HA selection recommendations

I’m a newbie who’s retired military and am taking advantage of a veteran’s program where I can get the HA at cost based upon my needs and availability. I’m meeting my Audi next week for the selection. The brands are Siemens, Starkey, Audicon, Unitron, and Phonak.

I travel a lot and spend about 2500 minutes a month on my iPhone. While on planes I listen to books/music or videos on my iPhone/iPad. I’ve been reading posts, but having a hard time determining which offer the best options with high cell phone demands.

I’m very interested in reading everyone’s thoughts so I can narrow my choices down before making my selection.

Thanks in advance,

*250 500 1000 2000 3000 4000 6000 8000
L 40–25—25----45—60----70----80—50
R 30–25—20----35—55----70----60—50

Well usual disclaimer, I’m a huge Starkey fan. Of the brands listed the rest are foreign imports, Starkey is American, and in many areas of hearing aid technology lead the world. Including feedback cancellation, which will allow the aids to deliver better sound to your ears in those higher frequencies with less chance of distortion or whistling.

That feedback cancellation system is going to come in very handy if for example you wear CIC hearing aids, and you then put on a set of headphones like Bose Noise Cancelling on the plane. The weaker the feedback cancellation system, the more likely the aids are to whistle if you put other devices near them or cover them.

I’ve fitted Starkey CIC aids to your type of loss many times before. Nice and discrete, the same brand worn by all the United States Presidents who have ever worn hearing aids (Clinton, Carter, Bush Sr, and Reagan); and let’s face it it’s not like they couldn’t order any brand they wanted to.

The new Voice IQ2 system on the top of the line Starkey aids (at cost price it’s not going to be much extra to simply buy top of the line), can cut background noise by up to 20dB, delivering remarkable clarity in a social situations. For a bit more money you can put the same technology in the IIC, which goes in deeper and is even more invisible. But that depends on the shape of your ear canal.

The only suggestion I have regarding cell phone is that you’d need a Bluetooth device that doesn’t try and go way into the ear. Because obviously you’d be wearing a hearing aid there. Just get one, like my Motorola one that sits over the ear canal, but doesn’t try to go down it.



If I could not choose Starkey of the other brands you mentioned, I like Oticon, and think Siemens, Phonak and Unitron are kind of fair to middling.

I love Starkey too, but if you use the phone THAT much, I’d recommend trying Phonak first. DuoPhone is hard to beat…(allows you to hear your phone calls in BOTH ears, in surround sound). Good luck

I tried Phonak aids. Unless to have a professional who is very skilled at programming their newer Spice chip aids, you might be better off without the aids.

In my experience, the Starkey (& Miceotech, Audebel, et. owned by Starkey) aids gave a much superior experience, both direct from factory and after program adjustments. The choice of a good hearing professional is always important, but for the Phonak aids, their skill level is of paramount importance.


First, I’m proud of all folks that are retired military! :slight_smile:

I’ve worn hearing aids for over 22 years. All paid for by Workers Comp insurance. My audiologist were excellent and I was supplied with new aids about every 4 years. My last two previous brands were totally in the ear Seimen and my present aids that I got new last year are Unitron Moxi. But Workers Comp didn’t pay for batteries.

I’m a veteran (USAF 1952-1956) so this spring I decided to give VA a try. I had stayed away from VA for I thought their hearing aids wouldn’t be the best. Boy, was in for a giant surprise! My VA audiologist is tops, she says VA only uses the top of the line hearing aid equipment and also furnish batteries. She did the hearing test and found the same results as in the past…my hearing loss is severe with word recognition next to none. She recommended Phonak Ambra microP but offered the other brands if I wanted them.

I will say I can differently hear better using the Phonaks! They don’t look as well as my Unitron Moxi due to the fact the Phonak’s are slightly larger, use a tube and the old classic ear mold. My Unitron Moxi had a wire that used the transmitter in the ear… but was acceptable to earwax, that required the use of wax-guards. I would have to change wax-guards quite often. I have had NO problems with wax with the Phonaks. I really think the most improvement in hearing is due to the tube and the old classic ear mold, not necessary due the brand.

Also my sweet VA audiologist wanted me to try a TVTalker. I had been using wireless headphones with my aids. I didn’t like the audio quality of TVTalker so she has sent me the Phonak iCom with TVLink. Sound quality is as good as my stereo headphones!

She also says Phonak iCom is outstanding with iPhone/iPad, etc. I don’t use those… in fact I never talk on a phone… spent too many years in management where I was required to answer all phone calls. When retired 22 years ago said my phone days were over. :smiley:

Hope this answers some of your questions and is some help.
Good luck!

As I’ve mentioned before, the company I work for bought out a bankrupt company about 18 months ago. They had multiple locations and all fitted Phonak. We took all the staff who were wearing Phonak aids and gave them Starkey aids with Voice IQ. I’ve not met one who could tell me a single benefit of Phonak sound quality over Starkey. Ditto any of the patients we switched over. And I’ve been to dozens of locations around the country and seen the same thing repeated.

I accept that some European brands may have better ‘tricks’ in certain areas, such as Bluetooth, but for bottom line sound quality, I’ve yet to see it.

Also my argument with this specific case history is that with the right Bluetooth earpiece and a CIC, this guy wouldn’t need any kind of fancy in hearing aid Bluetooth direct connection.

You make ‘European’ sound like a word of abuse …

That’s the problem with Starkey. Bluetooth these days is almost a necessity, not a "trick.

I work in computer networking for a University. Most of the students would not know what to do with a network cable. They expect wireless networking and expect it to work everywhere. In the education community, wireless networking is a necessity, not just a nice option.

<rant on>
Similarly, especially as there are younger HoH users, Bluetooth is becoming a very desired feature, not just “nice to have” or a “trick”. The sooner Starkey realizes this, the better!
<rant off>

I tried a Phonak iCom with a Bluetooth desk phone for a conference call. It worked very well. I cannot do something similar with my Starkey aids because Bluetooth is just a “trick”.

I switched because my Audiologist could not program the Phonak aids acceptably. Actually, I did not initially consider Starkey because they they did not (and still do not) have a Bluetooth solution.

I was a newbie 8 months ago. Like the OP, I am on the cell phone a lot and not being able to use any phone, normally, was a concern. I never had trouble hearing phone conversations. I knew after reading this forum and other sources for quite a while - “open fit” aids would be the best for me.
I had thought, to save some money, to go to Costco. The audi, there, wanted to sell me a closed system with extra BlueTooth hardware to wear so I could use a phone. I went back to my HMO hearing center and she fit me w. a Phonak open fit.
With that I can wear my BT headset normally, which I do for hours each day. Have no trouble at all hearing phone conversations while also wearing my HA. I have always used the type of BT that sits “on” the ear rather than pokes “into” the ear. Of course the latter type wouldn’t work w. an HA there. Motorola has several “on the ear” models as do a couple other mfrs. I have used their #720 the last couple years.
When on a plane (about 20 times a year), I use noise canceling headphones w.o. my HA. Someone posted here a while back he had created an app for one (all?) Apple products (phone? pad? pod?) that you could program to adjust the volume for diff. freq. - just like your HA are adjusted.
I don’t believe in Apple’s closed system - so don’t use their products, so can’t comment on how well that works. There was a short discussion on this app within the past year.

Once you use a Bluetooth streamer or remote that lets you listen to the audio in both ears and lets you do it hand free, there is no going back. The only drawback is the battery life is only 5 hours, but you can hook into a charger while driving or working at the computer and charge it back up. Just my 2 cents.


I have been terrified of the phone my entire life. Now, with my phone clip, I routinely have long conversations on the phone.

And the TV streamer. Heaven

Why would I do that as a slur? I was born in London and lived in the UK for 26 years.

There was a very important reason why Starkey fight Bluetooth. Because the format sucks. It has time delay when streaming. The frequency it uses prevents ear to ear communication on a binaural fit. The pairing is annoying. The physical size means that to get all the Bluetooth stuff into a hearing aid, you have to leave out other stuff that would be a significant benefit for normal non-telephone conversations.

All in all, it was cool when it came out. But for the HoH community it is not ideal. Starkey developed a Bluetooth solution in a 50/50 research program with ReSound. But when it was finished, there were so many limitations thanks to the Bluetooth format and protocols, they decided not to release it.

Instead Starkey, to their credit, decided not to cash in on what they had already invented, but decided to try and take it to the next level.

What’s the next level? You left us hanging.

To go and meet person you waned to phone. Then their feedback cancellation, and wonderful Voice IQ2 and noise suppression up to 20 db would do the “trick”… :wink:

What I find hard to fathom, is why Starkey is so slow on a phone device. I get their logic about streamers, but not cell phones.

Ok, that may be the case, but having used and been impressed by the GN Resound system recently: what couldn’t Starkey manage to do with it that GN could? (Actually reading your answer, the fact that Starkey chose the 900Mhz signalling range to get the connection across the head, means that there’s either no room for a 2.4Ghz transmitter/receiver or there are issues with the harmonics of the clocking signal for either/both interfering with each other) The GN set I have here provide an excellent level of sound all the way out onto the pavement outside, through the heavy stone wall of the shop and the double glazed window at a range of about thirty feet: In all honesty I was dubious about the Alera claims before, but its wireless capability makes it a heck of a good product.

As for not ‘cashing-in’, I fail to see that a company can be given a platitude for failing to get a product to market.

I am on the phone a lot and have worn BT headsets for years all day long.  If the battery wouldn't last a day - they would have been useless.  Fortunately, w. open fit HA I can still use my cell (and any other phone), normally.   

I can’t understand all these people you see walking down the street holding an actual phone to their ear.


At a glance, with your high tone loss, you can enjoy the benefits of an open fit device. Keep in mind that Unitron is sometimes considered to be a bit behind the other brands you mentioned.
All the leading brands got some streaming solution that will enable you to connect to all sorts of media devices.
I think that the most important tip I can add is to buy something that your audiologist fully controls. It is highly important in order for you to get the most out of the hearing aid.


Microsoft Windows “sucks” too, but if you want to sell a program to the majority of users, it must run in Windows.

Similarly, Many, if not the majority of people (HoH & non-HoH) want Bluetooth connectivity. If Starkey does not want to lose sales to their competitors, they need to support Bluetooth soon.