Two hearing aid manufacturers gaining increased attention in the industry are Starkey and Widex. Founded in 1967 and headquartered in Minnesota, Starkey Hearing Technologies is the first company to introduce artificial intelligence to hearing aids with its Livio AI model. Widex was started in 1956 in Denmark, and its line of technically advanced hearing aids has helped make it one of the largest hearing device manufacturers worldwide. Both are worthy of consideration if you’re thinking about making a hearing aid purchase.
Special Functions and App Controls
Specialized functions are what enable modern hearing devices to play a greater role in improving and maintaining quality of life after hearing loss. Both Starkey and Widex offer a feature that filters out the “ringing in the ears” experienced by those who are affected by tinnitus. Both companies also offer hearing aids that provide interconnectivity with other devices such as smartphones and TVs. Both manufacturers’ product lines have models that can be easily controlled remotely by iOS and Android mobile devices as well.
Thrive is an innovative breakthrough feature found on Starkey’s Livio model that enables the user to communicate with others who are speaking different languages. The company also makes specialized devices for use in specific fields, such as models designed to be worn by newscasters, musicians and pilots. The Starkey SoundGear is a device that was designed to protect the wearer from the types of loud and potentially harmful noises that could be encountered while at some industrial sites.
In 2016, Starkey introduced a line of new devices designed for the baby boomer demographic. Many of the products are geared to help an aging demographic maintain their ability to hear music well.
The Widex acclimatization feature allows first-time users to adjust to their new device at their own pace, rather than requiring them to adapt quickly to an abrupt environmental change. Widex claims that its Evoke model is the first smart hearing aid. The device can tell if the wearer is outdoors or indoors and adjust itself to provide the best possible audial assistance. The Evoke model can also gather and process information from your listening experiences. It can then program itself to provide an optimal and personalized approach to improving your hearing.
Pricing and Purchasing
With its wide range of models and device types, the Widex product line’s prices can fall between $1,200 and $3,000. Starkey prices fall into the same range, with its Livio AI model reaching the $4,000 mark. Prices can vary depending on location and typically include service and set-up with a licensed audial professional.
Some hearing aids can be obtained online, but they are typically sold through unauthorized dealers that cannot provide a product warranty. Hearing devices should be purchased through an authorized hearing professional. They should not be viewed as a one-size-fits-all option to correcting hearing loss. Both Widex and Starkey strongly discourage online purchases that bypass a face-to-face session with a hearing professional.
Before making any final judgment calls, let's look at how these two brands compare directly:
|Manufacturer||Transaction Type||Model Types||Pricing||Special Features||Notes|
|Widex||No direct-purchase for online options|
Warrantied purchases are made through authorized dealers after a professional, face-to-face diagnostic evaluation.
|Prices are not listed on company website.|
Prices may range between $1,200 and $3,500 depending on model and features.
|First-time user acclimatization Program|
Zen Program tinnitus masking
Audibility Extender for high-frequency sounds
|30-day trial period|
Highly transparent warranty program
Broad price range with both premium
and budget options
Wide range of models to choose from
|Starkey||Appointments for an evaluation, fitting and purchase are made with hearing aid centers and health care professionals.||RIC|
|Prices range from about $1,800 to $4,000.||Thrive app enables speech-to-text translation when interacting with people speaking other languages.|
Stream phone calls, messages and music from smartphones
Smartphone and iPhone
|Company produces specialized models for newscasters, musicians and pilots.|
SoundGear device can protect against loud noises while not compromising audial clarity.
First company to introduce artificial intelligence to hearing aids; can track cognitive health and physical activity.
If you’re thinking of making your first hearing aid purchase, you will most likely be happy with a model made by either Widex or Starkey. Although your budget may influence the decision-making process, you should nonetheless think carefully about how the device you purchase will fit into your lifestyle and also meet your basic hearing loss needs. A well-informed purchase can hinge on a hearing evaluation conducted by a professional who can also recommend the best listening device products that will suit your needs and help fix the specific type of hearing loss you’ve experienced.