Founded in 1967 with headquarters in Minnesota, Starkey is one of the “Big Six” international hearing aid manufacturers—a group of six companies that collectively make up the vast majority of the global hearing aid market—and the only one that’s U.S.-owned and operated.
Starkey (formally “Starkey Hearing Technologies”) currently sells hearing aids under its own name, as well as other hearing aid brands such as Audibel, MicroTech, and NuEar. The company also operates the non-profit Starkey Hearing Foundation, which provides hearing aids to people in need in the United States and around the world.
The good news is that Starkey hearing aids are suitable for multiple degrees of hearing loss, from mild to severe hearing loss. This means that Starkey can help many of the 29 million Americans who could benefit from using hearing aids.
But this raises another question: are Starkey hearing aids worth it? In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Starkey hearing aids: Starkey hearing aid special features, Starkey hearing aid reviews, how to choose a Starkey hearing aid, the cost of Starkey hearing aids, and more about hearing enhancement.
What are the Starkey hearing aid models & features?
As a major international hearing aid manufacturer, Starkey is frequently releasing and updating its hearing aid models. Below are some of the most popular Starkey hearing aid models as of writing:
Starkey Livio AI
Starkey calls this model “the world’s first Healthable hearing aid.” In addition to Bluetooth functionality and rechargeability, the Livio AI hearing aid technology includes health and fitness tracking features.
Starkey Livio Edge AI
The company claims that the Livio Edge AI is “the world’s first custom rechargeable hearing aid to deliver next-generation sound quality performance.” The Livio Edge AI contains additional AI-enhanced features when compared with the Livio AI, as we discuss in the next section.
The SoundLens Synergy is a small, near-invisible device that packs in features such as wind, noise, and feedback management, wireless connectivity, and tinnitus relief.
Picasso is Starkey’s custom in-the-ear hearing aid line, personalized to fit securely within your ear, essentially becoming an “invisible hearing aid,” while still providing excellent sound quality.
Starkey hearing aid features: Livio vs. Livio AI vs. Livio Edge AI
Livio is Starkey’s flagship hearing aid model—but within this product line, you still have a great deal of customer choice. In this section, we’ll try to clear things up by explaining the difference between Livio, Livio AI, and Livio Edge AI. Some things you should know:
- Livio is available for purchase at different levels. The level of a particular product is indicated by the “1000”, “1200”, “1600”, “2000”, and “2400”, with higher numbers indicating more features and functionality (and also higher cost).
- At each of these levels, you can also purchase an optional “AI” upgrade, offering additional enhancements making use of artificial intelligence.
- “Livio Edge AI” is the company’s top-shelf product, which is just a rebranding of the Livio 2400 AI” model.
The features of the Starkey hearing aid Livio base model include:
- Bluetooth technology to connect to Apple and Android smartphones.
- The Thrive Hearing Control mobile app to easily adjust the hearing aid settings from your smartphone app.
- Up to 24 hours of use for a single charge for each Starkey hearing aid.
- Rechargeability via a small, convenient carrying case.
The “Livio AI” line offers AI features such as:
- Transcribing conversations into text.
- Brain and body tracking, e.g. counting steps and monitoring physical activity.
- Tap controls to stop and start audio playback of the Starkey Hearing aid.
- Voice commands to control device volume and settings.
The Edge AI-exclusive features include:
- Fall detection and sending alerts to select contacts.
- Edge Mode to automatically adjust device settings and get feedback management based on speech audibility problems in the surrounding environment on the Starkey hearing aid.
- Translation during conversations with people who speak other languages.
- IntelliVoice speech enhancement for users with 50-decibel hearing loss or greater.
Starkey hearing aid styles and colors
It’s also important to discuss the different types of hearing aid styles. Each Starkey hearing aid product may be available in one or more of the options below, which vary in terms of factors such as pricing, features, and appearance.
Receiver in canal (RIC)
RIC hearing aids are similar to BTE models, but the receiver in the ear is connected via a small wire, rather than a plastic tube. This makes RIC devices slightly smaller and more discreet than BTE, while being suitable for mild to severe hearing loss.
Behind the ear (BTE)
BTE hearing aids have a hard case that sits behind the ear, which contains the device’s electronics (e.g. the microphone, amplifier, and speaker). This case is connected via a plastic tube to a custom earpiece inside your ear canal. BTE devices are typically larger than other styles, more budget-friendly, and used for moderate to severe levels of hearing loss.
Completely in canal (CIC)
A completely-in-canal hearing aid sits deep inside the ear canal without any external parts, making them extremely discreet and great for moderate hearing loss. Most CIC devices need to be custom-made to fit the individual user, and may be less powerful due to their smaller size.
In the canal (ITC)
An in-the-canal hearing aid is slightly larger than CIC devices, with a smaller portion visible in the outer ear. This allows for additional features (such as volume controls and settings) that aren’t possible with CIC models.
In the ear (ITE)
Like CIC and ITC, in-the-ear hearing aids are situated entirely within the ear, without an external case behind the ear. However, ITE is the largest of these three options, sitting in the “shell” of the outer ear—essentially, trading more power for less discretion.
What about Starkey hearing aid colors? Fortunately, we’ve come a long way from the “big and beige” BTE devices of yesteryear. The available colors for different models may include:
- Slate (dark gray)
- Sterling (light gray)
- Bright white
- Espresso (dark brown)
Starkey hearing aids apps & accessories
Beyond their own features and benefits, Starkey hearing aids also come with a number of helpful mobile apps and accessories, including:
- SurfLink Remote: The SurfLink Remote allows users easy volume adjustment and remote adjustment of their wireless Starkey hearing aids.
- SurfLink Media 2: The SurfLink Media is a transmitter that enables wireless streaming from electronic devices (e.g. TVs, radios, computers, and MP3 players) directly into your Starkey hearing aids.
- SurfLink Mini Mobile: The SurfLink Mini Mobile connects your hearing aids with any Bluetooth-enabled mobile device, streaming phone calls directly into your ears.
- Wireless audio streaming: Customers can also purchase wireless accessories such as the Remote Microphone Plus+ for one-on-one conversations in noisy environments for better social engagement, and the Table Microphone for group conversations such as meetings and family gatherings.
- Thrive Care (and Thrive App): The Thrive Care app lets users share certain health and wellness information, such as their physical activity, Starkey hearing aid usage, and active listening, with trusted individuals like family, friends, and care providers.
How much do Starkey hearing aids cost?
Finding information about the price of Starkey hearing aids is challenging, since potential customers are supposed to first get a price quote from their local retailers customer service. However, some information is available from the website of the hearing aid provider Ohana Hearing Care in Honolulu. Below are the retail prices of select models:
- Livio 2000: $2,500
- Livio AI: $3,500
- Livio 2400: $3,339
- Muse IQ i2400 Rechargeable: $3,099
- Picasso i2400: $2,999
Note that these prices may vary depending on your choice of hearing care provider, including any discounts or additional services they offer. Also note that these prices are per device, not per pair.
There’s still one important question to discuss: are Starkey hearing aids worth it? While only you can answer this for yourself, make sure that you consider all your options, including other hearing aid manufacturers, before you come to a final decision.
Do Starkey hearing aids come with a warranty or guarantee?
Starkey offers a comprehensive “Worry-Free Warranty” plan for all of its brands, which covers any hearing aids that are still in proper operating condition. The coverage of the Starkey hearing aid warranty includes:
- Repairing the failure of internal components
- Repairing external damage
- Remakes due to poor fit of a Starkey hearing aid.
- A one-time replacement due to loss, theft, or destruction
The company also gives customers a 30-day trial period for their new devices, allowing for returns and exchanges. For specific details about the warranty of your Starkey hearing aids, speak with your audiologist or hearing care professional.
How should I choose which type of Starkey hearing aid?
The choice of which Starkey hearing aid to buy will depend on your individual needs and situation. The factors you should evaluate include:
- Your level and type of hearing loss: Consider not only your current degree or level of hearing loss, but also your possible future needs if your hearing loss worsens over time.
- Your choice of hearing aid style: From behind-the-ear to completely-in-canal, the right device model and fit will depend on each customer’s preferences.
- Your use cases: Consider where and how you will be using your Starkey hearing aids: one-to-one conversations, noisy environments, making phone calls, streaming TV and music, etc. Look for devices that have features such as directional microphones and wireless technology.
- Your activity level: Users who are highly active and on-the-go may want to consider special models such as rechargeable or waterproof hearing aids.
Where do I find a review of Starkey hearing aids?
The good news is that the vast majority of customers are satisfied with their Starkey hearing aid devices. As of writing, Starkey Hearing Technologies has a Better Business Bureau rating of A+, with only 6 customer in the past 3 years. Starkey hearing aids have mostly positive reviews and are available on websites such as Trustpilot, where the company has an average rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars. Negative reviews mention shipping issues and Bluetooth connectivity.
Does Starkey offer hearing aids with rechargeable batteries?
Yes, some Starkey devices are rechargeable hearing aids. Rechargeable Starkey hearing aid models include Livio Edge AI, Livio AI, and Livio, as well as the Muse iQ Rechargeable hearing aids, a product line which comes in a number of styles and colors.
What if I need help for my Starkey hearing aids?
The company offers online hearing tests for mild to severe hearing loss without an office visit, as well as an online customer support portal for simple problems with your Starkey hearing aids, including frequently asked questions, instruction manuals, and how-to videos. For more advanced issues, you can get support through phone and live chat, or by scheduling an appointment with a healthcare hearing professional.