Top Over-the-Counter Hearing Devices (2024): Tested and Assessed

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By Car Brand Experts

When investing in an over-the-counter hearing device, whether it costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, ensure that you opt for a solution that addresses your long-term hearing needs sustainably. Besides factors like sound quality, take a moment to examine these specifications.

Which size and design suit you best? Majority of the hearing devices available fall under two categories: behind-the-ear (BTE) or in-the-ear (ITE). BTE devices are likely what comes to mind when you think of hearing aids – these consist of a plastic case housing the electronics, a thin ear loop that extends from behind the ear to inside the canal, and a small speaker (receiver) that amplifies ambient sounds into the ear. On the other hand, ITE models are self-contained units resembling typical wireless earbuds. ITE hearing aids are favored for their discreet appearance and ease of use compared to BTE versions. However, modern BTE hearing aids are noticeably smaller than their predecessors, making the choice dependent on your comfort.

Removable or rechargeable batteries? Similar to wireless earbuds, most over-the-counter hearing devices come with rechargeable batteries and a portable charging case for convenient portability. Considering the case’s battery life, most OTC models typically last about a week before needing a recharge. Without the case, rechargeable hearing aids provide between 10 to 24 hours of battery life per charge (though this reduces slightly while streaming via Bluetooth). Conversely, devices with replaceable batteries like the Sony CRE-C10 can last over 70 hours before needing replacement. While this sounds appealing, it requires keeping spare batteries handy and dealing with small cells, which can be challenging for those with dexterity issues.

Are you confident in making adjustments? Unlike prescription hearing aids which are tailored by a licensed hearing care professional, OTC devices are designed for self-adjustment. In most instances, OTC hearing device users are expected to tailor the settings to their ears, often with the aid of a smartphone application. The flexibility to personalize settings is advantageous, but it may lack the personalized care provided by in-office fittings.

What is the quality of the company’s customer service? It would be ideal to anticipate excellent customer support from every hearing device manufacturer, but the reality is that OTC hearing aid companies are just like any other business. There isn’t a uniform standard for customer service in the industry. While brands like Jabra offer comprehensive customer support, others may not be as reliable.

Is a trial period offered? If you’re dissatisfied with your hearing device, having the option for a hassle-free return is crucial to avoid completely losing your investment. Most states mandate manufacturers to provide customers with a minimum trial period. It’s recommended to verify this information before making a purchase.

What about guarantees? Equally significant as a reasonable trial period is a comprehensive manufacturer’s warranty. Most brands cover manufacturing faults for up to a year, with the understanding that longer coverage equates to a better deal. Regardless of the over-the-counter hearing device you choose, ensure the warranty includes protection against loss, damage, and normal wear and tear.

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