First time buying hearing aids. Is Bluetooth worth it?

I’m finally addressing hearing loss and I am looking to buy some hearing aids. I could use some tips as I don’t have any experience in making a purchase like this before and it isn’t the cheapest.

My HIS has plenty of options, but since it’s not a purchase you make super frequently (I hope) I’m stuck on the question of should I spend for the premium ones that’ll hopefully last longer, or do I stick with a more affordable options if it gets the job done?

More specifically I’m wondering if having bluetooth capable hearing aids are worth it.

Reading through this pointed out a few things that might be nice, but I’m wondering if people actually stream tv to the hearing aid or just listen to the tv like normal with the hearing aid in?

This one pointed out that the battery drain could present problems too. I don’t want to have them die in the middle of the day just cause I had them hooked to my phone in case of a call.

So for those who have purchased bluetooth hearing aids:

Do you actually find yourself using all the features to take advantage of what they can do?
And did the battery drain ever hit before the day was done?

Thanks for any feedback you can offer!

A lot of it depends on how bad your hearing is. How do you do on the phone without hearing aids or with your current hearing aids? How do you do with TV? Streaming can make it better, but if you’re doing ok without it, you don’t “need” it. On the other hand, it’s currently pretty tough to buy a major brand hearing aid without bluetooth streaming.


Another point to consider are you into IT technology? Do you have a mobile phone? Do you have WiFi at home? Do you want all 3 to be able to “connect” to one another? It also depend upon how severe your hearing loss is. As well as the points that the poster above mentioned above. You haven’t entered your audiogram in your profile so we are not able to comment on that. It’s entirely up to you though but think about your life style, your work environment as well.

I myself have had Bluetooth aids for the last 6-8 years. Because if my profound hearing loss, I needed it for assistive listening devices. I would be without it now.

When your choosing an aid see if you purchase has a choice if battery sizes. I personally wouldn’t buy rechargeable batteries. Ask the Aud, size 13 lasts for approx 2 weeks. But you keep a supply of batteries at the office, in your wallet, in the car and at home. So if you do get the chimes it takes 2 minutes to change the battery.

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I use it on every phone call, every meeting, and every tv show. I would not be without it. Several times a day I also stream music from my tablet. I have the Costco Phonak Brio 3 and the Phonak Compilot 2 Bluetooth device. Until recently, Bluetooth hearing aids meant you had the intermediate device that connects to Bluetooth devices and to your hearing aids (wirelessly of course). Now there is another option, the Phonak Marvel, and soon to be a Resound and an Oticon solution where the hearing aids themselves connect to Bluetooth devices and there is no intermediate device.

My feeling is the intermediate devices have more features, but the direct Bluetooth models are going to get a lot of attention.


Batteries are cheap. I wouldn’t make any decision with batteries as an issue. Mine are the 312 size and last 3.5 to 4.5 days. I might get a half day more with no streaming, but I’m not going to find out.


If you have a Costco within a reasonable distance I would suggest you go there. Their current Kirkland Signature model is the KS9. It does Bluetooth with either an iPhone or Android. These are premium level hearing aids nearly identical to the Phonak Marvel for $1500 a pair. I would suggest trying these before spending 2, 3, or 4 times more to get something that is no better or worse.

I have the KS8’s along with an iPhone. The hearing aids prompted me to get the iPhone, as I was (am) a smart phone hater. But the reality is that the phone makes the hearing aids more functional. I could certainly do without the smart phone if I had to though. Bluetooth is essentially ubiquitous in hearing aids today, and one should not have to pay extra for it. The real cost is the cost of the phone plan. It is nice to talk on the phone with the audio coming directly to your ears while the microphones on the HA are somewhat muted.

I do not use any supplementary devices or Bluetooth to watch TV. I find if anything I have to turn the TV down to listen to it.

Hope that helps some,

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In my case half the reason I got it was for the TV. Even with the hearing aids, there was enough ambient sound in the room with fans and kids and whatnot that I couldn’t understand the speech in the program, especially when the actors had accents. I had resorted to using headphones all the time for TV listening before I got the BT HA’s.

I got the Marvel M70-R’s recently. They have BT, other wireless streaming protocols (for Phonak accessories) and a rechargeable battery, though the same model is available with 312 primary cells. I get excellent battery life even with all the wireless use.

  1. I use BT on the phone all day for phone calls. I usually make a half dozen calls a day, some of the lengthy.

  2. I use the Phonak AirStream protocol TV Connector device to stream audio from the TV. I stream 3-6 hrs of TV in the evening while I’m working on home projects.

Even with all this wireless use I’ve never run the batteries down, even when I fall asleep with them in and wake up at 5am. I pop them in the charger (low but still running) and pull them back out at 8 when I leave and I’m good for another day.

The wireless connectivity was the whole reason I upgraded and paid so much for these. All the major manufacturers have BT but only in certain models. The Costco KS9’s are identical to my Phonaks, I hear, but cheaper. ( Wish I had known that! :wink: )

So all in all, if you’re a wireless headphone or headset user, or if you’ve had that need and just haven’t gotten around to getting the devices, I would go with a BT model. It’s very convenient to get that ability functionality automatically in your hearing aids, always with you.

I specifically purchased new HAs (for both ears) for Bluetooth. I use it for hours each day. I wouldn’t be without it. I use it primarily with my computer for skype calls. I also use it with my mobile phones (mostly my iphone). I also use it (combined with a Tautronics Bluetooth transmitter) on the airplane when watching movies. The Bluetooth capability is at least as important to me as the improvement in hearing that I get from the HAs.

Seems like it’s pretty unanimous that they would be worth it. Thanks for all the feedback! I’m thinking it’s a good idea to get some then. I do use a lot of tech stuff currently, but have needed the volume cranked up to hear things. I’m still getting used to the idea of having something in my ears at all hours of the day, but I think I see the points you’ve made that it’ll be beneficial just to have it all go straight to my ear. I just hope it doesn’t make me accidentally tune out my wife!

I’ll take a closer look at Phonak and the Costco brands as well.

Thanks again for the input everybody!

The biggest thing about being a new hearing aid user is that things may sound too loud at first, and if you have high frequency loss, things may sound tinny at first. Things like clanking dishes and running water may sound uncomfortable.

Sure, you can start lower and work your way up, but try to get up to target as soon as you can, without being too uncomfortable.

Your brain will adjust and after a while things will sound beautiful! Will it take a few weeks or several months? No one can say. It took me a long time because I put off hearing aids for many years.


You should also look at Oticon and other brands.

I am in the minority, I wanted one specifically without bluetooth because I wanted mine to work and let me hear as close to a regular normal hearing ear as possible. ‘Normal’ hearing also includes hearing sounds like people chatting, fans, ice makers clinking in the kitchen, etc. so that to me is natural to hear those things. If your hearing loss is severe enough that you think you still wouldn’t understand movies, calls, etc with normal aids without the bluetooth then I say go for it, because everyone is different and only you know what you need. But I enjoy being able to talk to my family during a movie and not have the sound of the tv override them, or hearing if the dog is whining to go out (which she always does at the most suspenseful parts, of course!)

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Where to you get the idea that a hearing aid which supports bluetooth somehow provides less than “regular normal hearing” compared to a hearing aid which doesn’t support bluetooth?

If you consider that the hearing aids which support bluetooth are generally the high end products from the respective manufacturers, you may be getting less than “regular normal hearing” by selecting a hearing aid which doesn’t support bluetooth.

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Because people with normal hearing do not have their calls, shows, etc. streamed directly into their ears unless they use a bluetooth device. I feel like that in and of itself makes it less of a natural hearing experience because you cannot hear everything else around you as clearly because of the direct input of the media. (Like if you are trying to have a conversation with someone and they are also speaking to someone on their bluetooth headset, the phone call in their ear is more prevalent than you or other outside noises.) It was not meant as an insult and there is no need to be so defensive, friend, or insult anyone’s gear, it is just my personal opinion. I still have one perfectly functional ear and so I know what ‘regular normal hearing’ sounds like to me.


When my hearing wasn’t so bad I had no reason to have Bluetooth. All the Bluetooth devices were not needed. As my hearing got much worse I have found that Bluetooth is very handy to help with speech recognition.
So, maybe your hearing loss and need for speech recognition could be a guideline for needing Bluetooth.


Bluetooth is used for a number of things, and how it interacts with hearing aids is complex. If you want to get right into the detail of it then here is a good article to read.

The first use is to use a smartphone as a remote control for your hearing aids. That is a nice to have, but not totally essential. Some apps for hearing aids are better than others. Generally the most mature technology is the Apple MFi which used Bluetooth Low Energy to save battery power. It is also able to connect to both hearing aids at the same time.

The next use is to be able to use your cell phone with the incoming audio coming direct to your ears. That feature, at least with the iPhone MFi method is very helpful. Typically the hearing aid can be set up to recognize that you are streaming direct to your ear, and the HA microphones can be set to attenuate background noise which makes it easier to hear. Some hearing aids like the Phonak or KS9 cannot do this because they use the HA microphones to pick up your voice. So the person at the other end hears you and all the background noise. On the down side, the MFi method requires you to hold the iPhone close to your mouth so it picks up your voice clearly. It is not true hands free.

Last is the streaming from the TV or other devices using what most likely is classic Bluetooth. Most of those solutions involve using an intermediary device which ideally converts the higher power Classic Bluetooth to BLE or Bluetooth Low Energy. This makes it easier on your hearing aid batteries. But, have a look at my audiogram. If your loss is no worse than what I have in my right ear, you will probably have no problem hearing the TV at normal volumes.

Hope that helps some,


Another thing to look at might be your lifestyle and environment. Do you spend most of the time by yourself when you take calls or do you have to be able to hear clients in a noisy office or cubicle environment? When watching tv would you be watching with someone that likes to comment or have conversations during the show, or do you mostly watch alone? Is your house too noisy to normally hear calls or shows even with the sound amplification of a hearing aid?

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My understanding is that one can control the relative amounts of streaming into the ear versus hearing the sounds around one. It’s a feature in the BT/HA control on the smart phone app. So, it seems to me that I could be listening to music at a low level while diddling around on the computer, say, but also have the ambient sounds available should my spouse decide to ask me (to do) something. I don’t know this from experience, but a Dr. Cliff video gave me this impression. Perhaps in 2½ weeks I’ll know for sure. One can only hope.

I think the hitch with the KS9 is that if you are using the hearing aid microphones as your source of audio for a phone call you really can’t attenuate them without affecting the volume of your own voice going out to the other listener. With a typical MFi setup the streaming can be set up to attenuate the microphones without attenuating the audio out with your voice, because it is coming from the iPhone microphone.

I was thinking about that, but I realized that on the HA’s you aren’t turning down the microphone, you’re just controlling the audio path. So you can turn down the microphone audio path to your ear, while tailoring the directionality and level of all the microphones for good pickup and amplify the audio path that’s going out to the other end of the call.

That MFi setup using the iPhone microphone would be really handy in some situations, and I understand it produces better sound for the other caller than using HA microphones, by and large. Still I like the convenience of the full handsfree with the HA mics.