Bose Hearing Aids Review: Pros and Cons, Price, and Features (2021)
- Bose SoundControl hearing aids are appropriate for adults with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
- The total price per pair is $850.
- Bose Hear App allows you to adjust hearing parameters such as volume, treble, and base.
- Bose hearing aids are FDA-cleared devices, not FDA approved like other medical-grade hearing aids.
- They're available as a behind-the-ear hearing aid only.
Bose is best known for its cutting-edge headphones, earbuds, and speakers. But with the introduction of Bose hearing aids, the company has entered the market with a direct-to-consumer hearing aid that's affordable and appropriate for mild to moderate hearing loss.
The SoundControl hearing aid from Bose is a lightweight, behind-the-ear device that comes with a mobile app, allowing users to control audio calibration and adjust volume levels, treble, tone, and bass through a smartphone.
Health editors researched the brand's hearing aids to give you a full picture of the product's offerings and to help you decide whether they're the best hearing aids for your needs.
Pros and cons of Bose hearing aids
- No doctor visits required
- Product comes with a 90-day risk-free trial
- Self-fitting hearing aid
- Dedicated customer support
- Comparable in cost to similar hearing aids
- No support from audiologists
- Product doesn't stream music or take calls
- Doesn't have a rechargeable battery, only replaceable batteries
- Not FDA approved like other medical-grade hearing aids
- Does not include telecoils
- Limited warranty
Key features of Bose hearing aids
Innovative technology, user-friendly apps, affordability, and accessible customer service are just a few key features to consider when shopping for a hearing aid. Because Bose devices do not require a hearing test or a visit to an audiologist, they lack some of the advanced features you'll find with other hearing aids. However, the Bose SoundControl still has some benefits that are worth pointing out.
- Direct-to-consumer sale: Companies that sell direct-to-consumer products handle everything from the sale, shipment, and aftercare of an item. Unlike medical-grade FDA-approved hearing aids that must be purchased through a licensed audiologist or hearing center, the SoundControl is available to consumers directly. No appointment necessary.
- Behind-the-ear design: Bose hearing aids are a behind-the-ear style, and each device weighs approximately 3 grams. The hearing aids contain two microphones, one speaker, and a replaceable zinc-air battery.
- Self-fitting hearing aid: Your hearing aid comes with a kit containing all the products and tools you need to ensure a proper fit. This includes three sizes of ear tips, a fitting tool, and batteries. The ear tips come in a set of open and closed tips.
- Water-resistant: The hearing aids won't be damaged if they come into contact with water, but it's best to keep them dry and protected from prolonged exposure.
- Replaceable batteries: The Bose hearing aids use replaceable size 312 zinc-air batteries, which last four days with standard use (about 14 hours a day).
- Guided setup: Bose has a simple, three-step process for getting started. The first step is to download the Bose Hear app, which provides instructions and video tutorials on how to wear and use the hearing aid. The second step is to insert the batteries, and finally, you're asked to follow directions on the app. The company claims the guided setup takes about an hour to complete. Once this is set, you will be able to use and adjust your hearing aids.
- Bose Hear mobile app: The Bose Hear app, which is available on Android and iOS, helps you set up the hearing aids and lets you adjust them to fit your needs. The CustomTune technology allows you to modify how much the hearing aids amplify sounds coming in and the overall emphasis on treble and bass frequencies. The Bose Hear app comes with four modes you can switch between depending on the situation: conversation, outdoors, music, and television, but you can also create your own custom mode.
- Focus feature: The focus settings control the microphones. You have two options: the Everywhere setting and the Front setting. The Everywhere Focus mode allows you to pull in sound from all around you. This setting is best for general awareness and listening. The Front Focus mode helps you focus on sounds in front of you. This setting is better for conversations when background noise is present. It can filter out sounds in a busy room to help you hear better.
- Preliminary screening tool: Bose provides potential customers with an online preliminary screening tool that gives you feedback on whether or not you would be a good fit for the SoundControl device. The test takes about five minutes.
- Ability to control hearing aids without the app: After the initial setup and fine-tuning phase, you can use the World Volume buttons on the hearing aid to make adjustments without the app.
- Bluetooth low energy: Bose hearing aids use Bluetooth low energy technology. The hearing aids can remember up to 20 devices, but they're only able to connect to one mobile device at a time.
Bose vs. other competitors
The market for online, direct-to-consumer hearing aids is not new. Four companies stand out as reputable brands in this area: Lively, Audicus, Eargo, and MDHearingAid. All four sell hearing aids with more features and arguably better technology than Bose, plus they offer better warranties and service.
Price and payment options
At $850, the Bose SoundCloud price is comparable to other direct-to-consumer devices. You can only buy this device through Bose.
Bose hearing aids are eligible for Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account reimbursement. The company offers financing through Klarna, which provides a line of credit. If you're approved, you'd pay $70.75 per month for 12 months.
Bose provides a free virtual setup session and support via video chat and phone calls. The Bose website also has a page full of troubleshooting tips, instructional articles, downloads, and more. You can text or call the customer service line six days a week at 800-761-2673, but it's important to note that Bose staff are not licensed audiologists.
How is this different from a typical hearing aid?
The Bose device is only appropriate for mild to moderate hearing loss. In addition, it's only FDA cleared as a Class II medical device, not FDA approved like many hearing aids sold by audiologists or hearing centers. FDA approval is a more rigorous process than FDA clearance. Since Bose hearing aids are sold directly to the consumer, the user is responsible for setup, tuning, adjustments, and ongoing care.
When will they be available near me?
Bose hearing aids are now available in all 50 states.
The bottom line
Bose is a relatively new entrant in the growing direct-to-consumer hearing aid market. When considering your hearing aid options, it can be tempting to purchase the newest devices available because of a perceived improvement in quality. But there are several important factors to consider.
For value shoppers with mild to moderate hearing loss, Bose SoundControl hearing aids could be a good choice. Customers don't need to schedule a visit with their doctor and they can fit the hearing aids themselves.
If you struggle with severe to profound hearing loss, Bose is not the best pick. Since hearing tests and doctor visits are not required, Bose customers do not have access to an audiologist.
Sara Lindberg is a mental health and fitness expert who enjoys writing about health, wellness, nutrition, parenting, and education. With a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science and a Master of Education degree in counseling, she's spent the last 20 years helping people improve both their physical and mental health.