Phonak is a hearing aid brand from Sonova. This Swiss hearing aid manufacturer creates hearing aid technology and solutions, including cochlear implants and hearing aid compatible wireless accessories and devices.
Founded in 1947, Phonak has introduced several revolutionary technologies throughout its history, including multi-directional microphones, frequency compression, and the world’s first “invisible hearing aid,” the Phonak Lyric.
Along with Oticon, Widex, Signia, ReSound, and Starkey hearing aids, Phonak is considered part of the “Big Six” hearing aid manufacturers, six companies collectively responsible for the vast majority of global hearing aid sales. As of 2019, Phonak had 31 percent of the worldwide hearing aid market share, making it the world’s largest hearing aid brand.
But while Phonak may be the biggest, is it also the best hearing aid provider? In this Phonak hearing aids review, we’ll go over factors such as Phonak models, cost, how many hours of power you can expect, user ratings, and more so that you can come to the decision that’s right for you.
Who is Phonak For? Levels of Hearing Loss
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), 28.8 million adults in the U.S. could benefit from using hearing aids. Yet within this broader category, many different types and levels range from mild to severe hearing loss.
For example, hearing loss can be caused by damage to the inner ear, hearing nerve, or eardrum, or even a combination of multiple causes.
The levels of hearing loss, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), include:
- Mild hearing loss: One-on-one conversations are generally easy to follow, but speech with background noise and softer sounds may be hard to hear.
- Moderate hearing loss: Speech at a normal level is difficult to follow, especially in noisy environments.
- Severe hearing loss: Speech at a normal level is impossible to hear, but loud speech and sounds can be heard.
- Profound hearing loss: Only the loudest sounds (above 90–100 decibels) can be heard.
Depending on your level of hearing loss, you might wonder: “Is Phonak right for me?” According to the Phonak website, the good news is that the company’s products “can help support any degree of hearing loss,” from mild to profound. They can also point you to the best hearing care specialist for you. Next, we’ll discuss the various Phonak hearing aid models for different types of users.
Latest Phonak Hearing Aid Models
One benefit of large hearing aid providers like Phonak is that they offer a wide range of products and a variety of styles for every hearing loss—from the kid-friendly Phonak Sky Marvel to the sleek, discreet, metallic Phonak Virto M-Titanium Marvel.
This section will focus on two major Phonak hearing aid product lines: Phonak Paradise and Phonak Virto.
The Phonak Paradise product line incorporates a wide variety of high-tech features, including:
Phonak hearing aids batteries
The Phonak Paradise is available both with disposable and rechargeable hearing aid batteries. According to Phonak, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery should last for a full 16-hour day (recharging at night), including 8 hours of standard listening, 4 hours of Bluetooth audio streaming, and 4 hours of TV audio streaming.
Also, note that the Phonak Paradise product line encompasses two different Phonak families: Phonak Naida Paradise and Phonak Audeo Paradise. So what’s the difference between Phonak Naida and Phonak Audeo? The most apparent distinction is the two devices’ types:
- Phonak Naida is a BTE (behind-the-ear) hearing aid: the body of the device sits behind the ear and contains the microphone, amplifier, and receiver.
- Phonak Audeo is an RIC (receiver-in-canal) hearing aid: the device’s receiver sits inside the ear canal, instead of in the body behind the ear.
The Phonak Virto is a smaller, more compact, custom hearing aid known as an ITE (in-the-ear) hearing aid. ITE hearing aids are designed to fit snugly and discreetly inside your ear canal. The Virto product line is divided into three products:
- Virto V: Virto V devices include features such as reducing feedback and environmental noise, restoring high-frequency sounds, tinnitus management, and enhanced one-on-one quiet conversations. Advanced Virto V models also include features for speech in loud environments, music listening, environments with echoes and reverberation, creating a more natural sound.
- Virto B: Virto B devices are much like Virto V, but also includes a cutting-edge technology “biometric calibration” feature to better detect the source of the natural sound. According to Phonak, Virto B devices identify more than 1,600 biometric data points in order to uniquely calibrate the user’s settings.
- Virto Marvel: Virto Marvel devices use Phonak’s Marvel technology, which combines features such as AutoSense (dynamically adapting to different listening situations), real-time bidirectional audio streaming for improved sound quality, Bluetooth connectivity, rechargeable batteries, long battery life, and audio streaming from microphones, TVs, and stereos.
What Do Phonak Hearing Aids Cost?
Now that we’ve discussed the various Phonak hearing aid models, how much do Phonak hearing aids cost?
There’s no “one size fits all” answer here: different healthcare providers set their prices for Phonak hearing aids based on which products and services they offer. Unfortunately, this means that there’s no information on Phonak hearing aid prices on the manufacturer website itself, other than some general advice to “consult your hearing healthcare provider for specifics.”
However, we can get a rough idea of the cost of Phonak hearing aids from the website of the hearing aid provider Ohana Hearing Care in Honolulu. Below are the retail prices of select models, ranging from the basic hearing aid to a more advanced one:
|Latest Phonak Hearing Aid Models
|Virto B90 Titanium
|Virto B70 Titanium
Of course, prices may vary depending on your location and choice of hearing provider, including any discounts or additional services they offer. Also, note that these prices are per device, not per pair, as each individual might have a different type of hearing need for each ear hearing aid.
Phonak Hearing Aid Accessories
In addition to the hearing aids themselves, Phonak also sells many ear hearing aid accessories that can help complement your listening experience.
Phonak ComPilot Air
The ComPilot Air is a small, portable accessory device for taking advantage of your hearing aids’ Bluetooth connectivity. The device attaches to your clothing with a small clip and acts as an intermediary between the audio source and your Phonak hearing aids.
You can connect the ComPilot Air accessory to sources including smartphones, tablets, TVs, MP3 players, remote microphones, computers, and laptops—anything that supports Bluetooth. The ComPilot Air can also be used as a remote control for these devices and to control the settings of your hearing aids in different listening situations.
The Roger wireless technology is a feature invented by Phonak to improve hearing aid performance in more challenging environments, e.g., high background noise level, group conversations, or a speaker far away from the listener.
Roger remote microphones are small, circular, flat accessory devices that help reduce background noise while transmitting the speaker’s voice directly into the listener’s hearing aids. RogerDirect listening technology is available for select Phonak models in both the Paradise and the Virto product lines.
Phonak Hearing Aid FAQ
What does the Phonak app do?
The myPhonak mobile app can help supplement your use of any Phonak hearing aid with Bluetooth connectivity through mobile phones. The myPhonak app functionality includes:
- Device status information, battery charge, and usage statistics
- Device configuration and settings
- Volume control and adjustment
- Predefined audio settings and programs for different listening situations
- Dynamic noise cancellation with automatic adjustments
- Hearing aid “diary” to record your experience with the device
- Remote video support from your hearing care professional, including real-time testing and hearing aid adjustment remotely
What is the best Phonak hearing aid?
Of course, the “best” Phonak hearing aid will depend on your unique situation. Consider questions such as:
- What is my budget? Remember that hearing aids have an average lifespan of 3 to 7 years, so you’ll likely need to purchase multiple devices over time.
- What is the nature of my hearing loss? Only some Phonak products are able to support people with profound hearing loss.
- Which features are important to me? In which situations will you likely be using your hearing aids—quiet conversations, streaming audio, noisy restaurants? Do you need hearing aids with Bluetooth connectivity or rechargeable batteries? Do you have an active lifestyle that may require water-resistant hearing aids?