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Are cheap hearing aids any good?

choosing hearing aids

The question is a frequently asked and reasonable one. Buying hearing aids is a significant investment in your hearing health and overall quality of life, and as such, shouldn’t be taken lightly. Giving an answer, however, is not simple, as there are many factors that need to be considered. Here is what you need to know to buy the best hearing aid for your type of hearing loss and budget.

Let’s start by pointing out that you’re not just choosing between the two options, cheap or expensive. When we’re discussing different types of hearing aids, we’re really talking about a sliding scale of increasingly sophisticated technology and a corresponding increase in price.

Over the course of history, hearing aids have become better and better. We’re still continuing to make progress with every year that passes. Nowadays, you have the choice between different types of hearing aids with a wide range of functions and features, from wind noise reduction to Bluetooth connectivity. 

But whilst some features really can make life with hearing aids better, others may not be worth the money. So, how can you find hearing aids that address your individual hearing needs best? The answer: It starts with a comprehensive hearing test and diagnosis by your trusted, local Attune audiologist. 

happy couple

Determining your level of hearing loss

There are many motivating reasons to take the plunge and have a hearing test. It may be that someone is noticing difficulty in their day to day communication and suspect a hearing loss, or it may have been the urging of a family member or a suggestion from a GP. If this is you, don’t worry. You’re not alone.

When people walk into the clinic, they usually have mixed emotions. Some are resigned to the fact they need hearing aids. Others are highly motivated and optimistically looking forward to resolving some of the problems they’ve been tolerating for too long. Others attend the appointment quite reluctantly, concerned that they will be talked into something that they don’t feel ready for. Some may feel concerned that they will be pressured to spend money on high-end aids or will end up with aids they are not happy with.

Many people may have, in the lead up to the appointment, conducted some of their own preliminary research online. Others asked friends with hearing aids whether they are happy with their choice. In this day and age, when there are numerous options, it is important to feel fully informed about the entire process and comfortable with any decisions made.

full diagnostic balance assessments

The process of finding the right hearing aids

1. A comprehensive, diagnostic hearing test 

The Audiologist will start by taking a medical history and will also ask questions to determine your lifestyle and what your specific hearing needs are. Everyone has different requirements and priorities and these need to be considered in detail when choosing the best hearing aid in terms of features and price point.

2. Understanding your diagnosis 

The Audiologist will test how well you hear tones of different pitches and explain the graph, known as an audiogram. Other tests will give an indication of how well you distinguish words and the health of your middle ear. 

Click here to learn how to read your audiogram results.

The Audiologist is responsible for explaining your hearing loss and will tell you about  different payment options in detail. These will vary depending on factors such as whether you are on a pension, are entitled to work cover or are self-funded.

A lot of information is given at the initial hearing test appointment and it can be a great idea to bring along a spouse, family member or friend so that you can discuss the information later. It is helpful for those close to you to understand the impact of your hearing loss and helpful for you to have another perspective.

3. Finding the right hearing aid

When advising about specific hearing aids, your audiologist will first take into consideration the hearing loss itself, both the severity of the loss and the precise sounds that are affected. For example, small in-the-canal hearing aids are not suitable for severe to profound hearing losses. 

The goal of a hearing aid is to improve the speech signal and reduce the background noise and to do it in a way that sounds natural. Various features are advantageous in achieving this goal and these features are often only available in the more advanced hearing aids or become more sophisticated as the technology (and price) increases.

4. Fitting your hearing aid

Once you’ve decided on a hearing aid, your audiologist will explain how it works and make sure your hearing aid fits comfortably. Be advised that it often takes a few weeks to get used to the feeling of wearing the device. They will also show you options to connect your aid to your smartphone and TV or any other features it may have.

5. Your hearing aid trial 

Attune hearing offers a free one-week hearing aid trial backed up by complete audiological support so you don’t get lost in the process. All hearing aid purchases also come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. For more information on hearing aid trials and factors that can affect your hearing aid selection, please visit our hearing aid trial guide.

grandparents with kid

What you need to know about hearing aid technology

Whether it’s investing in a new car, TV or mobile phone, you will find that things have changed a lot in terms of technology and will continue to change rapidly. This is certainly also true of hearing aids. All manufacturers offer a full range of hearing aids from relatively basic, inexpensive models, to high-end devices with extensive features and a significant price tag attached.

Basic hearing aids will provide a lot of benefits. They help with face-to-face conversation and make it easier to follow the dialogue on TV. There are many satisfied wearers out there who find that basic hearing aids address all of their needs.

More advanced aids offer extra features and crisp, more natural sound. They can reduce background noise, preserve speech sounds and are able to differentiate different types of sounds. They are therefore better at coping in complex listening environments such as in a workplace.

Other features offered by advanced hearing aids include rechargeable options – making them more convenient and environmentally friendly, and allowing the wearer to directly connect their hearing aids to mobile phones and other Bluetooth devices.

mum with kids

Premium aids often no better than basics hearing devices

But do all these extra features really make expensive devices better than cheap hearing aids? Research suggests that that’s not the case. One study that compared two different brands of hearing aids, and basic and premium models within each, found that it didn’t matter which type of hearing aid it was – there were basically no differences between the premium and basic models.

Is it simply a question of price?

While hearing aids are certainly better than no hearing aids, it is important to recognise that no hearing aid will be perfect. All devices will take some time to adjust to. It is reasonable to have higher expectations when spending more money on hearing aids, however, expectations need to be realistic. 

Whilst your audiologist will discuss the potential benefits and limitations of various hearing aids with you, it is difficult to know whether, in the end, expectations will be met. The best course of action is to trial the hearing aid you believe will be right for you. At the end of the trial period, a confident decision can be made.

The best hearing aid for your individual lifestyle

It is therefore not simply a question of price. It also means looking at your individual lifestyle and the specific listening situations you find yourself in regularly, to assess whether you need the features offered by advanced devices. It means looking at your budget and finding the best possible solution within it.

Are cheap hearing aids no good? The short answer is no. They are good within their limits.

Start basic and then upgrade

Before you take a plunge and invest in the most expensive hearing aid on the market, take advantage of our free trial period and start with a more basic model. Later on, when you know what it’s worth to you, you can always get an upgrade.

Ultimately, what is important is finding an audiologist that you trust and feel comfortable with. With expertise and experience, they can help you get the best out of your device and solve any issues that may come up along the way. 

Getting a hearing aid is an important decision. If you have further questions or would like to have your hearing assessed by a trusted and certified audiologist, contact the hearing care experts at Attune Hearing today.

Enquire now