etc) and their CROS devices are quite superb (for users with one dead ear) (2). SIEMENS have always been prominent in the UK, winning a larger part of the NHS contracts in previous years. Of note is their revived recent interest and investment in the private UK sector, which may mean better deals and you being offered Siemens more often. Siemens hearing aids are certainly of excellent build quality. The MiniTek remote control and streaming device is arguably the best add-on in the market. OTICON, like Widex and Phonak, have long benefitted from a high-end reputation. At its start, Oticon dominated the important receiver-in the-ear market. There is no question that their in-the-ear aids are very well made. The well designed ConnectLine accessories range now includes the new Streamer that works through iPhone, iPad etc. UNITRON is generally speaking, a safe choice, as it shares many of the qualities of Phonak, but with a lower price tag. Unitron are the first manufacturer to introduce upgradeable hearing instruments. WIDEX has probably the most enviable historical reputation. Their hearing aids tend to have a somewhat mellower sound quality than most others, and the Passion model was the first aesthetically attractive hearing aid design. GN RESOUND has a great history of innovations. The first open-ear aid (the type preceding receiver in the ear) was launched by Resound, and their receiver-in-the-ear and in-the-ear aids continue to be of superior design. STARKEY had a strong presence in the UK when analogue technology was the main form of hearing aid amplification. Their more recent digital hearing aids are of great quality. Of note, are the touch-sensitive controls and the TV streamer accessory SurfLink that needs no additional boosting device. (1) FM and Digital Roger will suit hearing aid users who cannot get a sufficiently good level of hearing with hearing aids alone. A transmitter sends sounds straight from the speaker's microphone into the hearing aids. (2) A CROS unit is worn on a dead or unaidable ear. It picks up sounds and sends the signal instantly to the device on the other ear. Referred to as a BiCROS when the better ear needs some amplification. 10