Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids have become increasingly popular due to their accessibility and affordability, however, selecting the right one for you can be a daunting task. Here at Hearing Insider, I attempt to give my professional audiologist opinion on the OTC hearing aids that are FDA approved.
Soundwave Hearing is a company that produces the Sontro OTC Hearing Aids, which are designed to be a high-quality and cost-effective solution for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Overall I give the hearing aids a rating of 8 out of 10. They are good devices that will improve your hearing.
Design and Features of the Sontro OTC Hearing Aids
The Soundwave Sontro OTC Hearing Aids feature a receiver-in-canal design, the most popular style among hearing aids. This design allows for a more comfortable and natural fit in the ear, as the receiver sits directly in the ear canal but the other hearing aid components are behind the pinna (outer ear). The Sontro OTC Hearing Aids also come with three different sizes of ear tips to ensure a proper fit for each individual user.
Dual microphones and push button control for volume adjustment
The Sontro OTC Hearing Aids come equipped with dual microphones, which allow for better sound localization and noise reduction. The push button control allows users to adjust the volume of their hearing aids to their liking, making it easier to adjust to different listening environments as well as having the option of adjusting the hearing aids off the app on your phone.
Bluetooth compatibility and otoTune smartphone app
The Sontro OTC Hearing Aids are Bluetooth compatible for app changes but do not allow streaming of phone calls or other audio. The only current OTC hearing aid that allows Bluetooth streaming is the HP Hearing Pro. The otoTune smartphone app, allows users to customize their hearing aids’ settings and program their hearing aids to their preferred settings.
Self-administered in situ pure tone air conduction hearing test
One unique feature of the Sontro OTC Hearing Aids and its OtoTune app is the self-administered in situ pure-tone air conduction hearing test. This test allows users to assess their hearing and program their hearing aids accordingly. It is important to note that while this test can provide useful information, it is not a replacement for a comprehensive hearing evaluation by a licensed audiologist. If the app tells you your hearing is different between ears, it is highly recommended that you see an audiologist (most hearing exam are covered by insurance).
Customizable programming and automatic program switching
The Sontro OTC Hearing Aids are programmable, allowing for customization of the hearing aids’ settings to match the individual user’s needs. Additionally, the hearing aids feature automatic program switching, which adjusts the hearing aids’ settings based on the user’s environment, ensuring optimal hearing in all situations.
Overall, the Sontro OTC Hearing Aids offers a comprehensive set of features and customization options for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Performance and User Experience of the Sontro OTC Hearing Aids
The Sontro OTC Hearing Aids are designed for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss, providing a customizable and comfortable solution to improve their hearing experience. You should expect improved speech understanding and reduced background noise, leading to an overall improvement in their quality of life. It is important to note that while these devices may work for some, they may not be appropriate for everyone.
One unique feature of the Sontro OTC Hearing Aids is the ability for self-programming with the assistance of the otoTune smartphone app. Users have the option to program the hearing aids themselves or seek consultation with a licensed audiologist for personalized programming. However, if the user experiences any red flags or concerns with their hearing, they should seek prescription hearing aids from a licensed audiologist or physician. As OTC hearing aids are only intended for mild to moderate hearing loss. If your hearing loss is worse than this, you need professionally fit devices.
The Sontro OTC Hearing Aids come in 2 colors (beige and grey) colors, I recommend the grey as I think it looks more high-tech behind the ear. The purchase also includes accessories such as a charging case, cleaning tool, and extra ear tips. The devices are priced competitively within the over-the-counter hearing aid market. Additionally, Soundwave Hearing offers a 45-day return period and one-year warranty for their devices.
Limitations and Recommendations
Although the Sontro OTC Hearing Aids provides a customizable and convenient solution for improving hearing, there are limitations to consider. First, the hearing aids utilize the FIG-6 prescription, which may not be appropriate for all users and is not the traditional method used in most hearing aids today. Current research suggests that the best practice is to have hearing aids set to NAL-NL2 hearing loss prescription for optimal programming. This has been the standard since 2012. I do not know why Sontro elected to use a different fitting formula.
Another limitation is the clicking sound before the presentation of pure tones during the in situ hearing test. This was uncomfortable or startling for me. But you do not do the hearing test often so it really doesn’t affect my opinion of the devices.
Lastly, it is crucial that I, as a professional audiologist, emphasize the importance of seeking the consultation of a licensed audiologist or physician before purchasing any hearing device, especially if the user has a history of ear infections, ear surgeries, or any other medical condition affecting the ears.
The Soundwave Sontro OTC Hearing Aids provides a customizable and comfortable solution for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss. While there are limitations to consider, Soundwave Hearing’s contribution to the over-the-counter hearing aid industry is a step towards making hearing aids more accessible to those who need them.
I do recommend these hearing aids but they are not my favorite available on the market. I currently recommend the Lexie B2 Powered by Bose devices as you save $100 in comparison. Plus they use the traditional NAl-NL2 fitting formula.
The Sontro OTC Hearing Aids may be a suitable option for some, providing improved speech understanding and reduced background noise in a variety of listening environments. I invite you to read more about pros and cons of OTC hearing aids.