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How to choose the best hearing aid for you

Last update on Apr, 30, 2024

As you begin the process of obtaining hearing aids, you’re likely going to encounter an entirely new vocabulary of hearing health terms. As you discuss your care, your hearing care provider might be describing new and unfamiliar acronyms, technology, styles of hearing aids and payment options. It can make the process of obtaining a hearing aid daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Below, you’ll find a thorough guide to help you make an informed decision as to what type of hearing aid best suits your needs and supports your hearing health.

Dr. Tom Tedeschi

Reviewed by

Dr. Thomas Tedeschi, Au.D.

Chief Audiology Officer, Miracle-Ear

What is a hearing aid?

Hearing aids are powerful electronic devices, worn in or on the ears, that amplify and process sound. Hearing aids support an individual’s ability to listen, communicate and engage more meaningfully in daily activities.

Why would you need a hearing aid?

If you’ve ever wondered “when do you need hearing aids?”, the answer is “the sooner, the better.” If you’re experiencing hearing loss, hearing aids are one of the best solutions for supplementing your ability to hear and communicate and getting them earlier can help support your hearing for many years to come.

When it comes to looking for signs of hearing loss, many people first notice it when they start missing daily sounds or strain to hear what others are saying. Hearing loss can make social and daily life more difficult, and it can also have repercussions for your mental and physical health.

Wearing a hearing aid, especially one that’s programmed to your unique hearing loss, can assist you hear sounds and conversations more easily and engage more meaningfully with your friends and loved ones.

All hearing aids include three basic components: a microphone, an amplifier and a speaker. First, the microphone picks up sounds from your environment and converts them into a digital signal. The amplifier then increases the power and processes the digital signal and sends it into your ear through the speaker. The amplification of sound helps the surviving hair cells in the inner ear detect the sounds which is then transported to the brain via the auditory nerve for processing.
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Miracle-EarBLISS™ Technology

For over 75 years, Miracle-Ear® has connected loved ones through better hearing using the latest in hearing technology. We are thrilled to introduce Miracle-EarBLISS™, our newest and most innovative line of hearing aids.

What is a digital vs. analog hearing aid?

Not sure which might be right for you? Let’s examine the similarities and differences between digital and analog hearing aids:

Think of analog hearing aids as the base model for hearing aids. These hearing aids capture sounds, convert them into electrical signals and apply amplification. Amplification is applied to the incoming sounds however signal processing of the sound is limited in capabilities. This type of sound processing and speed of processing is actually the biggest difference when comparing analog vs. digital hearing aids.

Digital hearing aids have all of the same features as analog hearing aids, but they use more complex technology to convert sound into digital signals and produce an exact replication of the sounds in your environment. Using multiple programs, digital devices can prioritize sounds like conversations over unwanted background noise.

There’s also more flexibility with digital devices because they can be programmed to your specific hearing loss needs. Because of this technology and personalization, digital has become the preferred choice for many people deciding between analog vs. digital hearing aids.

What are the different styles of hearing aids?

There are five  main styles of hearing aids:

These names refer to how the hearing aid is positioned on or in the ear. Each style comes with its own benefits and considerations that need to be made when addressing your hearing loss needs. 

An in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid sits in the entire bowl-shaped area of the outer ear or in the ear canal. CIC, ITC or ITE hearing aids can be worn by people with a wide range of hearing loss, from mild to severe, depending on the model. Below are some ITC/ ITE hearing aid pros and cons— your hearing care professional will explain which of these apply to models you are considering:


  • Small and discreet
  • Custom molded to fit  your ears
  • One-piece design may be easier for some to handle
  • Include directional microphones


  •  Susceptible to earwax buildup and moisture

There are two types of ITC/ITE hearing aids: Completely-in-canal and in-the-canal. Learn more about each below.

Completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids are the smallest and most discreet hearing aid style and are molded to fit inside the ear canal. This style is most recommended for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. CICs are less likely to pick up wind noise and offer good sound quality due to their position in the ear.

However, they have a shorter battery life than other hearing aid models and may not include as many specialized features, like rechargeability. Because of their small size, they might be difficult to handle for those with certain dexterity challenges.

As the name suggests, in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids fit partly in the ear canal. ITC hearing aids are recommended for mild to moderate hearing loss. When considering ITC hearing aids pros and cons, it’s good to know that they’re relatively discreet, can be easier to handle and have longer battery life than CIC styles. But you should also take into account that not everyone finds ITCs comfortable—some feel as though these models block their ears or cause the occlusion effect.

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids sit behind or on top of the outer ear with tubing that directs the sound into the ear canal through domes or custom-fitted ear molds. BTE hearing aids can be useful for people of any age and almost any degree or type of hearing loss, but their extra power makes them a particularly good choice for people with more severe hearing loss. Below are the pros and cons of BTE hearing aids.


  • Suitable for all types of hearing loss, including profound hearing loss,
  • Less susceptible to moisture damage from inside the ear,
  • Pieces like the tubing and earmold can be replaced separately,
  • Contain powerful technology features,
  • Include directional microphones,
  • Capable of more amplification than other styles,
  • Available with rechargeable batteries.


  • More visible than other models
  • May pick up more wind noise
  • May be difficult for people who also wear glasses
  • May require more dexterity to properly place in and behind the ear

Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids function similarly to a BTE hearing aid but are generally smaller than traditional BTE hearing aids. The body of the device sits behind the ear and connects to a receiver in the ear canal. However, rather than a tube connecting the two pieces, a tiny wire runs between the body of the hearing aid and the receiver which sits in the ear canal. RIC hearing aids are appropriate for people with mild to moderately severe type hearing loss. Below are some RIC hearing aid pros and cons:


  • Most discreet type of over-the-ear hearing aid
  • Often available with rechargeable batteries
  • Offer telecoil options
  • Likely to include advanced technology, such as voice recognition and directional microphones
  • Can be connected via Bluetooth to devices like your phone or TV


  • Small parts can be difficult for some with dexterity challenges
  • Susceptible to wax or moisture in the ear
  • May be more difficult to wear with glasses

What to consider when buying a hearing aid

As you explore your hearing aid options, consider your lifestyle and what you need from your hearing aids. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What kind of noise environments are you in daily?
  • What sounds are you currently missing?
  • Are you highly, moderately or less active?
  • Do you experience additional hearing conditions, such as tinnitus?
  • Do you frequently watch TV or make phone calls?

Understanding your needs can help you determine which hearing aid features will help you maintain the lifestyle you want—just with better hearing.

What features should I look for in a hearing aid?

Hearing aid technology has significantly advanced in recent years, and there are now many features to consider when shopping for hearing aids, including:

Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology that connects two devices without a physical link like a cord. Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids give you the ability to send phone calls, music or TV directly to your hearing aids. This feature is a major leap forward in convenience and sound quality, making conversations, music and other media easier to understand.

Learn more about Bluetooth hearing aid connections and find instructions for pairing hearing aids with iPhones® via Bluetooth.

While some hearing aids still have disposable zinc-air batteries, rechargeable hearing aids have become more common for their convenience. Rechargeable hearing aids don't require you to change batteries every time the power gets low. Instead, a single charge can deliver up to 40+ hours of use with the latest hearing aid technology.

Hearing aid chargers are small and portable, so you can take them with you wherever you go. Rechargeable hearing aids automatically begin charging when placed in their charger; just put them in place at the end of your day and they’ll be fully charged by the morning. You’ll never have to worry about dead hearing devices again.

Tinnitus is the perception of sounds that don’t have an external source. In most cases, it sounds like ringing, roaring, humming or buzzing. It’s a common condition with no real cure, but hearing aids can help treat your symptoms.

The best hearing aids for tinnitus offer sound therapy, a tinnitus treatment that is programmed directly into the devices. These therapies are designed to distract you and reduce the perception of tinnitus, with the goal of training your brain to ignore any unwanted sounds in your ears. With the help of a hearing care professional (HCP), you can determine whether a tinnitus-masking device is best for you.

Like most electronics, hearing aids work best when they are kept clean and dry. However, given their position in or on the ear, some hearing aids are designed to be water resistant and able to withstand the natural sweat and moisture that can develop in the ears. However, hearing aids are not 100% waterproof. Consider looking for more waterproof/resistant hearing aids if:

  • You perspire heavily and are more likely to develop excessive sweat around your face and ears
  • You live in humid/wet environments
  • You are very physically active or enjoy water-based hobbies such as boating, fishing or swimming

Miracle-Ear now offers hearing aids that are waterproof with Miracle-EarBLISS™. This new line of hearing aids features HydroGuard, which features protective layers designed to shield your devices from sweat, rain, dirt and dust.

If you experience hearing loss, you may find it difficult to filter out background noise in busy environments to focus on individual sounds or voices. Known as the cocktail party effect, this may be an issue in places like crowded restaurants or windy outdoor spaces. All digital hearing aids now offer some degree of noise-canceling to minimize the amount of unnecessary background noise.

Directionality is a key component in hearing aids that allows users to differentiate speech from background noise. Directional microphones reduce sounds from various directions while concentrating and enhancing  sounds from an assigned direction. This makes them the most effective for noisy environments, so the user can focus on the sounds in front of them rather than be distracted by background noise around them.

Ever wondered, “Why do hearing aids whistle?” This high-pitched noise is known as feedback. Hearing aid feedback occurs when microphones pick up sounds emitted by the microphone and attempt to process it through the hearing aid, “feeding it back” into itself. This can cause crackling in your ear or a whistling, screeching noise.

Because digital hearing aids are able to analyze background noise and feedback sounds they can adjust the sound output of the hearing aids to help with feedback suppression

Telecoils, also known as t-coils, are a hearing aid feature designed to assist people with hearing loss in public spaces. T-coils are actually a small copper wire inside the hearing aid that picks up signals from what’s called a loop system. A loop system is an assistive hearing system installed in public places that have audio amplification, such as schools, theaters, lecture halls or airports.

Loop systems are also made with copper wiring and are designed to send signals to any active telecoils in hearing aids that people are wearing, amplifying any announcements or other audio in the room/building. Some telephones are also telecoil-compatible, making conversations automatically easier to hear.   

What Can I Do With Bluetooth Hearing Aids?

What Can I Do With Bluetooth Hearing Aids?

Learn about Bluetooth hearing aids! With Bluetooth® technology, your hearing aids become a gateway to a richer life.

Learn more

What hearing aids are best for age related hearing loss?

Age-related hearing loss is known as presbycusis. Because this type of hearing loss cannot be reversed, hearing aids are often recommended as a treatment option. But finding the best hearing aids is largely based on individuals’ specific needs and lifestyles. Find more tips for shopping for hearing aids for seniors here.

The best Miracle-Ear hearing aids for you

Miracle-Ear offers a wide range of hearing aids with technology that aligns with your lifestyle needs and supports your hearing loss. While the best hearing aid is the one that fits you, here’s a quick look at what Miracle-Ear hearing aids offer:

  • Hearing aids for active lifestyles: ITE hearing aids are molded to fit in your ears, meaning they stay securely in place through all activities.
  • Discreet hearing aids: Sitting behind the ear and using a thin electrical wire, RIC hearing aids are quite discreet, while custom-molded CIC and ITC  hearing aids sit inside the ear for the ultimate discreet look.
  • Hearing aids with most powerful sound amplification: BTE hearing aids offer the most powerful sound amplification.
  • Waterproof hearing aids: The Miracle-EarBLISS™ line features HydroGuard™, which helps shields against sweat, rain, dirt and dust.
  • Custom-fitted hearing aids: CIC/ITC/ ITE hearing aids impressions can be custom-made in 10 minutes to fit the exact contours of your ears.
  • Hearing aids with the longest battery life: BTE hearing aids are able to fit larger, longer-lasting batteries for longer battery life. Hearing aids with rechargeable batteries can last up to 24+ hours.
  • Hearing aids offering a more natural sound: RIC and custom hearing aids offer more natural sound, as the speaker rests closer to the ear canal.
  • Most advanced hearing aids: RIC hearing aids are packed with powerful technology such as directional microphones, noise reduction, voice recognition and more.

Learn more about hearing aid types and styles that might be the best hearing aid for you.

How much do hearing aids cost?

Hearing aid costs can be high, ranging from between $1,000 to $5,000. While those numbers might bring some sticker shock, the cost of these tiny pieces of technology is more reasonable as you break down the numbers. Things like hearing aid styles and the type of technology housed in them are the primary factors in determining hearing aid prices.

The cost can be a barrier for some, but ultimately, it’s important to get the hearing care you need, when you need it. Here are a few things to consider as you examine your budget and your needs:

Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids became available in the U.S. in 2022, following a final rule from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The intent was to create greater access to lower-cost hearing aids and enable people to purchase their devices from more locations.

However, OTC hearing aids typically don’t come with service and support from a licensed provider, while hearing aids from Miracle-Ear come with lifetime aftercare. Over-the-counter hearing aids are also not customized by a professional in the same way as prescription hearing aids. Finally, while OTC hearing aids can be immediately worn, they don’t require a full fitting or consultation, which can affect the user experience and efficacy of the devices.

Though OTC hearing aids may offer some support for those with mild to moderate hearing loss looking for a less costly option, they don’t offer the same customization, support and targeted hearing loss support that would be found in traditional prescription hearing aids.

While prescription hearing aids tend to cost more than some OTC hearing aids or other types of amplifiers, there are affordable hearing aid options. Miracle-EarEASY™ solutions offer affordable hearing aids in both RIC and BTE styles to meet your hearing loss needs and your budget.

Despite being priced lower than other hearing aids, these styles still include essential features, including directional microphones, feedback cancellation and speech and noise management. They’re also comfortable, lightweight and can be used all day long.

Hearing aids and insurance have a complicated relationship, and nearly everyone’s situation is unique. Hearing aid insurance coverage depends greatly on your insurance provider, the details of your personal plan and the state you live in. Still, it is relatively rare for insurance to cover the entire cost of hearing aids for adults.

To find answers to some of the big questions around hearing aids and insurance, review our conversation with Dr. Carrie Meyer, AuD. It’s also important to keep in mind that there can be upsides to purchasing hearing aids without insurance, including more freedom in selecting your hearing aids, less wait time when you need help, and opportunities for additional service and aftercare.

The Miracle-Ear Foundation’s Gift of Soundprogram provides free hearing aids to low-income individuals who otherwise cannot afford them. With the help of an HCP at their nearest Miracle-Ear center, Gift of SoundTM recipients are provided with hearing healthcare services personalized to their needs—free of charge. Additionally, all Gift of SoundTM recipients also receive the same 3-year warranty and free aftercare and check-ins offered by the Miracle-Ear Advantage.

The Foundation serves people of all ages with all degrees of hearing loss, who have significantly limited incomes. Review the Miracle-Ear Foundation eligibility requirements to find out if you could benefit from this care.

Miracle-EarENERGYGO™ hearing aids


Miracle-EarENERGYGO™ rechargeable hearing aids help you make the most of your on-the-go lifestyle. Our receiver-in-canal (RIC) style hearing aid provides superior sound quality with a discreet look.

How to buy hearing aids

There are a few steps involved in buying hearing aids. At Miracle-Ear, our hearing care professionals will guide you through the process, but this step-by-step guide will help you get familiar:

  • Step 1: Get a checkup. An exam by an HCP can determine what might be causing your hearing loss and provide insight into the degree of your hearing loss.
  • Step 2: Discuss your options with an HCP. They will be able to recommend the proper treatment for your unique hearing loss, including hearing aids.
  • Step 3: Ask about a trial period. Miracle-Ear offers you a risk-free hearing aid trial period of 30 days. After purchasing the devices, you can take them home, wear them in different environments and begin to see how they work for you. If you like them, they’re yours, but if you decide you need something different, you can exchange or return them for a full refund. 
  • Step 4: Ask about warranties. Most providers, including Miracle-Ear, offer a comprehensive warranty that covers repairs, parts and tune-ups on your devices. Ask your HCP about the length of your warranty and what it covers.
  • Step 5: Work with your HCP to fine-tune your hearing aids. While you wear your hearing aids for the trial period, keep track of your experience. At the end of the trial, discuss any issues or discomforts with your HCP, who will address your concerns and calibrate your devices as part of the lifetime aftercare that comes with a Miracle-Ear purchase.

Nearly everything can be purchased on the internet, so why not order hearing aids online? The greatest appeal of ordering hearing aids online is the time convenience it offers. However, the downside to this convenience is the lack of support and specificity for your hearing loss needs. Most hearing aids sold online are some form of OTC hearing aid.

Prescription type hearing aids require a prescription from a hearing health provider. While attending an appointment with an HCP might take time, these office visits mean you’re meeting with a licensed professional who can test your hearing to give you a complete and accurate understanding of your degree of hearing loss. They can also recommend the bet prescription or OTC hearing loss solutions to you rather than having to guess yourself

If you choose to buy your hearing aids from a hearing clinic like a Miracle-Ear Hearing Aid Center, you will meet one-on-one with a hearing care provider (HCP) for a hearing test and to discuss your hearing. In these visits you’ll get an expert opinion on your hearing loss and a plan for taking care of your hearing health over the long term. Schedule an appointment at your local Miracle-Ear now.  

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FAQs about selecting the best hearing aids

Hearing loss presents differently in everyone, depending on how you experience it and what may have caused your symptoms. Hearing loss types can be broken down into a few common categories.

  • High-frequency hearing loss: This type of hearing loss reduces the perception of high-pitched sounds, such as the voices of women and children, making them more difficult to hear.
  • Low-frequency hearing loss: Low-frequency hearing loss affects your ability to hear lower pitches, such as deeper voices.
  • Sensorineural: This type of hearing loss occurs due to problems with the inner ear or auditory nerve.
  • Conductive hearing loss: Conductive hearing loss occurs with malformations or blockages of the outer and middle ear that prevent sound from reaching the inner ear.
  • Mixed hearing loss: This type of hearing loss occurs when both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss occur together, meaning the inner and outer or middle ear are all sustaining damage. 

The degrees of hearing loss are categorized by how loud sounds need to be for you to hear them in decibels (dB). There are four main hearing loss degrees: Mild, moderate, severe and profound. As a baseline, the normal hearing loss range is -10 to 25 dB.

  • Mild hearing loss: Loss between 26 -40 db.
  • Moderate: Sounds loss between 41-55 dB.
  • Moderately-Severe hearing loss between 56 – 70 dB.
  • Severe: Sounds loss between 71-90 dB.
  • Profound: Sounds loss  greater than  91 dB+ .

Today there are hearing aid models that include various programs for individuals with tinnitus. These programs help mask or distract the individual from the ringing in your ears. 

While most hearing aids offer functions and technology to improve speech clarity, hearing aids with directional microphones might be more helpful if you struggle to hear conversations in busy or noisy environments. 

BTE hearing aids offer the most amplification and processing ability and often contain advanced capabilities that can be used to address severe hearing loss. 
Hearing aids types and styles

Need help with your hearing device?

If you’re having trouble with placing your hearing aids or removing them, don’t settle for a frustrating experience. Free lifetime aftercare is part of every Miracle-Ear purchase, and your hearing care professional (HCP) is there to help you with any challenges—no matter how small. Contact your neighborhood Miracle-Ear hearing center or stop by to get the help you need.

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