Loss of hearing is a condition that affects many today. In fact, over 38 million Americans alone suffer from hearing loss. Hearing aids have become the best option to help those who have hearing loss to be able to treat their condition and return to a high quality of life. There are many kinds for every budget, lifestyle, preference, and amount of hearing loss. Bluetooth hearing aids are a high-quality solution to hearing loss.
As technology has advanced, so have hearing aids. With this advance in research and experimentation, bluetooth hearing aids have been created. These high-technology hearing aids provide a high quality of life for wearers. But what are bluetooth hearing aids? How do they work? And what are the top five best hearing aids? Continue reading to find the answers.
What Are Bluetooth Hearing Aids?
All digital hearing aids have four major components:
Encasing these "guts" of the hearing aids comes two different styles of hearing aids available: behind-the-ear (BTE) styles and in-the-ear (ITE) styles. Both styles offer their own advantages depending on the preference of the wearer.
Before, traditional digital hearing aids would limit the wearer's access to personal media devices such as music players and mobile phones. Because the two remained disconnected, hearing aids would have to be removed to put in headphones to listen to music, and phone speakers would have to be put directly to the hearing aids to hear clearly. However, with the advancement of technology, bluetooth hearing aids that make it possible to stream signals directly to hearing devices and connect with personal electronic devices are now available.
Before you can understand how these hearing aids work, you must first understand what bluetooth is.
What Is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is a wireless communication platform that allows two or more electronic devices to transmit data. By using radio waves that are set to a high frequency, data can be transmitted without security risks or interference.
A large variety of devices that incorporate Bluetooth connectivity have been developed, such as:
Included among these devices are bluetooth hearing aids.
How Do They Work?
While bluetooth hearing aids don't contain the actual bluetooth standard, they do contain a wireless chip that allows you to stream audio to your hearing aid directly from your phone or TV. Manufacturers have made it possible for the hearing aids to connect to other media devices in two ways: Compatible assistive listening devices and Apple-patented technology.
Compatible Assistive Listening Devices
Commonly known as streamers, compatible assistive listening devices provide a communication link between the wireless technology in the hearing aids and any device with bluetooth capabilities. These streamers connect with your electronics via Bluetooth and then convert the frequencies to an FM signal. This signal is sent to the wireless hearing aid, connecting it with your personal electronics.
You can get these streamers as a separate device. However, there is also a hearing aid app called Audiologist available that allow you to use your phone to adjust the program on your hearing aid according to your listening environment. You can even set up custom programs for your hearing aids and easily adjust them to match your hearing loss and your environment. It also allows you to adjust your volume without having to take out your hearing aids.
Some bluetooth hearing aids have been made specifically for iPhone. These can communicate directly with the platform that runs Apple devices without having to use a streamer. This method allows a direct connection without draining too much battery power. These hearing aids will be marked as "made for iPhone".
What Are the Advantages of Bluetooth
There are many advantages of bluetooth hearing aids over traditional digital hearing aids.
1. They Operate as One System
Because of wireless technology, two hearing aids worn in both ears can operate as one system instead of two separate devices. This allows them to imitate the way two properly functioning ears work in conjunction with the brain to process sound.
2. They Provide a Customized Listening Experience
You can set the audio to stream to one or both of the hearing aids and shape and amplify the streamed signal to match the hearing aid's personalized settings. You can also control the volume of the stream and even turn your hearing aids into wireless earbuds for answering the phone and listening to music.
3. They Allow Connection with Multiple Devices
Multiple devices can be connected to a streamer at the same time, allowing you more control over your personal electronics without the hassle of switching streamers. For example, if you are listening to audio on your tablet or another device, you can pause it in order to hear and answer the audio from an incoming phone call. Your hearing aids will automatically switch seamlessly between devices, providing convenience and comfort.
4. They Have Clearer Sound
Bluetooth hearing aids can now use less power because of the release of Bluetooth 4.0 technology. This provides better battery life as well as significantly clearer audio quality. Whistling, background noise, and other distractions are also prevented because the hearing aids will automatically turn off microphones during calls.
These advantages are what have made many who suffer from hearing loss choose bluetooth hearing aids as the solution. There are many brands and types available, each with their own unique features.
Top 5 Best Bluetooth Hearing Aids
There are many bluetooth hearing aids available for wearers to choose from. However, these are the top five bluetooth hearing aids on the market today.
The Oticon Opn is made for mild to severe hearing loss. It is made for the iPhone with direct streaming for calls and music on Apple devices and can be used with Android streaming with an accessory. It has more than 50 times the processing speed of its predecessor, and it can scan the environment more than 100 times per second, making it easier for you to hear conversations in noise-cluttered environments.
The Oticon Opn also contains Brainhearing technology, which improves speech understanding by up to 30% compared to the previous generations, and Twilink technology, which allows it to connect to your other ear and other devices wirelessly at the same time.
The Resound Linx 3d is made for mild to severe hearing loss. It is made for iPhone with direct streaming for calls and music on Apple devices and can be used with Android streaming with an accessory. It can use an app to remotely connect with your audiologist, so you can get your hearing aids adjusted without having to visit the doctor. It is available in a number of colors and three models: BTE, RIC, or IIC.
The Resounds Linx 3d includes such features as the ReSounds Natural Directionality™ II, which allows sound to be amplified more naturally. It also contains Binaural Directionality III in the premium models, which reduces listening effort by allowing the wearer to focus on the sounds important to them.
The Phonak Audeo B Direct hearing aid is made for mild to moderate hearing loss and can stream directly with both iPhone and Android phones. It also uses the hearing aid's microphone, providing a completely hands-free experience. You can use the button on your hearing aid to accept or reject calls, and you don't have to hold the phone to your ear while using the streaming feature.
The Phonak Audeo B Direct is available in four technology levels:
It uses the Autosense OS to adjust your hearing aid automatically, depending on your listening environment and also is compatible with Phonak's TV Connector accessory, allowing you to pair your hearing aid with your TV automatically whenever it is in range.
The Widex Beyond Fusion 2 is made for mild to severe hearing loss. It is made for iPhone with direct streaming for calls and music on Apple devices. It automatically adjusts its program based on the listening environment and can connect to multiple devices simultaneously.
The Widex Beyond Fusion 2 has a larger battery than the previous model, so it provides a longer battery life. It also offers 30% better speech understanding in wind than its predecessor. It is available in four different technology levels and nine different colors.
The Starkey Halo 2 is made for mild to severe hearing loss. It is made for iPhone with direct streaming for calls and music on Apple devices. The recently released Trulink 3.0 phone application allows you to control your hearing aids from your phone. It has five times more processing power than the previous generations, allowing much better sound quality when listening to speech and music.
The Starkey Halo 2 comes in 3 Technology levels:
It is based on the Synergy platform, allowing a better understanding of speech in noise and a more natural listening experience by providing Acuity Immersion.
Bluetooth hearing aids are quickly becoming the most widely chosen type of hearing aid today because of their convenience, ease of customization, and ability to connect with multiple devices. If you are interested in bluetooth hearing aids as a solution for your hearing loss, consult with your personal audiologist today to see whether they would be the best option for you.