In this video, HearingTracker Audiologist Matthew Allsop provides his perspectives about OTC hearing aids. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.
Are you turning up the TV too loud or having trouble listening without captions? Do you ask family members to repeat themselves too often? Or find yourself nodding your head when you don’t really hear what they just said? It may be time for you to start shopping for a set of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids.
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. To get you started, here are links to write-ups on some of the best early entrants in the OTC hearing aid market.
Top-10 products worth considering:
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 $1,200, 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 thousands of dollars more you may pay for premium prescription hearing aids.
The average price of a set of quality hearing aids fitted by a hearing care professional is about $5,000, and it generally takes 2-6 office visits to get these hearing aids matched precisely for your unique hearing needs. But not everyone has a $5,000 hearing problem or wants to devote several hours to solving it. For them, OTC hearing aids are a good alternative—even if it's a temporary or situational remedy—for addressing their hearing loss.
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.
Finally, it should be noted there are also "hearables." These are essentially smart earbuds that are not FDA-registered as OTC hearing aids but have "hearing-aid-like" features that can make them good, inexpensive listening devices for some people in certain situations. The Apple iPods Pro 2 is a good example of a hearable. However, these devices are not specifically designed and marketed to compensate for a hearing loss. HearingTracker covers these products in our Hearable Technology Guide.
10 Best OTC Hearing Aids
Because it’s such a new market, we recommend checking out OTC hearing aids that either have a long-standing brand presence in hearing healthcare or at least a reliable track record for providing good online amplification devices via hearables. Professional support during the initial onboarding process and product support are also very important. Here are our top-10 picks:
|Jabra Enhance||Sony CRE-C10||Lexie by Bose B1||Lexie by Bose B2||HP Hearing PRO||Eargo 7*||MDHearing VOLT MAX*||Lucid Engage||Sound World HD75R*||Soundwave Sontro||Go Prime*|
|Battery Life||10 hours||70 hours||56 hours||18 hours||5-8 hours||16 hours||15 hours||15-20 hours||22 hours||4-6 days||30 hours|
|Wireless Audio||✓ iOS Only||✓||✓||✓ Android Only|
|Pro online support||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Push Button||✓||✓||✓||Tap Control||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Trial Period†||45 days||45 days||60 days||60 days||45 days||45 days||45 days||60 days||45 days||45 days||45 days|
|Warranty Period||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year||2 years||2 years||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year|
Comparison of key attributes of OTC hearing aids (use scroll bar at bottom of chart to see all 10 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 product has been tested for resistance to dust and moisture incursion; no rating means not tested or rating was not listed. Notes: *OTC status pending † May vary by seller.
1) Jabra Enhance Plus
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).
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.
2) Sony CRE-C10
Sony's new CRE-C10 is a discreet self-fitting in-ear hearing aid, sold for $1000 a pair, that is so tiny it falls into the “invisible in ear” category.
Sony CRE-C10 hearing aids.
Like the Jabra Enhance Plus, the CRE-C10 was co-produced by a global hearing aid manufacturer—in this case, WS Audiology who make Widex and Signia hearing aids. In fact, the CRE-C10 appears to be very similar to Signia’s Vibe “ready to wear” self-fitting hearing aids. It features an effective self-fitting app, self-adjusting optimization for your listening environment, and what appears to be the longest battery life (70 hours) among true OTC hearing aids.
Watch HearingTracker Audiologist Matthew Allsop's video about the new Sony CRE-C10 and CRE-E10 OTC self-fitting hearing aids. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.
A second Sony OTC hearing aid—the Sony CRE-E10—has just been released this winter at $1,299.99 and can be ordered now. Unlike the CRE-C10, it offers Bluetooth streaming for phone calls and music, rechargeability, and feature in a slightly larger wireless earbud design.
3) Lexie Powered by Bose
Lexie B2 Powered by Bose (and 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, and real-time remote set-up and support from Lexie Hearing.
Lexie B2 Powered by Bose hearing aid.
While the B1 and B2 use Bluetooth wireless technology to connect with the Lexie app, neither stream phone calls, music, or other audio from smartphones or wireless tablets, computers, etc. 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 charger. If you're a Costco member, you can save $20 by ordering the B2 directly from Costco's website.
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.
4) HP Hearing PRO
The HP Hearing PRO is a self-fitting OTC hearing aid branded by Hewlett-Packard and developed and manufactured by Australian audio device maker Nuheara.
HP Hearing PRO.
The HP Hearing PRO appears to be nearly identical with or bearing a strong resemblance to 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.
HearingTracker Audiologist Matthew Allsop provides an overview of the HP HearingPRO 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.
5) 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 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 6 is fit via the company's Sound Match app-based hearing test, and Eargo also provides lifetime professional telehealth support via phone or app. 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 7 does not support Bluetooth streaming of music/phone. At $2,950 a pair, Eargo 7 is on the more expensive side of OTC hearing aids. But the company does provide extensive professional online support, which can be crucial.
Eargo 6 is an invisible hearing aid that promises to help you "hear more of every conversation" through personalized amplification, background noise removal, and automatic environmental adjustments. Coming in at $2,950 a pair, Eargo 6 isn't the cheapest hearing aid we've reviewed, but with premium features like rechargeability and IPX7-rated water resistance and—and lifetime telehealth support—it's worth consideration, says 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.
6) MDHearing VOLT MAX
VOLT MAX is a rechargeable, self-fitting, behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid that programs itself to your unique hearing loss via a hearing test, and provides remote assistance and adjustments from in-staff hearing care professionals.
MDHearing Volt MAX.
The hearing aids feature adaptive noise reduction, directional microphones, feedback cancellation, and app-based control of settings. MDHearing offers the devices at a base price of $1,900, but you can often buy them on special for $700 per pair. MDHearing has been a strong proponent of the Auracast Bluetooth LE wireless broadcasting system, and we anticipate they’ll be an early adopter of this technology in the future. The company has several other models of direct-to-consumer hearing aids, ranging from $250-300/pair.
7) Lucid Engage Rechargeable
Lucid is the manufacturer of Liberty hearing aids for Sam’s Club and the owner of Etymotic Research, which makes high-quality earplugs and headphones.
Lucid Engage Rechargeable.
Lucid Engage Rechargeable—which is essentially the same as the premium Liberty aid—is a self-fit Receiver-In-canal (RIC) hearing aid that offers Bluetooth streaming and app-based controls. 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. Lucid advertises five other OTC hearing aids on its website: fio, Engage, Enlight, Enrich Pro and Enrich, ranging from $200-1,000.
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.
The company now 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, can hear conversation via hearing aids but need to speak into the phone for caller to hear you); the HD75 uses size 312 batteries and does not feature streaming.
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.
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.
10) GoHearing Go Lite and Go Prime
Now we get into some tricky territory, because we wanted to include at least one product in the sub-$300 range. In truth, there currently aren't many products 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 the 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.
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 small groups 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 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: 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.
Top-10 Do's and Don’ts when buying OTC hearing aids
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 more personalized service, including in-person sessions with an professional.
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 losses. 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 basic maintenance or repairs from the audiologist. It may be harder to get it an OTC hearing aid repaired or replaced. In fact, a recent HearingTracker survey showed 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 Tests, AARP'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 just now coming onto the market. You should see many more soon.
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 OTC hearing aids are in the $1,000 price range where perhaps the majority of hearing care professionals can compete at the 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 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 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 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 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 was named Lively prior to its purchase by global manufacturer GN—the maker of ReSound and Beltone hearing aids—in late 2021. Jabra Enhance/Lively is an online hearing aid provider offering three GN-engineered hearing aids, as well as remote care for customers. Its 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 is essentially the same as the former Lively 2 hearing aids and similar to ReSound One and ReSound Key hearing aids, now with the addition of the Jabra Enhance Plus OTC (see above). Prices range from $1,195 to $1,995.
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), their flagship product is the 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 which includes all the company’s services, or paying once ($799) and then selecting service packages, as you wish.
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 and AirPods Pro 2—that work quite well as "situational hearing aids.”
Editor in Chief
Karl Strom is the Editor in Chief of HearingTracker. He has been covering the hearing aid industry for over 30 years.
David Copithorne is a longtime hearing-loss blogger and regular contributor at Hearing Tracker. In 2002, he suffered a sudden and severe hearing impairment. Since then, he has dedicated himself to sharing the valuable information he has learned along his journey.