Bose SoundControl™ Self-Fitting Hearing Aids
Product Info, Reviews, Prices, and Videos
4.7 stars from 6 reviews
Available at$899.00 New Purchase
Bose SoundControl™ looks a lot like a traditional medical-grade hearing aid, but offers a radically different do-it-yourself experience that allows you to "tune it yourself”, “skip the appointments” and “pay (much) less”. The hearing aids come with 90-day risk-free trial, dedicated product support, and are available nationwide for $599 a pair—down substantially from the $849.95 launch price.
Bose SoundControl™ hearing aids and Bose Hear app
Bose to cease hearing aid sales
Before I get into the meat of the product review, I have an important update to share. On May 4th, 2022, it was revealed that Bose is winding down it’s direct-to-consumer hearing aid business. But it’s unclear whether and how the company will remain active in the hearing aid market. A statement from their PR folks reads: “Bose remains committed to delivering critical technologies that help with hearing augmentation and noise cancellation.”
On June 3rd, 2022, Bose dropped the price of the SoundControl hearing aids to $599 a pair. The product page also says “limited quantity”, so it looks like we may be witnessing the final days of direct hearing aid sales at Bose. The company is still promising access to their dedicated product support with every sale.
Tune it yourself
Unlike traditional hearing aids, Bose’s new SoundControl™ hearing aids are designed to be adjusted by the user. Citing a study conducted with researchers at Northwestern University, Bose touts “clinically proven results” using its proprietary CustomTune™ technology. Based on the research, Bose makes three primary claims:
- CustomTune™ provides audiologist-quality customization.
- Users were happier with sound quality compared to prescription-fit users.
- On average, there was no difference in hearing-in-noise performance or hearing benefit between CustomTune™ and prescription-fit.
The Bose Hear App (on Android or iOS) gives the users two primary controls:
- World volume - This control is the primary control for amplification. It adjusts the gain, compression, and output limiting across 12 bands to approximate the settings that would be required to professionally-fit 36 common audiograms.
- Treble - The treble control adjusts “spectral tilt” by applying “additional adjustment to the gain” across 12 bands.
In the research cited by Bose, most users found themselves in the ballpark of a good hearing aid fitting. This was established by running ear canal measurements to see how close research participants self-selected amplification output was to the output of a perfectly-fit hearing aid.
One serious limitation I see in the research is that product used in the study was a product that closed the ears using earbud-style eartips. The SoundControl™ hearing aids use open-ear eartips, which means less bass, and a fundamentally different sound quality. I would personally like to see Bose replicate their findings using the SoundControl™ product.
The Bose SoundControl™ hearing aids are lacking many of the features found in today’s medical-grade hearing aids. For example, the hearing aids are non-rechargeable, and do not offer Bluetooth connectivity or audio streaming from iOS or Android devices. As a result, hands-free calling is also not supported.
The product page does not mention typical hearing aid features like feedback reduction and digital noise suppression, but being Bose, we expect the basics to be in place, and noise reduction should be an obvious highlight.
The Bose SoundControl™ hearing aids do not include telecoils. This means no access to hearing loops, and acoustic-only amplification for telephones.
Who is the Bose Hearing Aid for?
While the FDA’s rules do not explicitly state anything about decibel limits for self-fitting hearing aids, the agency does indicate that self-fitting hearing aids are “intended to amplify sound for individuals 18 years of age or older with perceived mild to moderate hearing impairment”. The SoundControl™ product page clearly states that the Bose hearing aid is not suitable for those with severe hearing loss. The FDA states that no hearing test is necessary.
Bose hearing aids were initially available to purchase in Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas—they are now available nationwide.
How did Bose do it?
In 2018, Bose trailblazed a completely new FDA product classification for direct-to-consumer hearing aids—hearing aids that could be fitted without the assistance of a state-licensed hearing care professional. Bose was able to create the new product classification by successfully filing a De Novo Classification Request for the Bose Hearing Aid with the FDA in 2018. At the time the “Bose Hearing Aid” was a prototype hearing aid that more closely resembled the now legacy Bose Hearphones.
In April, Bose filed a 510k with the FDA to seek approval to sell the new Bose SoundControl™ hearing aids under the new self-fitting category. The FDA approved the request a few days ago, calling the new hearing aids “substantially equivalent” to the prototype reviewed in 2018.
What’s in the box?
Bose produced the following video to highlight everything that comes with SoundControl™. The price for the pair of hearing aids, and all included accessories, is $849.95. Replacement batteries are purchased separately.
What does the future hold?
In August 2017, President Trump signed the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act, which authorizes direct sales of hearing aids without a medical referral or prescription. However, OTC hearing aids still technically don’t exist yet, and it’s unclear if the new class of hearing will be substantially different from the self-fitting class established by Bose.
In the meantime, it’s an all-out wild west situation when it comes to online hearing aid sales, and there is a lot that consumers need to be aware of. I provided an overview of the entire market in a recent talk I did for Knowles Electronics. Check it out here.
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Bose SoundControl Physical Specifications
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Bose SoundControl Technology Details
|Price||$899 / pair|
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Bose SoundControl Videos
Bose SoundControl Reviews
Hearing aid reviews are fundamentally different from reviews for most other consumer electronic products. The reason is because individual factors, like degree of hearing loss, have a profound effect one's success and overall satisfaction with the product. When purchasing a hearing aid, you'll need to consider more than just your hearing outcome ... Continue readingWrite a Review
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Hearing Tracker uses a ten-question survey to assess consumer feedback on hearing aids. The percentage bars below reflect the average ratings provided per question.
Note: Original answers provided in star rating format.
I have used these hearing aids for one month and are very satisfied. They make a big difference in being able to hear as well as understand speech. I have been a hearing aid user for around 10 years, my last pair were Signia Cellions. The Bose Sound Control aids work just as well at a fraction of the price. I have fairly typical age related hearing loss in frequencies above 2500hz.
Bought these for the wife. She had been tested (Costco) and had a fair amount of hearing loss, personally confirmed by her TV listening habits. Nothing particularly wrong with her ears per a visit to an ENT, just mostly age related (late 50's). She absolutely loved the Bose product, unfortunately the left one died after only six days. They've been sent back to Bose for replacement. Not very encouraging, hopefully for $900+ (with tax) the next pair holds up better.
Just got these and I believe they are equal to or better in sound quality and understanding conversations than the Resound LINX hearing aids I tried for a month a few years ago (cannot remember which model) that cost $7400 at that time. And being able to adjust them as needed without having to visit the audiologist is great. Remarkable quality for the money. I do wish they were rechargeable and that the bluetooth functionality allowed streaming phone calls and music from my phone and I am sure that will come in future models, but these hearing aids are outstanding at their primary role of enabling me to hear people around me.
Received mine 5/26/21 and so far they are great! Clear natural sound and very comfortable. Nothing negative to report.
I would be considered part of the target market for these aids. I have not wore hearing aids before, but knew I had some hearing issues. I have been using some cheap amplifiers off of Amazon that helped, but not much.
Had the Bose over a week now, and am very pleased. They are comfortable, small and lite, simple to use, and best of all I can HEAR! I am still tweaking my own profiles, but am truly surprised at how well they work.
Before getting them I had set a June 8th appointment for a hearing test at Costco. I am keeping that appointment, not because the Bose don't work, but I have some concern about being an early adopter. It's no secret they are test marketing them. I'm in Texas so I was able to purchase them early. My concerns are 1) Not enough sales, and they never do full on launch. 2) This being their first attempt, there will be a "new and improved" model very soon. 3) Because of the real possibility of one of the above, support will dry up.
So, I might try the KS10's just for the confidence in long term support. But I will say again that these work very well, and have improved my life.
I'm 64 years old and have been wearing hearing aids for over 4 years. I was tested by an audiologist and had been wearing Signia Cellion 5 until 1 of them stopped working a few months ago. They worked well and saved my job as my hearing loss was interfering with my ability to communicate with clients. I took the Bose online test and the result was that my hearing loss was too severe and I was not a good candidate for them. I took a shot as I'd been tracking the Bose Sound Control Hearing Aids for over a year and I figured that Bose has always had an excellent reputation. My fallback was that they come with a 90 day risk free trial. I purchased them on the first day they were available. 6 days later they arrived. I downloaded the Bose app on my cell phone and went through the set up process which is quite simple. Initially I felt like they weren't going to work until I figured out that I had the volume too high. It took me a few hours to get used to them and realize I was hearing everything well. 6 days later, I've had a business dinner in a crowded restaurant, online meetings, run training sessions in a loud office and all of the normal interactions of my very active daily life. I hate to overstate how much I like these because I know how important this is to so many people but these are easily the equal of my prescription hearing aids and probably better. The whole package seems like it's too simple to work this well, but for me they are excellent. I rated them 4 stars because I think they can still add some features at this price point, still, it's been exciting to hear this well. I'm glad I followed my instincts and took the chance and purchased these and I am definitely a satisfied customer.
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When will the rest of the nation get to try these out?
Not a game changer IMHO
Why would Bose create a hearing aid that doesn't have wireless connectivity? I would think that since Boise is well known for its expert sound quality in it's products, that these would actually be able to double as headphones for music streamed via Bluetooth.
My sentiments exactly. Unless future models add connectivity to my iPhone I’ll have little interest.
As Mikeleti said, no streaming? Lack of streaming and no mention of their noise canceling technology leave much to be desired, especially at such a high price.
I hope that the Tone Control is hiding something, otherwise the complete lack of understanding that Bass and Treble are not mutually exclusive shows us that this solution is not to be taken seriously.
In an independent test, it was found that a high proportion of people self-tuned close to their ideal NAL prescription. This wouldn't have been possible if Bose didn't know what they were doing with the tone control!
But why give the user a "tone" control then? Wouldn't Bass/Treble be better? I think someone* on the fence that sees a screen cap of the app could think less of the product.
* Anyone into audio
On the new app they label the spectral tilt wheel with bass / treble as seen in the screenshot.
Sorry, I was being too vague there. Any control that marks Treble at one end and Bass at the other is an old school "tone" control (even though that's not what is written on it). Think of the oldest radio you have encountered. It probably had Volume and Tone. As we all know, the two are not mutually exclusive. One should be able to change the two values independently, they are not opposites. That's all I meant.
I think most people understand what the label “treble” and “base” means in the broader context and you can't imagine Bose changing it any time soon irrespective of how complex its function has become.
Bose is a master at sound technology. I have the "hearphones" and they are 1000 times better than the prescription hearing aids I have. The sound that comes out of these hearphones is just like your own ears except louder. Other aids I have tried sound "tinny" and do not amplify the sound much. True, the app only has a dial for bass vs treble, but that dial really works. The other OTC aids I have tried, the dials are there but do nothing. I can't order the Bose hearing aid now because my state is not on the "list". I can't wait to get one.
I would maybe be interested at half that price as a backup pair. No recharging, no fitting, no streaming. For just a little more you can get way better quality and service at Costco along with a solid 3 year replacement warranty. I would think an online hearing test at a minimum to program them to an initial starting point. Not sure where the market will be for these HAs.
No Bluetooth connection - hence no music streaming, no phone calls etc.
Batteries not rechargable.
Same form factor as traditional aids.
Very basic App.
Looks like another "miss" for me. As the "Hearphones" were.
The Hearphones (which I still own) had bluetooth streaming and were rechargeable, at the cost of wearing something around your neck to which the earbuds connected via wires. These "hearing aids" do seem to borrow a lot of the underlying tech (and the app).
And the Hearphones cost $499, not $849.
OTC hearing aids do not exist, yet. So I feel calling BOSE amplifiers aids is deceptive to those who trust the BOSE brand and have the need to improve their hearing. A clever play on words yet a serious abuse to the consumer.
Reach the article in full. They are technically hearing aids.
For an Audiologist this is loose language, for you know as well as I do the consumer will not have the true benefits of prescriptive hearing aids. Answer me this, if your child had hearing issues would you buy your child BOSE or for that matter any other over the counter Hearing Device or would you seek the advice of a professional audiologist who could give your child the hands on care so many of the hearing impaired need?
If I knew an adult with mild hearing loss who wanted something they could drive themselves, yes, I could see suggesting this product as something to consider. Of course, as an audiologist, I'd strongly recommend that they have their hearing loss diagnosed by an audiologist before doing anything.
my understanding on their clinical study: they compared their own product "Self-fit" with their own product "professional fit". It was not a comparison between their own self-fit with a "traditional" hearing aid fit by a professional. The devil is as always in the details..
True, but the fascinating thing to me was how most users essentially dialed in close to NAL targets on their own using the self driven approach.
Which also indicates that the NAL team, that has spent years and years to develop their fitting formula, actually did a great job! :-)
Indeed! My only question / concern about the research is that the study focused on earbuds rather than RIC style open fit speakers... so when people self adjust, will they give themselves the same adequate amplification, or will the "shrill" sound needed to deliver benefit with a RIC lead to people under fitting themselves.
This is a really important point! It also begs the question if RIC is the best way to deliver sound in a self-fit situation in the first place. Bose might have made technical advances in the four years since the Hearphone was introduced, especially with their compression system, but have also abandoned physical attributes which are known to have had sound quality advantages over the traditional hearing aid design.
The opposite view asks the question if NAL is all it's cracked up to be given that a device that measures nothing can match it.
It is curious to see that some audiologists are seemingly easily accepting that the science and experience of more than 50 years of traditional audiology might be set aside for self assessment methods based simply on user preference This particularly so when there exists clinically valid methods of blending traditional pure tone audiology with innovative methods of self assessment in an ambient environment. When combined with classical fitting rules this provides the end user a science based assessment and fitting.
A well preformed clinically valid hearing assessment with a valid audiogram stored in a remote database will provide good insight in the progression of the hearing loss over time, with the ability to trigger a message to the user to reach out to an audiologist in the case of clear medical indications (eg asymmetric hearing loss).
The user’s audiologist of choice could reach out remotely to the user and make a further assessment and determine the need for a further evaluation, remote or in person.
All of these features are part of Jacoti’s hearing software which is an embedded hearing solution in the Qualcomm QCC51xx SoC. This chipset is part of a variety of consumer Bluetooth headsets and or TWS earbuds.
It offers an ANSI compliant audiometer in the earbud and a broadband 20Khz hearing aid audio processing and provides hearing loss compensation in live mode (as a hearing aid) and in a Bluetooth streaming mode. Additionally there is the option of server connection to the hearing expert. This can all be combined with many of the standard features contained in a state of the art consumer headset such as ANC or others.
This jacoti integrated earbuds and headsets will reach the market in the first Quarter of 2022
Good to hear from you Jacques! I am very excited about Jacoti, and a believer in your technology. I do want to clarify one point though:
It is curious to see that some audiologists are seemingly easily accepting that the science and experience of more than 50 years of traditional audiology might be set aside for self assessment methods based simply on user preference
I'm not sure if you were referring to me ("some audiologists"), but if so, you probably need to read the paper more carefully. The point of the paper was to show that Bose's self-fitting strategy led most users to an amplification outcome that was very close to the amplification (gain, compression, etc) that would have been prescribed based on a best practice fitting. In other words, this has nothing to do with setting aside the science... in fact it's more of a validation of a novel fitting approach within the framework of traditional audiological sciences. Aside from the concern I voiced in my article about the form factor difference between Bose hearphones / hearing aid, I think the study was well done, and speaks volumes about the adequacy of Bose's approach. I guess the FDA agreed too.
I should have been more clear, My comment should be read as a general comment and not focused on your article.
Ah, thanks for that Jacques. No problem. PS. I can't wait to review the first Jacoti / Qualcomm products.
Jacques Kinsbergen's post was an advert for his company and clearly a dig at your article. His subsequent curt reply did nothing to dispel that. If I may say so, Abram, I thought your response was generous and gracious .You are one of the few people with a recognition of the validity of the Bose approach. Thank you for your open-mindedness.
No comment on your comments about Jacques, but thank you for the kind words re my open mindedness :)
“there exists clinically valid methods of blending traditional pure tone audiology with innovative methods of self assessment in an ambient environment. When combined with classical fitting rules this provides the end user a science based assessment and fitting.”
This sounds simple enough but we are a long way from it being a reality. When we have a situation where most audiologists don't even offer REM, there appears little chance they can, or be willing to, offer this kind of strategy which will be at even further cost to the consumer. Bose have cut a lot of corners and incorporated a lot of compromises by linking output to only 36 common prescriptions but in spite of that, the trials which have been done and consumer feedback which is beginning to emerge suggest they are matching, by and large, the satisfaction people are getting from traditional audiology. And they are doing it for a lot less money! This isn't about abandoning 50 years of audiology science in favour of “user preference.” It's about how best to make the science more readily available. Will the new Jacoti initiative do that? We wait with interest!
I am just a simple user of a traditional hearing aid. It just did not do the job of letting me hear better in simple conversations around a dinner table. So all your science and analysis is not helpful if the product does not work. ENTER BOSE with their background in sound technology and the Hearphones. They produce fantastically accurate reproduction of what my ear would have - except louder. It does not matter what an audiogram says if just good basic hardware can do such wonders!
As an owner of Bose Hearphones, I am quite disappointed with the elimination of the Hearphones. I have asked several times if the Hearphones have been discontinued only to be ignored and the question unanswered. However, now a reason is perhaps apparent?
Though you have researched and find the earbuds to be preferable though double in price, the Hearphones are more than adequate for me and I am most concerned as to how long the hearphones will be supported? I was once told by Bose, they would replace the battery without charge should it fail in the future. What support is still intended?
I personally like the price of the Hearphones and have no interest in a hearing aide that goes in one's ears. Just found this way to comment and appears to get a response.
I also suggest you bring the Hearphones back as an alternative hearing device. If you would like feedback regarding discontinuation of the Hearphones, you might contact ALL owners? I suspect many will feel the same as I.
Bose is trying to compete with the big boys like Signia and their new hearing aid/ear bud. No thanks. My insurance won't cover the Bose, but it will cover hearing aids as a medical device, dispensed by an approved audiologist/hearing specialist. I have a mild loss, tried the new Signia and really disliked the bulky feel in my ear. Bose to me is just a cheap device... not a game changer for me if I can't stream tv, iPod, phone calls, etc plus "professional" adjustments when needed. Also, the three year warranty with my Oticon More covers any supplies I need. Did you see the prices of the Bose supplies?
Bose have deliberately avoided trying to compete with the "big boys." Instead, they are hoping they are looking at a large and hitherto untapped market. They won't be interested in appealing to those who are already satisfied having gone down the traditional route.
As a consumer, the simple factor is cost. I wore hearing aids for work for 15 years, but when I retired (pre-Medicare ago) paying four grand for a pair of ReSounds "professionally fitted" & then averaging $500 a year for out-of-warranty repairs (that were totally & absolutely design & quality of workmanship issues)... Well, sometimes quiet is nice.
I own Bose equipment. I know design & quality of workmanship aren't issues. I also know my audiogram. The deal-breaker for me is two-fold: state law & lack of noise cancellation.
After repeated frustrating experiences with many costly visits to Audiologists plus no insurance payment for multiple hearing aids, I think I will give Bose a try. I have been looking for self tuning solution for years.
Bose may have bailed out of this market, but they made a soft landing. See lexiehearing.com, the new “B1” model. It appears identical - even the app - to the Bose Sound Control hearing aids I have been wearing for the last 9 months, since about a week after they first went on sale.
With regards to the Bose-now-Lexie device, I prefer them greatly to a decade of professionally-fitted Bernafon’s. However, I am a musician, and they are TERRIBLE for listening to music, as they scream with feedback at one exact frequency - that is, on one specific note. So if an orchestra (or rock band) plays a passage that includes that note, say an F# above middle C, however brief, the devices reproduce the passage just fine but when it hits that note, an ice pick is plunged into my brain for an instant.