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Throughout my nearly 30 years of clinical practice, all hearing aids have been sold through the same sales model: directly from a provider's office. One disadvantage of this model is the time and commitment required to travel to the office.
Eargo has entered the hearing aid market, meeting the needs of many seniors by providing hearing aids that do not require a trip to a provider's office. Eargo, a true disruptor in the hearing aid space, brings the entire process online. You can take a hearing test and begin the process of getting a hearing aid whenever and wherever you want.
For this year’s review, I took Eargo’s online hearing test, spoke with their head audiologist for about an hour, and had several interactions with their support staff. I found a lot of what Eargo is doing to be very helpful and innovative, and they were kind enough to provide us with samples of their product for this review.
Keep in mind, Eargo is not for people with severe hearing loss or people who need Hearing Assistive
Technologies1 like telecoil. But, as you’ll see below, they have done a nice job focusing their product on first-time users with early-onset hearing loss. I give Eargo's prices and convenience a thumbs-up. Let’s start by going through Eargo’s online hearing test!
Eargo can easily recommend which of several stock settings will work for you because it has clearly defined its niche. The company's remote hearing care professionals select the configuration most likely to meet your needs using an online hearing test and extensive interactive interviews. Eargo will then ship the hearing aids directly to you. Once you receive them, you can make any changes you want.
For their mid- and top-tier products, a smartphone app allows for even fuller sound customization. If you’d rather have an expert assist you, Eargo offers the option to remotely program the devices in a “telemedicine” format. This live or “synchronous” type of telehealth is, in my experience, also different from the typical manufacturer.
Quick Tip: If you're new to hearing aids and hearing tests, you're not alone! Visit our 2022 hearing aid buyer's guide to learn everything you need to know before purchasing a pair of hearing aids.
During my conversation with Eargo's in-house personnel, I pressed them on what happens if a person's hearing loss is not quite right for their hearing aids. They were emphatic that they only want to fit individuals who will succeed, and they refer people who fall outside their lane to a partner audiologist for a more traditional hearing evaluation. They may also request a copy of a traditional hearing test before making a final decision on candidacy.
Shortly after my conversations with the Eargo audiology team, they were kind enough to send me a pair of Neo HiFi hearing aids to try. The pre-delivery communication was excellent, including a recommendation that I have my ears cleaned so wax would not interfere with the fitting. I also received shipping updates and a delivery confirmation.
The packaging was well-designed and efficient. One of my pet peeves is over-boxing, but Eargo's box is just big enough to hold all the components and documentation.
The quality of the charger and devices is not only a rugged feeling, but also well-designed in terms of both ergonomics and visual aesthetic. They look cool and modern. The devices are very small, but the right/left markers are very large and clear, which is great for seniors with vision loss. In my nearly 30 years of fitting hearing aids, I've found that one of the most common issues with new users is getting the devices in their ears correctly, so this is a big help.
Once I unboxed the Eargos, I downloaded and installed the smartphone app (I use an Android device, but it's also available for Apple devices). Below are a few screenshots to give you an idea of how the app looks. I found the app to be intuitive, cleanly designed, and, most importantly, functional. I was able to connect and set up the hearing aids in under 10 minutes.
|Setup begins with the standard acceptance of terms and conditions. I actually read them and found them reasonable. If you want, you can check out the app features, or jump right in and connect the charger. This creates a link between your app and the charger, which in turn, communicates with the hearing aids.||When the charger is found, it displays blue lights. This is a helpful verification that you’re connected to the correct charger in case there are multiple users in the house.||This screen starts you on your way to configuring your hearing aids.|
|Here’s a sample of the info screens detailing different functions of the Eargos. Again I like the clean design.||Next, you can try out each present and adjust as needed. Based on the discussions I had with Eargo, the majority of folks with early-onset hearing loss will find one that works and be able to adjust the tone control to sound acceptable.||After you’ve adjusted everything to your liking, place the devices into the charger and save the update. You’ll get the following confirmation screen. And that’s it.|
You can also use the app to have one of Eargo's online audiologists fine-tune your hearing aids if you're still having problems after wearing them for a few weeks. That is an excellent balance of support and independence. I always encourage my patients to take charge of their hearing loss rehabilitation. Many wearers are less bought in if I'm the only one who can adjust their devices, because all the good and bad is on me, the dispenser.
Eargo's approach will likely be best for people under 65 who have grown up with technology and tend to be more DIY than the previous generation. That said, it appears Eargo provides enough support for older adults who are less tech-savvy, as long as their hearing loss is within the range of what Eargo devices can accommodate.
The Eargo comes in four levels of technology, all built into rechargeable, in-the-ear-style hearing aids with either inductive or contact charging for optimal power.
Money-Saving Tip: If you're a part of the medical community, a first responder, teacher, veteran, active military member, or family of an active military member, you can receive 10 percent off the Eargo 5 or Eargo Neo HiFi.
The Eargo Max is designed to be an affordable, “entry-level” device priced at $1,450 per pair. It is ideal for older adults with mild to moderate, mostly high-frequency hearing loss. Because it was designed for this type of loss, there is very little low frequency (bass) response. This seems like a negative, but in my opinion, it’s OK. As long as the pre-fitting interview and test correctly identify the client’s hearing loss shape, there is no reason that this frequency response will be a limiting factor. That said, the major downside to this hard limit is that it doesn’t allow for any significant changes in hearing over time. If we look at the typical trajectory of hearing loss, where low and mid-speech frequency (500 Hz to 2000 Hz) changes faster for males than higher frequencies, this may limit the useful life of the Eargo Max.1
The Neo HiFi costs $1,950 per pair, and comes with comfortable tetrapalm ear tips for a nearly invisible fit. The device uses the newer internal circuit, and it's compatible with the Eargo mobile app. It also offers a wider frequency response, allowing it to fit people with more hearing loss at high frequencies.
Like the Neo HiFi, the Eargo 5 is compatible with the mobile app, so adjusting and personalizing your hearing aids on the go is a breeze. Priced at $2,450 per pair, you'll get Eargo's latest Sound Match technology, redesigned ear tips, quicker charging, and free remote adjustments. The device also has improved sound quality and noise-reduction capabilities for a clearer hearing experience. With a nearly invisible fit, it's discreet, rechargeable, and great for everyday use.
Not For You?: Eargo isn't ideal for seniors with severe or profound hearing loss. If you need more advanced hearing support, check out our list of the best hearing aids in 2022 for more options.
Eargo 6 is Eargo's newest model, starting at $2,950 per pair with financing options starting at $85 per month. It's equipped with Sound Adjust features, which automatically optimize sounds when moving between environments. It also works to automatically reduce background noise for a clearer and more natural listening experience. Eargo 6 features a water-resistant coating that can withstand a depth of up to 1 meter for about 30 minutes, so it's great for accident-prone users. Eargo 6 is a great rechargeable hearing aid option for daily use. It also comes with telecare access and a microbattery with a powerful run time of up to 16 hours.
Current Deal: Eargo is offering $300 off the Eargo 6 for a limited time!
Extra Flexi Palms, mic caps, chargers, wax guards, and other cleaning tools are all available on the Eargo website.
Every Eargo customer is paired with a personal hearing professional who will provide you with lifetime support. You will receive a welcome call when you first get your hearing aid so that all hearing aid functions can be explained to you. You can also reach out to this person for however long you have the hearing aid. Consultations and hearing checks are done remotely from the safety of your home.
There are video tutorials available online 24/7 as well as a customer service line that is staffed Monday-Friday from 9 AM – 9 PM EST.
All hearing aids come with a 45-day return policy if you're not 100 percent satisfied. This is longer than most manufacturer’s 30-day return option. Depending on the model you purchase, the hearing aids come with a one- or two-year warranty that will cover any manufacturer defects.
Buyer’s Tip: If you are a federal employee, you may be eligible for Eargo hearing aids through the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB program).
While not the first “stock” in-ear hearing aid, Eargo's ability to provide an acoustically non-occluding open fit, rechargeability, and synchronous remote programming makes it a product worth considering. In my opinion, Eargo has done a good job focusing its product features and configurations on the majority of first-time users with early onset hearing loss.
I give them a thumbs up for price and convenience. I like that their online test was speech-based and used background noise, and it appears that the initial issues with the test have been corrected. They appear to have good folks on the support side; they were very helpful and patient with me during my inquiries. Remember that Eargo is not appropriate for more severe hearing loss or older adults who rely on Hearing Assistive Technologies like telecoils, remote microphones, and media streaming. Eargo is certainly worth looking at if you’re in the early stages of hearing loss. Check out my interview with Jeff Hoyt on that below.
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The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 88, 813. (1990). Age changes in pure‐tone hearing thresholds in a longitudinal study of normal human aging.