Consumer Reports Hearing Aid Buying Guide Detailed Review

Consumer Reports Hearing Aids Buying Guide Review. Dr. Cliff Olson, Audiologist and founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Anthem Arizona, provides commentary on the Consumer Reports Hearing Aids Buying Guide.


Consumer Reports Hearing Aids Buying Guide:

Consumer Reports is a non-profit organization that has been around since the 1930s. Their reviews are based on conducting in-house testing and surveys.

The Buyers Guide discusses the prevalence of hearing loss with 48 million Americans experiencing some form of hearing loss. They also discuss the three types of hearing loss: Sensorineural, Conductive, and Mixed Hearing Loss.

Understanding hearing aids discusses digital hearing aid technology and Analog devices. Despite Analog hearing aids being less complex than digital devices, digital devices are still easy to use. There are different features in hearing aids such as Wind noise reduction, Background noise reduction, and Bluetooth. The variations in devices can make identifying the best device very difficult.

The Guide does give some incorrect information on the different hearing aid styles and Cons of these styles. Thy shoudl state that in general, there are 2 different styles: In-The-Ear (ITE) and Behind-The-Ear (BTE). There are several substyles within these.

Discussing hearing aid features the report indicates that 33% of their survey respondents reported multiple hearing aid programs to be the most important feature. Other features included:

Telecoil – A feature that communicates with a hearing loop to pull information from a telephone or public facilities that have a loop. This will give you better access to audio from these locations.

Directional Microphones: These help hearing aids perform better in background noise by allowing these microphones to communicate with each other to determine which direction to pick up sound.

Feedback Suppression: This helps prevent whistling of hearing aids, particularly with an open fit.

Digital Noise Reduction: This allows hearing aids to remove noise from speech to improve speech understanding in background noise.

Other Features: Include Bluetooth connectivity and Remote Microphones with are extremely beneficial for use with the telephone and in background noise.

Selecting a Hearing Care Provider starts with a recommendation to see an Audiologist. Audiologists can be found in private practice settings and Wholesale clubs like Costco Hearing Centers. They do mention that you should ask if the hearing care provider is an Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Specialist. Both can dispense, but there is a disparity in training between the two professionals.

Audiologists have to earn a doctorate degree in audiology and obtain over 1,000 clinical contact hours, and Hearing Instrument Specialist training varies widely and in some states requires no formal training.

The guide does go over what you should expect from a hearing care provider. This includes convenient hours with repair services, a detailed consultation to determine your specific needs, and the necessity of seeing your hearing care professional regularly. Overall, the quality of your hearing aid performance directly depends on how good your hearing care provider is.

Some shopping tips from the guide include:

1. Checking your insurance coverage.
2. Getting a detailed contract that allows for hearing aid returns in the case that you don’t receive benefit.
3. Only buy what you need. There is no need to overspend on features that are unnecessary for your lifestyle.
4. Asking for a price break. Be careful with this one as the clinics that haggle are often the ones that will reduce your quality of care.
5. Look for bargains. Again, you usually get what you pay for. Focus too much on a bargain and you could find yourself receiving little benefit with hearing aids.
6. Getting social assistance. There are programs like Starkey HearNow that will help you obtain hearing aids for free if you meet low income requirements.

When getting new hearing aids, the most important thing is that you have Real Ear Measurement performed on them. This is the only way to ensure your devices are programmed appropriately to your hearing loss prescription. Learn more about REMs in this video:

The last thing they discuss is using a Personal Sound Amplification Product or PSAP if you aren’t ready for hearing aids yet. These are NOT hearing aids, but can provide a boost to your hearing. Just be careful, the cheap ones can actually make you hear worse and can even damage your ears.

Overall, the Consumer Electronics Hearing Aids Buying Guide, despite some inaccuracies, provides a good basic level understanding of hearing aids and treatment options.


kashif M says:

love this lecture, you have one of the best channel that is useful for consumer to learn about audiologist and hearing aid. Do you mind talk about hearing aid and cochlear implant for deaf community. there seem to be situation back in the days where many deaf community did not like hearing aid and/or cochlear implant due to deaf culture but that has change over time. Would love to hear your opinion on this.

Andrew Gerdi says:

FYI- Part of the members with Costco are free hearing test for its members. Currently there are over 500 testing centers within all of the

Natalia Popham says:

Watching your videos over the past couple months helped me realize I needed to find a new AuD; thank you for the information about what to look for! My new AuD did real ear measures (for the first time in my life even though I’ve used hearing aides my whole life!) and discovered that my hearing aides were malfunctioning, which explained a LOT. Thank you for all the info, these videos really have helped me become much better informed!

William Norton says:

Covered a lot of ground in this video. You are helping us consumers understand the nature of hearing loss and what technology offers to help us out. Very useful.

jesus110709 says:

Hello Cliff, Have you sold any Phonak Marval hearing aids and have there been positive reviews? I have also heard that Resound is coming out with a similar bluetooth technology as Phonak, if so what can you tell me about them?

Jim Davis says:

This is a product of consumers reports using old Information. Not their first time the don’t know what the are talking about. They need to stick to cars and washing machines. The are good at everything else. Thanks For your Correct input.

Jim Davis says:

The lions club in the North Florida area have a Hearing Aid Bank. The pull old Aid from the bank that have been donated. Send the to a Repair Lab to have the respelled to fit the Patients Ear. I think this is a not so best Practice.

DreamChaser says:

good, but not a thing was said about the different brands of hearing aids.

Jaime Valentin says:

Can you do a video on the Starkey IIC Picasso hearing aids?

Ken Wamsley says:

Hello Dr. Cliff,
I currently wear Siemens hearing aids – about 4 years old. Looking to upgrade and really confused about what would be a good pair for me. Have watched MANY of your videos and find you very educational and provide professional honest great insight and opinion. I have narrowed down my search to 4 brands. Signia, Widex Resound and Phonak. I have a high-tone hearing lose but the hearing aids seem to work great in correcting my condition. Out of the 4 brands I have listed… What would be your recommendation? (Based on tech features, sound quality, and reliability. Care more about these elements than cost.) I am very confused on what should help decide what my next hearing aid should be. (Almost like buying a car – which one is really right?) Thank you for your great videos and time. I look forward to your thoughts.

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