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Sony CRE-C10 Self-Fitting OTC Hearing Aid

Reviews, Prices, and Sound Samples

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$999.99 / pair New Purchase
4 stars stars
4.0 stars from 3 reviews
Hands-Free Calling No
iPhone Streaming No
Android Streaming No
Rechargeable No
IP Rating No
Expert Reviewer: Abram Bailey, AuD
Sony Cre C10 Otc Hearing Aid 1200x675

Sony CRE-C10 hearing aids were selected as some of the best OTC hearing aids available in 2023 by the HearAdvisor independent test lab.

The Sony CRE-C10 is among the best discreet over-the-counter (OTC) self-fitting hearing aids that offer good sound quality, speech enhancement, and comfort, sold for $999.99 a pair.

Launched in October 2022, the CRE-C10 was the first OTC hearing device co-produced by the partnership of Sony and global hearing aid manufacturer WS Audiology (WSA), and it appears to be similar to WSA's Signia Vibe “ready to wear” self-fitting hearing aid. Although it provides excellent technology in a tiny Completely-in-Canal (CIC) and relatively economical package, the CRE-10 is not rechargeable and does not offer Bluetooth® streaming like its Sony CRE-E10 sister product offered at $1,999 a pair.

But don't let that dissuade you from checking them out. The Sony CRE-C10 is a very good OTC hearing aid—even without these features. It ranked among the highest OTC hearing aids in independent lab testing, earning it a Hearing Advisor Expert Choice Award in 2023. Besides the E10, probably the CRE-C10's closest competitor is the Eargo 7, which also fits discreetly and comfortably in the ear canal, is self-fitted using a smartphone app, and does not offer Bluetooth audio streaming—but costs almost three times the price at $2,950 a pair (although other features and important online audiology support is included in Eargo pricing).

The CRE-C10 can be purchased at Sony.com and through various third-party retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, and select hearing-care professionals.

HearingTracker Audiologist Matthew Allsop dives into Sony's new CRE-C10 OTC hearing aids, exploring its features, benefits, and some key pre-purchase considerations. He also helps you determine if the CRE-C10 is the right fit for your unique hearing and lifestyle needs. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

Who makes the Sony CRE-C10?

HearingTracker believes the Sony CRE-C10 is almost solely the work of WSA, with only minimal technological input from Sony. Headquartered in Denmark and Singapore, WSA is the parent group of hearing aid brands WidexSignia, and Rexton, and the third-largest hearing aid company in the world. Sony is headquartered in Tokyo and ranked as the fifth-largest consumer electronics company in the world, but third (after Apple and Samsung) when counting only those that make earbuds.

Sony and WSA entered into a partnership agreement to produce Sony OTC hearing aids in September 2022. Branding partnerships with consumer electronics leaders are becoming increasingly important for hearing aid manufacturers as OTC hearing devices gain widespread acceptance with mass-market retailers. Sony’s broad product line and consumer earbud appeal (e.g., Sony WF-1000XM4) is now paired with WSA’s hearing aid manufacturing expertise, and pits the Sony brand against the likes of Jabra, Philips, HP, and Sennheiser, which are currently being leveraged by WSA's competitors to attract new, younger customers.

A Sony-produced video featuring Sony Deputy President Hajimoto Osamu and WS Audiology President of OTC Maarten Barmentlo who address their joint goals in offering an OTC hearing aid. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

Key Features of the Sony CRE-C10

  • Self-fitting app-based system that chooses settings based on your hearing loss profile and features app controls for volume and other sound parameters
  • One of the smallest OTC hearing aids on the market, providing a discreet hearing solution
  • Analyzes and optimizes soundscape and automatically adjusts sound for easier listening and comfort
  • Wireless link between hearing aids provides "improved noise reduction"
  • Up to 70 hours on a single small battery
  • Handy clamshell style recharging/carring case
Sony Charger

Sony CRE-C10 recharging and carrying case.

Unboxing the CRE-C10

Opening the box, you’ll find the hearing aids come with four click-sleeves that act as flexible eartips—ranging from extra-small to large—and are designed to provide both comfort and a good acoustic seal. Also included are batteries, a charger/carrying case with detachable USB charging cable, a cleaning cloth, and a cleaning brush.

Pairing the CRE-C10 to your phone

The CRE-C10 can be used soon after purchase by downloading the Sony Hearing Control app from the Google Play or Apple App Store. The hearing aids and app are compatible with Apple iOS version 13 or above, and Google Android 10 or above, but remember audio streaming of music and phone calls is not supported by the CRE-C10.

After downloading the app, you'll pair your phone and the Sony Hearing Control app to your hearing aids using the step-by-step set-up guide in the app; an online user guide is also available.

Testing your hearing

After pairing the devices to your phone, you'll need to take a quick count-the-beeps style hearing test through your new Sony hearing aids. The in-app fitting system adjusts your hearing aids to find a sound profile that suits your needs. Sony says their process for selecting settings was developed by looking at real-life hearing aid settings for thousands of hearing aid users with varying audiogram results. This setup process takes about 10 minutes to complete.

It has been HearingTracker’s experience that, during the set-up process of OTC hearing aids, it’s very important to be in the quietest room possible. You don't want any competing/distracting sound or interruptions as this part of the process is very important for the "tuning" the hearing aid to your unique hearing loss.

A Sony-produced video that describes how to set up the CRE-C10 self-fitting hearing aid. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

Best features of the Sony CRE-C10

Sony CRE-C10 hearing aids provide people who have mild to moderate hearing loss with numerous advantages for listening better in multiple listening environments.

Controlling your hearing aids with the Sony Hearing Control app

The Sony Hearing Control app provides you with basic controls to adjust the settings on the devices, including a volume control and sound balance. A fine-tuning system is also included, which allows you to report issues with things like speech being too soft. The app will push an updated sound profile to your hearing aids to improve any problems you report.

Sony Hearing Control App

The Sony Hearing Control App. Image: Apple App Store

Situation Analyzer to your sound environment

When functioning, Sony says its Situation Analyzer optimizes sound settings based on your soundscape. The aids are wirelessly connected using the ear-to-ear Wireless Link, so the aids function as a single coordinated system rather than as two independent hearing aids acting in an uncoordinated manner.

Directional hearing

Sony advertises that these hearing aids offer directionality. CIC hearing aids provide some natural directional benefits due to their placement in the ear canal and the two hearing aids can coordinate their listening responses. This feature has appeared before in many WSA hearing aids—"Binaural OneMic Directionality" is available in the Signia Silk X, which Signia says "enables wearers to focus on their conversation partner even in difficult listening environments". The CRE-C10s also use a Speech/Noise management system for "advanced acoustic processing that reduces the burden of listening.”

Reducing unwanted noises

Similarly, the devices have a system that guards against sudden loud impact noises, in addition to an Artifact Cancellation feature for a smooth overall sound experience with high-speech monitoring and control of feedback (the high-pitched whistle/squelch that results from an object coming too near the microphone). The hearing aids also feature wind noise reduction that reduces the annoyance of wind when outdoors and improves sound comfort.

Battery life

The Sony CRE-C10 CIC hearing aid uses a size 10 disposable battery that provides 70 hours of continuous use, which equates to about 5-7 days of normal usage before changing batteries. Many self-fitting OTC-like hearing aids reviewed by HearingTracker this year have a battery life of less than 10 hours—which can make them questionable for "real-life daily use," given that prescription hearing aids are typically expected to be used for at least 14 hours/day.

The CRE-C10's rechargeable counterpart, the upcoming CRE-E10, is designed so that a single 3-hour charge will provide up to 26 hours of continuous use (i.e., it has a shorter battery life due to its rechargeability and its phone/music streaming capabilities).

Issues that come along with extreme miniaturization

Because of its small size, it's worth noting that people with dexterity/vision problems and/or shaky hands may have difficulty replacing these batteries. Also partly due to their size, CICs have a reputation among hearing care professionals (HCPs) as being the hearing aid style most prone to being lost, broken, or returned due to discomfort in the ear canal. Sony states returns may be made within 45 days to the place of purchase.

Sony Otc Cre C10 Hand 1200x675

The Sony CRE-C10s are small CIC hearing aids that use similarly small size 10 hearing aid batteries.

Who should use the Sony CRE-C10 OTC hearing aid?

As with all OTC hearing aids, Sony CRE-C10 hearing aids are designed for people who have mild to moderate hearing loss. People with mild hearing loss are broadly described as those who have situational hearing problems, often in noisy places like bars and restaurants. In contrast, people with moderate hearing loss may have difficulty hearing parts of conversational speech even in relative quiet.

The Sony Hearing Control app will help you screen your hearing to see if you’re an appropriate user. There are also several good online hearing screeners you might try before your purchase that can help you determine your level of hearing loss. HearingTracker also provides a 100% free online hearing test that can be taken without downloading an app.

You might be interested in this hearing aid if you are:

  • Looking for a small, discreet, cosmetically appealing hearing solution
  • Seeking an OTC hearing solution designed to compensate for your unique hearing loss with the convenience and time savings that does not necessarily involve a licensed hearing care professional
  • Wanting similar technology found in a basic modern hearing aid, including noise reduction and some directional listening capabilities, automatic sound adjustments based on your listening environment, and some app-based controls like a volume control, etc.
  • Not needing to stream phone calls or audio from a smartphone, tablet, or computer to your hearing aids
  • Fairly proficient with smartphone technology, apps, and the idea of self-directed care and trouble-shooting
  • Free of any health contraindications or red flags that indicate you should first seek the care of a physician, such as a hearing loss in only one ear, a sudden decrease in hearing, ear drainage or pain, and more (please take the free Mayo/Northwestern CEDRA screening)

Drawing from exclusive research and first-hand experience working with WSA and their new Sony-branded OTC hearing aids, Audiologist Matthew Allsop discusses the impact OTC hearing aids have had on the hearing technology world. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

Borrowing from previously successful prescription-fit tech

The CRE-C10's technology is most likely borrowed from successful prescription-fit hearing aid technology. From 2016 to 2020, Signia launched three versions of its Silk hearing aid (Silk Primax, Nx, and X) which looked almost identical to the Sony CRE-C10 and were all ready-to-wear CIC styles dispensed by hearing care professionals (HCPs). These models were also very similar to the Vibe hearing aid (which, as of the Sony launch, are no longer offered within the United States) as a self-fitting hearing aid not requiring fitting from an HCP—or what we now call an OTC hearing aid.

Wsa Sony Lineup

From left, the Sony CRE-C10, the Signia (WSA) Silk X, and WSA's Vibe CIC "ready to wear" hearing aids.

This leads HearingTracker to believe all three products—Sony, Silk, and Vibe—share essentially the same or very similar functionality and performance characteristics. Likewise, photos of the upcoming CRE-E10 earbuds closely resemble the Signia Active Pro hearing aids launched by WSA in April 2021—which are bigger and more visible than its C10 sister product.

All this is probably to be expected; in fact, most entrants in the newly FDA-created OTC hearing aid class are either replicas or hew pretty closely to some previous hearing aid model, with some exceptions like the Jabra Enhance Plus which was specifically designed for the OTC hearing aid market.

Frequently asked questions about the CRE-C10

Yes, the Sony CRE-C10 is a self-fitting over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid which is a FDA-cleared Class 2 medical devices intended for adults ages 18+ who have a mild to moderate hearing loss. “OTC hearing aids” differ from prescription hearing aids in several ways including the fact that they are limited in volume/loudness (i.e., they're not suitable for more severe hearing losses) and they are not required to be fitted by a hearing care professional like an audiologist or hearing aid specialist.

No. The Sony CRE-C10 uses one size 10 (RP536) disposable battery in each hearing aid. A second Sony OTC hearing aid, the Sony CRE-E10, is rechargeable.

According to the Sony website, you should be able to return the hearing aids to the store or online company from which you purchased them within 45 days. However, make sure you check with the seller's return policies prior to purchase. You should also keep all the items that come with the hearing aid and its original packaging in case you need to return them.

You will soon be able to buy these hearing aids on the Sony website, Amazon, Best Buy, and through select hearing-care professionals.

Real user reviews of the Sony CRE-C10 self-fitting hearing aids

At this early date, reviews of the Sony CRE-C10 appear to be quite positive. Here's one person's comment from the Best Buy website:

Received mine a couple days ago. These OTC hearing aids are great! Fully customizable and you can fine tune them to meet your specific needs. Small and hides well in your ear. I would recommend them to family and friends.

And here's another:

It's only been 3 days but very happy so far. Excellent sound quality. Easy to set up and customize to my hearing profile. Virtually invisible and less than half the cost of Eargo.

At this writing, our HearingTracker forum does not have any reviews on the Sony CRE-C10.

If we are to believe the Signia Silk X, Vibe, and Sony CRE-C10 hearing aids are similar or identical, we can venture a couple broad observations. First, audiologists were generally not very positive about Silk X, possibly because of its rather basic controls and features—and possibly WSA competes with Silk with the self-fitting Vibe.

Consumer reviews of the Signia Silk X on HearingTracker are also generally negative, with complaints about performance, reliability, the mobile app, and the lack of volume control—and the high price tag seems to be a recurring theme. One reviewer seems 100% happy with their Silks, with comfort and invisibility being key factors.

Many people did not rate Silk high in value for the $1500-4000 they purchased it for. When compared to other prescription hearing aids, the Silk X scored lower for "Benefit in noise", "Clear and natural sound,” "reliability,” and "value." Keep in mind though, that we're drawing these conclusions from a very small number of consumer reviews.

Again, it should be emphasized that Signia Silk X could be considerably different from Sony CRE-C10, and that people purchasing Silk X from a hearing care clinic for $500-3000 above the CRE-C10's $1000 price tag were probably expecting much more.

And, after all, the Silk Hearing Aid was good enough for the Queen…

In January 2020, a 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth II was photographed—for the first time ever, according to multiple news sources—wearing a hearing aid in her right ear by the British newspaper, Daily Mail. This sent the audiology world all atwitter, because upon closer examination, it’s pretty apparent the Queen was wearing a Signia Silk CIC hearing aid. Silk was a surprising choice for a storied monarch who almost certainly could have chosen any hearing aid in the world. Plus, it appeared the device was not positioned in the Queen’s ear correctly, leading some to suggest she could have benefitted from more counseling from her HCP on a better insertion technique. Nonetheless, apart from the audiological nit-picking, most social media posts and HearingTracker lauded the Queen for taking proactive steps for improving her hearing status. So, maybe Silk reigns?

Queen Elizabeth Ha 1200x675

Close up of Queen Elizabeth II's Silk hearing aid which was not inserted optimally (ie, the brown faceplate of the aid where the microphone is located should be oriented more outwardly, and not toward the bowl of her ear).

Pros

One of the smallest—if not THE smallest—available OTC hearing aid on the market
Fast and easy app-based self-fitting set up that programs device for your unique hearing loss
Automatically adjusts to your sound environment
Speech/noise management, wind noise reduction, impact sound smoothing, and sound smoothing features
Exceptional battery life (5-7 days)
Developed and distributed by two very large, knowledgeable, reputable companies

Cons

CICs are generally not as robust as some other hearing aid styles and can be more susceptible to breakdowns
Like most CICs, does not have directional microphones
Small size 10 disposable battery may be difficult to change for those with vision or dexterity problems
Does not stream phone calls, music, etc, from smartphones and other devices
Does not include onboarding process and remote support system that some other self-fit hearing aids offer
With a price tag of about $1000, you may be able to get a professionally fit hearing aid at a hearing care clinic or big box retailer for the same price—if you insist on an economy/basic model

Competing OTC and hearable alternatives to Sony CRE-C10

You will find several good-quality competing OTC hearing aids for $1000 or less now making their way onto the market, as well as hearables, including:

  • Eargo 7 is a $2950 rechargeable CIC hearing aid that provides app-based controls and automatic sound adjustments with new features for improved performance in background noise and water resistance, but does not support audio streaming (e.g., phone calls and music). However, Eargo provides lifetime professionally administered support via phone or its smart app.
  • Jabra Enhance Plus is a $799 rechargeable OTC hearing aid made by the GN Group (maker of ReSound and Beltone hearing aids) that looks like modern wireless earbuds but delivers speech amplification, directional microphones, and noise reduction, as well as feedback suppression. It also streams audio (e.g., phone calls and music) and provides hands-free calling via Bluetooth® (iOS only).
  • Lexie B1 and B2 Powered by Bose hearing aids are receiver-in-canal (RIC) devices for $849 and $999, respectively, offering good sound quality, onboard volume control, directional microphones, noise reduction, smartphone app controls, and real-time remote set-up and support from Lexie. The B2 is rechargeable and is designed to stream audio for phone calls while the B1 uses disposable batteries does not stream audio.
  • NuHeara IQbuds² MAX earbuds are not classified as an OTC hearing aid (at this writing, they are pending FDA clearance); however, these hearables feature a smart, rechargeable, Bluetooth audio streaming, hearing-enhancement wireless earbud option offered for $500. The similar HP Hearing PRO is a self-fitting app-controlled device for $699.
  • Apple AirPods Pro earbuds (and AirPods and AirPods Pro 2) can be configured to perform much like an OTC hearing aid for situational use, but they have some notable limitations, including a limited battery life.

Additionally, you might consider the following that may involve professional hearing care:

  • Check to see if your insurance plan covers the cost of prescriptive hearing aids or if you might gain coverage from the VA, TRICARE, Medicaid, etc. Some insurance programs may start covering OTC hearing aids, as well.
  • Most hearing care clinics and retail offices, including Costco and Sam's Club, carry sub-$1000 prescription hearing aids that include a professional fitting; they just don't spend money advertising these hearing aids—so call them and explain you're interested in their lowest cost prescriptive hearing aid and you're considering buying an OTC aid.

Table of Contents

HearAdvisor Sound Performance Lab Results

SoundScore 4.1
Speech in quiet 3.9
Speech in noise 2.6
My own voice 2.6
No feedback issues 4.0

Maximum score for each category is 5 points. Green triangles (if present) denote above-average performance; hover your cursor over them to see the specific data.

Off
Initial
Tuned
Busy Café
Quiet Office

Adjust volume to make "Open Ear" as loud as it would be in the real world, without hearing aids. Remove hearing aids while auditioning. High-quality headphones will improve results!

Recordings are made in a sound-treated acoustic test lab an 8-speaker ring presenting ambisonic recordings and an acoustic manikin. For more important listening notes, be sure to check out our hearing aid comparison engine.

HearAdvisor partners with HearingTracker to provide objective laboratory performance data. All hearing aids are fitted and performance-tested for mild sloping to moderate hearing loss. All audio samples cutoff above 10kHz. *Specific model tested: Sony CRE-C10 Self-Fitting OTC.

CRE-C10 Physical Specifications

Model details listed above may be incomplete or inaccurate. For full specifications please refer to product specifications published by the original equipment manufacturer. To suggest a correction to the details listed, please email info@hearingtracker.com.

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CRE-C10 Technology Details

Technology specifications listed above may be incomplete or inaccurate. For full specifications please refer to product specifications published by the original equipment manufacturer. To suggest a correction to the details listed, please email info@hearingtracker.com.

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CRE-C10 Accessories

Hearing Control App

Hearing Control App

App for setting up and controlling your Sony hearing aids.

Functions

  • Remote Control
  • Smartphone App

Compatible Aids

  • CRE-C10 Self-Fitting OTC

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CRE-C10 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 reading

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Overall Ratings

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.

Benefit in Quiet
No data available
87%
Benefit in Noise
No data available
62%
Benefit on the Phone
No data available
75%
Clear and Natural
No data available
75%
Music Improvement
No data available
75%
Physical Comfort
No data available
87%
Reliability
No data available
62%
Feedback
No data available
75%
Hearing Improvement
No data available
75%
Value
No data available
75%
Alpha Terminus
Alpha Terminus 05 March 2023
4 stars stars

Comparable to signia silk.  

My first fit was too loud in all frequencies.  I retook the test in a very quite environment and now they sound like my prescription hearing aids.

I'm a doctor and these work better than my Rx bte hearing aids in the clinic because I can place my stethoscope ear pieces over them and the heart and lung sounds sound like a snare drum.

I play piano and have to turn these to 40% to not get feedback but they sound good.

They only have a universal program.  They should have a music program etc.

Much better value than Eargo 6/7.  Less than half the price and no high frequency hearing loss squealing.

Member
Member 24 January 2023
4 stars stars

RATING 3.75 of 5

I am new to hearing aids. I'm an audio professional and a lifelong audiophile. I'm in my late 60's. I've been wearing the CRE- C10's all day each day for 13 days. My hearing slopes downward moderately, toward the highs starting at about 400Hz, one ear somewhat worse than the other.

APP:  Very responsive thru my Pixel 6 phone. In addition to easy-access bass/treble and master volume controls, and a slightly less-accessible left/right balance control, the app allows you several preset "fine tuning" changes to three parameters: sound of own voice, speech quality, and general sound quality. You can store, but quite unfortunately you cannot record changes to fine tunings and thus cannot easily return back to them. You can "revert" which returns all settings to those originally established during initial settup. 

SOUND QUALITY: good. I feel diminished without these aids, but overall for me the sound tends a bit harsh (a product frequency response graph is available to view on Sony's online product user manual). Occasionally a touch of ringing and/or distortion is seemingly heard. My own voice can not be made to sound natural to me. The app's "fine tuning" section is clumsy to use but makes hearable differences. I've heard almost no wind noise. In one restaurant the background noises almost seemed louder than those in the foreground, but nearby voices remained intelligible. In three other restaurants I found all sounds to be well-balanced. My ability to recognize directional cues is remarkably preserved while wearing these aids.

Overall, the good outweighs the bad. Makes me want to keep wearing them.

BATTERY LIFE: I'm getting around 60 hours.

COMFORT: Quite comfortable for all-day use. I forget they're physically there, except somehow they make my ears feel acoustically stuffed up (occlusion effect?)

COSMETICS: My wife can't tell if I have them on unless she's 3 feet away looking directly in my ear (of course she can tell by the conspicuous absence of me saying "wujasay").

SONY ONLINE HELP: I utilized Sony's product "chat" and my experience was excellent.

I love big technology in small packages. I find these hearing aids smart, cool and useful. 

Anonymous
Anonymous 07 November 2022
4 stars stars

So far, I mostly like them. They are very small and pretty hidden in my ears, and OK to wear, but I'm still not loving my own voice when I'm talking, so that's taking some getting used to. The setup was easy enough. I liked that I didn't have to go anywhere to get them! Now, I just hope they keep working. Reading about the breakdowns on this page got me worried. No problems yet. Will report back.

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