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Bernafon hearing aids, reviewed by audiologists

Swiss company Bernafon makes reliable hearing aids with clear sound for a variety of users.

A pair of Bernafon BTE hearing aids and a smartphone with the Bernafon app open on a cluttered table.

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3 key takeaways

  1. Bernafon is known for producing hearing aids that help patients hear clearly and comfortably in noise— Their current processing system, Hybrid Technology, is available in their Alpha XT and Alpha lines, which come in a variety of styles.
  2. They are a global hearing aid company, but you won’t find them in the U.S. market— Bernafon hearing aids were sold at Costco until 2019, when a decision was made to sell their sister brand, Philips, instead.
  3. Bernafon makes high-quality hearing aids— They offer similar features to the other major manufacturers, including rechargeability and Bluetooth connectivity, to make the overall experience easier for the user.

Purchasing hearing aids is an important but complicated step in the journey to better hearing. It is easy to get caught up and overwhelmed by the number of brands and styles available. Bernafon is a global hearing aid manufacturer that has a reputation for making reliable products.

They are part of the Demant Group, a company known for innovative hearing technology. The Bernafon brand has a variety of hearing aid styles and performance levels that can suit most hearing losses and help users stay social and connected.

Some quick facts about Bernafon hearing aids

Founded in 1946, Bernafon was not always the global hearing aid producer that it is today, but every company has to start somewhere. Let’s take a quick look at Bernafon’s interesting pedigree.

  1. Bernafon started as a telephone company. The owner’s son, Hans Gfeller Jr., began producing hearing aids for the company after taking interest in a hearing device his father brought back from the United States. Bernafon continued to operate primarily as a telecommunications company through the 1970s.
  2. Bernafon is sold in 70 countries. Although they might not be a major player in the U.S. market, they are well-known and trusted around the world. In fact, Bernafon is ranked eighth in the world for sales volume.
  3. Bernafon is a Swiss company. They are headquartered in Bern, Switzerland.
  4. They created the first digitally programmable hearing aid system. Called PHOX, it was released in 1987.

Are Bernafon hearing aids for me?

To find success with a hearing aid, they need to be well programmed, and Bernafon hearing aids are no exception. Bernafon has an impressive portfolio of hearing aids that can meet the needs of hearing loss patients looking to hear better; however, as with any device, there are pros and cons to consider.

The pros of Bernafon hearing aids

  • They come in a range of styles and performance levels. This makes it easy to find a product that fits your ears, lifestyle, and budget.
  • Bernafon has excellent sound quality. In clinical trials, participants using hearing aids with Bernafon’s Hybrid Technology found speech sounds to be clear and environmental sounds to be natural.
  • They are owned by Demant Group. Being part of such a large hearing healthcare group has its benefits when it comes to research, development, and even production of advanced hearing devices. They are constantly looking for ways to improve the lives of people with hearing loss

The cons of Bernafon hearing aids

  • They are no longer sold in the U.S. Costco will reportedly still service older Bernafon devices, but don’t expect to find their newer technology available for purchase.
  • Bernafon is a prescription-only hearing aid. Bernafon hearing aids must be programmed to your hearing evaluation by an audiologist or hearing care provider.
  • Their app technology isn’t the best. Reviews on Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store frequently mentioned inconsistencies in how the app connects and controls their Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids.

Customer service

Bernafon’s main contact page lists phone numbers and emails for support in the countries where Bernafon devices are sold. There is an option for hearing aid users to reach a representative if they are having technical problems, though as with many hearing aid manufacturers, Bernafon encourages contacting your hearing care provider for most issues. Bernafon also has numerous resources for care and troubleshooting available on their website.

Models available

Bernafon currently has five hearing aid platforms available for purchase, all with multiple hearing aid styles and performance levels. The three devices featured below were recommended by our board of audiologists based on their ability to reduce noise and feedback, their Bluetooth capabilities, and other unique features.

The Bernafon Alpha XT

The Alpha XT is Bernafon’s latest platform, which comes in two receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) models and two behind-the-ear (BTE) models. All are available in three performance levels. Each is available with either rechargeable or standard disposable batteries. All models come equipped with telecoils, which allow users to access venues that have loop systems in place.

The platform supports app access and direct audio streaming for both iPhone and many Android model phones; however, only iPhone users will get the benefit of hands-free calling.

The Bernafon Alpha XT

The Alpha XT is Bernafon’s latest platform, which comes in two receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) models and two behind-the-ear (BTE) models. All are available in three performance levels. Each is available with either rechargeable or standard disposable batteries.

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Criteria The Bernafon Alpha XT
Cost $2,200-$4,500/pair
Warranty Varies depending on the model and performance level
Rechargeable batteries? Yes: In the miniRITE T R and miniBTE T R models.
Bluetooth capabilities? Yes: All will connect to Bernafon’s app and support direct audio streaming for iPhone and most Androids.
Customization options There are ten different color cases to choose from. The hearing aids are also compatible with a number of wireless accessories.

Who are Bernafon Alpha XT hearing aids ideal for?

Bernafon Alpha XT hearing aids are best suited for patients with mild to severe hearing loss that want to be able to hear seamlessly in different environments. Bernafon’s Hybrid Technology analyzes the user’s environment and automatically adjusts based on what is detected. The system now includes Hybrid Sound Care, which helps eliminate wind and other contact noise. Since hands-free is not possible for Android devices (you would need to purchase and use a SoundClip-A to eliminate the need to talk into your phone’s microphone), AlphaXT is best suited for iPhone users or those who are not interested in phone connectivity.

The Bernafon Viron line

The Bernafon Viron hearing aid platform was launched in 2019. With it came improvements in sound detection, processing, and feedback cancellation. They also introduced their new rechargeable option. The Viron line comes in four models: three RICs and one BTE. Viron is available in five performance levels.

The Bernafon Viron line

The Bernafon Viron hearing aid platform was launched in 2019. With it came improvements in sound detection, processing, and feedback cancellation.

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Criteria The Bernafon Viron
Cost $1,200-$3,700/pair
Warranty Varies depending on the performance level.
Rechargeable batteries? Yes: In the miniRITE T R model
Bluetooth capabilities? Yes, but only with compatible apps and devices. There is no direct-streaming.
Customization options All models are available in nine different color choices.

Who are Bernafon Viron hearing aids ideal for?

Bernafon Viron hearing aids are on the older side now, but they are still a good option for people with mild to severe hearing loss who need help hearing in a variety of environments. The chip in the Viron line was designed to help users hear with less effort.

As there is more advanced processing on the market now, Viron would probably be best suited for users who live somewhat quieter lives and do not need advanced processing for noisy, complex settings. Viron’s Bluetooth capabilities are still fairly limited and cumbersome in this line, so they would not be a great option for someone tech-savvy.

The Bernafon Zerena mini RITE

The Zerena miniRITE is a receiver-in-the-canal hearing aid within the Zerena platform. The miniRITE is a popular style that appears in all of Bernafon’s platforms due to its discreet size and lightweight casing. The Zerena comes in five performance levels and has the ability to help users hear better in noise. Zerena also has a reputation for handling music well.

The Bernafon Zerena mini RITE

The Zerena miniRITE is a solid hearing aid option for someone with mild to severe hearing loss who needs to hear better but does not need the more advanced sound processing that comes with the newer generations.

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Criteria The Bernafon Zerena mini RITE
Cost $1,200-$3,700/pair
Warranty Varies, depending on the performance level
Rechargeable batteries? No
Bluetooth capabilities? Yes, but only with compatible apps and devices. There is no direct-streaming.
Customization options The Zerena miniRITE comes in five different color options.

Who are Bernafon Zerena mini RITE hearing aids ideal for?

The Zerena miniRITE is a solid hearing aid option for someone with mild to severe hearing loss who needs to hear better but does not need the more advanced sound processing that comes with the newer generations. The Zerena miniRITE requires the user to have decent feeling in their fingers and the ability to use their hands easily, as the device is small and there is no rechargeable battery option.

This model allows app use and pairing to most of Bernafon’s devices, such as their remote control and TV adapter, for those who want some control but whose primary interest is not in Bluetooth connectivity.

What our audiologists say about Bernafon hearing aids

 

Dr. Danielle Morgan=
“As a provider who has worked primarily in medical-based settings, I have not had the opportunity to work with Bernafon devices. However, since Bernafon is a hearing aid manufacturer that falls under the Demant Group, a company with a reputation for encouraging state-of-the-art technology, I can assume that Bernafon produces equally advanced devices.

Sadly, Bernafon no longer operates in the U.S., and you will not find their products except, perhaps, through online sellers. Bernafon is still found in Canada and is a popular brand in the U.K. and Europe. Since other brands offer more ubiquitous support, I would recommend my own patients look at other manufacturers.”

Dr. Jessica Hinson
“While Bernafon is made by one of the big 5 hearing aid manufacturers, they are sold in Costco and the software is locked to non-Costco employees. Therefore, if you move to a city without a Costco, you may be without service. Overall, the style and color options leave something to be desired. They offer good background noise suppression and can be programmed based on your specific hearing loss; however, there are better options on the market that will be the best bang for your buck.”

Dr. Ruth Reisman
“Bernafon is a sister company to Oticon and offers an affordable, high-tech option for patients that includes advanced features like tinnitus support, streaming, and app adjustments.”

What customers about Bernafon hearing aids

Customers say their favorite feature is…

Many customers say that Bernafon hearing aids are well-designed and comfortable, and they say that the battery charge lasts throughout the day. Others report that the quality of sound is exceptional.

Customers say their least favorite feature is…

The biggest complaint customers have is the lack of Bluetooth connectivity for Android users. Many also critique the color options, commenting that they are less than stellar. And while some site the quality of sound as their favorite feature, others say that they experience echo and delay with their devices.

Frequently asked questions

Can I connect my Android phone to my Bernafon hearing aids?

It depends on your phone model and the hearing aids you are using. Only Alpha XT and Alpha hearing aids are compatible with Android phones. You will need to speak into your phone’s microphone or use a SoundClip-A to make it truly hands-free, but you can stream and access the app.

Which is better: rechargeable or disposable batteries?

There are pros and cons to both rechargeable and replaceable (disposable) batteries, and the type you choose is entirely dependent on your lifestyle. Rechargeable batteries are great for patients who don’t want the hassle of changing a battery weekly and need their devices to last all day.

But disposable batteries give users the power to change them when needed and may work best for someone who doesn’t want to have one more device to charge up nightly.

Learn more about hearing aid batteries.

Can my Bernafon hearing aids be adjusted remotely?

The Bernafon App will work with all five of the current platforms: Alpha XT, Alpha, Zirena, Viron, and Leox. As long as your phone is compatible with the app, remote adjustments are possible. Check with your audiologist to see if they offer remote adjustments to save you a trip into the office!

What if I don’t want to use Bluetooth?

No problem! Even though Bluetooth is standard in most hearing aids nowadays and has its advantages, it is only an extra feature. Hearing aids at their core are designed to help you hear better and do not require Bluetooth to do so.

How long will Bernafon hearing aids last?

Hearing aids have an average lifespan of 4-6 years. Bernafon hearing aids are high-quality and very similar to the other big brands on the market. They do extensive research and development with all of their products to make them as user-friendly as possible, and to ensure they last.

Like all hearing aids, they last longer if cleaned regularly. Talk to your audiologist about the best way to maintain your devices.