Invisible Hearing Aids 2019
Invisible, Invisible In Canal & Hidden Hearing Aids
No matter what you call them, they are the smallest hearing aids available
- What Invisible Hearing Aids are Available?
- What are invisible hearing aids?
- Are the smallest hearing aids suitable for everyone?
- Are invisible hearing aids available on the NHS?
- How much do invisible hearing aids cost?
- Are There Invisible hearing devices with Bluetooth?
- What type of hearing loss will invisible hearing aids work with?
- What are The pros and cons of invisible hearing aids?
The World's Smallest Hearing Aids
What's Available For 2020?
They are known by many names, invisible in canal, invisible hearing aids, hidden hearing aids and more. They are also exceptionally popular in the mind of customers, everyone wants an invisible hearing aid, size does matter! But, what is available and from who, more than that, what do you need to know about the best invisible hearing aids available so you can make an educated choice when buying them? Generally, they are really only good for mild to moderate hearing losses but Signia has been pushing the envelope on that. Let's talk about the smallest hearing aids.
What Invisible Hearing Aids are Available?
The very latest additions to the invisible hearing aid world are the new Opn IIC by Oticon and the Zerena IIC by Bernafon. The rest have been around for a while, although Phonak did an update on the Titanium, it was primarily cosmetic. As of early 2019, the following invisible hearing devices from the big hearing aid brands are currently available.
- Phillips HearLink IIC
- Oticon Opn IIC
- Bernafon Zerena IIC
- Starkey Soundlens iQ Synergy
- GN Resound LiNX-3D IIC
- Phonak Titanium
- Phonak Nano – invisible in canal hearing aids
- Phonak Lyric hearing aids (the only long wear hearing aid in existence)
- Signia Insio IIC
- Signia Silk (only invisible for some people)
- Unitron Micro IIC / invisible hearing aids
- Widex Menu IIC / Invisible hearing aids (really old technology)
What are invisible hearing aids?
Invisible hearing devices are deep fitting custom made hearing devices that sit deep within the ear canal. More often than not, the faceplate of the hearing aid cannot be seen. For this reason, they have been given the name invisible. The first manufacturer to introduce modern digital invisible hearing aids was Starkey, they introduced the SoundLens and it began the race across all hearing device manufacturers to introduce an invisible device. Each and every manufacturer has now introduced an invisible hearing aid option.
These hearing instrument types are called by different names by the different hearing aid manufacturers, SoundLens, nano, IIC invisible in canal or just plain invisible hearing aids. No matter the official title, they all amount to pretty much the same thing, deep canal hidden hearing aids. The battleground has now extended as some of the device manufacturers have now introduced wireless invisible hearing devices. Something which up to now has been technically difficult. We would expect more of the hearing brands to begin offering wireless invisible instruments over the next year. Although this part of the market is small, while you might expect everyone to want one, not everyone is suitable.
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Are the smallest hearing aids suitable for everyone?
The short answer is no, not at this time, while your hearing loss obviously needs to be taken into account, the major stumbling block to suitability is normally the size and shape of your ear canal. If your ear canal is either too small, too narrow or too awkward, you won't be suitable for these devices, It is as simple as that. Even with advancements in technology, that will probably remain the case for a few years to come. The manufacturers simply need a finite amount of space to fit all of the components in, if your canal does not offer that space, you are out of luck.
Are invisible hearing aids available on the NHS?
This is a question that we get a lot, unfortunately, the answer is no. However, there is very discreet receiver in canal hearing aids available on the NHS.
How much do invisible hearing aids cost?
Generally, they are no more expensive than a different hearing aid type from the same technology level. In other words, you generally don't pay a premium for an invisible hearing aid. I say generally, because there always may be exceptions. For instance, the Phonak Virto B Titanium (which comes in an invisible version) is slightly more expensive than a similar traditional Virto B hearing aid at the minute, however, that extra cost is more to do with the titanium shell than it is to do with the size.
Are There Invisible hearing devices with Bluetooth?
Again, we get asked this quite a bit, the answer is yes but no, hahaha, let me explain. There are wireless invisible hearing aids but no, they don't run on the Bluetooth connection. In the recent past, some of the hearing aid brands have released wireless invisible hearing aids. They are wirelessly equipped and they will connect to the manufacturer's audio streaming devices.
I think this is a fantastic move forward because I believe wireless hearing aids were an amazing innovation. Having said all of that, there are no Made For iPhone invisible hearing aids, there are no direct connection devices available right now. Read more about Made For iPhone Versus Wireless hearing aids here.
What type of hearing loss will invisible hearing aids work with?
Generally, invisible hearing aids are suitable for moderate flattish type hearing losses. Those are generally the best types of hearing losses served by the devices. Let's take a look at other hearing loss types.
What About High-Frequency hearing loss and invisible hearing aids?
Generally, invisible hearing aids aren't suitable for people with high-frequency hearing loss. The problem is that people with this type of hearing loss have good low-frequency hearing, so putting a device into the ear canal causes intolerable occlusion. This can be by-passed by ensuring the invisible hearing aid fits into the bony part of the ear canal. In theory, this should stop any occlusion, however, getting the device that deep in the canal can be difficult and it may be uncomfortable.
Moderate hearing loss and IIC?
As I said, invisible hearing devices are ideal for flattish moderate hearing loss, there are no difficulties with occlusion and the hearing aid output is ideal for this type of loss.
Severe Hearing Loss and hidden hearing aids?
In general, most hearing aid professionals would not offer invisible hearing aids to someone with a severe hearing loss. They are not ideal because they don't offer much headroom, that simply means if the hearing loss gets much worse, the hearing aid is useless. However, there are invisible hearing aids suitable for severe hearing loss and we detail them here.
Profound hearing Loss and Invisible in canal?
There are no invisible hearing aids that are currently suitable for someone who suffers from a profound hearing loss.
What are The pros and cons of invisible hearing aids?
Before we list what's available, I want to speak about the pros and cons of these devices. They are similar in nature to most custom hearing aids, the positioning of them may well be optimal for hearing devices. That position deep in the canal allows the outer ear and ear canal to do it's job, funnel sound naturally towards the eardrum.
This is probably the biggest benefit of these type of devices, however, that positioning means that all of the electronics are open to the wax an moisture in the ear canal. This means that they need a lot of care and attention from the user. They also need dehumidifying on a regular basis.
If you are prepared to take care of these hearing aids well, then I would say go ahead with them, however, you will need to take care of them to avoid electronics failures. As I said, while there are wireless invisible hearing aids, generally speaking, most invisible hearing aids are non-wireless enabled.
Wax is always a problem
Earwax is always a problem for people with invisible hearing aids, earwax will cause problems with both the receiver (the speaker part) and the microphones. Invisible hearing aids can fail because of earwax ingress, either into the speaker or the microphone. It can also happen quite often, depending on how waxy your ears are. This is a major consideration, after your initial warranty, you will have to pay for any repairs yourself. Maintenance is important for these types of hearing aids, you can read about taking care of hearing aids here. You can take a look at the best invisible hearing aids available below.
let's take a look at what is available:
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Real Ear Measurements Are Essential For Hearing Aids
Gold Standard Fitting
Real Ear Measurements, REMs or Speech Mapping are imperative for best practice hearing aid fitting. It is our best advice to you, to find a hearing care provider who does offer them when you are purchasing. Ask any provider you deal with, do they offer probe tube measurements, if they say no, tell them you will go somewhere else.
Philips Hearlink Invisible IN Canal Hearing Aids
Hearlink is the name of the new hearing aid range from Philips. The Hearlink range will be available with an invisible in canal hearing aid option. While the wider Hearlink range is Made For iPhone, the IIC will not be able to directly connect to Apple products.
Five Technology Levels
The IIC range will be available in five technology levels which is not unlike the Bernafon set up. The top three levels will have the premium features available in differing parameters. The bottom two technology levels use the same chipset but will have more basic features. The features themselves are interesting.
Hearlink Invisible In Canal (IIC)
The smallest Philips HearLink instruments that fit deeply in the ear canal for maximum discreetness. This hearing aid style is for mild to moderately severe hearing losses. This device will not be a Made For iPhone device. The device will be available in five levels of technology.
Hearlink IIC Prices
We would expect the Philips Hearlink IIC range to be sold at prices from £700.00 to £2200.00 in the UK depending on the level of technology. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from €800.00 to €3000.00 depending on technology level in Ireland. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from $1000.00 to $3200.00 depending on the level of technology in the USA.
Oticon Invisible Hearing Aids
Would you like a hearing device that no one else can see? Oticon has designed their IIC range to be unnoticeable to everyone else, and unnoticeable to you, too. Oticon has introduced a new IIC on the Opn platform. While the Opn platform is a direct connection Bluetooth platform, unfortunately, the new Opn IIC is too small for wireless transmission. The older ultra-compact IICs on the Inium platform have wireless technology which makes it possible to combine all the benefits of invisible hearing aids, outstanding listening performance with wireless access to communication and entertainment and the optional remote control. Let's talk about Oticon IICs.
Oticon Opn Invisible In Canal
Oticon believes that the new improved smaller Opn IIC will fit up to 80% of ears. This is Oticon’s most invisible hearing solution. It is shaped to fit so snugly deep inside your ear that no one will see it, or even realise you are wearing it. It means that you can keep your hearing loss a secret, and enjoy the many benefits of modern hearing care, without any noticeable change in your appearance.
They say " These ‘invisible’ hearing aids sit far enough in the ear canal that people won’t be able to see them. A thin plastic pin remains accessible, which you use to pull the hearing aids out again. Like all Oticon Opn hearing aids, the Invisible-In-the-Canal (IIC) style automatically adjusts to different sound environments – which means you don't have to touch them or change their settings during the day." The IIC will definitely not be Made For iPhone and in fact may not be wireless at all. Oticon has made some strides in the design of the device and they say it will be the smallest IIC ever. They reckon that it should physically fit 8 out of every 10 people. The devices appear to be powered with a size 10 battery.
Oticon Inium Invisible Solutions
While the new Opn IIC is the smallest ever invisible hearing aid that they have ever made. There are still Inium invisible hearing aids available. That is the last platform which had the Nera, Ria and Intiga ranges. These IIC devices are designed to fit seamlessly into your lifestyle so that nothing gets in the way of your regular daily routines. The sound level adapts automatically as sounds and places change throughout the day, so you will always have the sound you need to participate on an equal footing with everyone else.
Oticon Inium IICs will also have minimum impact on the rest of your lifestyle – fitted inside your ear, it will not affect your use of headsets or telephones, nor how you wear your glasses, or even how you do your hair. As it is placed deep inside the ear, Oticon IIC captures sound in the same way that your ears were designed to do. Based on Oticon’s slightly older hearing aid technology, Inium Sense, and available at three technology levels to suit all budgets, it gently preserves and amplifies sounds so that what you hear is always clear – and you will be able to participate confidently in all situations.
First Ever Wireless Invisible Hearing Aid
Up until now, the ultra-compact IIC has come at the price of reduced features and limited use cases. Not anymore. Oticon's Inium IIC instruments with wireless technology make it possible to combine all the benefits of invisible hearing aids, outstanding listening performance, and wireless connectivity, what more could you want?
Bernafon Zerena Invisible Hearing Aids
Bernafon's new Zerena invisible hearing aids are truly the smallest hearing aids they have ever offered. Bernafon has designed new components that reduce the overall size of their IIC range to ensure that it fits more people than ever before.
An Invisible Solution
This is Bernafon’s most invisible hearing solution, designed to fit deep inside your ear. No one will see it, or even realise you are wearing it, which means that you can keep your hearing loss a secret if you wish to. The IIC will also have minimum impact on the rest of your lifestyle – fitted inside your ear, it will not affect your use of headsets or telephones, nor how you wear your glasses, or even how you do your hair.
Optimal Placement For Every Budget
Placing the hearing aid deep inside the ear canal means that it captures sound in the same way that your ears were designed to do. Based on Bernafon’s new Zerena hearing aid technology, the IIC is available in five technology levels to suit all budgets.
Suitable For More Than Ever
Bernafon has run an early trial to get a clear idea of what effect the new smaller size would have on the suitability for fit. So they had some of their customers send them early orders so they could run them through. They were surprised to find out that they could fit all of them with the new IIC, they were really not expecting that. While they can't be sure from such a small test case, it does bode well for the suitability of the hearing aids for more people than ever.
Who is The IIC Suitable For
First, let's talk about the technical suitability for hearing loss types. The new invisible hearing aids will fit hearing losses from mild all the way through to severe to profound.
Although, that does depend on the size of the speaker they can fit into the hearing aid. So technically, they can fit a whole lot of hearing losses. I spoke to Bernafon about more typical high-frequency hearing losses. Quite often when someone has a high-frequency hearing loss, they have good low-frequency hearing. With that type of hearing loss, we have to be careful about closing off the ear canal because people suffer from occlusion problems (the feeling of their ears being stuffed up).
Bernafon says that there are two possible ways that the new invisible hearing devices can deal with this. Because of the smaller size of components, there is a good chance that the device can be inserted deep into the bony portion of the ear canal. This has been the traditional way to beat occlusion but it has been hard to actually deliver. The new sizing of the IIC should allow this to happen now for more people than ever.
The second way to deal with occlusion is through venting of a hearing aid, in essence putting a hole through it, the larger the better. Again, the new size of the components ensures that there is more space to put a larger vent and they have a fascinating new vent system which again means that they should be suitable for this type of loss.
Resound LiNX 3D LTIIC (Invisible In Canal Hearing Aid)
Linx 3D IIC Prices
We would expect the range depending on the technology level, to be sold at prices from £1200.00 to £2200.00 in the UK depending on the Practice and location. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from €1200.00 to €3000.00 in Ireland. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from $1200.00 to $3200.00 in the USA.
Resound have just introduced a brand new platform called the LiNX 3D. It is an upgrade to their exceptionally popular LiNX 2 Made For iPhone hearing aids.
The platform is a full range of hearing aid styles with one being an invisible hearing aid. The LTIIC is the smallest of the LiNX 3D custom hearing aids. Because it is so small you will lose some of the benefits of the technology.
However, that is always the trade-off for discretion. The device is available with only one level of receiver power, the LP. It will only cover hearing losses to a max 70 dB in the low frequencies and 85 dB in the high frequencies.
The suitability for this device is also based on the size of your ear canal. If your canal is too small, you won't be able to avail of it. If your hearing loss is close to 70 in the lows and 85 in the highs, you won't be able to avail of it.
It can not have a push button or volume control, but the devices all have smart start which gives you a couple of seconds to get it in your ear before it comes on. But you lose out on the direct audio streaming, no ear to ear communication, and no wireless accessories. The battery size of this aid is size 10.
By choosing discretion you do lose out on a lot of features and benefit. Firstly, there is no telecoil, something that many like. You also miss out on the new Resound smart 3D app and the remote assistance. You lose all the directionality functions because you only have one mic, no Wind Guard and you lose all the wireless functions. That is a lot of benefits gone because you wanted it small, really think about this, because honestly, no one cares that you are wearing a hearing aid.
The feature set of the device is as follows.
- Up to 17 channels of compression depending on tech level
- Environmental Classifier
- Environmental Optimizer II
- Noise Tracker II
- Sound Shaper
- DFS Ultra III with Music Mode
- Auto DFS
- Acceptance Manager
- Tinnitus Sound Generator
The Widex IIC
The IIC is small enough to be placed very deep inside the ear canal, making it invisible. This combined with the famous fantastic sound quality of Widex makes this a superior option. It is based on the Widex Menu technology which is a slightly older technology, however, it still benefits from some outstanding Widex technology and sound. The Widex IIC is placed deep into the ear canal so no part of it can be seen.
A Truly Invisible Hearing Aid?
The IIC is designed to be placed very deep, beyond the second bend of the ear canal. So yes, it is truly an invisible hearing aid. As I said, space in your ear canal to accommodate the IIC is important. Narrow canals or sharp bends in the ear canal can rule out the IIC model as suitable.
Who Is The Widex IIC Suitable For?
The IIC is not suitable for everyone for two reasons. The device will only fit certain dimensions of the ear canal, if your ear canal is too narrow or has too tight a bend it might not be suitable. Other contraindications are things such as excessive waxy ear canals or perforated eardrums. If you face these issues, the IIC or in fact any invisible hearing aid, may not be the product for you. In these cases, other types of discreet hearing aids may be more advisable to consider.
The Widex IIC is available in three of the Menu technology levels, IIC 10, IIC 5 and IIC 3+.
Outstanding features of the IIC include:
- Perfect fit: each IIC hearing aid is custom made to ensure a perfect fit
- Better localisation: tight fit means users can better determine where sounds are coming from
- All-purpose use: can be worn in all listening situations
- Durability: all components are contained in one unit making it extremely durable
- More comfort: no joined parts mean there are no hard edges
All of the following hearing devices are available in several levels of hearing device technology.
Virto B Hearing Aids
Meet The New Phonak Virto B Range
Phonak have now introduced the full range of their new Virto B in the ear products. They say that they are custom-made to perfectly fit in your ear, Phonak Virto B is the world’s first hearing aids with Biometric Calibration, which take your individual ear anatomy and hearing needs into account. That's an interesting description.
They say that they will identify over 1600 biometric data points in and on your ear, and the unique calibration settings are calculated for each Virto B hearing aid. In this way, Virto B is able to more reliably sense where the sound is coming from, thereby giving you access to a better hearing performance.
What does that all mean? Well, we think that Phonak is the first ever hearing aid manufacturer to carefully map the outer ear to take advantage of its natural abilities. They say that the new process will deliver a 2dB signal to noise ratio improvement. Basically means it will make the signal (what you want to listen to) 2dB higher than the noise.
2dB doesn't sound like much but combined with all the other strategies that Phonak use it will be a marked improvement. Phonak Virto B is available in six models to match your hearing needs. It is also available in the usual four levels of technology, the 90, 70, 50 and 30.
Virto B-10 NW O
- Custom Product
- Mild to severe hearing loss
- Battery: 10 zinc air
- Truly invisible
Virto B-Titanium Invisible Hearing Aids
Phonak have just introduced this device, so we have limited information about it. As we get the info, we will update the details. As part of a raft of introductions, Phonak announced that they were introducing a new Virto hearing aid type as part of their Virto Belong range. The Belong range is Phonak's latest platform.
A Titanium Shell
They named the hearing aid as the Virto B-Titanium and said it will be the most discreet in-ear device they have ever made. It is a fascinating device that uses titanium for the shell instead of the usual hard acrylic. This is the first time ever that titanium has been used in the manufacture of a custom hearing aid. The metal has real advantages over traditional materials.
Will Fit More People Than Ever
The material is exceptionally strong, which allows Phonak to make the shell much thinner than ever before with even more strength. This combined with new component design allows them to deliver an invisible hearing device that they say will fit 68% more ears.
The deep position in the ear canal of the device will allow the hearing aid to use the natural shape of the ear to funnel sound to the microphone. This strategy has always proved to deliver excellent directional hearing.
Levels of technology
From what we can see, the Virto B-Titanium will only be available in the 90 and 70 level of technology. It will run the latest version of their os and it will be a fully automatic hearing aid.
Who will the Virto Belong-Titanium be suitable for?
While invisible hearing aids can be a bit hit and miss for suitability, Phonak says that their new designs and materials will, in fact, make the hearing aids suitable for more people than ever. While that will most definitely be the case, there will still be some limitations on the ability to fit. I would imagine if the bends in the ear canal are too tight, it will preclude this device from being suitable.
Other contraindications are the same as every other invisible hearing aid such as excessive waxy ear canals, history of mid-ear infections or perforated eardrums. If you face these issues, this will not be the product for you. In these cases, other discreet hearing aids may be more advisable to consider.
Lyric Invisible Hearing Aids
The Phonak Lyric is the only long wear invisible hearing aid available. The device is worn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Phonak introduced the hearing device several years ago and it is dispensed in premium hearing aid practices across the world. It is specially fitted by a trained professional who sizes your ear canal and places the device in your ear. I have worn the Lyric for a time and you can read about my experiences here.
Like other invisible hearing aids, the deep position in the ear canal allows the Lyric to use the natural shape of the ear to funnel sound to the microphone which delivers excellent directional hearing.
Who is the Phonak Lyric suitable for?
The Lyric is not suitable for everyone for two reasons. Firstly, the device will only fit certain shapes and dimensions of the ear canal, if your ear canal is too narrow or has too tight a bend it might not be suitable. Other contraindications are things such as excessive waxy ear canals or perforated eardrums. If you face these issues, the Lyric may not be the product for you. In these cases, other discreet hearing aids may be more advisable to consider.
Outstanding features of the Phonak Lyric include:
- You Never Have To Take The Aid Out
- You Can Wear it in The Shower
- No Constraints
- Wear it For Months at a Time
Starkey SoundLens Synergy
Starkey introduced the SoundLens several years ago, in fact, I believe it was the first of the current crop of invisible hearing aids. They to have been updating the technology within their invisible hearing aid offering. Recently the made the device even smaller and they added a second wireless invisible hearing aid to the lineup. The wireless version of the SoundLens is no bigger than the older SoundLens type, so it will be a discreet deep-fitting hearing aid.
The SoundLens Synergy is available in three technology levels, the top of the range i2400, the mid-range i2000 and the entry level i1600. SoundLens Synergy is Starkey's most-advanced invisible hearing aids on the market. Custom fit to your exact needs and unique ear canal shape, they rest comfortably deep in your ear, so only you know they’re there. SoundLens Synergy comes loaded with all of their leading technology. They were the first and most popular custom-fit Invisible-in-the-Canal (IIC) hearing aids ever made. At the heart of SoundLens is Starkey’s new Synergy platform with twin compressor technology and a high-definition operating system, Acuity OS.
Connect To Your World
The wireless connectivity gives you the ability to connect to all of the devices you use every day. Connect to your mobile phone or any of the Starkey Wireless Accessory products while wearing the most discreet hearing aids available.
Let's Talk Styles
The Starkey SoundLens Synergy comes in two styles
Starkey SoundLens Wireless
Wireless (invisible-in-canal), slightly larger than the non-wireless device but no bigger than the original SoundLens, which means it is a truly invisible hearing aid.
Starkey SoundLens Non-Wireless
non-wireless (invisible-in-canal), the smallest of the two devices
Insio Primax IIC
Siemens introduced the Insio Primax IIC a couple of years ago as part of the Primax introduction. It was, in fact, the most powerful invisible hearing aid available covering hearing losses well into the severe range. It is available in three levels of technology the 7px, the 5px and the 3px.
Wireless Invisible Hearing Aid
The Insio Primax is also a wireless invisible hearing aid.
We have general details about Invisible Hearing Aids and other types of devices in our consumer hearing aid advice guide. It also details technology levels and features of hearing instruments in clear and easy to understand language.
Insio Nx IIC
Siemens introduced the Insio Nx IIC late in 2018 as the final part of the Nx introduction. While the Nx range are direct connection Bluetooth hearing aids (Made For iPhone), the Insio Nx IIC isn't. It is just too small a device. Having said that, the device is still an outstanding hearing aid built on the new Nx chip. It is available in three levels of technology the 7px, the 5px and the 3px.
We have general details about Invisible Hearing Aids and other types of devices in our consumer hearing aid advice guide. It also details technology levels and features of hearing instruments in clear and easy to understand language.
Signia Insio Silk Nx
Signia have had instant fit custom hearing aids in the past, however, they say that Silk is the first completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aid that’s both almost invisible and ready to wear. The device is a new offering on their latest Nx chipset and they say it is designed to fit up to 80% of all ear canals. While the device is labelled a CIC, for some lucky people it is actually an invisible hearing aid. That really depends on your ear canal size.
The device is a modular type hearing aid that uses a flexible Click Sleeve to provide an immediate and comfortable fit. There are several sizes of click sleeves to fit as many ears as possible. The hearing aids are designed so that theoretically you could walk out, fitted with them, after your hearing test.
Instant Fit Invisible Hearing Aid (almost)
The Click Sleeves are made of soft silicone and are available in six different types which allow the device to fit in the majority of ear canals and to fit the majority of hearing losses. With the right Click Sleeve in place, the hearing aid sits quite deep in the canal making the device either invisible or almost invisible.