If you're shopping for a hearing aid, you're likely overwhelmed with the many options available.
Don’t get discouraged. As a hearing aid expert, I'm here to cut through the noise and give you the low-down on one of the brands you've likely seen out there: Beltone.
Beltone lots to offer, from the quality of their devices to their in-person care. Which means, this hearing aid brand is likely to be on your short list of options to consider.
In this post, we'll dive into what sets Beltone apart from the competition and review their key features, including their unique Imagine and Achieve product ranges and HearMax smartphone app.
So, scroll on to get insights on Beltone right now.
In the 1940s, Beltone got its start in Chicago, Illinois, with the goal of developing a personalized and miniaturized hearing aid.
Sam and Faye Posen—the Beltone founders—wanted to help a friend with hearing loss to hear music clearly, like the sound of a bell. Hence, the name.
At that time hearing aids looked a little different than they do today (see the graphic below).
This is an example of a 1950s hearing aid, called the Model F (F is for Fortissimo).
By 2000, the GN Group acquired Beltone, one of their most significant acquisitions to date. Shortly after, the GN Group also acquired ReSound and Jabra, both known for their quality hearing healthcare products.
So, why should you consider Beltone over other hearing care options? For starters, Beltone devices are made by GN Resound, a leading hearing aid manufacturer known for producing high-quality products.
As an audiologist, I really like GN Resound's fitting software, which allows a wide variety of fine-tuning adjustments, ensuring your device fits your unique needs and preferences.
Additionally, Beltone may be the closest option for hearing healthcare if you live in a rural area (there are over 1500 locations nationwide). You'll receive in-person care with lifetime support from experienced professionals who will walk you through every step of the process.
Beltone Hearing Aids and Technology
Let's get to hearing aid technology.
Beltone hearing aids offer a good-quality portfolio of hearing aids that can work well for mild to severe hearing loss. Their product line includes the RIC, BTE, and custom (ITC/ITE) hearing aids.
The majority of patients today choose the RIC hearing aid, so we’ll focus on that device.
For mild to moderate hearing loss, the M&RIE receiver in their RIC device is a fantastic option.
The RIC device provides:
- Additional help in background noise
- Reduces discomfort with the user's voice
- Blocks wind noise
This is a unique feature of GN Resound hearing aids that other brands do not have available. In addition, users will notice natural sound quality through a pinna reconstruction effect of the microphone strategy.
Highlights of this technology:
- Good sound quality
- Wide fitting range for hearing loss from mild to severe
- Hearing care provider has many tools for fine-tuning in the software to meet your needs
- Excellent charging options
- Durable, water-resistant device
- Remote Care option
Here are some other points to consider:
- M&RIE technology will not work for everyone and can be uncomfortable for narrow ear canals (FYI: Standard receivers will still work in case M&RIE does not)
- There are no CROS compatible options available at Beltone
- If a patient later gets a cochlear implant, Beltone hearing aids are not compatible with synced streaming to both devices in the same way that ReSound hearing aids can sync with Cochlear Americas devices
Beltone Imagine versus Beltone Serene
Beltone currently offers four families of hearing aid products.
Beltone Serene is the latest from the brand (similar to ReSound NEXIA). Serene offers the most sophisticated features for handling background noise. The Serene is also now available in the full range of popular styles to suit all hearing needs, including BTE and custom hearing aids.
Beltone Achieve is a slightly older version. Compare Imagine to ReSound OMNIA.
Beltone Rely is the brand’s budget option which you can compare to ReSound Key. Beltone Rely offers less bells and whistles for substantially lower prices.
Beltone Boost Ultra is the brand’s high-powered line for severe and profound hearing loss.
Beltone's HearMax app is identical to the GN Resound Smart app.
This is a very well-designed app that patients enjoy using, particularly if you enjoy having more control over adjusting settings in a particular situation.
For example, while in a noisy restaurant, this app allows you to switch to a restaurant program and make adjustments.
Adjustments you can make:
- Adjust bass, middle, or treble
- Volume control
- Background noise assistance
These hearing aids also work seamlessly with assistive technology, for example, the TV Streamer.
Tinnitus Therapy App
GN Resound has a fantastic tinnitus app that patients have found beneficial, in my experience.
And, you’re in luck: The Beltone Tinnitus Therapy App resembles the GN Resound Tinnitus Relief app.
This app allows the user to select different types of masking sounds that are most comfortable to listen to and best mask their tinnitus.
Assistive Listening Technology
The Beltone myPAL Micro (equivalent to GN Resound Mini Mic), is a versatile assistive listening technology.
The pairing process is straightforward, and the Smart app works quite well with it. The user can simply select it from the menu across the top in the Smart App.
For example, the myPAL device can be used to hear better in a noisy restaurant. The communication partner would clip it onto their shirt, and the sound of their voice streams directly to the user's hearing aids.
Additionally, for those with more tech needs, this device can plug into a headphone jack (like on a laptop), and stream audio from a Zoom call or other audio source directly to the hearing aid.
Beltone versus ReSound Hearing Aids
Beltone and ReSound use virtually identical hardware.
Beltone hearing aids have all the same features and capabilities as the ReSound devices, with one crucial difference.
What’s that difference? Beltone devices require Beltone’s proprietary software in order to program, which means that you can only see a Beltone provider for programming adjustments.
So if you move, or travel often, having access to a Beltone location nearby is an essential point to consider.
Are there any drawbacks to Beltone hearing care?
While the Beltone hearing aids themselves are a great hearing aid option, there are a few points to consider when deciding whether Beltone is the right option for you.
It's worth noting that each Beltone location is individually owned and operated.
- Policies, prices, and other factors may vary by location
- It's essential to know the approximate price ranges for your area
- Some Beltone clinics may charge above average prices for their hearing aids (remember, these prices are set by individual clinics)
After looking through reviews, it appears that most people pay between $4,000 and $6,000 for a pair of hearing aids from Beltone, which is rather standard for the industry.
You'll need an accessory if you have an Android phone and want hands-free call capability.
However, if you have an iPhone, Beltone Achieve and Imagine hearing aids provide hands-free call capability for iPhone 11 or later.
Another critical point is the level of training of your hearing care provider.
Most Beltone providers are hearing instrument specialists rather than audiologists.
While there are excellent hearing instrument specialists, they may not have experience with more complex types of hearing loss, such as middle ear disease, mixed hearing loss, or other complex medical conditions.
The instrument specialists will not have training in:
- Cochlear implants
- Bone-anchored hearing devices
- Vestibular disorders.
As mentioned above, Beltone recently released a new hearing aid family, the Beltone Achieve. These newer hearing aids offer excellent background noise support and are similar to ReSound’s OMNIA hearing aids.
If you're considering Beltone Achieve or Imagine devices, there are plenty of reasons to choose Beltone.
- Beltone has a strong reputation for hearing technology and patient care
- Beltone has 1500 locations across the United States
- The RIC device is good quality with a wide fit range
- Provide tools make these devices easy to fine-tune
- The tinnitus app and Beltone’s assistive listening technology offer a wide range of listening health support and ongoing care
However, you'll want to thoroughly consider your situation before deciding whether Beltone is the right option. We hope you've found this review helpful in your decision-making process.
Need more resources? You can browse Soundly for other hearing technology reviews, use the Live Listen feature to hear what other hearing aids sound like, or explore more of your questions with the Ask Soundly feature.