There are a few different options available by the following manufacturers: Signia (formerly Siemens) Cellion (come at top two levels of technology), Phonak Audeo BR (available at all levels of technology), Starkey Muse (all price points), and Unitron (have not yet worked with those last two particular products due to our preference for the first two I mentioned).
The Phonak and Signia products are equally good, with slight differences between them with regard to the batteries. Both have lithium ion batteries, but the Signia batteries are said to have a slightly longer battery life per charge . The Signia devices will start up on their own when removed from the charging cradle, whereas the Phonak devices have a button you just press and hold to turn each device on. This has not been ideal for patients with dexterity issues. Further, the button is also an LED light that blinks tonlet you know it's been activated, but it's covered by your finger while pressing, which makes it difficult to see the light flash (design flaw in my opinion).
The chargers are slightly different as well. Phonak devices snap into a charger and charge via contacts while the Signia devices charge via induction. The Phonak charger is a case, with a lid that snaps closed and the Signia charger is open. Phonak also offers a charger "battery pack" that holds a charge, for travel -so you can leave the power cord at home.
Overall, both product lines have good sound quality and strong signal processing that can accommodate a mild to moderate hearing loss, along with Tinnitus programs ( most people find relief just by using the hearing aids though). I don't think you would be dissatisfied either way, but as a provider, I will say we are leaning more towards the Signia products due to ease of use and longer battery life.
Rechargeability has quickly swept through the industry in the last few years. Rechargeable hearing aids have been available for more than 20 years, but only in the last 8 years have reliable systems been available. There are a few options for rechargeability on the market, all the options require a behind the ear (BTE) or receiver in canal (RIC) style.
Signia Motion SX
Phonak Audeo R
Phonak Bolero R
Z-Power Retro Fit
Both Phonak and Unitron now have rechargeable hearing aids with tinnitus maskers. The tinnitus masker from Unitron is better, in my opinion, since it has 3 different frequency handles to cover most tinnitus. I am sure that other manufacturers has rechargeables and tinnitus maskers as well, but I am not familiar with them.
Siemens, Phonak, Hansaton (exactly the same as Phonak but cheaper), Unitron, and now Starkey
All of these are great. Remember the higher end you go the better the noise reduction, so if noise is a problem go with a better aid. If you stream, dont get Siemens with the interchangeable regular battery/rechargeable battery system, it will not be very good for that. (Streaming is when you connect your phone to your aids and listen to music, audiobooks, or phone calls)
The best thing to do is to try out a few brands to see what sound you like, they all sound very different. My favorite sound profile among the above is Starkey, I find their sound to be clean, crisp and very very clear.
Although there are several manufacturers now producing both rechargeable aids and tinnitus maskers in a single unit, I have to recommend a unit that has both tinnitus maskers AND notch therapy abilities. If you have tonal tinnitus, notch therapy is a good alternative to masking and allows potential correction without masking noise. Personally, I've have great response and acceptance using the new Signia Cellion units with their Primax technology ... rechargeable and notch therapy in an attractive unit.
I would definitely recommend either Phonak BR (Belong Rechargeable) series or Signia Cellion Primax (PX) Series from Siemens. Both have the rechargeable aspects and have tinnitus maskers. As far as my personal experience and listening to the maskers, I personally prefer the Signia Cellion Primax for the reason that they so have a "beach" mode on their maskers. very calming and soothing which can help with stress levels. I have a few patients who enjoy this line from Signia and the beach tinnitus masker. Phonak does have a masker but does not have this as part of their selection of masking sound. However, in either case, they are great hearing instruments and both can be controlled via app with smartphones.
There is one bad part of the Phonak BR Series in which you have to make sure you turn the hearing instrument on by pressing and holding the button down on each aid. The Signia Cellion does not need to and has shown to my patients easier to use. We have reported this as a problem with our reps from Phonak and currently are working on a solution, but from what I was told it's not a simple firmware update. We are waiting from them for a response on this issue.
As far as size, both are relatively bigger in footprint compared to the Phonak Audeo B-10, or Signia Ace PX, and a little bit bigger than Phonak Audeo B-312, and Signia Pure PX Series. So if looks matter you may want to reconsider the rechargeable aspect (only offered in that size).
The Phonak design is interesting because there are contacts that the hearing insrument uses to charge while in the charger and are exposed when weraing them, one may consider to make sure that they are free from debris often for it may affect the charging, As far as the Signia design, looks to be inductive with no contacts, a design improvement from the past Pure instruments which at times had issues with charging because of debris or non connection with their chargers.
As a side note, I did not list the tech levels per series on purpose. All of the tech levels have the tinnitus maskers, and I believe to truly get the best performance with hearing altogether, you should be looking at the highest tech levels. Phonak would be the 90's and Signia would be the 7's. However, it's best to speak to a professional with you needs and wants, demo the instruments before making a decision to go with a solution. What can be easy to one person can be very difficult with the next.
I have worked with both the Phonak BR and the Starkey Muse rechargeable and find them both good. The Starkey Muse is a little smaller and magnetically holds into its charger. Very easy to use. Starkey's multiflex tinnitus program is really pretty flexible with which I've had good results. The Phonak rechargeable is a little bigger and the lithium ion battery will last a very long time. It's charger can come with a battery pack to reduce the need for an outlet to recharge if you are traveling for a few days. I have not worked aggressively with the Phonak tinnitus programming to know it's ease of use and effectiveness. Hope that helps!
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