Audicus Hearing Aid Review 2023
Audicus is an exciting and relatively new company in the hearing aid industry (founded in 2012), and an important one for several reasons. Hearing aids are expensive, and Audicus is focused on accessible pricing and creative financing options. Audicus also provides a fully online shopping experience through preprogramming and shipping to your home.
Audicus’ prices are comparatively low ($699 to $1,399 per ear). In addition, Audicus offers a monthly “membership” that spreads out the costs, provides support and accessories, and allows you to upgrade to new hearing aids every 18 months. At a maximum of $149 per ear per month, better hearing is now comparable to a cell phone or decent internet access.
Audicus’ technology is backed by Unitron. For this review, Audicus was kind enough to send me some demo aids, and I found them identical to the well-built, nicely styled Unitron aids I’ve fit for years (more on this later). Like other private label devices, I expect them to perform and last exactly like their brand-name counterparts. For this review, I’ll also describe the online buying process, hearing test, and my experience with the Audicus customer service team and website.
How Does Audicus Compare?
Audicus offers high-quality, affordable hearing aids that can be purchased from the comfort of your own home. You can also spread out the costs by paying a monthly fee, making it even easier to try out a new pair of hearing aids without breaking the bank. That said, Audicus’ product line is fairly limited and may not have all of the features you’re looking for. If you want to consider all of your options or find something with a little extra oomph, view other top-rated providers we have reviewed below.
Audicus offers a smartphone app hearing test as well as being able to accept a scan of a traditional test. I found the app-based test to be quick and, based on their results, acceptably accurate. Their inside folks indicated that they use standard fitting algorithms (NAL-NL1 and NAL-NL2). These formulae were explicitly designed to balance the optimal audibility of important speech sounds with listening comfort.
Their online process also includes a questionnaire about age, activity, and hearing aid use history. Your answers help Audicus optimize the initial fitting. This process mirrors what I do in the clinic quite well.
Audicus Hearing Aid Lineup
The Spirit 1 is the “entry level” product currently priced at $699 per ear for one-time purchase. It is listed for mild to moderate hearing loss. It’s a “slim tube” BTE, which means that the small tube connecting the body of the hearing aid to the ear tip (dome) will need regular cleaning and occasional replacement. It has all the features anyone would need, including several adjustment channels, directional microphones, and an automatic “scene analyzer,” which attempts to extract speech from noise. The Spirit 1 operates on rechargeable batteries.
In the middle of the Audicus lineup is the Mini, priced at $1,249 per ear. This completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid is an excellent choice for those who want a discreet device. Audicus did not previously offer a CIC device, so this model is a new addition to the lineup.
The Mini comes with customizable programming and auto-adjustments, so the hearing aid will adjust to whatever environment you’re in. It also masks background noise and is designed for all-day wear. The Mini features advanced sound processing to recognize different environments, a tinnitus masker for that pesky ringing in the ears, and a compatible smartphone app for easy adjustments. The Mini comes with disposable batteries, so it’s best for those who aren’t looking for rechargeable batteries.
Because this is a CIC model, it’s best suited for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Audicus’ top-tier product is the Omni 2, priced at $1,399 per ear. This is a great example of the power of being part of the Sonova family. A few years ago, Phonak developed a way to directly stream to both iOS and Android devices. Based on what I’m seeing here, this tech has been made available in the Omni 2. You can even connect to two Bluetooth devices at once!
This RIC is best for mild to severe hearing loss. Omni 2 is 10 percent smaller than the previous model; I appreciate the evolution of Audicus products over time to be more and more discreet.
Omni 2 features adaptive-directional microphones that focus on where speech is coming from, and it provides top-of-the-line speech clarity. It comes with advanced remote adjustments, and you can contact an Audicus audiologist to adjust your hearing aids at any time. This model comes in disposable and rechargeable options that are designed to last longer than previous models.
Audicus has two families of accessories: Near-field (Dia II and Clara) and 2.4 GHz “AirStream” (Wave). They also offer a standalone remote control, which is handy if you have dexterity issues or want additional programs. They also offer two TV streamers and a Bluetooth rebroadcaster. These devices are made by Sonova and function identically to their Phonak and Unitron counterparts. As such, I’m very comfortable recommending them based on over a decade of success with their “cousins.”
|The Classic Remote allows for volume and program adjustment for select devices. It communicates to the hearing aids using near-field wireless communication and can be helpful for those with dexterity issues, those needing to access manual programs like telecoil, or those in assisted living who may need help controlling their hearing aids. It’s fairly inexpensive at $199 and is available online from Audicus.|
|The Bluetooth Remote and Dock, priced at $349, provides Bluetooth rebroadcasting, which allows you to pair the remote to your smartphone, tablet, or PC, then stream audio to your hearing aid. The Bluetooth Dock connects to audio sources like your TV via analog or digital connections, then streams to the remote, which then talks to the hearing aids via near-field wireless communication. The Dock has a range of about 30 feet.
In addition, the remote provides access to volume and program adjustments. Additional Bluetooth Docks are available at $149 each.
|The TV Connector, priced at $199, streams audio signals to the Wave hearing aids without the need for a rebroadcaster. This uses the same 2.4 GHz AirStream technology that allows you to stream directly to your smartphone or tablet. It accepts both analog and digital inputs and has a range of about 50 feet.|
Having access to well-made hearing aids and accessories via the mail is a great perk. A hearing aid lineup that covers the vast majority of folks at prices well below the going rate is even better. Audicus’ flexible payment options, ongoing upgrades via their memberships, and extensive online supplies store allow older adults to customize a pair of hearing aids to their needs and budget. I like that the company’s product lineup has evolved over time to include more discreet designs.
Having interacted with the company quite a bit while researching this piece, and being very familiar with the technology under the hood, I’m quite comfortable recommending Audicus as an option for folks with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Even though the specs indicate that certain models are sufficient for a severe loss on the audiogram, I’d need to see how they function in the real world for folks with more severe background noise and reverberation issues to recommend them for that population. The exception to that caveat depends on the flexibility and response of their telecoil. If the telecoil can be set to meet the ANSI specification for hearing loops,2 patients with severe loss could use it in looped environments or with a personal ALD and neck loop with good results.
All in all, Audicus should be on your “check it out” list for hearing aids. I hope that companies like Audicus that challenge the traditional models will make hearing aids more convenient and accessible and that they will continue to lower the barriers to entry for hearing help.
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