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Sony vs Jabra: Comparing Two Popular OTC Hearing Aids

As a regular wearer of Sony's CRE-E10 OTC hearing aids, I got a chance to try out the Jabra's Enhance Plus OTC hearing aid. Here's how they compare.
Sony V Jabra

Sony CRE-E10 (left) and Jabra Enhance Plus (right).

I suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss. This condition, I believe, stems from my years spent working in live music venues, or possibly from sports-related concussions in my younger years. Despite the origins of my hearing loss, the most significant challenge I face is distinguishing speech from background noise.

When I was trying to find a solution to my hearing loss, I leaned heavily on reviews from HearAdvisor and HearingTracker to help me land on the Sony CRE-E10, which was the top rated hearing aid tested by HearAdvisor in 2023. (Keep reading to find out what I think about them)

When HearingTracker asked me to review the Jabra Enhance Plus hearing aids and compare them to my existing Sony aids, I leapt at the chance. This is my unsponsored review comparing and contrasting both these models of OTC hearing aids. Let's start with the similarities between the devices (both good and bad).

Sony vs Jabra: The similarities

They are both OTC in-ear hearing aids: This means you do not need a prescription; they are substantially cheaper and are designed for people with mild to moderate hearing loss like myself.
They are both the same style or design: They look just like headphones made by their respective brands; this means you look like you are wearing headphones, which can go a long way to overcoming your self-perceived social stigmas.
They operate as headphones: They connect to your cellphone and can play music or take calls; there is no need to carry  a second set of headphones, no constant switching through the day,
They are both predominantly app controlled: The setup and settings all live in an app, and you can’t use them without your phone.
Similar app functions: They both offer hearing tests, setup guides, and device configuration options through the app.
They both come with a small case: The case provides storage, protection, and battery charging, which leads us to…
They are both rechargeable: No changing batteries, and they both boast full-day battery life.

Where they both fall short

Both of the iOS apps are poorly executed: With so many apps available to us in this modern world, both companies are familiar with smartphone apps, so why do both these apps look like they are five years old and have clunky, difficult-to-navigate?
Neither of the apps leverages iOS 'Quick Actions': Quick Actions would allow you to press and hold the app icon and make a quick change without opening the app.
Not truly hands-free: When on phone calls, you'll need to use your phone as the microphone.

Why I like in-ear hearing aids

Both the Sony and the Jabra are "in-ear" OTC hearing aids. They are less common than the type that go behind the ear. In-ear models that look like headphones are a great way to overcome your self-perceived social stigmas. If you feel ashamed to wear them or worry people will pre-judge you (which you shouldn’t, but if you do), then these look like you just have headphones.

Deep dive on the Sony CRE-E10

The setup of this device with the application is stellar. It takes longer than some other brands I've explored, but when you consider that this is your only introduction to using the devices (there is no audiologist counseling you), it felt like time well spent.

The real treat is that when you are almost done, it asks you to find someone to talk to and then performs some fine-tuning. This ensures that your voice and the voice of the person talking to you both sound right.

After the setup is complete, you are ready to go. There is a fantastic in-app section for fine-tuning, not just dials and faders, but a Q&A section asking you about the problems and offering solutions, which you can test before committing to.

The hearing aids themselves are very comfortable, both the fit of the device in your ear and of the in-ear tip or flange. It’s fairly easy to forget they are there once you get a good fit. Yet, a good fit is far easier when Sony offers four different sizes of tips.

Finally, The ‘focus mode’ or ‘directional hearing feature on the app is phenomenal. As I mentioned earlier, it’s frustrating that there are no quick actions or that their user experience isn’t great; however, in my opinion, you cannot take away from this feature.

By default, the hearing aids default to ‘auto,’ tuning in on the sound around you and trying to focus on the conversation.

Yet, if you find yourself in a specific scenario, you can alternate between other modes. The best example I can give here is this. When I go into a fast food restaurant, specifically one where you have lots of choices to make for your sandwich or burrito, I really struggle. There is background noise, music, people talking, and a large glass counter between you and the person serving you; they aren’t looking at you  (often), so you can’t always rely on lip reading to assist (usually, this is a subliminal aid that you may not know you do.) Typically, I struggle and repeat myself,  ask them to repeat themselves, or I just guess.

With these in, I can set the hearing aid to focus directly in front of me. Suddenly, I can hear the server with clarity, and the world around me is dulled. I can confidently order my lunch without despair. This alone makes them worth the price tag.

Sony CRE-E10

4 stars stars
3 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

Deep dive on the Jabra Enhance Plus

The Jabra boasts two entirely different types of tips, closed and perforated. They offer the standard three sizes in each, yet the two tips create a much broader range of comfort fit, not just physically, but with getting used to occlusion. (occlusion is the feeling you might have with your fingers jammed in your ears, which, for a ‘new to OTC hearing aids’ user, is relatively common.)

Buttons, each hearing aid has a small button on its side. Sure, as I mentioned, the app offers no Quick actions, but who needs an app when you can leverage buttons on the device for some common settings? I’d prefer if these were customizable, but that could come in a software update very easily. Having buttons may seem trivial. So, let’s pause here. Turning the volume up or down is valuable if you are in a conversation or trying to hear someone in a crowded space. 

If we were to oversimplify, hearing aids make things louder so we can hear them. They do much more but know that very loud noises can be troublesome when you have a hearing aid in your ear, very loud noises can be troublesome. My children swim; suddenly, it can get very loud at a swim meet. Being able to mute the device without taking them out or racing to the phone app is a game changer.

The case that comes with these hearing aids is also a big plus for me. It’s smaller than most manufacturers, and it’s USB-C, which even Apple seems to be agreeing is now a standard, for now at least. 

Yet, the real perk is that placing them in the case is very easy. The best cases - including Sonys have a  magnet to catch the hearing aid and ensure the charging plates align, but the Jabra boasts a strong magnet, and the aid ‘snaps’ into place quickly and easily.

Jabra Enhance Plus

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.

Busy Café
With device
Quiet Office
With device

Ultimately, I would choose my existing hearing aid (Sony) over the comparison device (Jabra), primarily because the app and settings customization are better with more available tip sizes.  

I found the initial setup to be better with Sony, and in my real-world testing of both devices, I found the audio quality and clarity better in them. 

Note, though, that this is for my hearing loss. Every individual is different. I have mild to moderate hearing loss (I can’t hear very well when there is background noise)

Still, Sony could learn a lot from Jabra. The buttons on the Jabras are a big selling point, and the case is a nice perk.

Ideally, if either of these companies could improve their apps, I’d probably elect to choose them over the other. They compare pretty closely, and having better apps could be a game-changer for either company. 

If we are to look at the data from HearAdvisor, you can see that Sony edges Jabra out slightly on the sound performance metrics, too, so overall, it’s a winner.

Yet, if you have the flexibility, I’d strongly recommend test-driving them both, seeing which works for you, and returning the set that doesn’t.  Especially if you can see the benefit in either the buttons or the directional control settings, the features that set these two hearing aids apart.

HearingTracker independently reviews products and services. When you buy through our links or using our discount codes, we may earn a commission.

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Guest Author

Cj Wild is the Head of Engineering and Technology at Scoop Technologies, a prominent Bay Area Startup. Originally from Leeds, England. Cj has been living in Marin, North California for the last 10 years. Cj has mild-moderate hearing loss, perhaps as a result of many years playing rugby and working with live bands.