Best Invisible Hearing Aids 2023 UK
This post highlights the best invisible hearing aids available in the UK in 2023. To skip the introduction and jump straight to recommendation click here
What is an invisible hearing aid?
An invisible hearing aid is a type of hearing aid that is designed to be hidden or concealed in the ear canal, making it less visible than traditional hearing aids. Invisible hearing aids come on two styles:
CIC – Completely in canal – A CIC hearing aid is usually custom made for the individual. An impression is taken of the ear by a hearing professional and the chosen manufacturer designs and builds a unique device to fit your individual ear(s). CIC hearing aids use a Zinc-Air Battery size 10 (yellow sticker). The battery will last 3-4 days.
The hearing aid can have push button which can be used as a programme change or volume control, in some models. The wire you can see extending from the front (faceplate) of the hearing aid is a plastic cord. This is an extraction cord so you can remove the aid from the ear. Bluetooth wireless CIC hearing aids may be available from certain manufacturers and will be discussed in the relevant product review.
IIC – Invisible in canal – Like the CIC, an IIC is a custom made hearing aid and also takes a size 10 battery. The difference with a CIC is that they remove the push button and any technology that might allow communication to the other hearing aid or connected devices (e,g. remote control). By removing technology manufacturers are able to make the hearing device smaller – this means the hearing can sit deeper in the ear and therefore be more ‘invisible’. The faceplate of the hearing aid is often black compared to the skin colour with the CIC. This is because since it sits deeper in the ear canal a black faceplate is more discrete as it blends into the shadow the ear canal creates.
Who are invisible hearing aids suitable for?
Invisible hearing aids are advertised extensively in the UK by all the largest hearing aid provides (Specsavers, Boots, Hidden Hearing and Amplifon) – Adverts for invisible hearing aids generate enquires.
On social media you may often see adverts for invisible hearing aids for as little as £20. You will notice these are usually called hearing amplifiers or personal sound amplifying products (PSAPs) , not hearing aids. These amplifiers are not custom made so usually do not fit your ear unique ear correctly. Hearing aids should be professionally fitted and programmed to the users prescription. Hearing amplifiers simply make things louder, regardless of the frequency or volume.
Invisible hearing aids are great for people with short hair or with hairstyles where the ears are visible and who are looking for an ‘invisible’ solution. If custom made for the ear, invisible hearing aids should be comfortable to wear and cause little irritation. Invisible hearing aids should be secure in the ear, and therefore reduce the chance of the device falling out and being lost.
Sound Hearing we get many enquiries requesting an invisible hearing aid. Understandably many people would prefer their hearing solution to be invisible. However they are not always the best hearing solution:
Invisible hearing aids for seniors – IIC and CIC hearing aids use the smallest battery (size 10) which will need changing every 4 to 5 days. Though batteries are not expensive, they can be fiddly if your dexterity or eyesight is diminished.
Rechargeable invisible hearing aids – currently unavailable, at present the rechargeable battery is to big to fit in a invisible hearing aid.
Invisible Hearing aid for high-frequency hearing loss – Here you may get different opinions depending on who you talk to. These audiograms show the most common type of age-related hearing loss.
On the left we have a mild high frequency hearing, loss In the middle, a moderate high frequency hearing loss and the right shows a severe high frequency hearing loss. The left hand side of the graph shows low frequency and as we move to the right the frequency increases. Decibels is the left hand axis, the lower the result the worse your hearing at that frequency. Normal hearing is 0db to 20db, mild 20db to 40db, moderate 40db to 70db, severe and profound hearing loss below 70db.
In all these typical examples of a high frequency hearing loss the patient has normal or a mild hearing up to 1000HZ (1KHZ). This means the patient hears low frequency (bass) as well as a normal hearing and requires no amplification at these frequencies. With a CIC or IIC hearing aid you are blocking the ear canal and therefore reducing the low frequency sounds the user can hear without amplification from entering the ear canal.
With high frequency hearing losses where the patient also has normal low frequency hearing the user may also report Occlusion. Occlusion is a phenomenon that occurs when a person wearing a hearing aid perceives their own voice as sounding “muffled” or “echo-like.” This is caused by the hearing aid blocking the sound waves the user generates by talking from traveling out through the ear canal, causing it to be reflected back into the ear.
Both these problems can be reduced by placing a vent in the hearing aid so sound waves can travel through the ear canal. Placing the device as deep as possible in the ear canal will also help. The results are mixed but most audiologists will try and steer a customer towards a receiver in the canal (RIC) hearing aid where the ear canal can be left open. For more information on RICs please click here . For more information on the different styles of hearing aids please click here.
Bluetooth wireless invisible hearing aid – Technically a Bluetooth wireless CIC hearing aid has been available for over a year – The Resound Quattro CIC. However in reality Resound have struggled to make this CIC small enough to justify being called a CIC. Starkey also have a wireless CIC – the Starkey Evolv AI CIC. This hearing aid is available in the US, but not the UK or Europe at time of writing.
Best Invisible Hearing Aids 2023 UK
Oticon Own IIC Hearing Aids
The Oticon Own range of invisible hearing aids. If you are looking for a manufacturer who is able to build a consistently small hearing aid then Sound Hearing recommend Oticon. Oticon Own are all custom made in the UK.
Oticon Own hearing aids are fully automictic – the hearing aid will adjust its settings automictically depending on the listening environment.
Oticon’s BrainHearing™ technology processes the full sound-scene ensuring the brain receives all the data it needs to work optimally.
Oticon Own is trained with 12 million real-life sound scenes enabling it to recognise and handle sounds with precision.
Oticon Own is available in 5 technology levels, Own 5, Own 4, Own 3, Own 2 and the top of the range Own 1.
Oticon Own is available in a range of colours, the most common is shown in the photo. The CIC version can have a push button for programme changing.
Oticon Own hearing aids are available with a 5 year warranty. This is recommended for all custom hearing aids. The IIC model has filters protecting the speaker and the microphone – good dexterity and eyesight is required to change these.
For more information on Oticon Own and pricing please click here.
Oticon’s product page for Own can be found here.
Phonak Virto Paradise Titanium Hearing Aids
Phonak Virto Paradise Titanium invisible hearing aids.
Released in 2022 Phonak Virto Paradise is available in 2 technology levels: P70 and P90, the top of the range model.
The shell of these hearing aids is made from Titanium. Titanium is 15 times stronger than hard acrylic. Titanium is also thinner than hard acrylic which makes it possible to manufacturer a thinner shell.
Phonak will try and make the hearing aid as small as possible for the user. The circumference and depth of the ear canal will depend whether the hearing aid is made IIC or CIC size. All Phonak Titanium hearing aids are available with a push button for programme change.
Phonak Paradise runs on the PRISM (Processing Real-time Intelligent Sound Management) chip.
The chip runs the new AutoSense 4.0 software. AutoSense constantly scans the listening environment and fine tunes the audio with up to 200 adjustments for an optimised listening experience.
Phonak Virto Paradise Titanium is only available in premium technology level P70 and P90.
All titanium hearing aids come with a 5 year manufacturers warranty. The speaker has a filter which requires a reasonable level of dexterity to change.
For more information on Phonak Virto Paradise Titanium please click here.
Phonak’s product page for Paradise Titanium can be found here.
Starkey Evolv AI CIC Hearing Aids
Starkey Evolv AI CIC – Released in 2022 the Starkey’s Evolv platform includes a Wireless CIC and an non wireless IIC. Unfortunately the wireless CIC is not yet available in the UK until early 2023. The extraction cord you can see on the picture double us as an ariel which will stream the data to and from the hearing aid to your phone or other connected Bluetooth device.
The device is already available in the US can be made small enough to be considered a genuine CIC.
The Evolv platform integrates Hearing Performance, Healthable technology, Information Assistance. It is estimated Evolv is able to make up to 55 million automictic adjustments and hour ensuring the best possible hearing in challenging listening environments.
The Starkey Evolv CIC has made for iPhone (Mfi) technology allowing 2 way audio. The Evolv CIC will also pair and stream 2-Way to phones running the newest Android software. The wireless Evolv CIC will also connect to the Starkey Thrive app. Once paired the user will be able to adjust the volume, change programmes and fine tune their hearing aids.
Starkey has released Evolv in 5 technology levels: Premium 2400, Advanced 2000, Select 1600, Basic 1200 and Entry 1000. The Evolv CIC and IIC use a size 10 battery (small) and has a filter protecting the receiver (speaker).
All Starkey Evolv products are available with a 5 year manufacturer warranty – highly recommended for CIC and IIC devices.
For more information on the Starkey Evolv AI and prices please click here.
Starkey’s product page for Evolv AI can be found here.
Bernafon Alpha IIC Hearing Aids
Bernafon Alpha IIC – Bernafon is a Swiss hearing aid manufacturer who is own by the William Demant Group that also own Oticon. Bernafon have a smaller footprint compared to Oticon which might explain where their aids are priced to be less expensive. However, the hearing aids are manufactured in the same factory using the same components. The difference is the software.
Bernafon’s Alpha software uses channel free processing which enables the hearing aid to detect, analyse sound and then process the signal in real time.
Bernafon Alpha is available in a range of colours, the most common is shown in the photo. The CIC version can have a push button for programme changing.
Bernafon Alpha is available in 5 technology levels Alpha 1, Alpha 3, Alpha 5, Alpha 7 and Alpha 9.
Bernafon Alpha hearing aids are available with a 5 year warranty. This is recommended for all custom hearing aids. The IIC model has filters protecting the speaker and the microphone – good dexterity and eyesight is required to change these.
For more information on the Bernafon Alpha IIC please click here
Bernafon’s product page for Alpha can be found here