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Widex vs Starkey: Head to Head

December 10, 2023
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Written by
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A

Dr. Amy Sarow is a practicing clinical audiologist and serves as Audiology Lead for Soundly. Her expertise and experience span topics including tinnitus, cochlear implants, hearing aid technology, and hearing testing. She holds a doctoral degree in audiology from the University of Iowa. During her residency at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Sarow was inspired by the three-tiered, patient-centered approach, incorporating clinical work, teaching and research.

Soundly Staff
Reviewed by
Soundly Staff
Soundly Staff

Soundly conducts in-depth research to guide prospective hearing aid wearers. Our work is funded through reader support. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

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As an audiologist with experience in fitting all the major hearing aid brands, I understand how overwhelming it can be for patients to choose the right brand for their needs. Today, we will compare two of the most popular hearing aid brands: Widex and Starkey. This will be a head-to-head comparison, where we will look at their respective features and determine which brand comes out on top.

First up to bat in this comparison is the Danish powerhouse, Widex. Known for its state-of-the-art sound and tinnitus features, Widex has led the hearing aid industry with ultra-fast sound processing. They have a reputation for producing hearing aids that provide natural audio.

On the other side of the matchup, we have Starkey, renowned for its trailblazing efforts in incorporating cutting-edge technology, such as artificial intelligence and health tracking capabilities, into its devices. As we line them up head-to-head, one thing is sure—it's going to be a tough match. Who will emerge victorious? Stay tuned!

Round One: Style 

Widex vs. Starkey styles.

Widex Style Notes

Widex hearing aids boast the smallest RIC (receiver-in-canal) model on the market. Their slightly boxier look may not be as sleek as Starkey's designs, but don't let that fool you. This compact design packs a punch, offering impressive sound quality while maintaining discretion for the wearer. Widex offers a full range of hearing devices. From custom in-the-ear devices to behind-the-ear models.

Starkey Style Notes

Starkey has a different approach to style. Boasting a futuristic, rounded design, these hearing aids definitely stand out from their competitors. Starkey has successfully reinvented the typical hearing aid look, introducing a contemporary touch that resonates with modern users. But their hearing aids aren't just about looking sleek and stylish. Starkey has incorporated a practical push-button feature into their designs, greatly enhancing user experience. This feature allows users to adjust volume levels and easily switch between different settings, ensuring a smooth, comfortable hearing experience.

In addition, Starkey offers an array of discreet, rechargeable custom options. Their in-the-ear models are customized to fit perfectly, making them less noticeable and more comfortable. In this round, Starkey delivers a knockout punch, demonstrating that being future-forward goes hand in hand with ensuring practicality and wearability.

Round One: Winner - Starkey

Undeniably, both Widex and Starkey showcase impressive style features. Widex excels with its robust and discreet design, offering various models to cater to hearing needs. However, it's Starkey that takes the win in this round. Starkey's futuristic design, combined with the convenience of the practical push-button feature and its unique rechargeable, custom options, gives it an edge over Widex. By seamlessly merging style, functionality, and comfort, Starkey provides a fresh perspective to the typical hearing aid, earning them the victory in this head-to-head style match.

Round Two: Bluetooth 

Widex vs. Starkey's Bluetooth connection.

Widex Bluetooth Notes

Widex comes equipped with Made for iPhone (MFi) technology. This connection permits iPhone users to enjoy a seamless, high-quality sound experience with their Widex hearing aids. Whether it's for streaming music or taking phone calls, iPhone users will appreciate the superior sound quality that Widex delivers.

But Widex isn't leaving Android users out in the cold. They use ASHA (Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids) technology to ensure Android users also bask in top-tier sound quality. Although it's worth noting that while iPhone users can take phone calls hands-free, Android users require an accessory to utilize this feature.

Starkey Bluetooth Notes

Starkey isn't falling behind in the race for connectivity. Echoing Widex's efforts, Starkey also offers Made for iPhone (MFi) and Android's Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) connectivity. Starkey hearing aids can be directly connected to iPhones and Android devices. Users can enjoy a seamless audio streaming experience, directly bringing their favorite music, podcasts, or calls into their hearing aids.

Starkey's latest model, the Genesis, takes connectivity a step further. Equipped with an enhanced wireless antenna designed to provide a stronger, more reliable connection, Genesis ensures that users can count on a stable and uninterrupted connection, making their hearing aid experience smooth and hassle-free. Starkey is putting on a strong display in this round, demonstrating its dedication to providing a seamless digital connection for all users.

Round Two: Winner - Starkey

The Bluetooth connectivity round was a close one. Widex and Starkey demonstrate a remarkable commitment to seamless connectivity for iPhone and Android users. However, Starkey edges out Widex in this round, thanks to the Genesis model's enhanced wireless antenna.

This innovation provides a stronger, more reliable connection, ensuring users a smoother hearing aid experience. This added emphasis on reliability, and user experience solidifies Starkey's victory in the Bluetooth connectivity round. 

Round Three: Smartphone App

Starkey App Notes

Both contenders display impressive capabilities in the realm of Smartphone apps. The real game-changer in this round is Starkey. The American brand provides the usual sound customization options in its app and goes the extra mile by incorporating health tracking features.

But that's not all; Starkey offers an extra support layer through its companion-focused features. The app allows companions to keep an eye on the hearing aid wearer, detect falls, and provide additional support for their loved ones.

But the standout feature has to be Starkey's Edge Mode. Powered by artificial intelligence, Edge Mode dynamically adjusts the hearing aids to account for the different acoustic characteristics of each environment, ensuring users enjoy the best possible hearing experience in all situations. This unique app feature again proves Starkey's commitment to innovating and providing robust, user-focused solutions.

Widex App Notes

Widex offers its own Smartphone strategy with the AI-powered Widex app. Widex's app includes the innovative PureSound technology. With this feature, users can personally adjust sound quality via the app, creating an immersive listening experience tailored to their preferences. Moreover, Widex matches Starkey's offering with its own 'Find My Hearing Aid' feature, ensuring users can quickly locate their devices if misplaced.

The setback for Widex in this round is in remote care. Although Widex offers remote care capabilities, users must have their neck loop accessory to utilize this feature.

Round Three: Winner - Starkey

Both Starkey and Widex show dedication to their user base by providing robust, feature-rich Smartphone apps. However, Starkey pulls ahead with its innovative offerings, which extend beyond sound customization to health tracking and companion-focused features.

The standout feature is undoubtedly Starkey's Edge Mode, which uses artificial intelligence to enhance user experience across various acoustic environments. Starkey clinches the Smartphone app round, demonstrating its commitment to innovation and user-centered solutions. 

Round Four: Special Features 

Starkey Feature Notes

Starkey brings a convenient and stress-alleviating feature - the 'Find My Hearing Aid.' Losing a hearing aid can be inconvenient and anxiety-inducing, but Starkey works to put your mind at ease with this smart solution. With 'Find My Hearing Aid,' you can say goodbye to frantic searches and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that locating a misplaced hearing aid is just a few taps away on your app.

This feature pinpoints the hearing aid's last known location and offers a tracking function, guiding you back to your device. An absolute lifesaver in those instances when your hearing aid seems to have disappeared into thin air, the 'Find My Hearing Aid' function epitomizes Starkey's dedication to providing user-friendly and pragmatic solutions for its users.

This commitment to user convenience and peace of mind firmly establishes Starkey as a formidable competitor in the realm of special features.

Widex Feature Notes

Widex puts forward a soothing solution for those suffering from tinnitus in its array of tinnitus masking options. Users can experiment with and personalize their sound experience with Widex's signature fractal tones. These specially designed sounds relieve those battling with tinnitus, contributing to an enhanced quality of life.

This unique feature sets Widex apart from its competitors, demonstrating its commitment to superior sound quality and addressing the less-talked-about yet crucial aspect of hearing health. Indeed, this move by Widex underscores its dedication to comprehensive hearing solutions, paying heed to the needs of those grappling with the often-overlooked tinnitus condition.

Round Four: Winner - Widex

The special features round turns the tables with Widex emerging triumphant. While Starkey's 'Find My Hearing Aid' function demonstrates practicality and provides a high level of convenience for users, Widex's unique tinnitus masking options cater to a broader range of hearing-related issues.

By incorporating fractal tones, Widex offers respite to users with tinnitus, ensuring they enjoy an enhanced quality of life. This feature elevates the sound experience and underscores Widex's commitment to comprehensive hearing solutions. Therefore, despite a strong showing from Starkey, Widex takes the lead in the special features round, thanks to its holistic approach to hearing health. 

Round Five: Sound Quality 

Starkey Sound Quality Notes

Starkey impresses with its fully developed, effortless sound quality. Music, in particular, is full and resonant, delivering a rich auditory experience. Thanks to the advanced Deep Neural Network (DNN) technology and lightning-fast processing, the sound quality delivered by Starkey's hearing aids is so smooth and natural that it's almost like you're not wearing a hearing aid.

This seamless integration of sound enhancement technology with user comfort takes hearing aid performance to a whole new level. The effortless sound quality provided by Starkey is a testament to their investment in cutting-edge technology and commitment to providing users with an optimal auditory experience, positioning them as a powerful contender in the realm of sound quality.

Widex Sound Quality Notes

In the realm of sound quality, Widex makes a compelling case with its powerful sound class technology. This advanced feature ensures users stay connected to their environment and can easily distinguish between sounds.

Widex further impresses with its unique ZeroDelay technology, designed to preserve the natural sound quality, preventing it from sounding overly processed. This feature makes Widex the go-to option for audiophiles who value a natural and refined sound experience. This technology provides users a lag-free, authentic audio experience, capturing sound with high-fidelity quality and exceptional clarity.

This unique feature underscores Widex's commitment to delivering a superior hearing experience, further intensifying this closely contested face-off between these two industry titans.

Round Five: Winner - Tie

The sound quality round is a tie, with both Starkey and Widex delivering exceptional performance. With its advanced Deep Neural Network technology, Starkey offers a smooth, natural sound that immerses users in a rich auditory experience. On the other hand, Widex, with its sound class technology and unique ZeroDelay feature, provides a lag-free, high-fidelity sound experience that audiophiles will appreciate.

Ultimately, the decision lies in your hands. You can test the sound quality of both these devices for yourself using our Live Listen feature. This lets you get a feel for each and decide which best suits your needs. As we conclude this intense face-off, it's clear that Starkey and Widex are dedicated to delivering superior auditory experiences, each with unique strengths.

Final Thoughts

In this comprehensive face-off between Starkey and Widex hearing aids, it's evident that both companies are committed to providing superior auditory experiences. The competition was closely contested, with each brand shining in different aspects. Starkey took the lead in the initial rounds with features like the 'Find My Hearing Aid' function emphasizing user convenience.

At the same time, Widex stood out with its unique tinnitus masking options and holistic approach to hearing health. The sound quality round ended in a tie, with both brands showcasing advanced technologies that enhance the auditory experience.

Ultimately, the decision lies with the user. When choosing the appropriate hearing aid, it is essential to consider individual needs and preferences. Both Starkey and Widex continue to invest in cutting-edge technology, making significant strides in sound quality, user convenience, and overall hearing health.

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