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Which hearing aid has the best Bluetooth streaming range?

Updated: Mar 7

Over the months of August and September, I received a relatively high number of middle-aged patients for hearing aid consultation. Not surprising that Bluetooth streaming was one of the biggest criteria of selection for almost all of them. This article is my own reflection on Bluetooth streaming and hands-free calls of some of the premium hearing aids and how they rank on Bluetooth streaming in my experience. I tested Widex Moment, Oticon Real, Starkey Evolv Ai, Signia Pure AX, Resound Omnia and Phonak Lumity for their Bluetooth range in a living space.

As an audiologist, I try every premium hearing aid as soon as they are available in the market so I can provide practical and unbiased advice to my patients.

I love music. Also, I love listening to podcasts while commuting to work. I have binaural tinnitus as well, so you can imagine that I am heavily dependent on Bluetooth connectivity and streaming for listening to music, my favourite podcasts and managing my moderate tinnitus through sound management and masking.

Let's have a brief on Bluetooth technology.

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a low-power wireless communication technology that uses a 2.4 GHz band frequency to send and receive information between two devices.

What factors affect the range of Bluetooth?

The range of Bluetooth can be more than a kilometre to less than a meter (more details here). There are 5 main factors that determine the effectiveness and reliability of Bluetooth communication between two devices:

  • receiver sensitivity,

  • path loss,

  • transmitter power,

  • transmitter antenna gain and

  • receiver antenna gain.

What factors affect the range of Bluetooth in hearing aids?

Out of the 5 factors mentioned above the transmit antenna gain and transmit gain are at the side of the transmitter, in the case of hearing aids will be your smartphone that is sending the music streaming to your hearing aids, for example.

The receiver sensitivity is a key factor in the effectiveness and reliability of the streaming to your hearing aids through Bluetooth. The path loss becomes critical when the transmitter (in their case your smartphone) is not in direct sight of the hearing aids, e.g. you have put your smartphone in your pocket, in your bag or in a different room. In such a condition, you must have experienced that as you turn your head the reception is interrupted in one ear versus the other one. As a matter of fact, your head becomes the biggest barrier between the transmitter and the hearing aid and the received streaming signal is masked and corrupted.

Until recently the hearing aid manufacturers did not consider the receiver antenna in the design of Bluetooth streaming through hearing aids. Two hearing aids hit the market in 2023 that have paid attention to improving the reliability of Bluetooth streaming by considering the receiver antenna in their design.

Resound Omnia - Resound GN has successfully used the wire of the speaker in their latest model Resound Omnia as the receiver antenna. Such simple innovation almost doubled the range of Bluetooth connectivity from 12m to 25m in an open field. Please see the video clip below. See Resound Omnia here.

Starkey Evilve Ai Bluetooth CIC - In the same approach Starkey also used the retainer wire of its latest invisible Starkey Evolv Bluetooth CIC as the receiver antenna to improve the Bluetooth connectivity. The result is magnificent, especially knowing that generally speaking the custom made hearing aids have poorer Bluetooth connectivity compared to RIC and BTE hearing aids, simply because most of the electronics in the hearing aids are deep inside the ear canal makes a bigger path loss for the sent and receive Bluetooth signals. See the product here.

How do hearing aids rank in their Bluetooth range?

In an in-house effort, I used a simple set-up in the clinic to understand how the available hearing aids in the market rank in terms of their range of Bluetooth. Below is the results:

  • Starkey Evolv Ai, Starkey Genesis, and Widex Moment - 7mt

  • Signia Pure AX and IX, Rexton BiCore and Resound One - 8mt

  • Oticon Real - 9mt

  • Resound Omnia and Oticon Intent - 12mt

  • Phonak Lumity - 15mt

Bluetooth range comparison among premium hearing aids - HearingNow internal test all rights reserved

Bluetooth range in meters, office and clinic environment

Important points about the test condition:

All the hearing aids used in this test were RIC (receiver in the canal). The source of the streaming was an iPhone, streaming music through Bluetooth from room 1, through a corridor, to the person wearing the hearing aids in room 2 at the end of the corridor. The set-up is not scientifically designed for a test, but the exact same set-up was used for all the hearing aids, therefore I would say the test has been done on a relatively fair basis for different technologies.

Please note that in the canal and in the ear hearing aids were not been used in this test.

Also, need to mention that the test was done on a simple one-way streaming from a smartphone to the hearing aids. Another test seems to be required to assess the reliability of Bluetooth communication in two-way communication such as phone conversation over tested hearing aids.

Which hearing aids have the best Bluetooth connectivity?

As per our in-house test, Phonak Lumity followed by Resound Omnia has the longest Bluetooth connectivity and the least dropout in an equal distance. I was expecting Phonak to stand out as Phonak is the only hearing aid in the market that uses standard Bluetooth connectivity at the cost of a slightly bigger size of the hearing aid, and shorter battery life. All other hearing aids use a low-energy Bluetooth protocol to save the battery life of the hearing aids.

Our recommendation:

If listening to music, podcasts, and hands-free calls are a big factor in choosing your next hearing aid, I highly recommend considering trialling Phonak Lumity Oticon Intent, and Resound Omnia.

Have a question about premium hearing aids? Talk to our audiologist over a Zoom meeting.

Update, October 2023 - Starkey released their latest technology platform under Starkey Genesis which claims to have better Bluetooth connectivity and stability than Starkey Evolv. In our in-house test, the Bluetooth connectivity range and stability of Starkey Genesis are the same as the Starkey Evolv.

Update, March 2024 - Oticon released their latest technology Oticon Intent. We did the same test for Oticon Intent in terms of the distance that you can stream music and audio from your smartphone to the hearing aids. The results confirm that the connectivity and stability of Bluetooth streaming of Oticon Intent is better than Oticon Real, and almost on par with Resound Omnia.


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