Although they can’t cure hearing loss, hearing aids can solve a great many problems. Two hearing aid brands worth looking into are Miracle-Ear and Phonak. Miracle-Ear is part of the worldwide hearing aid manufacturer, Amplifon, an Italian company founded in 1948 that holds one of the largest market shares in the field. Phonak is a Swiss company that has also been making hearing aids for more than 70 years. The company has gained a reputation for its technology and for designing a wide range of hearing aids sold and used worldwide. Here's a look at how these two popular brands compare and contrast.
The customer service and product set-up portion of a hearing aid purchase is integral to finding the right type and model. A face-to-face purchase experience is best, and Miracle-Ear has walk-in stores in all 50 states. At each location, trained and certified representatives are available to provide a free hearing test and fitting evaluation. The company’s products are customizable, and they can be matched onsite to each wearer’s needs and preferences. Miracle-Ear products come with a three-year warranty and a 30-day trial period. The company’s models can get pricey, but financing is offered at many of the walk-in stores.
Hearing aid models made by Phonak can be found online or in authorized retail locations. The company requires purchasers to be tested and fitted by local professionals who often work with the seller on a partnership basis. Questions can be directed to the company through an online form or a toll-free number. The type of customer service and purchase experience can vary according to the choice of retailer.
The technology that goes into hearing aids has come a long way. Both Miracle-Ear and Phonak offer a wide range of features to accommodate all types of lifestyles and hearing needs. Each company offers the most up-to-date technologies and features, but Phonak appears to be in the lead with cutting-edge concepts such as an invisible hearing device that can be worn 24/7. Both companies offer products that provide a state of the art array of device interconnectivity and user-preference features, such as TV streaming, smartphone interaction and speech isolation in noisy environments.
Both Miracle-Ear and Phonak can become an expensive purchase depending on the model and features. Because of limitations in health insurance coverage, budgetary priorities may prevail in the choice of hearing device. Some purchasers may opt for a single, one-ear device rather than a pair. Financing is available at some Miracle-Ear locations and could weigh in on the product choice. Phonak may not offer financing, but the company’s contract with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can make it a preferred choice for former and active servicemen.
Here's how Miracle-Ear and Phonak stack up side by side:
|Manufacturer||Transaction Type||Model Types||Price / Financing||Special Features||Notes|
|Miracle-Ear||Dedicated corporate store locations and franchises that offer free hearing test, customization and set-up||RIC|
|Prices are not listed on company website / AARP estimates that cost can range between $1,000 and $5,000.|
Financing is available at some locations.
|Convenience of time-of-purchase and same-location hearing test|
30-day trial period for all models
|Phonak||Authorized hearing aid retail stores and the opportunity to purchase through unauthorized online sellers (but without hearing specialist or warranty support)|
Phonak requires purchasers to be fitted and tested in-person by local professionals.
100% invisible Lyric model (Model must be fitted in the ear canal by a professional. This model comes with a 30-day trial period.)
|Cost ranges from about $1,000 for a one-ear purchase to $5,000 for a pair.|
Cost of Lyric model can range between $3,000 and $6,000 and requires a servicing subscription.
Financing is not available, but veterans may be able to obtain assistance through Phonak’s association with the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
|Audio-Marvel technology connects hearing aid to Bluetooth devices, smartphones and TVs.|
CROS B technology follows conversation source and resets device to match the acoustic environment.
|Wide range of model types and cutting-edge apps and technologies such as device connectivity and streaming|
The two hearing aid companies appear somewhat evenly matched in many ways, unless you consider that Miracle-Ear offers what may be a standardized positive customer experience and a free hearing test and evaluation at their corporate retail stores and franchises. The Phonak customer experience will depend on the choice of retailer and you’ll also need to see a local healthcare professional for a hearing test and fitting. This is an added cost and an additional trip you may need to make. Phonak, however, does have somewhat of a lead in its offering of new technologies, such as their invisible 24/7-wearable Lyric model. Overall, the Phonak product line is immense and the variety of features and models should enable almost anyone to find exactly what they’re looking for. The company’s reputation for innovation and staying on top of new technologies can make it an attractive choice for discriminating purchasers who prefer to fully accommodate their individual lifestyles.