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Open Fit Hearing Aids UK - What are open fit hearing aids?

Paul Harrison Hearing Aid UK Founder & Audiologist
Written By:
Paul Harrison

Audiology Expert & Founder

Updated: 13th October 2023
What are open fit hearing aids?

Open Fit Hearing Aids - What are they?

What do Open Fit hearing aids look like?

 

Open Fit hearing aids fit smaller behind the ear

Open Fit hearing aids are simply the smaller or 'mini' Behind-the-Ear (BTE) and Receiver-in-the-Ear (RIC) hearing aid styles, which hide behind your outer ear seamlessly.  The sound is transmitted straight to the ear canal through a thin plastic tube that is attached to a tip that comfortably sits within your ear canal.

The 'open' refers to the earpiece not fitting tightly inside your ear canal, unlike the older style BTE's, CIC's, ITC's and ITE models.  This type of earpiece is much smaller, softer and therefore more comfortable.  This style of hearing aid is more commonly successful with those who have mild to moderate hearing loss.

 

What are Open Fit hearing aids?

This type of hearing aid tip does not obstruct the ear canal like traditional hearing aids, giving you a more natural sound experience and an 'open' feeling.  The sound and air can still enter your ear as normal, whilst amplified sound from your hearing aid goes through the tip.

BTE digital hearing aids have had bad press for years, people can't shake off the 'brown banana' of devices gone by.  In reality, this particular style has developed and evolved over time and there are so many slimmer and more sophisticated BTE hearing aid designs available today. 

Since Open Fit hearing aids were introduced to the audiology industry and consumers, we believe that the number of Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids being sold has naturally increased.  A decades-long negative attitude towards this style of the device has been reversed.

 Oticon OpnS hearing aids

Open Fit Hearing Aids

Why are Open Fit hearing aids so popular?

 

The technology behind Open Fit hearing aids

We believe this new renaissance of popularity is mainly due to consumers being impressed with the natural sound of the Open Fit hearing aid technology, as well as the style being more comfortable on the ear.

In addition to this style of hearing aid being a more modern alternative, and therefore more cosmetically appealing - they are also more comfortable to wear all day, they are lighter, they remove complaints related to occlusion and also decrease feedback.

People also like that the fitting time is a lot quicker because your audiologist has no need to take impressions of your ears to create ear molds to suit you and your ear shape.  You could effectively walk away with your hearing aids on the day, rather than wait a week for your unique ear molds to arrive and then be fitted.

 

Open Fit hearing aids NHS

Can you get Open Fit hearing aids on the NHS?  In short, yes you can get Open Fit hearing aids from your local audiology department.  The NHS offers a commendable service for those with hearing loss, but like with most styles the NHS provides, the choice and technology would be limited.

 

What are the benefits of Open Fit hearing aids?

  • They are aesthetically pleasing and are more subtle and the most discreet BTE hearing aids available in the industry.
  • They are more comfortable due to the soft dome that doesn't block your ear canal.  Therefore you don't get that 'plugged' feeling or any discomfort during your day of wear.
  • They are also quick to fit, due to the earmold not needing to be tailor-made.
  • Provides a natural sound experience due to its non-occluding profile - your soundscape freely enters your ear canal naturally.

 

Open Fit hearing aids vs Closed Fit hearing aids

What is the difference between Open Fit hearing aids and closed hearing aid fittings?   An open fitting means that the waves of sound get to your eardrum more naturally and because the hearing aid tip doesn't fill your entire ear canal - it is common that you will hear your louder soundscape more naturally too.  An open hearing aid design also gives your ear canal more ventilation.

On the other hand, a closed hearing aid fitting fills most of your ear canal with either an earpiece or an ITE hearing aid.  With this fitting, sound transmits to you directly to allow for a full range of hearing aid features.

 Oticon OpnS hearing aids

Open Fit Digital Hearing Aids

Open Fit hearing aids reviews

 

Open Fit vs closed fit hearing aids - An introduction to closed and open hearing aid domes

In short, there are two different types of hearing aid domes, which alter the sound quality of your hearing aids and hearing experience.  The one you opt for really depends on the level of your hearing loss and what your audiologist advises.  A closed-style hearing aid dome is one full piece of plastic that covers the receiver and is inserted within your ear canal.  

An open-style hearing aid dome has a number of openings along with the dome.  The openings assist in preventing the occlusion you can be challenged with and provide amplified sound.  The open-style hearing aid dome is more successful for those with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.

 

Open Fit hearing aids cost and Open Fit hearing aid brands

What do we think of Open Fit hearing aids?  Currently, Open Fit hearing aids are highly sought after, potentially offering the comfort and clarity of sound you've been seeking.

Their sleek design is known to deliver a natural sound quality as they maintain an open ear canal, alleviating the sensation of having fingers in your ears. These hearing aids also amplify only the necessary frequencies, enhancing their effectiveness.

Open Fit hearing aids are commonly favored for their enhanced comfort. Despite resembling Behind the Ear (BTE) aids in appearance, they boast a notably smaller casing behind the ear. A slender tube connects this component to the ear canal, which is secured by a soft, small silicon tip, eliminating the need for an ear mould.

In our experience, our own patients have always loved the natural sound of the Oticon hearing aids open-fitting hearing aid ranges - Oticon More and Oticon Real.  In regards to the cost of Open Fitting hearing aids - they are now the same as standard hearing aids. 

  • View our prices here
  • View Oticon hearing aids here

 

Conclusion

The growing popularity of Open Fit hearing aids underscores their role as a preferred solution for individuals seeking comfort and superior sound clarity. Their design, allowing for an open ear canal, effectively mitigates the sensation of occlusion, enhancing user experience.

The selective amplification of specific frequencies ensures a natural auditory perception. Notably, their smaller size compared to traditional Behind the Ear (BTE) aids contributes to their appeal, combining discreet appearance with enhanced functionality.

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Paul Harrison
Hearing Aid Advisor
Unlike most national retailers we are not owned by any manufacturer, this means we can offer the full choice of all makes and models of hearing aids

Want to know whether Open Fit hearing aids are right for you?

With the elimination of ear moulds and the use of soft, small silicon tips, Open Fit hearing aids exemplify the intersection of advanced technology and user-centric design, marking a significant stride in the pursuit of accessible and effective hearing solutions.

Call one of our audiologists for free on 0800 567 7621 to find out more about Open Fit hearing aids or other ranges on the current market.

Read Next:  Hearing aid types

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This article was written by audiology expert Paul Harrison

Meet Paul Harrison, Audiology Expert & Founder

Managing Director & founder of Hearing Aid UK, with over 20 years of audiology experience and a member of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists Council (BSHAA) between 2015-2020.

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Common FAQs about hearing aids and hearing loss

Is this the best model for me?

If you are looking at this page then it is likely that an audiologist has suggested that you purchase this particular hearing aid, so is this the best model for you?

In general, any audiologist will always be recommending to you the model that best suits your needs. Here is a useful check list to make sure that is the case.

  • Audiologist level of knowledge. The audiologist you have seen will hopefully have a wide knowledge of all available hearing aids, however some will only be familiar with a small number of brands and therefore may not really be in a position to know which model is the best for you. It is OK to challenge their recommendation and ask them to justify why this particular brand is the one for you.
  • Do research. Read about the hearing aid that was recommended. Does it seem like it will suit your lifestyle? Does it have more or less features than you need? 
  • Be aware of sales targets. Many high street retailers have specific tie-ins to a particular manufacturer/brand. The hearing aid they have suggested may still be the correct one for you, but do your research so that you know why they might have recommended it.

If in doubt, feel free to give us a call. That's what we're here for.

Do I need one hearing aid or two?

If you have a significant hearing loss in both ears, you should be wearing two hearing aids. Here are the audiological reasons why:

Localisation. The brain decodes information from both ears and compares and contrasts them. By analysing the miniscule time delays as well as the difference in loudness of each sound reaching the ears, the person is able to accurately locate a sound source. Simply put, if you have better hearing on one side than the other, you can't accurately tell what direction sounds are coming from.

Less amplification required. A phenomena known as “binaural summation” means that the hearing aids can be set at a lower and more natural volume setting than than if you wore only one hearing aid.

Head shadow effect. High frequencies, the part of your hearing that gives clarity and meaning to speech sounds, cannot bend around your head. Only low frequencies can. Therefore if someone is talking on your unaided side you are likely to hear that they are speaking, but be unable to tell what they have said.

Noise reduction. The brain has it’s own built in noise reduction which is only really effective when it is receiving information from both ears. If only one ear is aided, even with the best hearing aid in the world, it will be difficult for you to hear in background noise as your brain is trying to retain all of the sounds (including background noise) rather than filtering it out.

Sound quality. We are designed to hear in stereo. Only hearing from one side sounds a lot less natural to us.

What are the benefits of rechargeable hearing aids?

For most people, the main benefit of a rechargeable hearing aid is simple convenience. We are used to plugging in our phones and other devices overnight for them to charge up. 

For anybody with poor dexterity or issues with their fingers, having a rechargeable aid makes a huge difference as normal hearing aid batteries are quite small and some people find them fiddly to change.

One downside is that if you forget to charge your hearing aid, then it is a problem that can't be instantly fixed. For most a 30 minute charge will get you at least two or three hours of hearing, but if you are the type of person who is likely to forget to plug them in regularly then you're probably better off with standard batteries.

Rechargeable aids are also a little bit bigger and are only available in behind the ear models.

Finally, just like with a mobile phone, the amount of charge you get on day one is not going to be the same as you get a few years down the line. Be sure to ask what the policy is with the manufacturer warranty when it comes to replacing the battery.

 

Are behind the ear aids better than in the ear aids?

For most people, the answer is yes. But it's never that simple.

The majority of hearing problems affect the high frequencies a lot more than the low ones. Therefore open fitting hearing aids sound a lot more natural and ones that block your ears up can make your own voice sound like you are talking with your head in a bucket. Therefore in-ear aids tend to be less natural.

However the true answer is we can't tell until we have had a look in your ears to assess the size of your ear canal, and until we have tested your hearing to see which frequencies are being affected.

People with wider ear canals tend to have more flexibility, also there are open fitting modular CIC hearing aids now that do not block your ears.

There is also the age old rule to consider, that a hearing aid will not help you if it's sat in the drawer gathering dust. If the only hearing aid you would be happy wearing is one that people can't see, then that's what you should get.

Most people can adapt to any type of hearing aid, as long as they know what to expect. Have an honest conversation with your audiologist as to what your needs are.

What are channels, and how many do I need?

Generally speaking, six or more. Unless it's none at all.

The number of channels a hearing aid has is often a simplistic way an audiologist will use to explain why one hearing aid is better than another, but channels are complex and it is really not that straightforward.

Hearing aids amplify sounds of different frequencies by different amounts. Most people have lost more high frequencies than low and therefore need more amplification in the high frequencies. The range of sounds you hear are split into frequency bands or channels and the hearing aids are set to provide the right amount of hearing at each frequency level.

Less than six channels and this cannot be done with much accuracy, so six is the magic number. However, a six channel aid is typically very basic with few other features and is suitable only for hearing a single speaker in a quiet room. The number of channels is not what you should be looking at, it's more the rest of the technology that comes with them.

As a final note, different manufacturers have different approaches. One method is not necessarily better than any other. For example some manufacturers have as many as 64 channels in their top aids. Most tend to have between 17 and 20. One manufacturer has no channels at all.

Where can I get the hearing aids covered?

Hearing aids are easily lost, misplaced or damaged and typically are one of the most expensive personal possessions an individual can own. We offer hearing aid warranty cover for £80 per year per aid.  Find out more here

How much does the hearing test cost?

All our audiologists use the very latest technology and provide the full range of tests to accurately measure your hearing for free.  Find out about what we offer all our customers here

Do home visits cost extra?

Hearing Aid UK offers all their customers free home visiting services and home visits for hearing aids - Including hearing tests, fittings, maintenance, check-ups and much more in the comfort of your own home and at your convenience.  Find out more information here

How come you're much cheaper than other places?

Here, at Hearing Aid UK, we are dedicated to offering low hearing aid prices. We achieve this by having no head office and low marketing costs.   Our hearing aid prices are amongst the lowest you will find anywhere in the world.

Need advice? Give our hearing aid experts a call for FREE

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