Best OTC Hearing Aids of 2024: Price and Sound Comparison

Everything you need to know about over-the-counter hearing aids, including the 10 best performers for 2024.
Written by
Karl Strom
Reviewed by
Abram Bailey, AuD
Updated on15 January 2024

Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids have evolved considerably since the FDA officially opened this market. HearingTracker and HearAdvisor have tested and reviewed all of the major models.

Here's what you need to know about the new affordable, accessible OTC hearing aids—how they can help you, what you should look for, what to avoid, price and purchase options, alternatives to consider, and more. If you already have an idea about which OTC device you want, you can quickly see what we have to say about them in our reviews below.

Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

What are OTC hearing aids?

In October 2022, the FDA approved two new classes of OTC hearing aids that, unlike prescription hearing aids, are not required to be purchased from a hearing care professional. If you’re among the 30-million-plus adults in the U.S. with untreated mild-to-moderate hearing loss, they may help you start to hear much better. At prices ranging from $300 to over $1,500, the best of them will put an iPhone-sized dent in your pocketbook. But they are easy to buy and are bringing the average cost of high-quality hearing assistance below the $5,000 average price you may pay for a set of premium prescription hearing aids.

Although you can purchase a set of quality hearing aids fitted by a hearing care professional at Costco or a basic-level hearing aid from a local clinic for $1,500 to $5,000, it will generally take 2-6 office visits to get them matched precisely for your unique hearing needs. And not everyone has a $1,500+ hearing problem or wants to devote several hours to solving it. If that describes you and you have mild-to-moderate hearing loss, then OTC hearing aids may be a good alternative—even if it's a temporary or situational remedy until you're ready to see an audiologist.

However, the FDA's new rules also provide only minimal quality assurances—and fewer consumer protections—compared to the state licensing laws that apply to prescription hearing aids dispensed by professionals. Additionally, there are two classes of OTC hearing aids:

  • A more-regulated “self-fitting” class that often utilizes a smartphone app and a hearing test for programming and adjusting the aids for your unique hearing loss, and
  • A less-regulated “wear and go” class that is generally less expensive and uses pre-set amplification or no programming at all; in general, these offer more basic amplification and fitting technology.

And it's actually a bit more complicated than that, because OTC hearing aids sold both online and in stores have different FDA regulations (mostly labelling requirements) than those sold online only. For interested readers, HearingTracker has published a full list of FDA-registered OTC hearing aids based on their classifications.

Don't Disregard Hearables!

Finally, it should be noted there are also "hearables" or "personal sound amplification products" (PSAPs). These are essentially smart earbuds and listening devices that are not FDA-registered as OTC hearing aids, meaning the companies can't advertise them as being useful for people with hearing loss.

But there are some advanced technology earbuds that have "hearing-aid-like" features, making them good, inexpensive listening devices. The three hearables we like best in this category are Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus ($649), NuHeara IQbuds2 ($499, discussed below in the HP Hearing PRO section) and Apple iPods Pro 2 ($199). HearingTracker covers these and other products in our Hearable Technology Guide.

How did we rank the Top-10 OTC hearing aids for 2024?

Over the past decade, HearingTracker has reviewed hundreds of hearing aids, hearables, PSAPs, hearing implants, and other hearing-related devices. More recently, we've teamed up with the independent HearAdvisor test lab that objectively assesses hearing aids on factors such as sound quality, speech understanding in noise, and music streaming. This lab has also created real-life sound samples and issued its HearAdvisor 2023 Expert Choice Awards, which recognizes the best-performing prescription and OTC hearing aids, as well as hearables. Finally, HearingTracker has developed a handy Hearing Aid Comparison tool where you can view hearing aid features side-by-side and listen to sound samples.

Because OTC hearing aids are new and there are some shockingly bad products on the market, we tend to lean toward those devices made by reputable hearing healthcare brands or at least companies that have long-standing, reliable track records. Professional in-person or telecare support during the initial onboarding process, as well as long-term product support (including honoring trial periods and warranties), are also very important considerations in our recommendations.

Given the above, here is a summary table of our top-10 picks, with more in-depth explanations of the products to follow:

Sony CRE-E10Sennheiser ADCJabra Enhance PlusLexie by Bose B1Lexie by Bose B2Lucid EngageHP Hearing PROEargo 7Sound World HD75R*Soundwave SontroGo Prime*
Price$1,300$999$799$849$999$700-1,000$699 $2,950 $500$749$299
StyleEarbudRICEarbudRICRICRICEarbudCICBTERICITC
Self-fittingPreset selection
Rechargeable
Battery Life26 hours16 hours10 hours56 hours18 hours15-20 hours5-8 hours16 hours22 hours4-6 days30 hours
Wireless Audio✓ iOS only✓ Android only
Pro online support
Companion App
Push ButtonTap Control
Trial Period†45 days45 days45 days60 days60 days60 days45 days45 days45 days45 days45 days
Warranty Period1 year1 year1 year1 year1 year1 year2 years2 years1 year1 year1 year
IP RatingIP68IP68IP52IP67IP67IP54IPX7
Financing†

Comparison of key attributes of OTC hearing aids (use the scroll bar at the bottom of the chart to see all devices). Prices may vary by distributor and some companies offer holiday specials, as well as add-on service, loss & damage, cleaning, and subscription packages. IP ratings indicate that the product has been tested for resistance to dust and moisture incursion; no rating means it's not tested or the rating was not listed. Notes: *OTC status pending † May vary by seller.

1) Sony CRE-E10 and CRE-C10

It's not a big surprise that the Sony CRE-E10, which borrows much of its technology from global hearing aid maker Signia, tops our list of OTC hearing aids; what is a surprise is that it received the highest overall score for all hearing aids that we reviewed during 2023 and earned top honors from HearAdvisor. At $1,299.99 a pair, the Sony CRE-E10 is a relatively expensive rechargeable self-fitting earbud with exceptional sound quality, and Bluetooth® audio streaming for hands-free phone calls, music, podcasts, and video from iPhones (v13.0 and higher) and compatible iOS devices.

Sony CRE-E10
Score
4.0

Sony CRE-E10

Starting at
$1,299
USD

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.

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Positives

  • Light and comfortable
  • Top sound performance
  • All day rechargeable battery life

Negatives

  • "Plugged up" feeling
  • Relatively expensive for an OTC
  • No onboard controls or accessories

HearingTracker Audiologist Matthew Allsop provides an overview of the Sony CRE-E10 hearing aid. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

2) Sennheiser All-Day Clear (ADC) Slim

One of the latest OTC hearing aids to be launched, Sennheiser All Day Clear and the All Day Clear Slim are among the most complete packages available: they are self-fitting rechargeable FDA-approved OTC devices that offer an onboard hearing test, hands-free streaming for both Android and iPhones, and have an easy to use control app.

Both Sennheiser ADC models employ technology from the world’s largest hearing aid manufacturer, Sonova, which is also the parent company of Phonak and Unitron brand hearing aids and are offered for $999.95. They provide good sound quality and feature intelligent scene detection that monitors the person’s environment for seamless optimization of conversations. Additional capabilities include a personalized sound profile, wind noise management, and more—all features you'd expect from a tech leader in advanced hearing aids.

Sennheiser All-Day Clear Slim OTC hearing aids.
Sennheiser All-Day Clear Slim OTC hearing aids.

Sennheiser All-Day Clear and Slim are OTC hearing aids that offer compatibility with both Android and Apple mobile devices for Bluetooth®. Music and podcast streaming from mobile devices, as well as set-up and customization, can be achieved in about 5 minutes using the All-Day Clear app.

Wearers can expect up to 16 hours of battery life and lightweight comfort from these small rechargeable devices. Each product comes with a set of hearing aids, a charging case, and accessory kit, and the Slim style also includes a compact carrying case. The only thing we don't like is the ADC charger doesn't charge on-the-go; it must be plugged in (i.e., not a deal-breaker but a downside). A 45-day risk-free trial comes with the products.

Put on a pair of high-quality headphones and listen for yourself below:

Sennheiser All-Day Clear Slim
Score
4.5

Sennheiser All-Day Clear Slim

Starting at
$949
USD

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.

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Like the Jabra Enhance Plus hearing aids described below, you can upgrade your purchase for an In-Clinic Care Package where you’ll receive custom programming and in-person service from a hearing care professional, as well as extend the standard 1-year warranty to 2 years. The cost for this is $250 extra (price may vary).

If you're looking for an inexpensive alternative, the Sennheiser All-Day Clear Plus is a hearable not necessarily designed for hearing loss but was still good enough to make HearAdvisor's 2023 Expert Choice Awards list!

Positives

  • Exceptional sound quality and Bluetooth streaming using Sonova technology
  • One of only two OTC aids that offers streaming and hands-free calling for both Android and iPhones
  • Slim design looks more like a high-tech audio device than a hearing aid

Negatives

  • Mid-range pricing at $999/pair
  • Charger needs to be plugged in to charge the aids

Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

3) Jabra Enhance Plus

Jabra Enhance Plus is a medical-grade self-fitting OTC hearing aid from GN Hearing, a major global manufacturer of ReSound and Beltone hearing aids. This means its performance is based on GN technology with sound quality designed to replicate the human ear and advanced algorithms that limit background noise and improve speech clarity.

Jabra Enhance Plus from GN Hearing.
Jabra Enhance Plus from GN Hearing.

At $799/pair, the Jabra hearing aids look like modern wireless earbuds but have features more often associated with traditional hearing aids, including speech enhancement, directional microphones, noise reduction, feedback suppression, and Bluetooth streaming. They also feature consumer-friendly earbud applications including streaming audio and hands-free calling via Bluetooth® (iPhones only).

The hearing aids are rechargeable and provide up to 12 hours of battery life, with a charger case that has up to a total of 35 hours. They come ready to use out of the box and the onboard hearing test and free Jabra Enhance app give you instructions to personalize and program your earbuds to your specific needs.

Put on a pair of high-quality headphones and listen for yourself below:

Jabra Enhance Plus
Score
4.0

Jabra Enhance Plus

Starting at
$799
USD

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.

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Like Sennheiser, Jabra offers the option of its Enhance Select Premium Package which includes 3 years of remote follow-up care along with easy adjustments through the app. You can also purchase the device through Jabra certified professionals, most of which are Beltone Hearing Centers (prices for services may vary).

Positives

  • Self-fitting w/ hearing test
  • Rechargeable with carrying case that doubles as recharger
  • Bluetooth streaming for phone and media

Negatives

  • $799 per pair
  • Streaming supported on iPhone only
  • Sound quality is more like a hearing aid and less like a Jabra earbud

A quick overview of Jabra Enhance Plus hearing aids by HearingTracker Audiologist Matthew Allsop. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

4) Lexie Powered by Bose

Lexie B2 Powered by Bose and its predecessor, the Lexie B1, are OTC receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids that offer good sound quality, onboard volume control, directional microphones, noise reduction, feedback and wind-noise suppression, smartphone app controls, plus excellent online remote set-up and professional support from Lexie Hearing.

Lexie B2 Powered by Bose hearing aid.
Lexie B2 Powered by Bose hearing aid.

While the B1 and B2 use Bluetooth wireless technology to connect with the Lexie app, only the B2 can stream phone calls from a compatible iPhone (no streaming from Android). Technically, the B2 can also stream music and other audio from iPhones or compatible iOS tablets, computers, etc, but the hearing aid's sound quality was not designed for this. Other than that, the only major difference between the two models is that the B1 is powered by a size 312 battery while the B2 is rechargeable. Sold by the pair, the B1 costs $849, while the rechargeable B2 costs $999, including the charger.

And here's a tip: If you're a Costco member, you can save $20 by ordering the B2 directly from Costco's website. Lexie also sells the Lexie Lumen OTC hearing aid for $799 and you can compare the Lexie B2 and Lumen side by side using HearingTracker's Compare Hearing Aids tool.

Put on a pair of high-quality headphones and listen for yourself below:

Lexie Powered by Bose B2
Score
3.3

Lexie Powered by Bose B2

Starting at
$999
USD

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.

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Positives

  • Self-fitting w/ hearing test
  • RIC style w/ option of disposable or rechargeable battery
  • Free 6-day/wk 45-day onboarding support from licensed professionals

Negatives

  • $849 for battery version; $999 for rechargeable
  • Does not stream music or phone calls
  • Available only in gray color

HearingTracker Audiologist Matthew Allsop provides his perspectives on the Lexie B2 Powered by Bose hearing aid. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

Lexie also offers the Lexie Lumen hearing aid for $799, and its parent company, HearX, markets the Go Lite and Go Prime direct-to-consumer (DTC) hearing aids for $199 and $299, respectively.

5) Lucid Engage Rechargeable

Lucid is the Texas-based maker of Sam's Club hearing aids and the owner of Etymotic Research, which makes high-quality earplugs and headphones.

Lucid Engage Rechargeable.
Lucid Engage Rechargeable.

Lucid Engage Rechargeable is a self-fit rechargeable Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) hearing aid that offers Bluetooth streaming and app-based controls from both Android and Apple smartphones. It uses a special fitting formula (ADRO) in its programming and allows you to adjust the shape of your amplification by dragging lines up or down in a simulated audiogram within its LucidShape app. However, it does not allow for an on-ear hearing test or the ability to upload an audiogram.

Lucid advertises five other OTC hearing aids on its website: Tala earbuds ($1,299), Engage battery-powered RIC ($549), Enlite in-ear ($249), and the Enrich Pro and Enrich behind-the-ear (BTE) models at $300 and $200. Lucid's Tala OTC hearing aid is now billed as the company's flagship, but testing and a report on Lucid Tala from the HearAdvisor lab showed us that we'll stick with Engage as their best offering. It should be noted Lucid's Enrich Pro is one of the better basic/economy hearing aid choices on the market at $300.

Put on a pair of high-quality headphones and listen for yourself below:

Lucid Hearing Engage Rechargeable
Score
4.0

Lucid Hearing Engage Rechargeable

Starting at
$699
USD

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.

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Positives

  • Self-fitting RIC hearing aid that also relies on manipulation of sound parameters in app for "shaping" response
  • Bluetooth for steaming music and phone calls (Android & iOS, choose model at check-out)
  • Rechargeable with 15-20 hours of usage time/charge

Negatives

  • $1,000/pair although frequently offered on special by Lucid for $700—possibly lower at Sam's Club where you can also get in-person testing/fitting
  • Does not use hearing test like other self-test OTCs; instead relies on 4 preset configurations and fine-tuning in LucidShape app (but this may be good for people who like more control)

6) HP Hearing PRO

The HP Hearing PRO is a self-fitting FDA-registered OTC hearing aid branded by Hewlett-Packard and developed and manufactured by Australian audio device maker Nuheara.

HP Hearing PRO.
HP Hearing PRO.

In terms of technology, the HP Hearing PRO closely resembles one of HearingTracker’s favorite hearables, the Nuheara IQbuds2 MAX—a smart, rechargeable, Bluetooth-compatible earbud that comes with a great self-fitting app developed by the esteemed National Acoustics Laboratories (NAL) of Australia. Similarly, the HP Hearing PRO uses the same Ear ID™ system to calibrate the PRO hearing aids to your personal hearing configuration after measuring your hearing thresholds via its hearing test. The PRO reportedly provides 30% better speech understanding in noise using directional microphones, and features active noise cancellation, Bluetooth streaming for music and phone calls, and premium sound quality.

Put on a pair of high-quality headphones and listen for yourself below:

Nuheara IQbuds² MAX
Score
4.6

Nuheara IQbuds² MAX

Starting at
$499
USD

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.

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Positives

  • Self-fitting w/ hearing test yielding good sound quality; has directional microphones for hearing in noise
  • Apple and Android compatible with hands-free calling
  • Rechargeable with excellent carrying case that doubles as charger

Negatives

  • $699 per pair, about $200 more expensive than IQbuds2 MAX
  • Shorter battery life (5-8 hrs) compared to other OTC hearing aids
  • Heavier than most other in-ear OTC hearing aids

HearingTracker Audiologist Matthew Allsop provides an overview of the HP HearingPRO OTC hearing aid. Closed captions are available on this video. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

7) Eargo 7

The new Eargo 7 released in January 2023 is a rechargeable completely-in-canal (CIC) “invisible” hearing aid that you can buy online or at retailers, including Victra/Verizon stores.

Eargo 7.
Eargo 7.

Eargo 7 has some significant upgrades over its predecessor, including Sound Adjust+ with Clarity Mode” which analyzes the soundscape in loud environments and automatically chooses whether to emphasize speech or reduce noise for comfort. It also features faster noise reduction, better water resistance, and a rechargeable battery with up to 16 hours of power.

Eargo does offer the older and less expensive Eargo 5 ($1,550) and Eargo 6 ($1,890) models. All are fit via the company's app-based Sound Match hearing test. The app also functions as a remote control for muting the hearing aids, changing listening programs, adjusting volume, tone, and background noise level, as well as for uploading updates.

Eargo OTC hearing aids do not support Bluetooth streaming of music/phone. At $2,950 a pair, Eargo 7 is one of the more expensive OTC hearing aids. However, the company does provide extensive professional online support via the app, which can be crucial.

Put on a pair of high-quality headphones and listen for yourself:

Eargo 7
Score
4.8

Eargo 7

Starting at
$2,950
USD

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.

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Positives

  • Discreet Completely-in-Canal (CIC) self-fitting hearing aid w/ hearing test
  • Lifetime remote professional support included with purchase
  • App and/or tap controls; Inductive rechargeable batteries

Negatives

  • One of the most expensive ($2,950/pair) direct-to-consumer hearing aids
  • No Bluetooth steaming for music or phone calls
  • Although they tout noise reduction, aids do not have directional microphones

Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

8) Sound World Solutions HD75 and HD75R

Sound World Solutions is based in Chicago and started out by offering quality personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) that were used in several studies, ultimately proving self-fitting devices can be helpful to people with hearing loss.

Sound World Solutions HD75R BTE hearing aid.
Sound World Solutions HD75R BTE hearing aid.

The company offers its HD75 and HD75R OTC Behind-the-Ear (BTE) self-fitting hearing aids. Both hearing aids offer a hearing test and Customizer app for calibrating the sound to your unique hearing needs, three program settings with voice prompts, an equalizer screen for adjusting bass, mid and treble ranges, directional microphones for better hearing in noise, and a manual volume control button. The HD75R is rechargeable and can stream music and phone calls directly to ASHA Android compatible devices but are not “hands-free”(ie, you can hear the conversation via hearing aids but need to speak into the phone for the other person to hear you); the HD75 uses size 312 batteries and does not feature streaming.

Positives

  • Self-fitting Behind-the-ear hearing aid that can use either app or presets for customization
  • Long battery life for both size 312 disposable (HD75) and rechargeable battery (HD75R) models
  • Directional microphones for hearing in noise w/ 3 program settings

Negatives

  • HD75 and HD75R are $560 and $595/pair, respectively
  • Bluetooth streaming for Android offered only in rechargeable (HD 75R) model and does not provide for hands-free calling
  • Does not offer rechargeable carrying case for HD 75R
  • Does not provide dedicated remote/virtual professional support

9) Soundwave Sontro

Soundwave is a company established by a team of experienced hearing healthcare executives who believe in three core principles: simplicity, affordability, and convenience.

Soundwave Sontro hearing aids and otoTune hearing test.
Soundwave Sontro hearing aids and otoTune hearing test.

Their first product, Sontro, is a receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid launched in January 2022 that uses a size 312 battery. The Sontro otoTune® App tests your hearing in 3 minutes and calibrates itself for your hearing loss, offers a choice of four listening programs (Quiet, Noise, Entertainment, and Automatic), and the aid automatically adjusts to different sound environments. Sontro does not feature streaming for music, phone calls, or other media, although the company says it plans to offer this in a future version.

Positives

  • Self-fitting w/ hearing test
  • Receiver-in-canal with a 312 battery that provides 4-6 days of power
  • Automatically adapts to listening environment and can be adjusted using both app or buttons on hearing aids

Negatives

  • $749 per pair
  • Does not feature Bluetooth for music or phone calls
  • Only comes in non-rechargeable model
  • Relatively new company (but experienced management)

10) GoHearing Go Lite and Go Prime

Now we get into some tricky territory, because we wanted to include at least one "wear-and-go" OTC hearing aid in the sub-$300 range. In truth, there currently aren't many OTC hearing aids in this class we can give a glowing recommendation. The Go Lite and Go Prime hearing aids are basic rechargeable, in-the-ear “wear-and-go” type OTC hearing aids offered for $199 and $299 per pair, respectively. They do not offer a hearing test as most others above do and, hence, are not uniquely calibrated for your hearing loss. And our HearAdvisor Lab found “underwhelming sound performance” for the company's Go Ultra higher-end hearing aid.

GoHearing's Go Lite OTC in-ear hearing aid.
GoHearing's Go Lite OTC in-ear hearing aid.

So why recommend this? GoHearing is owned by HearX, which is the same company that makes Lexie B1/B2 Powered by Bose OTC hearing aids (see above)—although the Go products are manufactured in China while the Bose products are made in Minneapolis.

Go Lite is designed to be discreet, and works best in one-on-one conversations or for watching TV. You can adjust the volume on each Go Lite aid using a provided tool. Go Prime features a button on the aid that can change the volume setting and three pre-set programs, and it offers noise reduction and feedback cancellation (preventing the hearing aid from whistling). Neither hearing aid is wireless or uses an app, nor do they employ the advanced features found in their Lexie-Bose counterparts.

Frankly, except for their price tag, there isn’t much impressive about them; however, they may help people with milder hearing losses who can benefit from basic amplification. The really good thing is that they’re sold by a reputable company that stands behind its products, and you should get your money back if they don't work for you and return them within the trial period.

As mentioned earlier, the other product in this sub-$300 category that we think is pretty good is the Lucid Enrich Pro BTE.

Positives

  • Simple "wear and go" in-ear discreet hearing aids
  • Go Prime is rechargeable and has button control for volume/program changes
  • HearX is a reputable company that generally provides good customer support

Negatives

  • Offered for $199 and $299, they do not provide a hearing test and are not tailored for your specific hearing loss
  • Go Lite requires a special tool just to change the volume
  • Neither hearing aid offers Bluetooth or has app controls

Top-10 Do's and Don’ts when buying OTC hearing aids

Verify Your Eligibility: Get a hearing screening test from an independent source to be sure you fall into the mild-to-moderate hearing loss category for which OTC hearing aids are designed. You can use CEDRA from Northwestern University and Mayo Clinic to see if you have any medical risks, then take an online hearing test to assess the severity of your hearing loss (see "Who Should Get OTC Hearing Aids" below).

Get a Professional Hearing Test: Even better, visit a hearing care professional for an audiogram. While some are free and others may cost $100-250, a hearing evaluation in a sound-treated booth gives you an accurate picture of your hearing loss, rules out any medical issues, and resolves easy-to-fix problems like earwax. Plus you can use the audiogram to program many self-fit OTC aids and hearables—resulting in a hearing aid more precisely tuned to your hearing loss.

Understand Trial and Warranty Policies: Make sure you understand the company’s trial period/return period and product warranty. These are major areas where the FDA's OTC rules depart from those of prescriptive hearing aids; in comparison, OTC hearing devices have far fewer consumer protections and your options for redress are more limited.

Check Warranty and Service Contracts: Check your warranty and service contract options. If you’re planning on using your OTC hearing aid for several years, then anticipate at least some service or repair issues during that time. Clogged and/or malfunctioning receivers, kinked tubing, moisture problems, etc., are not uncommon problems in hearing aids.

Try Self-fitting Hearing Aids: Be aware that the “self-fitting” hearing aids—featuring a hearing test and app-based programming—should provide you with better hearing aid performance. The “wear-and-go” type devices that don’t use an app or hearing test might work well for people with milder hearing losses, but they probably won’t correct for your individual hearing loss as well as the “self-fitting” devices. (Frankly, we’re concerned this “wear and go” class of OTC products may consist of a lot of the same cheap, low-quality, online hearing amplifiers we saw prior to the new FDA rules!)

Consider Prescription Aid Options: Recognize that many hearing care offices will be able to offer basic-level/economy prescription hearing aids with services starting somewhere around $1,000 to $1,500—if you insist on this price and don’t allow them to upsell you. There are also several Direct-to-Consumer companies that provide hearing aids and services at lower prices (see "DTC hearing aids and services" below). As another point of reference, Costco offers its premium Philips HearLink hearing aids starting at $1,599 a pair.

Test Your Hearing in Quiet: Don’t ignore the warnings about conducting your hearing test in a very quiet place when setting up "self-fitting" OTC hearing aids. In general, the results from the hearing test are crucial for calibrating the device; if the test is inaccurate, the sound settings for the hearing aids will be similarly inaccurate. Get the most value from these hearing aids by conducting your hearing test in a very quiet place where you won't be distracted or interrupted—or by obtaining an audiogram from a professional.

Avoid Price-Only Decisions: Don’t buy an OTC hearing aid based on price alone or from a company that doesn't list clear information about itself and its trial periods, warranties, and repair policies. And, if you can’t find their address, phone number, and customer service info, run away!

Don't Get Stuck: Don’t let the hearing aid sit in its box without giving it an honest try. Generally, the clock starts ticking on the trial period as soon as you receive the package, and it can take a week or two to get used to the new sound and decide if the hearing aids are right for you. Once you’re past the trial period, you probably won’t be able to return them. Don't get stuck paying for something that won't help you!

Understand Service Limitations: Don’t assume you can buy an online hearing aid and then get help for it later from a local hearing care provider. In a large city, this may be easy enough to do if you’re willing to pay for the service; in other areas, help could be difficult to find.

Persist Despite Challenges: Don't get discouraged if the OTC hearing aid doesn’t work for you. If you buy an OTC hearing aid and it’s not helpful, send it back and try another, or seek help from a local reputable hearing care provider. Almost all hearing losses can be addressed by a properly fitted and programmed hearing aid or other device. So don’t give up!

Audiologist Matthew Allsop describes how to get the most out of OTC hearing aids using Sony OTC hearing aids as examples. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

OTC vs. traditional hearing aids: What’s the difference?

OTC hearing aids work much like traditional prescription hearing aids. The key difference is you're able to get them without a prescription or visit to a hearing care provider. That should help to reduce the costs, but you’ll also be missing out on important services like hearing testing in a test booth and hearing aid validation and verification, which is offered by most good audiologists.

Traditional prescriptive hearing aids also come with important post-purchase services. Some OTC hearing aids may come with telecare or remote support that involves a technician or even a hearing care professional. In general (but not all the time), you'll find that higher-priced OTC hearing aids come with good online or even in-person service support. Many buyers will benefit from these more personalized services.

OTC hearing aids also have important limitations in the amount of volume they can provide to compensate for your hearing loss. That's why they're only suitable for people who have mild to moderate hearing loss. If you're already having trouble understanding normal speech in a quiet one-on-one conversation, the amplification provided by an OTC hearing aid might not be strong enough to help you.

Finally, you should know that hearing aids can break or malfunction. Because they’re small electronic devices worn on the ears and exposed to the elements all day long, it’s not uncommon for prescription hearing aids to require regular (e.g., annual) basic maintenance or repairs from the audiologist. It may be harder to get an OTC hearing aid repaired or replaced. In fact, a recent HearingTracker survey showed that the #1 concern hearing care providers have about OTC hearing aids is “common breakdown problems” like those caused by moisture and earwax. This means it’s imperative for consumers to read and understand the OTC hearing aid company’s trial period and warranty policies, as well as support and costs for repairs.

To learn more about the specifics of OTC hearing aids, please see "The New FDA Rules for OTC Hearing Aids: What Do They Mean for People with Hearing Loss."

Who should get OTC hearing aids?

OTC hearing aids are more affordable hearing aids for adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. They’re particularly helpful to people who don’t have access to insurance that covers traditional hearing aids. Potential buyers should be comfortable with self-managing electronic devices, customizing them using apps, and regularly optimizing their settings. A recent study suggests that people who have had experience with conventional hearing aids and who are comfortable with smartphone technology are more likely to benefit from OTC hearing aids.

Prior to investing in OTC hearing aids, it's best to consult with a hearing care professional to confirm the level of hearing loss and rule out underlying and/or treatable conditions, which might be covered by insurance. There is really nothing that can compare to having a trained professional look in your ears and provide a comprehensive hearing evaluation.

If you don't wish to take that route, you might wish to visit Northwestern University's CEDRA webpage to see if you have a risk for conditions and diseases that affect hearing. If you're all clear with CEDRA, then you can move on to an independent hearing test like those mentioned in our Top-10 Free Online Hearing TestsAARP's phone-based Hearing Test, or HearingTracker's 3-minute hearing test.

Pros & Cons of OTC hearing aids

As OTC hearing aids are a completely new category of hearing aids, the jury is still out regarding their potential good and bad points that the new regulations may bring. But here are some possible pros and cons:

Alternatives to OTC hearing aids

Because they're a new product category created in October 2022, OTC hearing aids are still a very young product category. There should be much more innovation to come.

Although HearingTracker is excited about OTC hearing aids, it's hard not to notice that many of the best ones are very similar—and in some cases identical—to previous hearing aids or personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) that have been offered for years.

It's also hard not to notice that many of the best-scoring OTC hearing aids are in a price range where hearing care professionals can compete at the same price level with their lowest-priced hearing aids. In other words, if you're going to pay that much, you might consider alternate options that can include help from an audiologist or hearing aid specialist—either online or in person.

Here are some of your options.

Audiologists and hearing aid specialists

Professionally-fitted (prescription) hearing aids are available for purchase through state-licensed audiologists and hearing aid specialists. In our view, this is where people with moderate and more severe hearing losses will find the most benefit and value, as long as those hearing care providers adhere to best practices. However, the average price for a professionally-fitted hearing aid, including a hearing aid fitting and follow-up care, is $2372 each, according to a recent Hearing Tracker survey.

When seeking professional help, make sure to check if insurance might help pay for the hearing aids and/or associated services. For those who cannot afford professionally-fitted hearing aids, there several alternate routes. You might consider looking into financing, options for financial support, and our affordable hearing aids guide.

Another good resource for financial assistance (in a PDF file) is offered by the Hearing Industries Association. If you’re still left with the bill, remember that you can offset a portion of the cost of hearing aids from your taxes.

DTC hearing aids and services

In addition to OTC hearing aids, several companies offer direct-to-consumer (DTC) hearing aids, often offering hearing aids from the world's largest hearing aid manufacturers along with professional services via remote and/or in-person care options. You'll note that some of these companies now have products in the OTC hearing aid category, as well. We think the OTC and DTC categories will continue to overlap. Note: Be wary of Amazon purchases!

Hear.com

Hear.com chaperones your hearing care journey by matching you with a local care provider for services like hearing tests, fittings, and follow-up care. Per default, the initial steps are in-person, but you can opt for the tele-audiology journey if you prefer remote services. Through the Hear.com app, you can manage your hearing aid, schedule appointments, and keep in touch with your consultant for continued support. Prices range from $795 to $6500 per pair.

Yes Hearing

Yes Hearing is “America’s concierge hearing care solution,” connecting its customers with over 400 licensed hearing specialists nationwide who come to your home to fit and service your hearing aids. The company carries all the leading hearing aid brands and offers them at significant unit price discounts compared to local hearing care providers. Prices range from $1,395 to to $3,995 per pair, including service.

ZipHearing

ZipHearing operates with a straightforward delivery system and provides excellent service by partnering with trusted global manufacturers and local clinics to offer hearing aids complete with in-person care—and substantial upfront savings of about 25%. Unlike some of its competitors, it does not offer remote/virtual services, but instead pairs you with a reliable hearing care provider. Reviews suggest Zip Hearing is a good choice for those who prefer face-to-face care at a local clinic. Prices range from $1,998 to $4,598 per pair.

Audicus

Audicus markets affordable hearing aids and assists customers remotely with professional hearing care services. The company offers four hearing aid models—all manufactured by the world's largest hearing aid company, Sonova—ranging in price from $699 to $1,699 per pair. Audicus does everything in-house, including hearing aid programming, shipping, and remote customer care.

Jabra Enhance

Jabra Enhance was named Lively prior to its purchase by global manufacturer GN—the maker of ReSound and Beltone hearing aids—in late 2021. The Jabra Enhance digital platform enables consumers to explore, purchase, and receive hearing care from U.S. licensed hearing care professionals from the comfort of home. The Enhance product line borrows from ReSound technology. Prices range from $1,195 to $1,995.

Lexie

Lexie is part of the South Africa-based HearX group which makes a wide array of hearing-related telecare products and was cofounded by a respected audiologist. Along with the Lexie B1/B2 Powered by Bose OTC hearing aids and Go Hearing aids (see above), they also offer  Lexie Lumen, a self-fitting hearing aid that features directional microphones, a noise-reduction program, good sound quality, 6 pre-set listening programs, and a telecoil. Buying a product from Lexie includes the help of Lexie technicians (a service called Lexie Care), with real-time communication and hearing aid programming achieved through the app. With Lexie, you have the option of paying for a subscription fee that includes all the company’s services, or paying once ($799) and then selecting service packages as needed.

Hearables

If you're not ready for hearing aids, but still need help hearing, you might look at our hearable technology guide. As the market has changed, some of these hearables have transitioned into the OTC hearing aid category. But there are still some very popular hearables—including the Apple AirPods Pro 2 and Sennheiser All-Day Clear Plus that work quite well as "situational hearing aids.”

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