Aids > Brands
The field of hearing aid manufacturing is not dominated by one or two international corporations, but has at least a half dozen major companies vying for the same consumer base. This competitiveness has been a driving force behind the rapid pace of innovation and technological development within the industry.
A number of the companies that have become leading hearing aid manufacturers were either founded or moved into the industry in the 1940s on the back of the invention of the transistor, when the first pocket sized hearing aid models became available to consumers. It began in 1940, when Beltone was founded in Chicago and came out with its first product: a portable hearing aid called the Model H.
A year after the end of the war, a Swiss company called Gfeller which had been making electromechanical devices since the 1920s, produced the first Swiss hearing aid. Years later, Gfeller AG would be renamed “Bernafon” as one of the changes stemming from its takeover by the Danish family in control of Oticon.
As it turned out, the Swiss market was large enough for more than one hearing aid manufacturer. A year after Gfeller developed its first hearing instrument, a company called “AG für Elektroakustik” was founded in Zurich, adding another competitor to the burgeoning hearing device industry. AG für Elektroakustik would prove to be quite successful, giving rise to Phonak, which would in subsequent years join forces with Unitron under an umbrella corporation called Sonova.
At the same time as AG für Elektroakustik was being established, the Danish factory owner Gerd Rosenstand was founding Danavox in Copenhagen. This hearing aid manufacturer would become a leader in Europe and eventually be acquired by GN Store Nord in the 1970s.
A flurry of activity around the world concluded the decade. In 1948, the inventor Ken Dahlberg founded the company that would soon be known as Miracle-Ear. The same year, Kobayashi-Riken Seisakusho of Japan, better known today as the Rion Company, began to develop hearing aids. Just before the close of the decade, in 1949, the German industrial giant Siemens introduced the Phonophor Alpha, which was its first pocket sized hearing aid product.
Thus, by the end of the 1940s, the hearing aid space was already becoming crowded. Pocket sized hearing aids were being produced by Beltone, Oticon, and Siemens, along with the precursor companies of Bernafon, Phonak, GN ReSound, Rion, and Miracle-Ear. In the 1950s and 1960s, the industry expanded further still with the founding of Widex in Denmark, Hansaton and Interton in Germany, Coselgi in Italy, Unitron in Canada, and Rexton and Starkey in the United States.
With so many different companies, the market was poised for consolidation. Larger companies acquired smaller manufacturers and over the next several decades a number of hearing aid producers ended up under the same corporate umbrella. Danavox, ReSound, Beltone, and Interton all ended up as part of GN Store Nord. Bernafon became part of the same holding company that oversees Oticon. Phonak acquired Unitron, eventually changing the corporate entity’s name to Sonova. Meanwhile, Rexton and Miracle-Ear were acquired by Siemens. Many other smaller manufacturers were also acquired by their larger competitors.
Interestingly, a number of companies who have been acquired have nonetheless retained their brand names. This gives rise to situations in which a consumer who is trying to decide between two different brand names may not realize that both are actually manufactured by the same company.
As the industry has shaken out, much of the market is controlled today by about a half dozen major international corporations, including GN Store Nord (Danavox, ReSound, Beltone, Interton), William Demant Holdings (Oticon, Bernafon), Sonova (Phonak, Unitron), Siemens (Rexton, Miracle-Ear), Starkey, and Widex. In addition to these, a major new player in the industry arose in the 1990s with the founding of Sonic Innovations. Founded by a group of professors and researchers from Brigham Young University, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of Utah, and originally called Sonix, this company has been able to rapidly gain market share as a result of its cutting edge technology.
Generally, there is a level of parity among the major hearing aid manufacturers as far as pricing, quality, and functionality. However, certain brands have earned a relatively stronger reputation for both consumer satisfaction and technological excellence. Siemens and Sonic Innovations, closely followed by Sonova and GN ReSound, consistently top the rankings when it comes to both expert assessments and consumer reviews.
This an overview of hearing aid brands - we present our ranking of the top 10 below. Please also explore other topics available on our site. In the meantime, if this information has been helpful to you, we would greatly appreciate it if you would support us by recommending our site to other users on Google. You can do so by simply clicking this button:
We present the logos for those brands which we consider to be in the top ten among all hearing aid manufacturers below.