What is the Best Hearing Aid on the Market?
"What is the best hearing aid on the market?
This is a question that comes up again and again, one that audiologists and hearing aid specialists are always being asked. The short answer is that there is no one "best" hearing aid for everybody. Because Uncle Harry loved Brand X and hated his previous experiences with Brand Y, does not mean that Aunt Selma should also love Brand X and hate Brand Y. One should think of the hearing aid fitting process as a kind of marriage, where the hearing aid dispenser joins together in hearing union the unique amplification needs of a particular person with the characteristics of a specific hearing aid. Basic to successful hearing aid fittings, is the concept that there is no such thing as the "average" person with a hearing loss.
We do not, fit hearing aids on the average person, but on individuals like Uncle Harry and Aunt Selma who are unique and differ on a whole range of personal characteristics, including hearing loss, communication needs, manual dexterity, finances, expectations, and general coping skills. When dispensers fit people with hearing aids, it is not the brand name engraved on the aid that is most relevant, but its electroacoustic properties. It is what the hearing aid does, not what it is called that is important. There are at least 40 manufacturers of hearing aids and well over a hundred different models, Furthermore, the electroacoustic performance of all modern hearing aids can be programmed for a wide variety of hearing losses.
Actually, the situation is not quite as confusing as it might appear, as long as the focus remains both on the client with the hearing loss and the electroacoustic performance, and not on the brand name, of the hearing aid. From among the myriad hearing aid possibilities, the dispenser will narrow the possible field based on a person's acoustic (e.g., extent and configuration of hearing loss) and non-acoustic (e.g., cost, lifestyle, manual dexterity) needs. The need of a person for specific features (e.g. directional microphones, feedback cancellation circuits, personal FM) will have to be assessed. Choices still have to be made from the ones that remain, and it is here that personal preferences play a role. It is likely that anyone of several model hearing aids can provide equal assistance, The key considerations are not the hearing aid itself, but the expertise of the "matchmaker" - that is, the hearing aid dispenser - and the informed and willing collaboration of the hearing aid user. It still takes two to make a happy marriage.