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Best hearing aids 2021: Including digital hearing aids for tinnitus relief

Best hearing aids 2021: Including digital hearing aids for tinnitus relief
(Image credit: Getty)

The best hearing aids on the market are those designed to boost hearing among people with mild to severe hearing loss, though you can also buy digital hearing aids for tinnitus relief only. Modern hearing aids are sleek and discreet, and there are a growing number of digital hearing aids with Bluetooth that can be paired to your phone or smart device. The top-rated hearing aid brands are Audicus, Hearing Assist, and Phonak, while cheap hearing aids (in terms of price, not quality) are made by the likes of MDHearingAid. The price of digital hearing aids ranges from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, so budget will be a big factor for most people. 

We love how many of the best hearing aids on the market now come in a range of color options to different skin and hair tones. Of course, you can also choose different types of digital hearing aid, including behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids, or completely-in-canal (CIC) for an almost invisible look. If you want a hearing aid that you can fine-tune depending on the situation you’re in, we’d recommend going digital. That’s because the top-rated digital hearing aids work with companion apps that enable you to adjust each listening setting to better suit your surroundings. That means no more straining to hear in a busy restaurant.

Phonak and Oticon lead the charge with the most technologically advanced hearing aids, but that isn’t to say the cheaper hearing aids are without merit. Indeed, if you have mild hearing loss there’s little point spending a fortune on top-of-the-range digital hearing aids when something simple will do just fine. We’d recommend MDHearingAid here. Other features to look for when choosing from among the best hearing aids are directional microphones to pick up specific sounds in noisy environments, rechargeable batteries, and dust- and water-resistance. We’ve included all of these in our roundup of hearing aids below, and at a range of prices too.

If you’re living with an ongoing medical condition, you may also be interested in our guides to the best medical alert bracelets, as well as the best medical alert systems and the best fall detection sensors for safe and empowered living at home. 

7 best hearing aids to consider now

1. Audicus Wave Rechargeable: Best hearing aid overall

Best hearing aids: Audicus Wave Rechargeable Hearing Aid in chrome

(Image credit: Audicus)

Audicus Wave Rechargeable Hearing Aid

A cutting edge hearing aid with full app control

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Receiver in canal | Features: Bluetooth, ten volume settings, four listening environments | Power: Rechargeable battery (upgrade)

Reasons to Buy

45-day trial
Bluetooth connectivity
Practically invisible when worn
iOS and Android app control

Audicus’ latest hearing aid provides a comfortable, stylish and decently priced option for mild to severe hearing loss. The Audicus Wave Rechargeable hearing aid has ten volume settings and features tech to support good hearing with an invisible receiver that comfortably adds extra amplification in the ear. The clutter of distracting background noise is also cut out.

Bluetooth functionality enables you to stream easily from your smartphone to the hearing aid, as well as make calls. There is also an app (iOS and Android) to adjust settings and volume, or you may prefer to use the simple controls on the Audicus Wave itself.

The Audicus Wave Rechargeable hearing aid comes with a one-year guarantee and a 45-day trial. What impresses most about this hearing though is its affordability, when you consider the Bluetooth connectivity and features. Audicus also offers a pay-monthly membership scheme with plenty of extras. The Audicus Wave Rechargeable also comes in four colors: beige, black, silver and grey.


2. Hearing Assist HA-1800 CIC Hearing Aid: Best in-ear hearing aid

Best hearing aids: Hearing Assist HA-1800 CIC Hearing Aid in black with a transparent tip

(Image credit: Hearing Assist)

Hearing Assist HA-1800 CIC Hearing Aid

A small in-ear hearing aid that’s big on value

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Completely in canal | Features: Four volume settings, noise compression tech, low battery signal | Power: Size 10A battery

Reasons to Buy

Small size
Cheap price

Reasons to Avoid

Only comes in one color
No extras

The Hearing Assist HA-1800 CIC Hearing Aid is small, lightweight, and suitable for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. It is also an excellent option if you want a hearing aid that is discreet, as it blends well into the ear, making it virtually invisible and handy if you wear glasses.

The HA-1800 hearing aid provides great value at just under $700 for the pair, and claims universal fit too. Features include background noise reduction and feedback suppression, while there are also four adjustable programs for different sound environments, plus there is a tinnitus setting too.

The volume settings on the Hearing Assist HA-1800 CIC Hearing Aid can be controlled via a volume button on the battery door, or by using the EarTap function, which as it sounds requires you to tap your ear (using a method explained in the manual) in order to adjust the volume quickly and conveniently. The HA-1800 hearing aid comes in black, and uses a size 10 battery for 70 hours of hearing.


3. MDHearingAid AIR: Best cheapest hearing aid

Best hearing aids: MDHearingAid AIR Hearing Aid in pink-beige with a clear tip

(Image credit: MDHearing Aid)

MDHearingAid AIR Hearing Aid

The best hearing aid on a budget

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Behind the ear | Features: Four environment settings, feedback cancellation technology, Telecoil | Power: Size 13 battery

Reasons to Buy

Super affordable
Easy to use

Reasons to Avoid

Short on extra features
Only comes in one color

The MDHearingAid AIR is a popular choice with many – not only is it affordable, but it’s reliable and discreet too. There are four settings on the AIR to suit your environment including ‘quiet’, ‘social’ and ‘noisy’. This makes it suitable for most places from noisy restaurants to quiet one-on-one meetings. There is also technology to alleviate the whistling that can occur when hearing aid wearers are within close proximity of each other.

The volume control and settings are easy to operate on the hearing aid itself, but one of the best things about the AIR is how slim it is with clear tubing that offers a barely there look. It also fits well with glasses.

The MDHearingAid AIR is a great budget choice, whether you’re buying a single hearing aid or a pair, and keep an eye out for discounts too. There is also a 45-day trial period and excellent customer service to further make these hearing aids an excellent choice.


4. Phonak Audéo Marvel: Best Bluetooth hearing aid

Best hearing aids: Phonak Audéo Marvel Hearing Aid in gold

(Image credit: Phonak)

Phonak Audéo Marvel Hearing Aid

The best hearing aid if you want Bluetooth connectivity

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Receiver-in-canal | Features: Bluetooth, Autosense 3.0 | Power: Rechargeable battery/ size 13 battery/ size 312 battery

Reasons to Buy

Brilliant app control
Superb for music listening

Reasons to Avoid

Very expensive

The award-winning, high-tech Phonak Audéo Marvel is truly one for the audiophiles, offering excellent clarity and rich sound. The best hearing aid for musicians, it features Marvel technology with universal Bluetooth connectivity making it the first hearing aid to support binaural direct streaming from Android, iPhone and countless other devices. 

Meanwhile, the myPhonak app (Android and iOS) can be used to swiftly and intuitively control your hearing aid, for real-time adjustments, access to video support, as well as a hearing diary. And, of course, you can also adjust the hearing aid’s volume and set up preferences for certain environments, as well as control the Bluetooth phone call configuration.

Additional accessories for tech lovers include the Roger microphone, a discreet gadget used in combination with a receiver in your Phonak Audéo Marvel hearing aid. The Roger comes in the form of a small disc-shaped unit or a pen that helps you hear more clearly in noisy surroundings such as restaurants.


5. ReSound LiNX Quattro series: Best hearing aid for tinnitus

Best hearing aids: ReSound LiNX Quattro Series Hearing Aid in black with a clear tip

(Image credit: ReSound)

ReSound LiNX Quattro Series Hearing Aid

A feature-packed hearing aid with clear sound and tinnitus relief

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Receiver-in-ear/behind-the-ear/custom | Features: Full streaming compatibility | Power: Rechargeable

Reasons to Buy

High-performance
Good range to suit all needs

Reasons to Avoid

Expensive

ReSound claims its LiNX Quattro family of hearing aids is the ‘world’s most advanced rechargeable hearing solution’, with innovative tech that helps you process sounds ranging from very gentle to extremely loud. You can also experience exceptional clarity to enjoy fine details and crisp undistorted sounds within your surroundings. 

The ReSound LiNX Quattro Series Hearing Aid is an excellent option if you have tinnitus, with its ReSound app (iOS and Android) offering relief from symptoms by masking the ringing or buzzing with soothing background sounds, such as white noise and nature sounds, among others. 

While there is no known cure for tinnitus, the app provides plenty of welcome relief, tips and symptom management options. The app also provides the ReSound LiNX Quattro Series Hearing Aid with fully customizable settings, a locator for lost hearing aids, and a battery power monitor for either or both hearing aids. The Quattro hearing aid is available as receiver-in-ear (RIE), behind-the-ear (BTE) and custom-crafted options. 


6. Oticon Xceed SP: Best hearing aid for severe hearing loss

Best hearing aids: Oticon Xceed Hearing Aid in silver

(Image credit: Oticon)

Oticon Xceed SP Hearing Aid

Top tech meets style and comfort in this top-rated hearing aid

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Behind the ear | Features: BrainHearing Technology, feedback reduction, wireless connectivity to devices | Power: Size 13 battery (SP) / Size 13 battery (UP)

Reasons to Buy

Designed for severe hearing loss
Seven colors and two styles
Packed with tech

Reasons to Avoid

App is iPhone only

With the Xceed, Oticon prides itself on offering the ‘world’s most powerful hearing aid’ specifically designed for people with severe-to-profound hearing loss. The Oticon Xceed Hearing Aid uses innovative tech that helps wearers feel more connected to their environment. An OpenSound Optimizer, for example, prevents feedback before it occurs, while Oticon’s ‘BrainHearing’ technology brings in optimum sound information so wearers can reduce their listening effort and receive better speech clarity.

Other perks of the Xceed include connectivity via the iPhone-only Oticon On app for streaming music and TV, taking calls and controlling the hearing aid. If you have an Android phone you can get the same function via the ConnectClip, a small gadget that transmits to your hearing aid. There is also a remote control available.

The Oticon Xceed hearing aid comes in seven different colors from grey to black, and two different power levels – Super and Ultra, with the Oticon Xceed SP and the Oticon Xceed UP respectively.


7. Embrace Hearing A Series: Best hearing aid for seniors

Best hearing aids: Embrace Hearing A Series Hearing Aid in deep beige

(Image credit: Embrace Hearing)

Embrace Hearing A Series Hearing Aid

A powerful hearing aid that comes with a two-year warranty

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: In ear | Features: Up to seven listening environments, up to 20 programmable bands/channels, tinnitus management | Power: Size 312 battery or rechargeable

Reasons to Buy

Straightforward to use
Affordable

Reasons to Avoid

Basic design
Bluetooth remote costs $299

The simple and comfortable Embrace Hearing A Series hearing aid has three options, each of which steps up the performance according to your needs: the entry-level A-410 is ideal for use at home and smaller environments; while the top A-920R can deal with noisy restaurants and bigger venues such as theatres; the A-710 sits comfortably in the middle.

The hearing aids are easy to operate with a button on the device (an optional remote is available) with features that include AutoSurround providing adaptability for multiple environments, as well as a tinnitus manager program and Telecoil and BiCROS programming. 

Power is provided with a size 312 battery, although the A-920R comes with a rechargeable Li-On option. All three options include a two-year warranty. The A Series is the best hearing aid for you if you want a no-nonsense high-quality hearing aid that you can reliably depend on. Embrace also offers excellent support for its customers including services for fitting, maintaining and repairing the hearing aids. 

Best hearing aids FAQ

What to look for in the best hearing aids

If you are buying a hearing aid for the first time, it is recommended that you consult with an audiologist (a physician who specializes in hearing) to diagnose your hearing loss. You will then have better knowledge of your type of loss and what type of hearing aid will best suit it. An audiologist should also be able to customize your hearing aid’s fit and programming so you can hear as well as possible. 

However, if you already know what type of hearing loss you have, and are are happy to shop independently, then here are the features you should look out for:

Audio format
Hearing aids amplify sound using an analog method or a digital signal processor. The analog versions simply receive sound and amplify it, which creates a natural listening environment. However, since age-related hearing loss typically leads to picking up a narrower frequency range than before, your needs may be less about amplification and concerned more with the ability to differentiate between sounds, such as a particular voice in a crowded room. In this case, an analog hearing aid won’t be much help. 

Digital hearing aids pick up sound with a microphone and analyze and process it before it’s amplified. This means the device will focus its amplification and filter out background noises, meaning you will recognize that particular voice in the room, for example. 

Because of the advantages of digital hearing aids, they are more popular. However, because analog hearing aids are more affordable, they might be a good option if your hearing loss is mild.

Size and type
There are many different types of hearing aids available, with some more suited to particular needs. Minor hearing loss (usually associated with age) is often improved with an in-the-canal (ITC) device, while moderate loss, which requires more power, is often better suited to in-the-ear (ITE) models. If you suffer from severe to profound hearing loss, you will require extra amplification, and that comes from the behind-the-ear (BTE) and receiver-in-canal (RIC) options.

Telecoil
A telecoil is a small copper coil built into a hearing aid that makes talking on the phone much easier, filtering out background noise and only picking up sounds from the telephone receiver. Some advanced hearing aids will automatically switch to telecoil when you pick up the phone, while others transmit the signal to your other ear so you can talk using one hearing aid but hear with both ears. If you use the telephone frequently, you should look for an aid with a telecoil option.

Additional features
Most modern hearing aids come with extra features that aim to set them apart, with many now including apps so you can control and fine-tune your hearing aid to suit. Advanced models have wireless connectivity, which lets you sync your hearing aid to Bluetooth-compatible devices, such as smartphones and televisions, while direct audio input lets you connect to audio devices. 

If you wear two hearing aids, some models can sync together so adjustments made to one are automatically made to the other.


How to choose the best hearing aid for you

Finding the best hearing aid is a lot more complicated than reading about a comparison of brands and choosing the most affordable, least noticeable or most comfortable. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide for choosing the best hearing aid:

Step 1: Meet With an Audiologist
Hearing aids aren’t one size fits all – different types of hearing loss require different types of correction. Hearing aids don’t simply amplify sound. Rather, they need to be tuned to amplify specific frequencies according to your hearing loss. This means you need to have your hearing loss diagnosed by an audiologist. Not only can they determine what kind of hearing loss you have, but they can also tune your hearing aid so it’s optimized to your hearing.

Step 2: Consider Comfort Over Discreteness
When you meet with an audiologist, ask to try on as many kinds of hearing aids as possible. If you don’t already wear hearing aids and have a comfort preference, this is essential to make sure you find a comfortable pair. 

Don’t underestimate comfort – it doesn’t matter how discreet your hearing aids are if they aren’t comfortable because you are more likely to take them out.  

There are many kinds of fittings:

  • Completely in the canal (CIC & mini CIC)
  • In the canal (ITC)
  • In the ear (ITE, full-shell ITE, half-shell ITE)
  • Behind the ear (BTE)
  • Receiver in canal (RIC)
  • Receiver in the ear (RITE)

Each fitting is designed for specific comfort preferences and hearing loss types. Choosing a hearing aid based on whether people can see it or not might not be ideal for your hearing loss.

Step 3: Determine your budget  
With a lot of consumer products, you should set your budget before you go shopping. But with hearing aids, the above steps need to be worked out before you know what is even available. 

After finding out more about your hearing loss and comfort preferences, your audiologist can help you narrow down the list of appropriate hearing aids, which will vary in price, convenience features and battery life. 

How much you’re willing to pay can help you decide what convenience features you can afford. For example, if you have a smaller budget, you may not want hearing aids with Bluetooth and app control.


If you're looking for further health content, we'd recommend our guides to the best eyeglasses online and the best contact lenses online if you wear prescription eyewear. The best medical alert bracelets are also a good investment if you have an ongoing medical issue that first responders would need to be aware of if you needed treatment during an emergency.