A common way of classifying hearing aid technology is into “best,” “better,” “good,” “economy” and “basic” categories. The prices vary accordingly. The “best” technology has all the top of the line features and turns most of the features on and off automatically as needed; think of it like a fancy computer. Features may include multichannel adjustable noise reduction, feedback cancellation, lots of frequency bands for fine-tuning, binaural (both ears) synchronization and adaptive directional microphones, wireless connectivity, self-learning and several others. “Better” technology has a few less features, which may be less sophisticated or adjustable. “Good” technology has even fewer features and may require you to push a button to activate them, but usually has some type of noise reduction, feedback cancellation, an automatic directional microphone, binaural synchronization, and wireless connectivity. “Economy” technology is similar to but less adjustable than “good” technology, may not have wireless connectivity, and is sometimes from the previous chip-set generation. “Basic” is quite simple but typically has a fixed directional microphone, feedback cancellation, and non-adjustable noise reduction.
As technology rapidly improves, features are often added at the “best” level, and older features may trickle down to the other levels. Most technology is available in multiple styles. The technology level impacts the price much more than the style.
To help with the technology level decision, hearing aid manufacturers suggest that the level should be matched to your lifestyle—that a very active, noisy lifestyle needs “best” level, and that “good” level technology (or below) is only appropriate for a simple, quiet lifestyle. Of course, budget is always a factor, but hearing as well as possible shouldn’t be thought of as a luxury reserved for the jet-setting executive. Everyone always deserves to hear as well as possible but only you can decide how important this is. Yes, any technology can sound great in a quiet room, and you can “get by” with a lower level of technology—to the degree that you are willing and able to remember to manually activate some features for extra help in challenging listening situations (and/or to the degree that you are willing to miss out at times).
The hearing aid industry offers patients more options than ever before, yet all devices find themselves in one of two categories: Behind-the-ear (BTE) and In-the-ear (ITE). Keep reading to learn about these styles and discover which design might work best for you.
Sitting behind or on top of the outer ear, a BTE design utilizes a tube that connects to an ear mold or tip inside of your ear canal. With the widest selection of colors, sizes, features, degrees of power, and battery types, BTE’s are so small that they are often unnoticeable to others. Some of the various BTE styles include: