Sony Corporation and WS Audiology announced a partnership agreement last fall to jointly develop and supply new products and services in the over-the-counter, self-fitting hearing aid market. The two companies are combining their technological and medical expertise to create innovative solutions to shape the new field. The partnership has already produced two products, the CRE-C10 and the CRE-E10 self-fitting OTC hearing aids, designed to meet the unique needs of individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss.
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-E10 self fit hearing aids, which currently retail for $1,299(US) per pair
Following the official launch, we had the opportunity to test out a set of the new CRE-E10 hearing aids for ourselves. They are larger than the C10 devices, but still compact in size – and look like a small set of in-ear wireless earbuds
Contents of the set included:
- Sony CRE-E10 hearing aids.
- Click sleeves to fit every ear.
- Charging case.
- USB-C charging cable.
- Cleaning brush and cloth.
- User guides.
The buds come with four sets of silicone tips in extra small, small, medium, and large sizes. The Click Sleeve ear tips are likely to be familiar to users of Signia hearing aids (which used that style of tips for several years, prior to their AX platform release) and it’s also the same tip design used on the Sony C10 devices.
Users can perform a self-fitting of the CRE-E10 using the Sony Hearing Control app, which includes a hearing test that asks whether users can hear a series of different tones at varying volume levels and frequencies for each ear to customize the buds’ response to match their specific hearing impairment.
The process of pairing the hearing aids through the Hearing Control app was a breeze and we encountered no difficulties connecting them to an iPhone 13. The app offers easy-to-follow instructions, accompanied by visuals, to ensure that the pairing process is executed accurately. Once the hearing aids are connected and placed in the ears, the app guides the user through a “hearing profile check”.
By utilizing the hearing aids instead of traditional headphones, this feature effectively conducts a hearing test to assess the user’s hearing ability.
The big difference in connectivity is that with an iPhone, you have the option to stream audio and calls, which you don’t have with the smaller, battery powered C10 devices.
To pair the CRE-E10 to an iPhone, users navigate to Settings > Accessibility > Hearing Devices, just like you would with a traditional hearing aid.
While the app functions with Android for hearing customization, you don’t have the option to stream audio.
After the tone test, the app conducts a quick evaluation to identify the user’s comfortable listening level for loudness. Once the evaluation is finished, the settings can be applied, and the devices are ready for use. The aids lack any physical buttons or controls, but the app enables easy adjustments of volume and bass/treble.
When a user faces a challenging listening situation, further adjustments and loudness tuning can be made from the hearing aid settings menu within the app.
Each category available offers up to 6 distinct solutions to choose from. These categories include loudness, own voice, speech, sound quality, and other. Users can adjust the volume if it is too loud or soft, fine-tune the sound if their voice is too loud, unnatural, nasal, or soft, and modify the speech if it is incomprehensible, too soft, sharp, or loud. They can also improve the sound quality if it is dull or sharp and check for feedback under the “Other” category.
Sound, Battery Life and Comfort
The CRE-E10 boasts a staggering battery life of 26 hours of continuous hearing-only use. The charging case can fully recharge the buds twice before needing a recharge.
Sony’s specs state that users can get 23 hours of hearing with two hours of audio streaming. This makes the devices effective for a full day of use, whether streaming or not (compared to other situational hearing devices).
The auditory performance of the CRE-E10 and sound quality is comparable to what one would expect from a prescription hearing aid.
Using the app, you can adjust the tone level, both bass and treble, and take advantage of directional hearing adjustment features that are not available for the CRE-C10. Sony’s Auto mode provides a general 360-degree hearing boost. Users can tap on one of the four direction segments of the app’s hearing circle to create a more specific zone to hear sounds emanating from a particular direction.
This feature is especially helpful in noisy environments, such as restaurant, car or even just trying to focus in on the television
The Sony CRE-E10 hearing aids provide a wide range of features suitable for individuals who are new to using hearing aids and have mild to moderate hearing loss. These small devices incorporate advanced technology typically found only in prescription hearing aids.
One of the key features of these hearing aids is their long-lasting rechargeable battery, directional hearing feature, and audio streaming compatibility with iPhones. Combined, these features make them an attractive option for those seeking affordable hearing help.
With a price point of $1299/pair, these hearing aids offer great sound and a number of advanced features that are typically only available in more expensive prescription hearing aids.
Interested readers can visit Sony’s website to learn more.