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The Best Invisible Hearing Aids Of 2024: OTC vs. Prescription Hearing Aids

While invisible hearing aids used to be extremely expensive, several new products are priced to meet the needs of cost-conscious first-time buyers.

Audiologist Matthew Allsop takes a deep dive into the world of invisible and near-invisible hearing aids, comparing the top prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) options. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

Are you shopping for invisible hearing aids? You’re not alone. Many people with hearing loss, especially first-time buyers, fear that hearing aids will make them appear old or infirm. What better way to quell those fears than wearing hearing aids so small they can’t be seen?

More invisible options than ever before

While hearing aid stigma has certainly lessened in recent years—especially as Bluetooth earbuds have become popular with consumers of all ages—there’s still healthy demand for invisible hearing aids. And reputable hearing aid manufacturers have responded with a range of excellent invisible and near-invisible products.

How much do invisible hearing aids cost?

In 2024, there’s a broader range of products and prices than ever before. While invisible hearing aids used to be extremely expensive, several new products are priced to meet the needs of cost-conscious first-time buyers.

On the higher end, you can spend $5,000 or more for a pair of high-performance invisible in-the-ear hearing aids programmed to your specific hearing loss and customized to the exact size and shape of your ear canals. And now, thanks to the new crop of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, you can purchase hearing aids that fit completely within your ear canals for under $1,000.

Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) vs. completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids

Before you start your search, it’s important to understand the important differences between several types of invisible hearing aids. First, invisible hearing aids are smaller than the Bluetooth earbuds that people wear at the gym. You can buy excellent hearing aids in earbud form factors at a broad range of prices and performance levels. But you will need a much smaller form factor if want hearing aids that can’t be seen.

There are two form factors that we regard as “invisible.” A hearing aid with an “invisible in-the-canal” (IIC) form factor sits so deeply within the ear canal that it’s nearly impossible to see. A second, slightly larger form factor sits “completely in the canal” (CIC) and is nearly invisible but can be seen if someone is looking straight into your ear.

Demonstration of how a brown and black hearing aid faceplate looks on a man; the devices are almost invisible

A CIC with brown faceplate color (left) and an IIC with black faceplate color (right). Both the deeper insertion depth and black faceplate help the IIC to remain invisible. Image Source: Starkey

If you’re shopping for invisible hearing aids, get to know those acronyms and decide which may be right for you. IIC’s are so tiny no one will ever see them, but the larger CIC’s can barely be seen and in many cases are more affordable. We recommend trying out both form factors.

Custom prescription vs. self-fit invisible hearing aids

There’s another difference to be aware of, and it can have a big impact on price. Custom invisible hearing aids are programmed by a healthcare professional to your specific hearing loss, whereas invisible over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids generally require you to adjust volume and program settings yourself.

Custom-programmed prescription hearing aids can help you hear a lot better, especially if you have more than very mild hearing loss. And many custom models are manufactured to match the specific shape of your ear canal based on an earmold impression taken by your provider, which can make them more comfortable. But you pay a premium, with custom models from leading manufacturers costing several thousand dollars each.

OTC hearing aids, on the other hand, are one size fits all and generally aren’t sold or serviced by audiologists. They don’t provide exact tuning to your hearing-loss prescription, instead allowing you to adjust some amplification and sound processing settings yourself. But they can perform well, especially for people with mild hearing loss. And you can get a pair of invisible OTC hearing aids for less than $1,000.

The extremely small Eargo 7 hearing aids in the palm of a hand

Eargo 7 OTC hearing aids are considered "instant-fit" because they are not custom molded to your unique ear canal.

How well do invisible hearing aids work?

Because they are so small, invisible hearing aids can’t provide as many bells and whistles as larger hearing aids with processors that sit behind the ear. But they can still provide excellent amplification with advanced sound-processing features. In fact, recent product introductions from the largest hearing-aid manufacturers have integrated their latest chip technologies and sound processing upgrades into their smallest hearing aids.

But there are tradeoffs. While invisible hearing aids provide plenty of amplification for people with mild or moderate hearing loss, they work less well for more severe hearing loss. While there are some high-output models on the market today offered by companies like Phonak, Oticon, and Starkey, acoustic feedback is likely to limit amplification well before the maximum output is reached. This is due to the close proximity of speaker output and microphone.

Battery life is also an issue: smaller batteries need to be changed or recharged more often than many hearing aid users would like. And while many of today’s custom and OTC hearing aids that sit behind the ear provide Bluetooth streaming of phone calls and other audio, invisible hearing aids are too small to include the wireless circuitry required for audio streaming (with one notable exception).

The best invisible hearing aids of 2024

Without further ado, let's get into my top picks for invisible hearing aids in 2024. In the last 12 months alone, I've fit hundreds of invisible hearing aids, and these are the devices that consistently exceed my (and my patients') expectations.

Invisible Hearing Aids: A Few Key Differences

Hearing Aid Type Waterproofing Controls
Virto P IIC Custom-fit IP68 Push button or magnetic wand
Own IIC Custom-fit IP68 None
Genesis AI IIC Custom-fit IP68 None
Lyric Extended-wear Not rated SoundLync
Silk IX Instant-fit Not rated App
CRE-C10 Instant-fit OTC Not rated App
Eargo 7 Instant-fit OTC IPX7 App and tap controls

Invisible Hearing Aids: A Few Key Differences

Rugged and Tiny: Phonak Virto P Titanium

The Phonak Virto P is the only IIC available with a fully-custom titanium outer shell, which Phonak claims is 15x stronger than acrylic. The titanium shell is also thinner than acrylic, allowing for a smaller hearing aid that is more rugged than competing IICs.

Phonak Virto Paradise

4.5 stars stars
4 reviews

Listed prices are for a pair of hearing aids in US dollars unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and may vary by region.

In terms of power, Virto P can accommodate a wide range of hearing losses, handling higher frequency hearing loss down to 100 decibels. And AutoSense 4.0 enables automatic adaptation to different listening environments, making it easier for my patients to go through their everyday lives.

While Virto P lacks a smartphone app for adjustments, it features a customizable button for accessing different listening programs and controlling volume.

Virto P Titanium Pros

Durable Design: The titanium variant offers exceptional durability, being 15 times stronger than its acrylic counterparts. Virto P IIC is also IP68 rated.
Discreet: The use of titanium allows for a smaller and more discreet design.
AutoSense 4.0 Technology: This feature adapts to different listening situations automatically, optimizing the sound experience.
Flexible controls: Optional push button or magnetic wand for controlling volume and listening programs.
Suitability for Various Hearing Loss Levels: The Phonak Virto P comes in three different power levels: moderate, power and superpower.

Virto P Titanium Cons

Limited User Adjustability: While it has a customizable button for different programs, it lacks a user-friendly app for adjustments.
Potential Cost: As a custom-made, professionally-fitted hearing aid, the Phonak Virto P may fall within a higher price range compared to some other hearing aids.
Potential Feedback: Sound output may be limited by acoustic feedback, which would limit Virto P's maximum volume.

Less Annoying Sound: Oticon Own IIC

The Oticon Own IIC is a custom-fitted, invisible-in-canal acrylic hearing aid that provides an intimate, secure fit tailored to the user's ear. Designed in Denmark, Oticon utilizes Deep Neural Network (DNN) technology to automatically adapt to various sound environments. Oticon claims Own's DNN was trained on 12 million real-life sounds. And, internal oticon research showed that users found Own's sound less "annoying" than devices from two close competitors.

Available in two different power levels, Own caters to individuals with up to 90 decibel hearing loss. Though it doesn't feature user-adjustable settings, adjustments can be made by an audiologist to fine-tune the hearing aid's performance.

Oticon Own

5 stars stars
1 review

Listed prices are for a pair of hearing aids in US dollars unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and may vary by region.

Oticon Own Pros

Invisible Fit: Oticon claims that 9 out of 10 of its IICs are "truly invisible".
Robust Design: IP68 ingress-protection rating for moisture and dust particles.
Superior Sound Quality: Oticon user research shows a preference for Oticon Own's sound vs select competing devices.
Suitability for Various Hearing Loss Levels: With two different power levels, the Oticon Own IIC can accommodate individuals with up to a 90 decibel hearing loss.

Oticon Own Cons

Limited User Adjustability: Adjustments to the hearing aid's settings need to be done by an audiologist, as it doesn't provide user-adjustable settings.
Potential Cost: The Oticon Own IIC, being a custom-made hearing aid, might be priced higher compared to other hearing aids.
Potential Feedback: Sound output may be limited by acoustic feedback, which would limit Own's maximum volume.

Latest AI Tech: Starkey Genesis AI IIC

Another fully-custom audiologist-fitted hearing aid, Starkey Genesis AI IIC offers the very latest in innovative AI technology. Also employing a DNN backend, Starkey claims that their Genesis AI hearing aids make 80 million adjustments per hour to provide "transparent sound for the clearest hearing yet".

Genesis AI IIC is available in three different power levels to provide an option for those with more severe hearing loss. However, user adjustments are limited as settings need to be fine-tuned by an audiologist.

Starkey Genesis AI

3.5 stars stars
11 reviews

Listed prices are for a pair of hearing aids in US dollars unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and may vary by region.

Genesis AI IIC Pros

AI Sound Optimization: Starkey's DNN and advanced processing tech offers the potential to make listening clearer and easier.
Discreet Design: Starkey is well known for extremely bespoke custom hearing aid manufacturing.
Robust Design: IP68 ingress-protection rating for moisture and dust particles.
Multiple Power Levels: Potential to meet the needs of those with more severe hearing loss.

Genesis AI IIC Cons

Limited User Adjustability: Adjustments to the hearing aid's settings need to be done by an audiologist, as it doesn't provide user-adjustable settings.
Potential Cost: The Starkey Genesis AI IIC, being a custom-made hearing aid, might be priced higher compared to other hearing aids.

The Hearing Aid You Never Remove: Phonak Lyric

Lyric is a unique hearing aid, often referred to as the "contact lens of the ear." Lyric is inserted by an audiologist or ENT close to the eardrum where it is worn continuously for two to three months.

You don't need to charge or replace the batteries, and there's no need to remove Lyric when sleeping or having a shower. However, when the batteries do run down, you'll need to have your Lyrics replaced at your provider's office (replacements are covered under an annual subscription).

Lyric comes in seven sizes, catering to various ear canal shapes and sizes, and its soft biocompatible material ensures comfort during extended use.

Lyric Pros

Most Invisible: Phonak Lyric is the most invisible hearing aid on the market.
Extended Wear: Its unique design allows it to be worn 24/7, during various activities including showering, exercising, or sleeping.
Easy to Manage: If you have any vision or manual dexterity issues, Lyric is a truly hassle-free option.
Natural Sound Quality: Using analog processing technology, it aims to provide a sound experience that closely resembles natural hearing.
Comfortable Fit: Available in seven sizes and made of soft biocompatible material, it offers comfort during extended use and ensures the ear can breathe.
Adjustability: Limited adjustments (volume control, sleep mode) are available using the SoundLync accessory.

Lyric Cons

Professional Assistance Required: The Phonak Lyric must be inserted and replaced by a specialist audiologist every few months.
Annual Subscription: Unlike some other hearing aids, the Phonak Lyric does not have user-replaceable batteries. The entire device is replaced when the battery depletes.
Not For Everyone: To wear Lyric, you'll need to have adequately sized and shaped ear canals, no ear-related medical conditions, and limited earwax production. View our Lyric 4 page for more details.

American OTC: Eargo 7

Eargo 7 is a stylish self-fitting OTC hearing aid designed and manufactured by Eargo, a Silicon Valley-based hearing aid company. Eargo 7 offers flexible app-based controls, tap controls, and all-day rechargeable batteries. And, Eargo claims the new Sound Adjust+ mode reduces background noise and enhances speech understanding.

Eargo 7

5 stars stars
143 reviews

Listed prices are for a pair of hearing aids in US dollars unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and may vary by region.

Busy Café
With device
Quiet Office
With device

Eargo 7 Pros

Discreet and Comfortable Design: Eargo's unique "petal tip" leaves your ears feeling open.
Self-Fitting: Eargo's Sound Match on-ear hearing test will take you through the setup process at home.
App-Based and Tap Controls: Users can adjust settings, including volume and noise filter, using an app or tap control feature.
Rechargeable Battery: The built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides approximately 16 hours of use per charge, eliminating the need for regular battery replacements.
Sound Adjust+: This feature evaluates ambient noise and prioritizes speech, reducing background noise for a more comfortable listening experience, according to Eargo.
Remote Assistance: Remote support with specialists over both phone and video.
Water Resistance: Eargo is IPX7 rated.

Eargo 7 Cons

Limited Hearing Loss Range: The Eargo 7 is made for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss, and is not suitable for those with more severe hearing loss.
Not For Everyone: Your ear canal will need to be the right size and shape to accommodate Eargo 7. And heavy earwax producers should avoid.
No In-Person Assistance: If you need help inserting the hearing aid or handling cleaning and maintenance, you will need to rely on remote assistance from the Eargo team.
Wireless Limitations: No Bluetooth streaming and wireless control from the app can be unstable and intermittent.
Price: Eargo 7 is one of the more expensive OTC hearing aids, coming in at over $2,500 a pair. However, it does come with more professional support than many OTCs.

Quick Professional Fitting: Signia Silk IX

The Signia Silk IX is a completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid designed to provide a quick and comfortable fit. Using a range of "click sleeves," the device can typically can be fitted in a single office visit. Silk IX offers unique features like ear-to-ear communication and Binaural OneMic Directionality 2.0 for improved sound directionality and speech understanding in complex listening situations.

Signia Silk Charge&Go IX

4 stars stars
1 review

Listed prices are for a pair of hearing aids in US dollars unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and may vary by region.

Signia Silk IX Pros

Instant Fit: The Signia Silk X doesn't require traditional earmold or ear scan procedures for fitting. This means the hearing aids can typically be fit in a single office visit, making it a convenient choice for many users.
Rechargeability and all-day battery life: Up to 28 hours of runtime and 24 hours on a 3-hour charge, with a charging case that holds 4 extra charges.
Ear-to-Ear Communication: Hearing aids work together as a system, improving the directionality of sound and enhancing speech understanding in noisy environments, according to Signia.
Remote Control Options: The Signia Silk X offers remote control via the miniPocket™ and Signia App, providing easy access to adjustments.

Silk IX Cons

No Audio Streaming: Like all the other products reviewed in this article, there's no wireless audio streaming with these hearing aids.
Not For Everyone: If you have small or windy ear canals, or produce a lot of wax, these hearing aids aren't for you.
No onboard buttons: Signia Silk IX is fully automatic and app-controlled, but due to its small size does not have buttons/switches on the aid itself.

OTC with Prescription Tech: Sony CRE-C10

The Sony CRE-C10 is basically a Signia Silk X in a Sony wrapper. What's new here is the Sony app that assists you in fitting the hearing aid yourself at home. It's a seamless process, but you'll want to make sure that you're fairly tech savvy and are comfortable handling very small objects.

You can feel good about getting hearing tech from an established medical-model hearing aid company (WSA) from one of the world's most reputable brands.

Sony CRE-C10 Self-Fitting OTC

4 stars stars
3 reviews
Busy Café
With device
Quiet Office
With device

Sony CRE-C10 Pros

Discreet Design: Like the Signia Silk X, the Sony CRE-C10 offers a small, in-ear device for discretion and comfort.
Self-Fitting: The Sony Hearing Control app allows you to quickly test your hearing using the hearing aids to set your starting point for amplification.
App-Based Controls: The app also allows you to adjust settings, including volume and tone, providing a personalized listening experience.
Automatic Sound Adjustments: The device analyzes and optimizes the soundscape, automatically adjusting sound for easier listening and comfort, according to Sony.
Long Battery Life: The Sony CRE-C10 provides up to 70 hours of use with a single disposable battery.
Convenient Carrying Case: The device comes with a handy clamshell-style recharging/carrying case, enhancing portability and convenience.
Price: The CRE-C10 come in at under $1,000 a pair. Keep in mind that you may find prescription devices (with support) locally if you stress that cost is an issue.

Sony CRE-C10 Cons

Limited Hearing Loss Range: The Sony CRE-C10 is made for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss and is not suitable for those with more severe hearing loss.
No Audio Streaming: Like almost all the other products reviewed in this article, there's no wireless audio streaming with these hearing aids.
No Remote Support: Unlike Eargo, Sony provides little remote professional support.

Are invisible hearing aids for you?

If you discover your hearing loss is not mild or moderate but severe, you may not benefit fully from invisible hearing aids. And, if you want to stream audio and phone calls, or want long-lasting rechargeability, you'll need to look at larger in-ear or behind-the-ear hearing aids. Lastly, one of the major downsides of any in-ear hearing aid is comfort and occlusion (own voice boominess, etc).

Other discreet hearing aid options

If discretion is the most important thing for you, don't write off behind-the-ear hearing aids without having a look at some of the new discreet models offered in 2024. Receiver-in-canal (RIC), in particular, are known to be the most discreet type of behind-the-ear hearing aids—they feature very small microphones and sound processors, with near-invisible wires that run down to a speaker that sits well within the ear canal. Be sure to check out our best of receiver-in-canal hearing for 2024 before settling on the in-ear invisible models.

Allsop

Audiologist

Matthew Allsop is the Video Content Manager at HearingTracker.  He has nearly two decades' experience in audiology, and has practiced in both the NHS and the private sector. He is accepting new patients at Harley Street Hearing in London.

David Copithorne

Contributing Editor

David Copithorne is a longtime hearing-loss blogger and regular contributor at Hearing Tracker. In 2002, he suffered a sudden and severe hearing impairment. Since then, he has dedicated himself to sharing the valuable information he has learned along his journey.