Earlier this summer, the US FDA greenlit the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, and now we're seeing some from one of the largest audio companies in the world. Sony has announced the availability of its first OTC hearing aids, the $1,000 CRE-C10 and $1,300 CRE-E10, built in partnership with WS Audiology.
The devices are built for daily use for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. They're controlled via Sony's "Hearing Control" app that guides users through setup and allows them to personalize settings like volume control. It also allows a "self-fit" that adjusts to appropriate pre-defined hearing profiles "based on thousands of actual, real-life audiogram results," Sony said.
The CRE-C10 model (above) offers a battery life of up to 70 hours of continuous use. Sony says they're one of the smallest OTC hearing aids on the market, offering a discreet design that's "virtually invisible when worn" and "exceptional sound quality." It goes on sale this month for $1,000 at Amazon, Best Buy, and select hearing-care professionals.
Meanwhile, the CRE-E10 (at top) has a more earbud-like design, powered by a rechargeable battery with up to 26 hours of life between charges. It's Bluetooth compatible as well, so users can connect to devices and listen to streaming audio or music, though only on iOS, Sony says. Those will go on sale for $1,300 sometime this winter at Sony's website.
Last year, Bose and Lexie unveiled their own OTC hearing aids with the SoundControl lineup, and launched the first B1 model for $900 a couple of days ago. Companies like Jabra have also leaped in. And last year, Sennheiser sold its consumer audio business to the hearing aid specialist Sonova. While the prices are still not what you'd call cheap, they're far less than prescription hearing aids that can run $1,000-$4,000 per ear, according to Consumer Reports.