Do you need hearing aids?

Hearing loss is common.

Many people wear hearing aids.

 Have you noticed them?

Hearing aids have changed significantly over the last few years and continue to improve at a brisk rate.  Like phones, computers and tablets, hearing aids are mini-computers that are processing more and more information.  Every year or two, each of the larger manufacturers brings out new and improved products.

Manufacturers often release the higher end products first, then gradually release the mid-range and value products.  The advantage of this is that there are excellent hearing aids in every technology range, and they are continually improving.  What great news this is for people with hearing loss, because hearing aids are not only effective at helping you communicate understand conversation in your everyday life, they look good too!

These images show how hearing aids have changed as much as computers. In fact, each hearing aid is a tiny computer. In most cases, the hearing aids work together; they share information to provide an accurate, high-quality sound picture. Using the information collected from two microphones on each hearing aid, they use algorithms to maximise speech perception and reduce the disruptive effect of noise. In addition, most current hearing and are rechargeable and can be connected by Bluetooth to your phone – for streaming phone calls, podcasts or music directly to your hearing aids.

How will hearing aids help me?

Simply – Hearing aids provide audibility for the sounds that you have been missing

Hearing the sentence correctly the first time means that you will (most likely)* say goodbye to:

  • Auditory fatigue (less mental gymnastics to work out what was said).
  • Having to ask for repeats.
  • Embarrassment from getting something wrong.

After wearing hearing aids for a while, you will notice you are more relaxed and confident in social situations and general conversation:

  • Increased confidence – in yourself as you are sure you are responding correctly
  • Better connected and part of the conversation – it is more interesting to be involved in social events, as you feel confident to join in
  • More relaxed – as you will no longer need to be on hyper-alert; you know you will hear things around you – like the doorbell, the phone ring or people walking up from behind

*Most likely – because this is hearing loss dependent.  People with severe/profound hearing losses or very poor speech discrimination may not receive all of these improvements.  If we think this may affect you, we will discuss it in detail before choosing hearing aids. The most significant changes happen for people who wear their hearing aids all the time. It becomes normal to hear everyday sounds, and their brain is trained to use the sound as efficiently and accurately as possible.

Detect sound with your ears

Our ears are designed to collect sound from the environment and amplify it to a level where it can be delivered, via nerves, to the hearing centre in our brain (auditory cortex). The brain uses the electrical signal to recognise the sound from the environment and understand speech.

Hearing loss means the ears are damaged in some way. In most cases, just increasing the sound volume to our ears is not helpful to improve hearing clarity.

Hearing aids are small computers that often work together to optimise the signal received by the brain. They continuously measure the sound environment and adjust how they amplify to maximise hearing comfort and speech understanding and reduce listening effort.

Higher-level hearing aids have more automatic features to modify the sound to help you hear easier and with less effort.

Hear with your brain

When there is hearing loss, the brain is not receiving the signal for all the sounds in the area of hearing loss. As this continues for many years, the brain does not have practice using the sound message and becomes less capable of managing the auditory information. It may even relocate those brain resources to another function (typically the visual system). Therefore, the sooner you get hearing aids, the sooner you provide your hearing system with sound and keep it active.

The ability to understand speech reduces over time – especially with a significant hearing loss.

Hear with your brain

Wearing hearing aids all the time – Use it or lose it

Wearing hearing aids more often strengthens the auditory system by giving the brain more practice listening to and interpreting various sounds. Wearing the hearing aids during most waking hours allows the brain’s auditory system to relearn/learn which sounds are important and which sounds are not. The ability to understand speech, especially in noisy environments, usually improves with increased wearing time. For some people, the ability to hear speech in quiet also improves. We can often measure this improvement when we do our regular hearing assessments.

“I notice an improvement in my client’s ability to repeat back single words, in quiet, with regular hearing aid use.

This effect is strongest for people with more severe hearing losses who have waited a long time to get hearing aids.

Maree O’Sullivan (Audiologist)

Regular hearing aid use will help your brain “hear better.”

Interpreting sound information requires regular exposure. People who wear their hearing aids “only sometimes” give their brain two separate ways of processing sound, hearing and not hearing, some sounds. Their brain does not have as much practice interpreting sound information and will not be able to hear as well through the hearing aids as those who have adapted to hearing sounds again. They may also find sounds overwhelming when in groups or in noise as their brain has not learned to focus on the important sounds and ignore the unimportant sounds.

A bit about Hearing Aids

Hearing aids have many advanced technology components working together to achieve “simply” hearing. Eight (main) hearing aid brands have been approved by the Ministry of Health in New Zealand. Each brand has its own philosophy of how they improve sound quality and audibility. New technology is being released, constantly improving sound clarity and quality, style, comfort and ease of use. Each hearing aid manufacturer updates their computer chips within the hearing aids every 2-3 years and brings our new models improved processing speed and functionality. Your Audiologist at Auckland Hearing is regularly upskilling and learning about the latest technology. Here are some of the most important aspects of getting hearing aids that will meet your listening needs.

Programmed for you

All hearing aids (supplied by a qualified professional) are programmed and then fine-tuned specifically for you. Your hearing test (Audiogram) is used to calculate the right amount of sound specifically for your hearing levels. We use real ear measures to make sure the sound is adjusted specifically for your individual ear acoustics.

Adjust to your listening environment

Hearing aids do not amplify all sounds equally; they amplify quiet sounds more than loud sounds; this allows as many sounds as possible to be both audible and comfortable. Some brands use artificial intelligence to decide if a sound is important or not. They will prioritise important sounds and reduces the level of the less important sounds. Hearing aids are not just about turning up the volume.

Noise reduction

Noise reduction is a feature in most hearing aids; the way it works varies between brands.  Most hearing aids focus more on speech sounds and reduce the loudness of non-speech sounds.  Noise reduction also helps you to have a more comfortable listening experience. Higher-level technology has the best noise management features.

Sound location

Hearing aids will help you locate the source of a sound and maximise the sounds you would like to hear. Newer technology hearing aids have improved at detecting and focusing on important sounds (speech), even if they are not coming directly to the listener’s front.

Feedback cancellation

Feedback cancellation makes sure that the hearing aids do not feedback (make a loud high-frequency sound).  This can happen if the sound from the “loud-speaker” reaches the microphone.

Physical comfort

Current technology hearing aids are light and comfortable in your ears. Getting the aids comfortable enough to be worn all day, every day, is one of the important aspects of a successful hearing aid fitting process.

Cosmetics and Hearing aid style

Hearing aids no longer look like medical devices (the ol’ beige banana).  Now they are a piece of technology like a computer or smartphone. Hearing aids come in various styles, from very tiny, sitting deep in the ear canal to sitting behind the ear. In most cases, the hearing aids which sit behind the ear and have a tiny wire that runs to the loudspeaker (receiver) that sits in the ear carry the best technology. This style has the best technology for maximising sound quality, wireless streaming and rechargeability and is the most commonly fit hearing aids now.

Below are examples of the receiver in the canal type technology for some of the brands. There are many other styles of hearing aid as well.  The choice of hearing aid style will depend on preference and degree of hearing loss.


Hearing aids can connect directly to your mobile phone. See the section about Bluetooth below.

Current hearing aid brands and models

The images below show the different brands of hearing aids that are available.  The choice of model, style and technology level will depend on your lifestyle, preference and degree of hearing loss. These hearing aids are all the receiver in the canal style, which is are currently the most common style of hearing aids. There are also hearing aids that go directly in the ear.

Bernafon Alpha

Oticon More

Phonak Paradise

Resound One

Signia -was Siemens- Augmented Xperience

Starkey Livio Edge

Unitron Blu

Widex Moment

Bluetooth connectivity

Most current hearing aids will steam sound from your phone to your hearing aids. This allows you to stream your phone calls directly to your hearing aids and listen to music, podcasts or other media. This improves ease of hearing, and the sound goes to both ears.

You can also use your phone as a remote microphone, where you can give your phone to a person who is speaking or place the phone on the other end of the table, then hear the sounds that are picked up from the microphone on your smartphone directly into your hearing aids.

Other Bluetooth devices can be added to stream directly from the TV and separate remote microphones, if needed, to improve the signal to noise ratio.

Which hearing aids are right for you?

Once you have decided to improve your hearing, we will spend some time getting to understand your lifestyle and listening needs then we let you know all the options so you can choose what you think will work best for you.

Once you have decided to go ahead with hearing aids we will make an appointment to fit them for you.  Learn more about the process of getting hearing aids here.