Update: the Soundtastic Aria is no longer available. The best alternatives are the ZVOX VB20, the Neosonic MX Smart, and the Otofonix Sona.
The Soundtastic Aria hearing amplifier has an amazing name. Like its little brother, the Soundtastic Swan, the name gives a great first impression. And there’s more to sustain that first impression: it looks sleek, is (partially) made in America, and features a Bluetooth connection that allows you to adjust how your hearing amplifier sounds.
But for an everyday user, first impressions only last a little while. How does this Soundtastic model hold up with regular use? How is the sound quality? This review for the Soundtastic Aria will answer these questions by looking more in-depth at the key features, discussing how well it works, and what its downsides could be.
As always, I’ve summarized my findings in a visual 30-second review. You can find this quick review at the bottom of this post or by clicking here.
Links in this article pointing to another website might be affiliate links. If you purchase something on those websites, I may receive a small commission. This doesn’t affect your price nor my review.
Key features of the Soundtastic Aria
The first key feature of the Aria is that it has Bluetooth functionality. This can mean a lot of different things, but in this case, it allows you to adjust the volume and other sound settings from your smartphone. As hearing aids get smaller and smaller, it can get harder to control them – especially for seniors. Using the app helps you bypass the tiny buttons and control your hearing amplifier remotely.
Second, all sound quality parameters are in place. This means you’ll get the same sound quality you’d expect from more expensive hearing amplifiers. Background noise is reduced, and sound is filtered to ensure you can focus on speech and other sounds you want to hear. Remember that hearing amplifiers can never fully replace the natural way your ears work, and that it takes time for your brain to learn how to process the new sounds properly. At first, you might hear sounds you had forgotten about and feel overwhelmed by those sounds. After a while, your hearing should feel more natural and familiar again.
As a third key feature, Soundtastic hearing amplifiers are assembled in the USA (parts are made abroad). For US buyers, this means shopping for Soundtastic is shopping closer to home.
Who is this hearing amplifier for?
With a 35 dB peak gain, this hearing amplifier is best suited for people with mild or moderate hearing loss. Any problems past moderate hearing loss will require a more powerful amplifier. Additionally, the Bluetooth connection makes the Soundtastic Aria a great option for people who experience trouble with small devices and buttons. Shaking hands or larger fingers make hearing amplifiers notoriously hard to handle, and people with these challenges can most benefit from the remote control options.
How well does the Soundtastic Aria work?
Beyond the first impressions, the Soundtastic Aria still holds up. Users have four different programs to choose from. If your phone battery dies or you don’t want to start up the app, all controls are still on the device itself, too. The rocker volume control lets you switch through the different volume settings easily.
With 16 processing channels and 4-channel sound compression, the sound quality rivals that of prescription hearing aids. Additional sound features such as layered noise reduction, advanced adaptive feedback cancellation, and dynamic range compression all help focus on the sounds you want to hear most – especially speech.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Bluetooth connection only exists to help adjust the volume settings. It is not possible to use the connection to connect external audio to the hearing amplifiers. Some users express frustration over the inability to connect to their television or listen to music – this is not a supported functionality, and therefore not listed as a downside below.
The Soundtastic Aria uses size 312 batteries and promises a 170-hour battery life. The exact battery life depends on how you use the device.
What’s not to like about the Soundtastic Aria?
Although the Bluetooth functionality helps people adjust their listening experience, there are certain limitations. The app only allows you to adjust the treble and bass (aside from volume). This still gives you an individual listening experience, but doesn’t give you the granular control that for example the Eargo NEO has to offer.
Newer models, such as the Otofonix Sona and Neosonic MX Smart, feature a self test that helps setup, too. The benefits of the Bluetooth app are also limited to people who have trouble operating smaller devices, but are comfortable using smartphones.
Another small downside to the Soundtastic Aria is the fact that the devices aren’t ambidextrous. There is an amplifier for the left ear and one for the right. By default, the Aria comes in a pair. This has its benefits, as your listening experience is always better when you wear a pair. The fact that they’re not ambidextrous means that you need to wear each in the right ear. This is just a minor inconvenience, but when it comes to the Soundtastic Aria, the downsides aren’t that easy to spot.
Lastly, a more serious downside to the Aria is that the dB peak gain limits the use to people with moderate hearing loss. This means that when your hearing decreases over time, you’ll have to look for another device sooner than you would with more powerful devices.
Hearing amplifiers that are good alternatives
If the moderate power of the Soundtastic Aria sounds like a problem, the Neosonic MX is a good alternative, especially the clever Neosonic MX Smart version. The Otofonix Sona is comparable and an upgrade from the Aria, but less powerful.
For those interested in the Bluetooth functionality, the ZVOX VB20 hearing aid might be a good alternative. This hearing amplifier is scaled in a lower price category than the Aria, but offers a good set of features, including a dual microphone setup.
You can find more alternatives on the page with 30-second reviews where I ranked all hearing amplifiers in order of my recommendation.
Should you buy the Soundtastic Aria?
The Soundtastic Aria is a good buy. As long as you understand that the Aria is a hearing amplifier and not a pair of wireless headphones, there’s little risk of disappointment. The Bluetooth functionality can be a life-changing feature, but requires some affinity with technology (or a grandchild who lives close). Once you understand these caveats, the Soundtastic Aria is a great buy.
No, the Bluetooth functionality is only to control how the hearing aids sound.
The Soundtastic Aria is no longer available. Please read the alternatives in the review above.
Would you like to make better-informed buying decisions? Sign up to our newsletter below and get personalized buying advice, information about life with hearing loss, and the latest information directly to your email.