Sony Corporation and WS Audiology had the hearing industry buzzing last fall when they announced that they had entered into a partnership agreement to jointly develop and supply new products and services in the over-the-counter, self-fitting hearing aid market. Through the partnership, Sony and WSA seek to “combine their respective technological and medical expertise to create solutions that will shape the new field”.
The first two products to debut from the partnership are the CRE-C10 and the CRE-E10 self-fitting OTC hearing aids, which were “designed with the understanding that one size does not fit all, and that people deserve options that best fit their unique needs, situations, and lives.”
The new devices, intended for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss, became available for sale in October 2022 online and now in select stores and hearing clinics across the US.
For this review, we’re looking at the CRE-C10 self fit hearing aids, which currently retail for $999(US) per pair.
Following the official launch, we had the opportunity to test out a set of the new CRE-C10 hearing aids for ourselves.
One of the first things you will notice about the C10 devices is their very small size – something likely to be appreciated by those looking for a completely-in-canal (CIC) style of hearing aid.
Contents of the set included:
- Jewel case and 2 hearing aids with small sleeves attached
- Pack of vented sleeves in 3 additional sizes (XS, M, L)
- Package of 6 size 10 batteries
- Cleaning tool + cloth
The CIC style hearing aids are frequently requested by those wishing for the most discreet fit, and in that regard the Sony devices don’t disappoint. With it’s very narrow and tapered canal portion, and assortment of eartip/sleeve options to choose from, the C10 hearing aids should very easily fit a wide range of canal sizes.
The devices come with the size Small sleeves attached, but the box includes 3 additional sizes to ensure the best possible fit.
Easy, Comfortable Fit
The design of the Sony C10 hearing aids are comfortable enough for all day use. Unlike many other earbuds and in-ear audio devices, the C10 can be worn all day without issue. With disposable batteries, you can be confident they won’t need to be recharged after only a few hours of usage. They are estimated to get about 70 hours of use, per battery.
The eartips are likely to be familiar to many hearing professionals, as well as anyone who has previously worn a Signia hearing aid manufactured in the past several years, which used the popular Click sleeve system (such as devices on the Xperience platform, such as the Active X, among others).
Each device comes with a designated L/R to indicate its proper placement into the correct ear. Even in smaller ear canals, the C10s were found to fit surprisingly well without issue.
The vented sleeves helped eliminate occlusion concerns that often arise from a more ‘plugged up’ fitting.
Setup and Connectivity
Activating the hearing aids was very easy. Just take a battery out of the package, peel the sticker off and place into the hearing aid and close the battery door to turn it on. That’s it. However, before you start using it, you need to pair it to the app on your smartphone to customize the fit to your unique hearing profile.
Pairing the hearing aids through the accompanying Hearing Control app was quite simple and we had no issues pairing to an iPhone 13. The app provides step-by-step instructions, with images, to ensure the process is followed correctly. Once connected, with the hearing aids in your ears, the app walks the you through a “hearing profile check’. Effectively conducting a hearing test, using the hearing aids instead of traditional headphones to determine the hearing status of the user.
Following the tone test, it also does a brief assessment for loudness to find the user’s comfortable listening level.
Once the process is complete, you then apply the settings and the devices are ready to be used. There are no buttons or controls on the aids themselves, but the app allows for simple adjustment of volume and bass/treble.
Each category featured has up to 6 different solutions available to choose from.
• Loudness – too loud or soft?
• Own Voice – too loud, unnatural, nasal, or soft?
• Speech – incomprehensible, too soft, sharp, or loud?
• Sound Quality – dull or sharp?
• Other – are you hearing feedback (such as a squeaking noise)?
The Sony CRE-C10 devices have a lot to offer for a first time hearing aid user with mild to moderate hearing loss. The tiny devices are packed with technology normally found only in prescription hearing aids.
What they lack in rechargeability and audio streaming, they makeup for in their discreet size and comfortable fit, great sound and low price point of $999/pair.
Interested readers can visit Sony’s website to learn more.