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Bluetooth hearing aids – What’s all the fuss about?

Bluetooth hearing aids and where it all started: Since records existed, man has struggled with the deliberating effects of hearing loss. The primary focus of the global hearing aid manufactures has never changed, with research and development always pointed towards the design and manufacture of a hearing aid. This focus has ultimately improved the user’s ability to understand speech in complex and noisy environments.

The introduction of Bluetooth hearing aids to the global market since early 2017 is no different, as manufacturers seek to build on their achievements by adding the communication between hearing aids and everyday devices such as smartphones to their hearing aid portfolios. This race to improve Bluetooth hearing aid technology comes with no surprises, with the limitless benefits of wireless phone calls which are streamed directly to the wearers hearing aids as a major benefit to those suffering from hearing loss. The below article has been written to provide you with all the different topics surrounding Bluetooth technology in hearing aids; ensuring that when you decide on the device that is right for you the purchase decision feels right from the start.

Hearing aid manufactures with Bluetooth hearing aid options

Overview: Bluetooth hearing aids

The fundamental focus of the new Bluetooth hearing aid technology is communication. However, where traditional hearing aids have worked independently of other devices like smartphones, televisions and music players, Bluetooth hearing aids are focused on the connection to our everyday living technologies.

The latest Bluetooth hearing aids have a strong focus towards smartphone connectivity and the increasing evidence that smartphones are fast becoming a necessity in everyday life rather than want.

The demographic age shift of Baby Boomers into hearing aid age (50+ years) is becoming more apparent in the hearing aid industry. Hearing aid manufacturers are beginning to hustle for the top position, as they focus their efforts to differentiate themselves in an emerging, technologically capable Baby Boomer market. Furthermore, we are seeing 50’s become the new 60’s as life expectancy rises in the developed world and those seeking assistance with their hearing are also some of the most social. Finally, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that household screen time is on the rise and the need for audio streaming and music demand is growing. This is particularly evident with the release of information from the last Australian census which clarified the total number of  Australian households with internet access is over 87%. As we witness this shift globally, one would expect that hearing aid technology will follow the tech-savvy, emerging, Baby Boomer market.

 

The world's leading Bluetooth hearing aids

Moxi All-RBluetooth + Rechargeable

From $1,300

By Unitron

Price Per Device

Pure Charge&GoBluetooth + Rechargeable

From $2,300

By Signia

Price Per Device

Moxi All

From $1,100

By Unitron

Price Per Device

B-Direct

From $2,400

By Phonak

Price Per Device

Pure 312 Nx

From $1,999

By Signia

Price Per Device

Pure 13 Nx

From $1,999

By Signia

Price Per Device

Sound SHD S13

From $2,250

By Hansaton

Price Per Device

OPN

By Oticon

Halo

By Starkey

Beyond

By Widex

Linx 3D

By GN Resound

Zerena

By Bernafon

Benefits of Bluetooth hearing aids for phone calls

The Bluetooth hearing aid enables the wearer to have a crystal clear phone conversation. The call is processed directly from the smartphone through the Bluetooth hearing aid into the wearer’s ear canal.

Like traditional hearing aids which are programmed by a hearing specialist, a Bluetooth hearing aid requires the same process via matching the frequency losses detected in a hearing test and then amplifying those frequencies that are lower, within the hearing aids programming. This in turn allows the hearing aid wearer to hear; of course this is a basic explanation, however you get the idea! A Bluetooth hearing aid carries the same audiological features found in modern hearing aid technology, however they extend these features to include the added benefit of Bluetooth connected calls. Simply speaking a Bluetooth hearing aid broadens the communication abilities of a person with hearing loss.

Additionally, the hearing aid will also focus on specific sounds and eliminate any interfering noise from the environment through many noise cancelling methods. It’s also important to clarify that there are many Bluetooth style technologies under the Bluetooth banner and some brands of Bluetooth hearing aids may differ slightly in their physical delivery of sound to the Bluetooth hearing aid wearer. A larger choice and added explanation of the benefits of specific brands over another is where a hearing specialist makes the process more streamline and easy for the potential wearer. A hearing specialist will outline the differences between the brands and the advantages and disadvantages of the Bluetooth technology of the brand they sell. At EarDeals our hearing specialist will outline these differences between the four brands we sell with Bluetooth technology.

At EarDeals this point alone is why we recommend each client has a free 30-day trial of any hearing aid they choose. The aim is to provide individuals with hearing loss the option of test driving many different brands. This provides the wearer with a better understanding of how a device is best suited to their lifestyle, personal preferences and hearing loss. Unfortunately, in Australia, many clinics only stock one brand and this limits your ability to try different options under one roof with an easy comparison. Hence why many people with hearing loss are often pressured to purchase hearing aids in Australia as companies only have one brand they can recommend. Ultimately these retailers fear a loss of sale if the wearer is to walk because they are only supplied one brand option and are not happy with the device’s performance.

At the end of the day a hearing aid is to improve the quality of life for a person living with hearing loss. If this person is going to spend a considered amount of money on their ability to hear, why wouldn’t they shop around on product features as much as price?

When you compare a hearing aid purchase to those of significant value such as a house or car, you’re expected to walk through the potential new home or drive a number of car options. Well a hearing aid should be no different as they all work in different ways!

Apple & Android connectivity

Due to Bluetooth technology, many hearing aid manufacturers have opted to only allow direct streaming from their hearing aids to Apple products.

For people who have Android, Samsung or Google smartphones the options are more limited. At this present point in time, only Phonak and Unitron hearing aids are compatible with all smartphones.

If you decide you would prefer a particular hearing aid that is not compatible with your smartphone, each manufacturer has a selection of “bridging accessories” which come at an additional cost. In our experience most EarDeals clients prefer to purchase either a Unitron Moxi All, Unitron Moxi All-R or Phonak B-Direct to remove the need for an additional accessory.

How Bluetooth hearing aids actually work

Bluetooth hearing aids work like any other hearing aid, with an added feature of phone, TV and music connection. A Bluetooth hearing aid connects via wireless technology directly to any Bluetooth enabled smartphone. Many of the manufacturers have a webpage that outlines which smartphones can be used. In most cases, if your smartphone has Bluetooth or is less than four years old the likelihood of compatibility between a Bluetooth hearing aid and your smartphone is higher. For example, even the iPhone 4 launched in 2008 has compatibility with the Phonak B-direct hearing aid according to the Phonak website. For your convenience, we have added the websites below for each manufacturer who has a compatibility checker for their Bluetooth hearing aids.

Bluetooth Hearing aids have also updated in their technology since their releases in early 2017with devices no longer requiring the need of the wearer to speak into the Smartphone as a means of transmitting their voice to the caller. Instead, the latest Phonak and Unitron hearing aids like the Phonak B-Direct, Unitron Moxi All and Moxi All-R allow the wearer to now accept a call as it rings through the hearing aids by pressing a button on the back of Bluetooth hearing aids. Furthermore, the wearer can also reject the calls, should they be busy and not able to take a call on their Bluetooth hearing aids. Additional to these features, battery life has also improved with streaming times of phone calls and entertainment increasing across most hearing aid manufacturers. Depending on the brand of hearing aids, how the hearing aids are set up in the clinic, and your individual preferences, the hearing aid wearers can also adjust volume directly on the Bluetooth hearing aid. This option is also extended to the smartphone App’s supplied by the manufactures.

Who are Bluetooth hearing aids best suited to?

The most sort after hearing aid at EarDeals by busy, socially active, entertainment driven and or phone reliant people is the Bluetooth hearing aid option. With the battery life on Bluetooth hearing aids differing between brands, we recommend trying different brands and models to determine if the brand and range of hearing aids matches your usage demands and lifestyle. It is also important to note here that Unitron Moxi All R 500, 600, 700, 800 and Pro technology levels all have rechargeable and Bluetooth features. Additionally, the Signia Charge&Go 3Nx, 5Nx and 7Nx also have the rechargeable and Bluetooth capabilities in the same hearing aid. We typically find that people seeking Bluetooth technology often love the convenience of not having to order or buy batteries on a semi-regular basis.

Bluetooth hearing aids and hearing aid adjustments

A hearing aid adjustment is when a hearing specialist adjusts the setting of your hearing aid to fine-tune the sound of the hearing aid to the wearers hearing loss, following a hearing test. The purpose of which is to improve the Bluetooth hearing aid wearers ability to hear the sound and understanding of voice in challenging environments. Depending on the brand of the Bluetooth hearing aid, the audiologist can send updates remotely through a wireless connection to adjust the settings according to the wearer’s needs and feedback. This feature is most sort after by remote living people and those with very busy lifestyles which hinder their ability to access the clinic when they would like.

Benefits of Bluetooth Hearing aids for TV watching

Watching television can be a challenge for a person with hearing loss. They can sometimes struggle to hear the TV and others with no hearing loss may complain that the TV is often too loud. Fortunately, today’s Bluetooth hearing aids come with streamers that connect directly to the back of your TV permanently and easily. You can stream the sound signal of the program you are watching directly to your Bluetooth hearing aids with instant clarity. Additionally, you can make adjustments on the volume through your hearing aids depending on the brand or through a smartphone app. The result is the ability to hear without it interrupting those around the Bluetooth hearing aid wearer. Further more the sound is customized to the hearing aid wearers hearing loss just like if they were to listen to the TV without the intermediate device. The difference is the clarity and the stereo sound quality. One final point worth making is that some hearing aid manufactures like Phonak actually turn the TV volume off when a call rings through the hearing aids. This means the wearer will not struggle to receive a call and communicate while the TV is on. Although the TV will still be playing in the background it will not be playing through the Bluetooth Hearing aids.

How far do I have to be from my phone to make or receive a call on my Bluetooth hearing aids?

Depending on the manufacturer, most stipulate that the signal starts to reduce in quality and may drop out between seven to ten meters. This is obviously further reduced if objects are obstructing the line of site from the Bluetooth hearing aid to the smartphone. The added advantage of the new updated Bluetooth hearing aids is the ability to simply leave the phone in your pocket or handbag without needing to remove the device unless you want to see the name or number of the caller on your smartphone.

If battery life an issue when streaming a Bluetooth call?

Originally Bluetooth hearing aids did have some slight battery draining issues when the Bluetooth streaming of calls was introduced on the market. However the big six hearing aid manufactures in the world have worked on this area and at EarDeals we are yet to find a client that uses up their daily quota of Bluetooth streaming to the point that the batteries run out of power. The Bluetooth within the modern hearing aids is relatively low in its power requirements when compared to other devices that have Bluetooth technology in other technology markets.

Does my phone work with a Bluetooth hearing aid?

The first step to determining if a Bluetooth hearing aid will work with your mobile phone is to determine if the phone has Bluetooth capabilities. As mentioned earlier Phonak boast that iPhones as early as the iPhone four, a ten-year-old device has had success with compatibility. To make your life easier we have provided links below for you to access the manufactures compatibility webpages. Simply type in your mobile phone/ smartphones name into the manufactures website. By following this process, it will help you determine if a Bluetooth device will link to your selected hearing aid. Alternatively, if you would like to leave all this to a hearing specialist call EarDeals on (02) 9133 7899 or email us on the bottom of this page with your details and we will be in touch. This is a quick two minute check that could save you a lot of time. Please be advised that Bluetooth hearing aids are easy to use and while the above explanations may be confusing to some, the job of the EarDeals hearing specialist is to show you first hand how a Bluetooth hearing aid works and how to achieve the most from your new hearing aids. For those with hearing loss that are not sure if a Bluetooth hearing aid is right for them, EarDeals offers a free 30 day trial on any hearing aids.

What happens if a Bluetooth Hearing aid is not right for me?

If following a trial period you don’t believe you have benefited from the Bluetooth technology in the hearing aids, the EarDeals hearing specialist will assist you to find an alternative hearing aid that better suits your lifestyle and hearing loss. The EarDeals 30 day free trial also applies to any new products you decide to try. EarDeals offers many different hearing aid types with many features so you can freely trial hearing aids risk free until you have found the right device for your hearing loss, lifestyle and sound preference.

Need help deciding if your smartphone will work and what device to choose?

The best way to know if your smartphone is compatible with a Bluetooth hearing aid is by asking your hearing specialist regarding your mobile phone connectivity or using the below links. Most Bluetooth hearing aids can connect to either Android or iPhone devices. Please be advised that not all Bluetooth hearing aids connect directly to your smart phone. Some require an App or intermediate device called an assistive listening device. These assistive listening devices range in use and can assist with TV connections, remote microphone connections and controllers.  EarDeals stocks a large range of direct to Iphone and Android hearing aids. Your hearing specialist will give you the best options on what hearing aid and accessories to consider for your circumstances and price range. Your EarDeals hearing specialist will also help you with the smart phone apps that are available to you depending on the brand and hearing aid type you choose. If you would like to do more research simply give our EarDeals clinician a call on (02) 9133 7899 to discuss the options and keep you on the right track!

Easy Phone calls with a Bluetooth hearing aid

When you have connected your Bluetooth hearing aid to your smartphone and a call starts ringing, the hearing aid will automatically ring in your ears. When you choose to accept the call the person who is calling you will be directly streamed through the hearing aids into your ears removing the need for you to place your phone on your ear. You will no longer need to try and adjust the smartphone on your ear to find the sweet spot try squeezing the phone closer to your ear as possible when in a noisy location. You won’t ever miss another call again because you can’t hear your phone ring. Instead, every call will be seamlessly delivered through your hearing aids like a hands free Bluetooth device.

Can a tablet work with Bluetooth hearing aids?

Yes, a tablet will work with a Bluetooth hearing aid like a smartphone; in most cases across all brands. Bluetooth hearing aids that require an intermediate accessory may require this same accessory for Android connection. For more information about the specifics of compatibility please ask your clinician. Hearing aids that don’t require an intermediate device to connect to your Bluetooth hearing aids have a higher likelihood of compatibility. In terms of features and ease of use feedback from our many clients indicates that the Moxi All and Moxi All-R by Unitron has been the most compatible. Despite this being the case you may choose to try an alternative product or a number of brands to make your most informed decision.

What are the best Bluetooth hearing aids?

EarDeals currently offers four brands with Bluetooth hearing aid options which are arguably the most sold globally and easily in the top 1 or 2 sold brands in Australia. So when you ask yourself, what is the best Bluetooth hearing aid? The answer is well it depends on you, your lifestyle and your budget. As EarDeals stocks Australia’s cheapest Bluetooth hearing aids from a selection of the world’s biggest brands, there is a Bluetooth hearing aid for any person no matter their hearing loss level, lifestyle or budget. Below is a short list of some of the best Bluetooth hearing aids on the market and certainly the most newly released.

Connect Hearing aids to Apps

All Bluetooth hearing aids have apps. It helps the wearer to adjust the settings on the hearing aid. Most of the apps control the volume and amplify the source of the targeted sound. Other apps have connectivity for entertainment like music and television watching. Depending on the brand, some apps also relieve sufferers with tinnitus by producing an ambient sounds that reduce the symptoms or unwanted noise created by tinnitus. If you are a tinnitus suffer with a hearing loss EarDeals recommends a free trial for 30 days to determine if the tinnitus masker within the hearing aid is creating harmony from the symptoms of tinnitus. As EarDeals offers more than one brand on the contrary to the majority of hearing aid retailers in Australia you may choose to trial a number of tinnitus maskers.

uControl

By Unitron

Apple App Store: Download

Google Play / Android: Download

Start Here App

By Unitron

Apple App Store: Download

Google Play / Android: Not available

Remote HD App

By Hansaton

Apple App Store: Download

Google Play / Android: Download

On App

By Oticon

Apple App Store: Download

Google Play / Android: Download

Smart App

By GN Resound

Apple App Store: Download

Google Play / Android: Download

Remote App

By Phonak

Apple App Store: Download

Google Play / Android: Download

Tinnitus App

By Phonak

Apple App Store: Download

Google Play / Android: Download

myControl App

By Signia

Apple App Store: Download

Google Play / Android: Download

TouchControl App

By Signia

Apple App Store: Download

Google Play / Android: Download

My Hearing App

By Signia

Apple App Store: Download

Google Play / Android: Download

Connect Hearing aids to Tinnitus therapy

Tinnitus is a condition of the ear which typically presents as a constant ringing, whistle or crickets sound being heard by the person only with the tinnitus. It is usually caused by a defect in the hearing system or as a result or long harmful noise exposure. Medically clearance is advised for those suffering from tinnitus prior to adopting additional therapies as tinnitus symptoms may be caused by something more medically sinister or even deadly.  Following an in-depth medical examination by a doctor by means often resulting in medical scans, tinnitus is then treated as a symptom and not a disease.

Bluetooth hearing aids can help alleviate tinnitus by taking away the strain caused by the constant sound type symptoms created by tinnitus. Most hearing aids on the market come with a tinnitus masking function which distracts the wearer, by producing a counter sound and or by lifting the volume of everyday environmental sounds from the outside world. The tinnitus masker found in hearing aids is programmable within the device and may be adjusted first a foremost by the hearing specialist. Depending on the brand of the hearing aid, further adjustments may be made through some apps which are downloaded onto smart phones. These provide the wearer with more options in counter sound generation.

Connect hearing aids to Bluetooth accessories

Unfortunately, not all hearing aids connect directly to smartphones. This is the result of certain Bluetooth technologies in some devices and not others. You may have already read such terminology as “made for Iphone” on many of the manufactures websites, this is because many hearing aids only allow for a direct connection from the hearing aid itself to Apple products. However, this has changed in recent times with the introduction of the Unitron Moxi All and Moxi All-R which both hearing aids boast a greater compatibility with both Apple and Android smartphones. Ultimately meaning there is no need for an additional device to be clipped onto your pocket or placed in your bag. When it comes to Bluetooth hearing aid accessories there is a number on the market designed to both broaden the listening capabilities of the hearing aid wearer but also improve the quality of sound being transferred and understood. For the purpose of this article we will first discuss these accessories for Bluetooth hearing aids in general and then break them down further. Please be advised that accessories are only necessary with some brands and not others depending on the type of Bluetooth connection. Additionally, assistive listening devices are optional extras and are designed to enhance the hearing aids capabilities in certain specific difficult to hear environments. For a full understanding on which Bluetooth hearing aid requires and accessory or not, please consult the individual product pages of the devices listed above for more individual detail. Although some devices are required it does not necessarily mean the product is of lesser quality or behind in technology. For instance, TV type connectors are required to link the TV to the hearing aid for stereo surround sound quality due to the Bluetooth type connection needed for a TV being vastly different to that of a smartphone which uses its built-in Bluetooth for the primary purpose of smartphone connections. So what accessories are available and how do they help assist people with hearing loss and those with Bluetooth hearing aids?

Connect hearing aids to remote microphones for Bluetooth hearing aids

When it comes to assistive listening devices for your Bluetooth hearing aids there is a number of solutions available across the big brands. The basic concept of a remote microphone is to enhance the voice of those with whom you wish to prioritise their voice when in a difficult to hear environment. In most cases, first-time wearers of Bluetooth hearing aids decide on the hearing aid that is firstly right for them and then make a decision on a assistive listening device like a microphone at a later date, once they understand the capabilities of their new hearing aids. However, at EarDeals we do have first-time wearers who want assistive listening devices for specific reasons such as  being able to hearing better in meetings or lectures. The most common scenario is a first-time Bluetooth hearing aid wearer wishing to enhance their hearing in social occasions which they commonly attend.

The key features that the big manufactures microphones have are as follows. Please be advised that not all microphones from all brands have all these features. A list of brands and their microphones are available below. Please select the device from the brand of hearing aids you have chosen so you can accurately decide if an assistive listening device would assist your lifestyle while wearing your Bluetooth hearing aids.

Microphones for Bluetooth Hearing aid features include:
  • Stereo Sound
  • Connectivity to mobile phones, TVs and Bluetooth MP3 players
  • Discrete and easily hidden
  • Enhanced sound quality in noise
  • Connect more than one device for a multiple sound source network
  • 20 meters of distance between Bluetooth hearing aid and microphone
  • Led light indicators

Connect hearing aids to remote microphones for Bluetooth hearing aids

Like remote wireless microphones for Bluetooth hearing aids, TV connection accessories work in a very similar way, however they are focused on the direct connection to your television set. When connected to a Bluetooth hearing aid the TV connectors across some brands behave differently such as turning down the volume when a call is made or received. TV connection accessories for hearing aids are permanently plugged into your TV set allowing for the connection of your hearing aids when the TV is turned on. The device allows the wearer the ability to watch the TV in the privacy of their own home with no need to turn the TV up in volume to hear. The TV connection accessory allows the wearer to control the volume they hear the TV at personally, without the worry of loved ones or family being interrupted or exposed to louder volumes.

Siri is compatible with many Bluetooth hearing aids

Yes you can now use Apple’s Siri with your Bluetooth hearing aids. If your Bluetooth hearing aids are connected to your Apple smartphone, Siri will pick up the wearer’s voice and conduct the same user commands just like any other device!

uMic

$ 249.00

By Unitron

Roger Pen

$ 905.00

By Phonak

StreamLine Mic

$ 370.00

By Signia

Mic

$ 240.00

By Hansaton

ConnectClip

By Oticon

SurfLink Remote Mic 2

By Starkey

Multi Mic

By ReSound

COM-DEX

By Widex

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