After a hearing test, your audiologist or hearing aid dispenser will let you know whether you are a good candidate for hearing aids. This decision is based on the type and degree of your hearing loss, performance on tests of word recognition or discrimination, and any co-occurring medical conditions that might be causing the hearing loss or would impact you as a hearing aid user. It is often a difficult decision just to move forward with amplification. Then the next steps would be selecting a manufacturer and technology level that best suits your hearing loss and your lifestyle.
In this article, we will be specifically talking about the Oticon hearing aids and Phonak hearing aids. Let’s find out which is a better option in this Oticon vs Phonak hearing aids guide.
Hearing Aid Brands
There are many hearing aid brands on the market. The six major brands available from audiologists and hearing aid dispensers are Oticon, Phonak, ReSound, Starkey, Signia/Siemens, and Widex. Note that this list excludes over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids as well as personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), which function differently from traditional hearing aids and also do not require assistance from a professional. All six of these major brands have unique selling points and points of view from a marketing perspective, but in truth, they are all excellent and can offer similar performance in many categories.
Often your audiologist or hearing aid dispenser will make the decision (or a strong recommendation) regarding which brand you should select. This typically means that they fit a majority of this device, that they are comfortable with making programming modifications in the software, and that they have a good relationship with the manufacturer as far as customer service. You shouldn’t see this as a red flag; most people have brand preferences for cars, technology, supermarkets, etc. If you trust your provider, you can feel comfortable going on their recommendation.
What they will likely leave up to you to decide is the technology level of your hearing aids. These brands offer hearing aids that look identical at different price points, and the more expensive hearing aids come with additional features. Depending on your financial situation and your lifestyle, you may opt for a basic or entry-level hearing aid versus a top-of-the-line model. Some audiologists have demo devices that can be programmed at different technology levels for you to try, though it can be difficult to distinguish the difference in a quiet office.
All hearing aids have trial periods, though, so you do have time to decide not only whether hearing aids are right for you but if you want to step up or down in technology level based on your performance in your everyday life.
Oticon vs Phonak Hearing Aids Intro
Today, we’re going to focus on Oticon vs Phonak hearing aids. Oticon is a global brand based in Denmark with US headquarters in Somerset, NJ. Since 2016 they have operated under a philosophy coined “BrainHearing” which is related to the way that the brain processes sound and focus not just on the ears but the auditory system as a whole. In addition to hearing aids for adults, Oticon is one of the leading manufacturers of pediatric hearing aids. Additionally, they have an Oticon Medical branch which manufactures a bone-anchored hearing aid and a cochlear implant.
Phonak is based in Naperville, IL, and is under the Sonova umbrella. Sonova is a Swiss hearing healthcare company that also includes the cochlear implant manufacturer Advanced Bionics, the retail brand Connect Hearing, and the hearing aid brand Unitron, among others.
Sonova also has a charitable foundation called Hear the World, which focuses on building sustainable hearing healthcare projects in underserved areas. Like Oticon, Phonak also has a strong focus on pediatric hearing aids, as well as FM/DM systems for school and personal use, which are universally compatible with a major hearing aid and cochlear implant brands.
The latest hearing aid available from Oticon is the Oticon Real, available in receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) and behind-the-ear (BTE) models. They are suitable for mild through profound hearing losses, and the hearing aids are fully rechargeable if a model without a telecoil is selected. The telecoil models use a disposable 312 battery.
This line of hearing aids builds on existing technology with a specific emphasis on managing wind noise and handling noise (i.e., adjusting your hair with hearing aids on). The hearing aids are available in nine different colors. For more severe hearing losses, the Oticon Xceed line is available, as is the Oticon Own line for patients who prefer a custom in-the-ear (ITE) or completely in-canal (CIC) device.
Phonak is Lumity
The newest line available from Phonak is Lumity, available in their Audeo (receiver-in-the-ear) model. This is suitable for mild through profound hearing loss, and the hearing aids are fully rechargeable. There are a few different models, one of which is fully waterproof and another which includes a telecoil for users who want to make use of that technology. This device is fully Bluetooth compatible with any Bluetooth device and is also compatible with their range of Roger devices. The Roger technology is digitally modulated (DM) and is particularly helpful when trying to hear over noise and/or over distance.
The Lumity technology also builds upon previous directional microphone and noise reduction technologies to improve hearing in noise. They are available in eight different colors. For more severe hearing losses, the Naida Paradise behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are available with many of the same features, including rechargeability, Bluetooth and Roger connectivity, and advanced features to improve hearing in noise.
The table below breaks down an Oticon versus Phonak comparison of their latest respective hearing aid models:
Oticon vs Phonak Hearing Aids Comparison
|RITE and BTE
|Full day (minimum 12 hours) on a full charge
|Full day (minimum 12 hours) on a full charge
|Compatible with iPhone 11 or later, and some Android devices which support Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) Proprietary remote microphone, TV streamer, and remote control Oticon companion app
|Range of Roger accessories Directly stream via Bluetooth myPhonak app
|Remote care via Oticon companion app, if available via your provider
|IP 68 rating (fully waterproof) for weatherproof/durability Health data tracking via myPhonak app
Oticon vs Phonak Hearing Aids Takeaway
All hearing aids have trial periods, and your provider will outline the terms of the trial period in your purchase agreement. If you are not satisfied with the hearing aids, you may decide to try a different technology level or switch to a new brand entirely. It can be comforting to know you have options.
Still, it is also important to remember that there is a significant adjustment period with hearing aids and that you should set your expectations accordingly. Your brain needs some time to acclimate to the new sound, and you may need a few appointments early on to make adjustments based on your feedback for your audiologist. There will absolutely be situations that remain difficult, even with the best-fit hearing aids.
Remember that even people with normal hearing struggle to hear in noisy restaurants, when spoken to from another room, or if they are particularly distracted. Talk with your friends and family about ways they can support you as communication partners. You will find greater success with hearing aids when you wear them during all waking hours and when you approach the process with patience and humility.
Erin Edwards received her Doctor of Audiology degree from Towson University in 2015 and her Ph.D. in Education and Leadership from Pacific University in 2022. She has worked with patients of all ages in a variety of settings and has a specific interest in cochlear implants, the relationship of hearing loss and dementia, and interdisciplinary healthcare.