As an experienced audiologist, I've had the privilege of working with a myriad of hearing aids brands, each with their unique set of features. Among them, one that stands out is Unitron, a subsidiary of Sonova. My experience fitting Unitron hearing aids has offered me unique insights into their versatility and innovative design. Unitron's exceptional flexibility and an impressive array of features set them apart from other brands in the Sonova portfolio, offering an unparalleled auditory experience to users. In this article, I will delve deeper into Unitron's hearing aids, discussing their features, benefits and why they are worth considering.
Scroll on for a comprehensive review of Unitron hearing aids with a guide on what to consider, technology, features, and prices.
Unitron has a varied history—a radio repair business originally known as Universal Electronics—and was initially founded in 1964 in Newfoundland, Canada (the current main U.S.-based HQ is in Minnesota). They soon added hearing technology into the hearing aid market and renamed it to Unitron Industries. Later on in 2000, the brand was later acquired by one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers, the Swiss-based Sonova Group.
So, what’s the real deal on Unitron? They specialize in user experience which means high performance and innovative hearing aids that are designed to meet the individual needs of the wearer.
Unitron offers multiple product lines with varying levels of technology, and their most up-to-date platform is called Vivante. There are three main products:
- Stride: The behind-the-ear option for mild to severe hearing loss
- Max: The power behind-the-ear option for severe to profound hearing loss
- Insera: The custom hearing option for mild to severe hearing loss (currently available in the Blu platform)
That’s not all, Unitron offers a private label called Relate exclusively through United Healthcare. For those with hearing insurance coverage with this carrier, the product can be more affordable.
Unitron Hearing Aid Technology Levels and Features
Unitron hearing aids come in four levels of technology, numbered from 3 to 9. The higher the number, the more advanced the technology. The higher the level of technology, the more support and customization you'll receive in challenging listening environments.
Here is a quick overview of each level of technology:
- Premium Technology (Level 9): This level of technology offers the maximum support possible in various complex listening situations, including speech in all directions, 360 degrees around you.
- Advanced Technology (Level 7): Includes spatial awareness to capture sounds in the environment. For example, in complex environments the microphones will pick up speech from the side and back in addition to the front.
- Standard Technology (5): Incorporates spatial awareness to pick up more sounds in the environment with basic background noise support. In complex environments, the microphones target speakers in front of you in noisy environments.
- Essential Technology (3): Provides amplification with basic background noise support. In complex environments, the microphones target speech in front of you.
Certain features are available regardless of technology level, though not available in every style of hearing aid:
- Tap control (for RIC products) to answer a phone call or other Bluetooth features, such as streaming
- Soft Speech Lift will automatically increase the volume of soft speech in quiet
- AutoFocus 360 sound processing analyzes sound in real-time as it comes through the microphones and then optimizes your environment
- Made for all direct streaming
- Connect to a Smartphone
- Improved battery life
Unitron is the first company in the hearing aid industry to offer upgradeable technology without needing to purchase a new device. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many folks led a quieter lifestyle and a lower level of technology may have been sufficient. However, now that life is busier—and noisier—that brings out more challenging listening environments, you may need more support in background noise.
Unitron makes it especially easy to upgrade without purchasing a whole new hearing aid but simply paying the difference between the levels of technology.
So, is premium technology your best bet? The FLEX:TRIAL technology lets you test out hearing aid technology before you decide to purchase. This option is excellent for those who want to see how much benefit they notice in background noise. If beneficial, you can then elect to buy the hearing aids. The same option is possible if you later upgrade technology after starting at a lower level. FLEX:UPGRADE allows you to have access to more advanced technology for the price of an upgrade.
While Unitron has quality hearing aid offerings, there are some reasons why other hearing aid brands may offer more appropriate options. For example, if you have single-sided deafness, Unitron does not currently offer a CROS hearing aid solution. In this case, Phonak, Oticon, or Signia are good options.
Additionally, if you're looking for a rechargeable custom hearing aid, you won't find it in Unitron's custom product offering. Unitron's custom hearing aids are comparable to other custom devices on the market in terms of their processing and sound quality. However, if a custom hearing aid in rechargeable form is essential to you, opt for GN ReSound, Signia, or Starkey.
Here are the average prices for each technology level per hearing aid:
- Moxi Blu 9 $3,645
- Moxi Blu 7 $3,255
- Moxi Blu 5 $2,406
- Moxi Blu 3 $1,648
Pricing for hearing aids will vary based on the clinic as well as the geographic location and whether the pricing models are bundled or unbundled.
How does Unitron differ from Phonak?
Unitron and Phonak are part of the Sonova Group, and while their products share commonalities, they also differ quite a bit.
Phonak and Unitron use the same type of computer chip inside their hearing aid technology. However, the way that Unitron processes sound takes a different approach than Phonak. Hearing aids constantly scan the environment to make appropriate adjustments that help you hear your best in each setting. According to a study from the University of South Florida, one strong feature of Unitron's processing is that it can correctly identify the acoustic environment more accurately than many competitors. The hearing aid must identify the setting accurately to optimize the most appropriate settings.
Unitron processing allows for more blending of individual programs. For example, if you move from a quiet room to one with more background noise, the hearing aid can detect the change in your environment. Rather than a hard switch from quiet to noisy, the processing will incorporate gradual changes. In addition, Unitron is able to blend multiple programs together to create the ideal settings for your listening environment.
What about other brands?
If you’re looking for the best hearing to meet your needs, the good news is that several brands or options can treat your hearing loss and meet your needs. Unitron is one excellent option and is great for those who are looking for flexibility in upgrade options, a useful phone app, and tap control features. However, among the top six manufacturers, there are many options available. The key is to select a hearing aid option that is appropriate for your hearing loss and offers the features you need.
The most essential part? Finding the right provider who can work with you on finding the best technology for your hearing and communication needs. Working with a great provider will help you get the maximum possible from your hearing aids. Audiologists are trained to fit your hearing loss appropriately— and especially skilled and knowledgeable in specific hearing aid manufacturers—know all the intricacies of a brand and can maximize your benefit.
Unitron is an excellent choice for those looking for quality hearing aid technology with a wide range of features. With Unitron's unique FLEX:TRIAL technology, testing out higher levels of technology is a cinch before committing to purchase. Additionally, the FLEX:UPGRADE allows anyone to upgrade your hearing aids without purchasing an entirely new set. While this brand might not be the best option for those with single-sided deafness or for those looking for rechargeable custom hearing aids, it is still worth considering. Overall, Unitron provides a solid value and a satisfying quality of sound.