Kevin T Barlow, AuD
What’s the best automobile? What’s the best television? What’s the best home entertainment speaker? How do you answer these questions? Is your opinion based on personal experience, maybe a bias for a manufacturer or product, or maybe something you read or heard?
I’m often asked, what’s the best hearing aid? And like the above questions, my answer will be based on professional experiences, outcome measures, and knowledge of each product. But ultimately, the hearing aid that is the best is the one that works the best for you. We are all unique and we all have different needs, and what may work for one person may not work for you.
Hearing aids will sound different from manufacturer to manufacturer. My patients are often surprised by this statement. But just like speakers for your stereo system, each product will sound different. The human ear perceives sound differently; some people like the booming low frequencies and others prefer the sharper high frequencies. Just like speakers, hearing aids can sound different too.
For this reason, I have always carried every major hearing aid manufacturer and have the knowledge to properly program and fit each product. You will get a quality product if you use one of these manufacturers. The difference will be how it will sound to your ear in your world.
That’s right, there are only 5 major brands. They do all the research and development of new technologies to bring you the best possible hearing and clarity. Also, they print other company names on their products (private label) and sell them to the franchise offices.
In my opinion, it is better to use the name brand and not the private label. The name brand allows you to have any multi-line audiologist help you with your hearing needs where ever you live or travel. The private label locks you into seeing only their providers and typically they will carry only one manufacturer.
So, how do you know which is the right manufacturer for you? Your audiologist will help you make the right decision by asking specific questions concerning your hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your specific hearing needs. Then they will offer at minimum a 30 day trial with that specific product and provide follow-up visits to ensure success.