We frequently write about over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids and hearables from companies such as Nuheara, Bose, Wear and Hear, Olive, and Audien. These devices can improve hearing for people with mild to moderate impairment. We also cover hearing aids that are available only by prescription when they introduce significant technology advances, as we did with Phonak Audeo Paradise and Widex Moment hearing aids. Phonak recently launched the Virto Paradise line of custom-fit hearing aids. The Virto line includes three new hearing aid models that advance the field with an AI-driven system for personalized fit.

Phonak’s custom Biometric Calibration software shapes each users’ hearing aid based on 1,600 discrete data points, a Phonak product expert told Health Tech Insider on a video call. This close sizing results in a 2-decibel improvement in sound directionality, according to Phonak. The Virto P-312, Virto P Black, and Virto P-Titanium are ITE (in-the-ear) hearing aids; each fits inside the customer’s ear. Compared to common one-size-fits-all hearing aid construction, custom fit hearing aids are more comfortable, provide better sound quality with a superior seal against air leakage, and fit more securely so they’re less likely to fall out. Phonak Virto P hearing aids also have vent styles and placement determined by the individual’s ear anatomy. This custom venting reduces occlusion, or blocking. The venting algorithm feature is called Acoustically Optimized Venting (AOV),

The Virto P-312 ITE hearing aids employ the same Audeo Paradise speech enhancement technology that is in the hearing aids we tested previously. They can also pair with multiple devices via Bluetooth wireless connections and and easily switch between two active connected devices such as a laptop and a smartphone. The Paradise PRISM sound processing chip also recognizes and optimizes for streamed speech and music, augmenting the hearing aids’ entertainment functions.

The Virto P Black’s outer shell design — the part that others can see — looks more like a conventional earbud than a hearing aid. Phonak refers to the Virto Black as having a “stigma-busting design” for people who would rather that others not know they’re wearing hearing aids.

The Virto P-Titanium is the only hearing aid made from medical grade titanium, according to Phonak. This model’s shell is 50% thinner but 15 times stronger than the other models’ acrylic shells. The Virto P-Titanium is the smallest custom-fit hearing aid on the Paradise Audeo platform, which allows it to fit even more discretely than the other models.

Phonak’s Paradise Virto hearing aids are available only by prescription from ENT physicians or audiologists. Phonak doesn’t disclose the price of premium hearing aids, but you can count on them being significant multiples of the cost of OTC hearing aids. People with severe to profound hearing loss are less likely to have sufficient hearing improve from OTC hearing aids than those with mild to moderate impairment. One of the benefits of premium hearing aids for all of us with hearing loss is that the technologies developed for premium products tend to trickle down to lower-priced brands over time.