Does the minefield of hearing aid information leave you feeling overwhelmed? This is a constant refrain from many people who are thinking of purchasing In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids. This article provides a guide to some of the best In-The-Ear hearing aids currently on the market and the different features available that set them apart.
When determining which hearing aid is best, a lot will depend on your type and level of hearing loss, your lifestyle and what you want from your hearing aid. Let’s start by keeping it simple. First and foremost, if you think you have a hearing loss, book your hearing test with your local Attune hearing clinic. Your Attune audiologist will be able to provide you with a hearing assessment and help you decide whether an in the In-The-Ear hearing aid is right for you.
Now let’s presume that you have had your hearing test and it seems that an In-The-Ear style of hearing aid is very well suited to your hearing loss. To decide which of these hearing aids perform best, there are some things to consider such as the comfort and appearance of the hearing aid.
Some of the questions to ask include: Does the hearing aid provide easy listening, good sound quality and clarity of speech? Does it perform well in the different everyday environments you encounter, even if there is competing background noise involved? Do you want your hearing aid to have wireless connectivity and Bluetooth streaming capabilities? Is it compatible with iPhones or Android or both?
This can determine whether you want to use an app on your mobile phone as a remote control for ease of use such as adjusting the volume control, different programs and other features, or whether you prefer to just touch a button on your hearing aid to adjust these things manually.
In the past, In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids have had their limitations and have been suited to only mild to moderate hearing losses. This is because they are not worn behind the ear but inside the ear canal itself, they have to be small enough to fit inside your ear canal comfortably. This means that the technology housed inside the more classical Behind-The-Ear hearing aid needs to fit into a much smaller space.
Unfortunately, this has meant that the more sophisticated technology used for microphones, Bluetooth and overall processing ability has not been able to fit into the smaller In-The-Ear hearing aids and a lot of this performance technology is either simplified or lost altogether.
However, now with the ability to produce smaller microchips with more advanced technology contained within, the smaller In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids are getting better and better and are also able to fit greater hearing losses successfully.
To be able to hear conversational speech in different environments and situations that we encounter every day is probably the most desired and required feature from your hearing aid. Furthermore, many people also find that the sound of their voice can be undesirably loud and hollow when wearing their In-The-Ear hearing aids.
The leading manufacturers for sound quality are Signia, Oticon and Phonak which have worked on improving sound quality by employing two directional microphones in their custom hearing aids. This feature enhances the speech that you want to hear against unwanted background noise and results in better clarity and understanding of speech.
Signia’s Voice Processing technology (OVD) is a well studied feature that shows significant improvement in the sound of hearing aid wearer’s voice. Phonak has concentrated on speech sound quality by developing auto sense 3.0 – which is designed to analyse the different sound environments you are exposed to daily and ascertain what is speech and what is unwanted noise. It will then work on delivering a clearer and more enhanced speech sound.
We now live in a world of Bluetooth and wireless connectivity through an increasing array of mobile phones, computers and many more. Now we have this technology in hearing aids as well and more recently, they are wireless and Bluetooth enabled to connect to your mobile phone and other devices. Oticon, Phonak, Signia and Starkey are three of the world’s top producers of innovative In-The-Ear hearing aid technology. Most In-The-Ear hearing aids now have wireless Bluetooth which will stream music or phone calls directly to your In-The-Ear hearing aids with no added accessory.
However, if you do choose a much smaller style of In-The-Ear device, then expect to have an additional accessory, usually called a streamer, which you can place around your neck or clip on to your clothes. The streamer enables the sound from your mobile phone or another Bluetooth device to stream to your hearing aids.
If you have an iPhone or an Android device, Phonak has been the ‘’go to’’ manufacturer for compatibility of their hearing aids with most smartphones. However, just recently, Signia has also broken their “made for iPhone only” mold and are now producing In-The-Ear hearing aids that can directly stream from almost any smartphone. If your phone is very old you may need to check with your audiologist whether it is compatible with the current streaming technologies.
One of the best reasons to have wireless and Bluetooth apart from streaming phone calls are the apps. You can download the appropriate app to your phone and use this to adjust your volume and even boost the treble or bass for music, voices etc. One of the best features out there is Signia’s special configurator in their touchControl app, now made for Android as well as iPhone and available in their top two levels.
The special configurator not only gives you discreet command of your hearing aids’ volume control and programs, but you also can drive the directionality of the microphone. This means that with just a light finger touch you can override the automatic microphone adaptors in your hearing aids to pick up speech from the person next to you, or in front of you, behind you, or all around you.
If mobile phones and apps aren’t really your thing most manufacturers provide a manual remote control such as Signia’s mini pocket remote. While many manufacturers are starting to provide a telecare service, Phonak and Signia were among the first to do so and now have very smooth running apps for their custom hearing aid ranges which give you unprecedented clinical support for your hearing aid whether you are at home or at work. This gives you enormous flexibility and allows you to remotely adjust your hearing aids via your mobile phone.
If trying to hear on your mobile phone is a big issue for you, the myCall to text app will translate your caller’s speech into text in real time, so you never have to miss a word. This is not available yet for In-The-Ear hearing aids but watch this space.
Are you concerned about how your hearing aid will look? In-The-Ear hearing aids in themselves fulfil many cosmetic considerations as they discreetly fit into your ear canal. These can range from a small shell that fits snugly into the ear canal to a full shell hearing aid that will cover the bowl area outside your ear as well.
Let’s start with the overall fit and comfort of the hearing aid because no matter how many technical features and excellent sound quality the hearing aid has, it must be comfortable for you to wear as long as you need to in a variety of different situations. The leading manufacturers such as Oticon, Phonak, Signia and Starkey all produce excellent In-The-Ear styles of devices.
However, for the sheer comfort of fit, Phonak employs a technology called Biometric Calibration which works out 1,600 points inside your ear canals, so that they can accurately position the directional microphones inside the hearing aids. That means they are compatible with the anatomy of your ear for the best possible comfort. On top of this they now also offer a titanium coating for added durability. All manufacturers offer a removal cord so that you can easily insert or remove your custom hearing aids.
In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids are now better than ever, many employing Bluetooth with Wireless connectivity. Overall, Phonak and Signia out-perform most manufacturers in sound quality and ease of use via their apps.
Most of the top manufacturers including Oticon and Starkey have telecare apps for remote assistance when you need it. Probably the best all-rounder In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aid is Phonak with its amazing added comfort factor produced by their Biometric Calibration and titanium coating for amazing durability – a world first.
If you would like to learn more about In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids, get started with a hearing test! Do the best you can for your hearing health, and book your hearing test at a local Attune Hearing clinic today or give us a call at 1300 736 702!