The quality difference between various hearing aid technology levels

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Hearing aid technology levels are arbitrary levels set by suppliers and hearing aid retailers 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, we use 5 different levels to group different manufacturers’ technology. They tend to increase in price as they go up towards premium.

Is one technology better quality than another?
Are you saying that all manufacturers’ hearing aid technology is equal?
Technology levels can be abused!
Which Technology level is right for me?

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The Hearing Aid 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 Program. There are many hearing aids available in this class of instruments. 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 tend to 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 hearing aid brands, 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. There are definitely some features that make a bigger difference compared to others

So an essential level of one manufacturer has the same parts as the premium level of the same manufacturer. 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 manufacturers’ 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 different focuses when developing their software. This is discussed under each of the brands.

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. 

Lately, some hearing aid retailers have started white-labeling their hearing aids, which makes it almost impossible for you or any outside professional to compare. In my opinion, this tactic takes away your power and puts it squarely back in the hands of the retailer. R

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.


Did you find this information helpful?

If so, then you will love the Hearing Aid Buyers Companion. It contains this information and so much more! I wrote the first edition of the book in 2014 and it has had several revisions and updates. It sells as a physical book in bookshops for up to $40. 

I would like to offer you the complete edition as PDF download for Free, here only. Simply complete the form below the image and click download to receive your copy instantly. Hearing Aid Buyers Companion book

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