Bluetooth Hearing Aids
Bluetooth hearing aids allow you to wirelessly connect to Bluetooth-enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets and TVs to turn your hearing aids into a pair of headphones.
The average price for a pair of Bluetooth hearing aids typically ranges from £1,500 to over £3,000. Many require you to purchase an additional assistive listening device for around £300 to £500.
Bluetooth hearing aids are available through private hearing aid specialists. They can be issued for free on the NHS but only on the discretion of your local audiology department.
What Are Bluetooth Hearing Aids?
Bluetooth technology allows two or more electronic devices to securely transfer data to each other through a wireless connection. Bluetooth is commonly incorporated into digital devices including mobile phones, music players, computers, tablets and TVs.
There are two different types of Bluetooth compatible hearing aids. The first type requires the use of an assistive listening device called a streamer, to connect your wireless hearing aids to Bluetooth-enabled technology
Streamers work by picking up the Bluetooth signal from your electronic device, and sending this signal to your hearing aids via an FM frequency or electromagnetic field. Streamers are typically worn around the neck, although smaller handheld versions are available.
The type of streamer you will require will depend on the brand of hearing aid you have. In most cases, brands will produce streamers which are only compatible with their hearing aids. For example, if you have a pair of wireless Phonak hearing aids you will need a Phonak streamer to connect with Bluetooth devices.
The other, newer type of Bluetooth hearing aid connects directly with Apple products including the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, to cut out the need for an intermediary streaming device. Hearing aids with this Bluetooth technology will be marketed as Made for iPhone™.
Bluetooth Hearing Aid Prices
Bluetooth hearing aids make hearing a little easier in a modern world that prominently uses digital devices to communicate. As such, they tend to be more expensive than more basic types of hearing aids due to their high level of technology.
The average price for a pair of wireless Bluetooth hearing aids is approximately £1,500 to £3,000, although specialist iPhone compatible hearing aids tend to cost more between £2,895 and £6,995.
Whilst some come with Made for iPhone™ technology, most Bluetooth hearing aids will require you to purchase a streamer at an additional cost to access the wireless technology. Streamers typically cost between £200 and £500, and can be purchased from your hearing aid specialist at the same time as your hearing aids.
Clinic Compare has extensively reviewed opinion from hearing aid wearers and hearing specialists to provide you with a summary of some of the best Bluetooth hearing aids. These come in a range of fitting styles including larger behind-the-ear (BTE) and receiver in-the-ear (RITE) models, as well as more miniature types such as ones that sit in-the-canal (ITC).
The table below shows the average price for a pair of wireless Bluetooth hearing aids, and whether or not they require a streamer to function.
|Model||Brand||Streamer Required||Average Price|
Are Bluetooth Hearing Aids Right For Me?
Bluetooth hearing aids are appropriate for all types of hearing loss from mild to severe, and are most suited to individuals who are frequent users of Bluetooth-enabled devices including smartphones, tablets, music players and TVs.
Using Bluetooth technology will enable your hearing aids to become much more integrated into your everyday life by making it easier to listen to music, watch TV and talk on the phone. If you do not use these devices we would not recommend that you purchase Bluetooth hearing aids as they will not compliment your lifestyle, and so you will not get the most out of your hearing aids.
Hearing aids that come with Bluetooth wireless connectivity also tend to be more expensive than standard hearing aids due to the greater sophistication of their technology.
Buying Bluetooth hearing aids when you do not need the technology can therefore be a costly investment.
What Are The Benefits Of Bluetooth Hearing Aids?
Despite Bluetooth hearing aids often requiring you to carry an additional streamer to access devices such as your smartphone, Bluetooth hearing aids do provide lots of benefits to the wearer. We have listed the main four below:
- Easier Control Of Volume: Sound volume can be adjusted remotely either via Bluetooth-enabled devices such as your smartphone, or through the use of your streamer meaning you have complete control at your fingertips. This is useful for those with hearing aids that are so small they cannot accommodate any external controls that allow you to change the volume.
- Personalised Listening Experience: Bluetooth hearing aids enable you to stream sound to one or both hearing aids. When on the phone, you can stream sound into only one hearing aid so that you can continue to hear sounds around you through the other. Whilst listening to music, you can stream sound into both hearing aids so that they act like a pair of headphones. This provides a more natural listening experience for the wearer.
- Localisation: Bluetooth hearing aids work together through binaural hearing technology. Traditional hearing aids often process sound independently which can cause the wearer difficulty when identifying the location of the sound. Wireless Bluetooth hearing aids instead mimic the natural localisation of our two ears by working together, making it easier to determine the source of a sound.
- Connect To Multiple Devices: Streamers can often be paired with multiple Bluetooth devices at once, making it easy to switch between the sounds being streamed to your hearing aids. You can be listening to music on your computer while still being connected to your smartphone. Your streamer can pause the audio from your computer and stream the sound from your phone when you receive a call.
How Can I Get Bluetooth Hearing Aids?
Bluetooth hearing aids are available to purchase privately from hearing aid specialists. Following a hearing test, your audiologist will discuss the range of hearing aids available to you and whether you will require Bluetooth, wireless technology.
If you regularly use Bluetooth-enabled devices including smartphones, tablets and computers, your hearing care specialist may recommend a pair of wireless hearing aids, and if necessary, a compatible streamer.
Many private hearing specialists allow you to trial hearing aids for up to 14 days before you buy them. This provides a good opportunity for you to understand how Bluetooth technology works and to determine whether it is right for your lifestyle.
Can I Get Bluetooth Hearing Aids On The NHS?
Bluetooth compatible hearing aids are available through the NHS, however it is down to your local NHS trust to decide whether to issue them to patients or not. If you want Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids from a NHS trust that does not supply them, you will have to contact your local trust and explain your need for them.
Alternatively, if you already have hearing aids on the NHS and want to benefit from wireless Bluetooth technology, you will need to purchase a separate streamer. The cost of streamers are not covered by the NHS, and so you will need to pay for the device yourself.
Streamers typically cost between £200 and £500 and can be purchased online, or from a hearing specialist. You must make sure however, that the streamer you purchase is compatible with your hearing aids. Streamers provide a communication link between the wireless technology in your hearing aids and external Bluetooth devices.
It is important to understand that there is much less choice with the type of hearing aid you will be offered through the NHS, which will most likely to be a behind-the-ear (BTE) model. Buying your hearing aid privately will give you access to a greater number of hearing aid styles and ones which are more technically advanced, including those which come with Bluetooth, wireless connectivity.