Best Invisible Hearing Aids 2023 UK
If you are looking for the best hearing aids, you might be wondering about the best invisible hearing aids, too! We cover all the details across different invisible hearing aid styles, the best hearing aids for your hearing loss- severe or mild to moderate hearing loss. Hearing aid users can get the most out of their hearing aids with our guide to finding the best invisible hearing aids on the UK market.
This post highlights the best invisible hearing aids available in the UK in 2023. To skip the introduction and jump straight to recommendations, click here!
What Is An Invisible Hearing Aid?
An invisible hearing aid is designed to be hidden behind the ear or concealed in the ear canal, making it less visible than traditional hearing aids. Invisible hearing aid style of aids come in two types:
CIC – Completely In the Canal Hearing Aids
CIC – Completely in the canal – A CIC hearing aid is usually custom-made for the individual. A hearing professional takes an impression of the ear, and the chosen manufacturer designs and builds a unique device to fit your ear(s). CIC hearing aids use a Zinc-Air Battery size 10 (yellow sticker). The battery will last 3-4 days.
In some models, the hearing aid can have a push button for a program change or volume control. The wire you can see extending from the front (faceplate) of the hearing aid is a plastic cord. This is an extraction cord to remove the hearing aid devices 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
IIC – Invisible in the canal – Like the CIC, an IIC is a custom-made hearing aid and also takes a size ten 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 can make the hearing device smaller, meaning the hearing can sit more profoundly 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 most prominent brands and providers (Specsavers, Boots, Hidden Hearing and Amplifon). Adverts for invisible hearing aids generate many enquiries. It’s much the same as ordinary behind-the-ear BTE hearing aids, too. This style or type of hearing aid is vital as many people prefer the discretion that invisible hearing aids offer!
On social media, you may often see adverts for invisible hearing aids for as little as £20. These are usually called hearing amplifiers or personal sound amplifying products (PSAPs), not hearing aids. These amplifiers are not custom-made, so they typically do not correctly fit your ear’s unique ear. Hearing amplifiers make things louder, regardless of the frequency or volume. Hearing aids should be professionally supplied and programmed to the user’s prescription.
Invisible hearing aids are great for people with short hairstyles with visible ears and looking for an ‘invisible’ solution. Invisible hearing aids should be secure in the ear, reducing the chance of the device falling out and being lost. If custom-made for the ear, invisible hearing aids should be comfortable to wear and cause minor irritation.
Sound Hearing We get many enquiries requesting an invisible hearing aid. Understandably, many people would prefer their hearing solution to be hidden. However, they are not always the very best hearing aid 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 for modern hearing aids are not expensive, they can be fiddly if your dexterity or eyesight is diminished.
Rechargeable invisible rechargeable hearing aids: – currently unavailable; the rechargeable battery is too big to fit in an invisible hearing aid.
Invisible Hearing aid for high-frequency hearing loss – You may get different opinions depending on who you talk to. These audiograms show the most common type of age-related hearing loss.
Understanding Hearing Loss
On the left, we have mild high-frequency hearing loss. In the middle is moderate high-frequency hearing loss, and the right shows a severe one. The left-hand side of the graph shows low frequency, and as we move to the right, the frequency increases. Decibels are the left-hand axis; the lower the result, the worse your hearing is at that frequency. Normal hearing is 0db to 20db, mild 20db to 40db, mild to moderate hearing loss from 40db to 70db, severe and profound hearing loss below 70db.
The patient has normal or mild hearing up to 1000HZ (1KHZ) in all these typical examples of high-frequency hearing loss. This means the patient hears low frequency (bass) and normal hearing and requires no amplification at these frequencies. With a CIC or IIC hearing aid, you block the ear canal for noise reduction, reducing the low-frequency sounds the user can hear without amplifying background noise entering the ear canal.
The user may also report Occlusion with high-frequency hearing losses where the patient has average low-frequency hearing. Occlusion is a phenomenon that occurs when a person wearing a hearing aid perceives their voice as sounding “muffled” or “echo-like.” This is caused by the hearing aid blocking the sound waves the user generates by talking from travelling through the ear canal, driving it to be reflected into the ear.
Both these problems can be reduced by placing a vent in the hearing aid so that sound waves can travel through the ear canal. Putting the device as deep as possible in the ear canal will also help. The results of prescription hearing aids 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, Resound has struggled to make this CIC small enough to justify being called a CIC. Starkey also has a wireless CIC – the Starkey Evolv AI CIC. This hearing aid is available in the US but not the UK or Europe at the time of writing.
Now, let’s dive into the best invisible hearing aids on the UK market in 2023!
Best Invisible Hearing Aids 2023 UK
Oticon Own IIC Hearing Aids
The Oticon Own a range of invisible hearing aids. All hearing aid models from Oticon Own are custom-made in the UK. If you want a manufacturer to build a consistently small hearing aid, then Sound Hearing recommends Oticon.
Oticon’s invisible hearing aids are fully automated – the hearing aid will adjust its settings automatically depending on the hearing aid settings and listening environment.
Oticon’s BrainHearing™ technology processes the entire natural 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 precisely.
Oticon Own is available in 5 technology levels, Own 5, Own 4, Own 3, Own two and the top of the top-of-the-range Own 1.
Oticon Own is available in various colours; the most common is shown in the photo. The CIC version can have a push button for programme change.
The Oticon Own hearing aid is available with a five-year warranty. This is recommended for most hearing aids and all custom hearing aids. The IIC model has filters protecting the speaker and the microphone – good dexterity and eyesight are 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
The shell of these new hearing aids is made from Titanium. Titanium is 15 times stronger than hard acrylic. Titanium is also thinner than hard acrylic, making manufacturing a more delicate shell possible.
Phonak will try and make the hearing aid as small as possible for the user. The ear canal’s circumference and depth will depend on whether the hearing aid is of 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 superior technology levels – P70 and P90.
All titanium hearing aids come with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty. The speaker has a filter which requires a reasonable level of skill 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, Starkey’s Evolv platform includes a Wireless CIC and a non-wireless IIC. Unfortunately, the wireless CIC is unavailable in the UK until early 2023. The extraction cord in the picture doubles up as an ariel, streaming the data to and from the hearing aid to your phone or other connected Bluetooth device.
The device is already available in the US and can be made small enough to be considered a genuine CIC.
The Evolv platform integrates Hearing Performance, Healthable technology, and Information Assistance. Evolve can make up to 55 million automictic adjustments an hour, ensuring the best possible hearing in challenging listening environments.
The Starkey Evolv CIC has been made for iPhone (MFI), allowing two-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, users can adjust the volume, change programs and fine-tune their digital 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 ten battery (small) and have a filter protecting the receiver (speaker).
All Starkey Evolv products have a 5-year manufacturer warranty – highly recommended for CIC and IIC devices.
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 owned by the William Demant Group that also owns Oticon. Bernafon has a smaller footprint compared to Oticon, which might explain why 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, enabling the hearing aid to detect, analyse sound, and then process the signal in real-time.
Bernafon Alpha is available in various colours; the most common is shown in the photo. The CIC version can have a push button for programme change.
Bernafon Alpha is available in 5 technology levels: Alpha 1, Alpha 3, Alpha 5, Alpha 7, and 9.
Bernafon Alpha hearing aids are available with a five-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 are 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.
The Price Comparison
When considering purchasing an invisible hearing aid, it is essential to remember that pricing can vary greatly depending on the specific product and where you buy it from. Comparing prices across different retailers and manufacturers is always recommended to ensure you get the best deal possible.
One factor that can affect the price of invisible hearing aids is the level of technology they offer. Higher-end devices with advanced features such as noise reduction, Bluetooth connectivity, and automatic adjustments can be more expensive than basic models.
Another factor that can influence pricing is the brand of the device. Some brands are more established and well-known in the hearing aid industry, which can result in higher prices. However, newer brands that offer similar features and quality may have more affordable pricing.
When comparing prices, it is also essential to factor in additional costs such as fitting and programming fees, maintenance costs, and any potential warranties or insurance.
Overall, the prices of invisible hearing aids can range from a few hundred to several thousand pounds. To get the best value for your money, it is recommended to research different products, compare prices from other retailers and manufacturers, and consult with a hearing care professional to ensure that you are selecting a device that meets your specific needs and budget.