The latest generation of hearing aids offer exciting possibilities to wearers thanks to advances in the wireless technology used in these devices.
Previous generations of hearing aids were exclusively focused on providing an improved hearing response in a variety of environments
However, many hearing aids are now able to connect directly to a variety of other wireless devices.
This transforms your hearing aids into a stereo headset, streaming high quality audio from compatible devices.
It also enables remote control of hearing aids from compatible devices.
How does Bluetooth work with hearing aids?
Bluetooth is one of the most popular wireless connectivity platforms in the world. It allows devices to communicate with each other using high frequency radio waves.
This technology is very secure, as devices need to be ‘paired’ by a user in order to communicate with each other. You’ll also never be connected to a device you didn’t request a pairing with.
Presently Apple is the leader in Bluetooth connectivity for hearing aids. iOS or Mac OS systems offer apps that enable direct Bluetooth connections with compatible hearing aids.
Several manufacturers, including Oticon, build hearing aids designed to work with this technology.
If you don’t use Apple devices, you’re not out in the cold.
Several manufacturers are introducing hearing aids that can also connect directly to Android devices via Bluetooth, providing access to a new level of sound experience and convenience.
Many hearing aids with wireless functionality are unable to connect directly to Bluetooth devices.
Instead, Bluetooth streaming accessories are required. These connect wirelessly with the hearing aid. They then pair with other devices using either a wired connection or a Bluetooth signal.
Even hearing aids which allow for direct Bluetooth connections with smartphones may require streamers to connect with devices like laptops, television sets or other hearing aid accessories.
Bluetooth streamers are sold separately to hearing aids. Examples include Sonic’s Sound Gate 3 accessory and the Oticon Streamer Pro.
Benefits of Bluetooth hearing aids
Bluetooth hearing aids have two primary benefits:
1. You can stream audio from compatible devices in high quality stereo without interruption by other noises in your environment. This means less listening effort when taking phone calls, watching videos and television, or listening to music.
2. Hearing aids with direct Bluetooth phone connectivity can be paired with powerful apps that turn your phone into a remote control for your hearing aid. This makes it easy for you to adjust hearing aid settings and programs. Some even allow you to establish a remote connection to your hearing healthcare provider, allowing them to program your hearing aid from a distance.
Best of all, you don’t need to pay a fortune to benefit from this technology. Wireless connectivity options are offered by several affordable hearing aids with Bluetooth compatibility in Australia.
Five of the best Bluetooth hearing aids in Australia
1. The Oticon Opn S
We’ve already tagged the Oticon Opn S as one of the best hearing aids in Australia. It should therefore come as no surprise that this device excels when it comes to wireless connectivity.
Wireless features include:
• Direct Bluetooth music and audio streaming from any iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch device.
• ConnectClip compatibility, enabling hands-free calls to iPhone or Android devices, transmitting your voice to the listener, and their voice to your hearing aid.
• Compatibility with the Oticon ON App, which allows for remote volume and program adjustments form your smart phone.
2. The Sonic Cheer
The Sonic Cheer offers huge value for money, and this extends to the different wireless connectivity options these hearing aids offer their users.
Connectivity features include:
• Direct Bluetooth streaming on select models, allowing your device to communicate directly with a variety of Bluetooth enabled devices.
• Sound Gate 3 compatibility for wireless models. This unlocks the full power of Bluetooth connectivity across a wide range of Bluetooth devices.
• Availability of these options at entry-level prices, which makes the Sonic Cheer one of the most affordable Bluetooth compatible hearing aid ranges in Australia.
3. Oticon Nera 2
The Oticon Nera 2 gives you access to premium Oticon technology at reasonable prices. It is also compatible a range of Apple devices via Oticon ConnectLine accessories.
When paired with Oticon ConnectLine devices, you’ll enjoy:
• The ability to connect with a variety of digital sound sources, allowing you to watch TV or listen to music with high quality sound piped directly to your hearing aid.
• Streamer Remote, an app that allows you to remotely control your hearing aid, changing hearing aid volume and programs.
• Compatibility with the ConnectLine Microphone, which enables better conversation quality during one-on-one conversations in noisy environments.
4. The Resound Linx Quattro
Resound is a pioneer in the Bluetooth hearing aid space and launched the first iPhone compatible hearing aid. The Resound Linx builds on this innovation with a wide variety of streaming options available via the hearing aid and associated accessories.
The Resound Linx Quattro offers:
• Direct streaming from iPhones, with Android connectivity launching soon. This feature us supported by rechargeable batteries and a pocket-sized charging hub.
• Access to TV streams using the Resound TV Streamer 2, claimed to offer the best TV sound quality of any premium TV streamer on the market.
• A custom app which allows for quick tuning of your hearing aids, automatic adjustment of hearing aid settings by location and a feature that locates misplaced hearing aids.
5. The Phonak Marvel
The Phonak Marvel is one of a handful of hearing aids on the market that offers direct Bluetooth connectivity to both iPhone and Android devices. This not only allows you to manage your hearing aids from your phone but opens a new world of sound experiences.
Benefits of the Phonak Marvel include:
• The ability to enjoy hands free phone and video calls from Android or iPhone devices with the sound transmitted directly to your hearing aid without interference or interruption.
• A suite of phone apps that allow for remote tuning of hearing aid by your hearing healthcare provider, remote control of your hearing aid from your phone and a daily hearing diary.
• The option to stream sound for your television using Phonak’s TV connector accessory.
Bluetooth hearing aids FAQ
How does Bluetooth work with hearing aids?
Bluetooth hearing aids can connect with compatible Bluetooth devices either directly or through a Bluetooth streamer.
High frequency radio waves are then used as channel of communication between your hearing aid and other Bluetooth devices, effectively transforming your hearing aid into a wireless headset.
Are there cheap hearing aids with Bluetooth?
Several manufacturers offer Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids at entry level prices. The level of the Bluetooth functionality on the hearing aid can vary, and you may be required to purchase a Bluetooth streaming device to enable connections with Bluetooth compatible devices.
How can you use your hearing aid to listen to TV?
Bluetooth hearing aids will typically be unable to connect directly with a television set in order to stream sound to the hearing aid receiver. Instead a TV connection accessory is required, which is designed to pair television sets to hearing aids.
The receiver of the TV streamer plugs directly into an audio output on a television set or sound system, and then broadcasts a wireless signal which is picked up by compatible hearing aids. These devices also allow multiple listeners to connect to the same TV streamer.
Are Invisible In Canal (IIC) hearing aids with Bluetooth available?
Currently there are no IIC hearing aids on the market that allow for direct Bluetooth connections to other devices. However, several invisible hearing aids, including the Sonic Cheer, offer alternative wireless connectivity options. These hearing aids can be connected to Bluetooth streaming accessories to stream audio from compatible Bluetooth devices.