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Approximately 37.5 million U.S. adults have some trouble hearing, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. And nearly 29 million adults could benefit from hearing aids.
While older adults may be more likely to have hearing loss, young adults, teens, and children can also have trouble hearing as a result of exposure to noise, a congenital condition, or certain health issues.
A hearing aid is a device that makes sounds louder to help you hear better. But these aren’t your parents’ or grandparents’ hearing aids: Starkey models pair artificial intelligence (AI) technology with features and app connectivity to enhance your day-to-day living.
There are so many brands on the market, and it can be difficult to know where to start. This review will focus on the popular brand Starkey, including its features, different models, and pros and cons.
Here are the overall benefits and drawbacks of Starkey hearing aids.
Starkey is a company that makes hearing aids, including those with AI technology.
Some models offer additional features through its Thrive app, such as fall detection, health tracking, and a “mask mode” that helps enhance sound when someone is wearing a mask.
There are a variety of types of hearing aids, so you can find the one that works for your needs and lifestyle. They include:
- behind the ear (BTE)
- in the ear (ITE)
- receiver in canal (RIC)
- in the canal (ITC)
- invisible in canal (IIC)
- completely in canal (CIC)
According to reviews, Starkey hearing aids have good sound quality, tinnitus technology, feedback management, and other perks.
Here’s a look at the four models Starkey currently offers.
These are available in ITE, ITC, IIC, and CIC styles. They’re Starkey’s basic option. Features include:
- feedback management
- wireless streaming
- music enhancement
- tinnitus technology
- Bluetooth connectivity
A step up from the Picasso hearing aids, these are available in BTE, RIC, ITE, and ITC varieties. They have all the features of the Picasso with the addition of:
- better sound quality
- rechargeable battery
- single-sided technology
- smartphone connectivity
You can also use these hearing aids with the Thrive app. The app allows you to control and adjust your hearing aids from your phone.
Livio AI hearing aids are available in BTE, RIC, ITE, and ITC styles. They’re rechargeable and have a 24-hour battery life.
Livio AI hearing aids have all the features of the original Livio hearing aids, but you can also access brain and body tracking to track your steps, time spent standing, and more.
Additionally, you can transcribe your voice and access Thrive Care. It’s an app that allows caregivers to check in anytime and see how the people they provide care to are doing.
Livio Edge AI
These are rechargeable hearing aids and have a 24-hour battery life. You can buy them in BTE, RIC, ITE, and ITC styles.
Livio Edge AI hearing aids have all the features of the Livio AI hearing aids, but you can also access:
- Fall detection and alerts. If you fall, the device can send out an alert.
- Language translation. According to Starkey, the device has the ability to translate different languages to your hearing aids in real time.
According to Starkey’s website, its hearing aids can cost from $500 to $6,000, depending on the features and accompanying professional services the hearing aid comes with, such as adjustment and maintenance.
There are many ways you can pay for hearing aids:
- private health insurance
- flexible spending accounts (FSAs); these dollars can be used pre-tax to pay for medical expenses
- health savings accounts (HSAs)
- veterans benefits
- state vocational rehabilitation programs
- credit financing programs
- service organizations
- charitable foundations
These payment options may offer complete or partial coverage, or help you offset the cost.
They won’t be available to everyone, but look into the ones you may be eligible for. Also ask your audiologist whether they offer any discounts.
Starkey offers two apps through Google Play and the Apple App Store. They’re available with hearing aid models that are sensor-enabled, such as the Livio Edge AI.
Thrive Hearing Control App
This app offers:
- body (activity) tacking
- brain tracking
- fall alerts
- “find my phone” feature
- self-check to check hearing aid performance
- mask mode for hearing enhancement when people are wearing masks
- Thrive Assistant (to ask questions about volume adjustment, etc.)
- personalized memories (allows your hearing aids to automatically adjust to places you’ve visited before)
- hearing adjustments delivered straight to the device
- adaptive car mode
Thrive Care App
Designed for loved ones of the person using the hearing aid, this app connects to the Thrive Hearing Control app of the user. The app user will get the following updates via the app:
- hearing aid connection status
- battery levels
- body (activity) tracking
- brain tracking
- fall detection
The company offers numerous add-ons, including:
- TV streamer
- microphones (table and remote)
- SurfLink accessories to connect Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices with your hearing aid
- hearing protection, such as custom-fit earplugs
- accessories for musicians, such as in-ear audio monitors
When choosing a hearing aid, consider the following:
There are lots of different hearing aid styles. Here’s what to ask yourself:
- Do you want a hearing aid that’s invisible or behind the ear?
- Do you want one with more features?
- Do you want rechargeable hearing aids?
- Where do you have the most difficult time hearing?
If you’re having trouble determining which style is right for you, Starkey offers a Hearing Aid Finder Tool that can help you find the style best suited for your lifestyle.
Bells and whistles
Some Starkey hearing aids have extra features, like the ability to stream music or the audio from TV shows through your hearing aid. You can also monitor your health through the Thrive app.
Know what the trial period is, the warranty, and how to obtain service and adjustments when needed.
Starkey has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB). And while it’s been in business for more than 50 years, it was just recently accredited by the BBB in February 2021.
There are just six customer complaints listed on the BBB website. It appears that the company has made an effort to resolve each one.
On Trustpilot, there are currently 184 reviews, with 74 percent of those being “excellent” or “good.”
Customers say the hearing aids have exceeded their expectations, are comfortable, and come with great support and service. They also praise the slim design, saying that it looks more like an earbud than a hearing aid.
When it comes to negative reviews, people report problems with Bluetooth connectivity, issues with ship time, and unhappiness with the limited warranty.
One of the larger issues is that you can’t buy Starkey hearing devices from the company itself. Rather, you have to go through an authorized hearing care professional.
Some customers have had problems with the person or store they went through, noting poor service, unresponsiveness, and an inability to know the product well or resolve issues with the product itself.
Starkey offers a 30-day, money-back guarantee. However, because it can take months to realize the full potential and customization of your hearing aid, the company urges you to consult your audiologist to make the necessary adjustments.
Starkey offers a limited warranty. For details on your hearing aid’s warranty, ask your hearing aid specialist or audiologist.
The company also has a “Worry-Free Warranty,” which covers failure, damage, and loss for all hearing aid brands.
You can’t buy a Starkey hearing aid online. Instead, you’ll need to make an appointment with one of Starkey’s authorized hearing care professionals.
If you’re not sure whether you have hearing loss or could benefit from a hearing aid, Starkey offers an online hearing test that takes just 5 minutes. It asks a series of questions and plays various sounds to test your hearing abilities in different environments and conditions.
You can also call the company directly with any questions about purchasing Starkey hearing aids.
Starkey hearing aids have positive reviews overall. It’s important that you team up with an audiologist you trust who can recommend the right brand and model for you.
Many customers like the Bluetooth connectivity as well as the number of additional features Starkey offers.
Jessica Migala is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, and fitness content. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two young sons, and rescue pup. Find her on LinkedIn or on Instagram.