There are around a dozen major hearing aid brands available in Australia, including well known brands like Oticon, Phonak and Unitron. The purpose of this article is to provide you with details around all the different options so that you can compare and make the best choice for you.
These hearing aid brands are designed and owned by a smaller number of hearing aid ‘manufacturers’ – holding groups that build and market hearing aids through their subsidiary brands.
In fact, the five largest manufacturers active in Australia market 18 different hearing aid brands.
Each of these hearing aid brands in Australia offers a wide range of hearing aids at a variety of price points, catering to a variety of hearing requirements and budgets.
Hearing aid manufacturing companies
Before comparing the different hearing aid brands available on the Australian market, let’s look at the major manufacturers active in the country.
The following table breaks down the largest hearing aid manufacturers by country of origin and subsidiary brands.
|Sonova||Switzerland||Phonak, Unitron, Lyric, Hansaton, Advanced Bionics|
|William Demant||Denmark||Oticon, Sonic, Bernafon|
|Starkey||United States||Starkey, Audibel|
|GN Group||Denmark||Resound, Interton, Beltone|
|WS Audiology||Germany||Signia, Rexton, Audio Service, Siemens, Widex|
Hearing aid brands
While you may not be familiar with the hearing aid manufacturers who market their brands in Australia, you’re likely to have come across several of their subsidiary brands.
Here’s a breakdown of the ten biggest hearing aid brands in Australia.
Oticon is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The company is one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers in the world and was established by Hans Demant.
Oticon is recognised as a premium hearing aid brand and is known for positioning itself on the cutting edge of hearing aid technology, pioneering both digital and Bluetooth hearing aids.
Oticon hearing aids are also equipped with advanced hearing improvement technologies that deliver a smooth, natural hearing experience.
Phonak is the flagship brand of the Sonova hearing aid group. Founded in 1947, the company is headquartered in Switzerland.
Phonak’s focus areas include developing cochlear implant technology for profoundly deaf individuals, as well as specialized hearing aids for children.
The brand is also known for its advances in wireless connectivity, with it’s Phonak Marvel hearing aid launched as the first hearing aid with Bluetooth connectivity to both Apple and Android devices.
Manufactured by Sonova, Unitron is a sister brand to Phonak and operates out of Canada. This hearing aid brand focuses primarily on the entry level segment of the Australian market.
This is reflected by the type of innovation offered by Unitron hearing aids, including their FLEX:UPGRADE technology.
This allows hearing aid users to upgrade the software on their hearing aids over time, gradually improving their hearing experience without having to spend more money on hardware.
Located in Denmark, Widex is the world’s sixth largest hearing aid brand and one of the most important pioneers of advanced hearing aid technology.
While Widex hearing aids are available across a range of price points, from entry level to premium, the company is best known for its specialised products and technologies.
These include industry leading tinnitus management software and hearing aids specifically designed for musicians and musical performers.
Bernafon is a Switzerland-based hearing aid company that has been in operation since 1946. The company is currently part of the William Demant hearing aid group.
Bernafon pioneered several major advances in hearing aid design, including the first portable hearing aid, the first behind-the-ear hearing aid and the first remote controlled hearing aid.
More recently this brand has been at the forefront of advances in connectivity and hearing quality, including feedback cancelling systems and iPhone connectivity.
Starkey hearing aids are manufactured by Starkey Hearing technologies, based in Minnesota in the United States.
Innovation at Starkey has traditionally focused on improving the hearing experience for the elderly, with an emphasis on enhancing the ability to listen to music and conversation.
The latest generation of Starkey hearing aids are at the cutting edge of frail-care technology, with embedded sensors and AI software able to track users’ physical activity and cognitive health.
Sonic, also known as Sonic Innovations, has been building hearing aids since 1988. The company is based in the United States and was recently incorporated into the William Demant group.
A focus on how sound is produced and understood by the brain is a major focus area for the Sonic brand. Even the most affordable devices incorporate advanced speech and anti-noise algorithms.
The latest generation of Sonic hearing aids are available in a variety of styles and configurations and cater to a wide range of hearing issues at entry-level prices.
The Signia brand is based in Germany and is a relatively recent introduction to the hearing aid market, with its first devices launched in 2016. It recently merged with the WS Audiology group.
Signia hearing aids incorporate a suite of advanced technologies and are targeted at the premium end of the market.
These include rechargeable lithium iron batteries, direct wireless streaming, advanced noise reduction and the most advanced own voice processing system on the market.
Hansaton was founded in 1957 and is located in Germany. This hearing aid brand falls under the Sonova group, which also controls the Unitron and Phonak brands.
Hanston hearing aids cater to a broad spectrum of hearing aid users, with a variety of styles priced from entry level to premium.
High-end devices incorporate the latest technological innovations, including direct Bluetooth streaming, smart connectivity options and cutting-edge rechargeable batteries.
ReSound is a hearing aid brand with headquarters in Denmark. The ReSound brand has been developing hearing aid technology since 1934.
ReSound is well known for its hearing aids for children, as well as a design philosophy which focuses on assisting users in isolating and hearing sounds that are relevant to them.
Recent innovations by the brand include iSolate Nanotech, a coating that protects hearing aids and enhances their performance, as well as the launch of the company’s first premium-plus device.
What is the best hearing aid brand?
With over a dozen hearing aid brands collectively suppling over 1000 devices to the Australian market, it can be difficult to determine which hearing aid brand and device you should choose.
Given that even entry-level devices can be expensive, you’ll want to make sure you’re buying from one of the best brands in Australia.
However, there’s no simple answer to which hearing aid brand is ‘the best’.
Although all brands offer a wide range of devices, several focus on specific elements of hearing aid innovation, ranging from sound quality through to optimisation for children’s hearing, connectivity and device design.
The best hearing aid brand is therefore going to be the one that markets a device that aligns most closely to your expectations and requirements.
When looking for the best hearing aid brand, it is important to bear in mind that the brand is not as important as having your hearing aid professionally programmed by a hearing care provider following a hearing test.
Several hearing clinics in Australia offer both free hearing checks and trials of hearing aids.
This offers you a great opportunity to have your hearing tested by a professional and then try out different hearing aid brands without making a financial commitment in advance.
Hearing aid brands reviews
Reading online user reviews of hearing aids is a popular way for hearing aid buyers to gauge the quality of the devices manufactured by leading brands.
However, there are a few serious issues with relying on user reviews to guide your hearing aid purchases.
The experience a user has of their hearing aid is determined by several factors other than the device design and technology. These include:
- Programming: How well a hearing aid works is highly dependent on how well it was programmed by a hearing care professional. Buying and using a device out of the box is very likely to result in an unsatisfactory hearing experience and a poor review.
- Fit. As with programming, the assistance of a hearing care provider may be required to ensure that a hearing aid fits comfortably on or in the ear. Without a proper fitting, a potentially excellent hearing aid can cause discomfort and even pain.
- Level of hearing loss. People with lower levels of hearing impairment are likely to enjoy a vastly improved hearing experience from hearing aids compared to people with severe hearing impairment.
This means that those with less severe hearing impairment are more likely to rate any device positively, while individuals with severe hearing loss are more likely to give the same device negative ratings.
- Expectations differ. Two hearing aid buyers may assign different ratings to the same device because they focus on different elements of the device’s features or performance.
Hearing care providers are far more likely to have an accurate idea of the quality of the various hearing aid brands. This is because they see how well different brands work for a diverse set of patients.
Hearing aid brand reviews should therefore be taken with a pinch of salt.
While it’s a good idea to read up on the features offered by the different brands, a visit to a qualified hearing professional will connect you to the expertise you need not only find the right hearing aid for your requirements, but also to get the best out of it.