As we all know, hearing aids come with high costs, often upwards of $4,000 for a pair. Making matters worse, neither insurance nor Medicare will cover the price of these devices. Audien Hearing, however, attempts to address this issue by offering over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids that cost as little as $99 per pair.
At such a low price, Audien’s hearing aids forego many useful features of our favorite hearing aids — Bluetooth, remote adjustments, and directional microphones, to name a few — but for someone looking to try out hearing aids for the first time, Audien is a good (and affordable) place to start.
Online purchases: Unlike traditional hearing aids, which require a prescription, Audien hearing aids can be purchased online without consulting an audiologist or hearing health professional.
Rechargeable batteries: Both Audien hearing aid models use rechargeable batteries that lasted us an entire day on a single charge.
45-day trials: Audien hearing aids come with a 45-day trial period, during which time you can return them for a full refund if they don’t suit your needs.
Very limited features: Neither of Audien’s models supports Bluetooth, smartphone apps, remote adjustments, noise reduction, telecoils, or tinnitus therapies.
Manual volume control: To increase or decrease the volume on Audien hearing aids, you’ll have to remove them from your ears and manipulate the volume knob with a screwdriver.
Only for mild to moderate hearing loss: Like other OTC hearing aids, Audien’s hearing aids are not suitable for severe to profound hearing loss.
Audien Hearing Aid Models
Currently, Audien offers two OTC hearing aid models, the Audien Atom and the Audien Atom Pro. While both hearing aids look similar, they differ slightly in terms of price, sound quality, and size.
Audien Hearing Aid Comparison
Audien Atom Pro
Hearing aid style
20-hour battery life
24-hour battery life
Portable charging case
At $99 for a pair, the Audien Atom is the most affordable pair of OTC hearing aids we’ve encountered, and the relatively limited functionality here reflects this low price. While the Atom hearing aids do use rechargeable batteries that last about a day before needing a recharge, these hearing aids did little to cancel out background noise.
In our experience, these hearing aids effectively amplified the sounds around us; however, for hearing aids, this is not always the best-case scenario. While other hearing aids, like those from Eargo, feature specialized microphones, allowing your devices to hone in on specific sounds or frequencies, Atom hearing aids do not.
For example, Atom hearing aids worked well in one-on-one conversations or while watching television, as they effectively amplified the necessary sounds. In a crowded restaurant, however, these hearing aids performed poorly, amplifying background noises in a way that interfered with proper hearing.
Additionally, while these hearing aids do feature “wireless” charging, the included black charging dock must be plugged in to charge your hearing aids, meaning you can’t charge these hearing aids on the go, as you can with the Atom Pro model.
Audien Atom Pro
At $249, the Atom Pro hearing aids are a step up from the Atom while still being more affordable than most other hearing aids. While slightly smaller than the Atom, Atom Pro hearing aids operate in a similar fashion.
To charge Atom Pro hearing aids, you can place them in the charging case. Luckily, this charging case does not always have to be plugged in, meaning you can charge your hearing aids on the go. In our tests, we also found that Atom Pro hearing aids had a slightly longer battery life, lasting for 24 hours before needing a recharge.
We also noticed that Atom Pro hearing aids do a much better job than the Atom at canceling background noise. While their performance is not as good as that of Lively hearing aids, they at least were able to dull some of the feedback and surrounding noise that we found with the Atom model.
Audien Returns and Warranties
Audien hearing aids come with a 45-day trial period, during which time you can return your hearing aids (for any reason) and receive a full refund. Additionally, both the Atom and Atom Pro come with a one-year manufacturer's warranty that covers any defects in the hearing aids.
Additionally, Audien offers a lifetime protection plan for $4 per month. This offers you coverage for accidental damage.
Audien Customer Service
Audient offers a customer support line that operates from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. By calling this number, you can troubleshoot any issues you might be having with your hearing aids.
I was disappointed that Audien does not offer any sort of telecare services, unlike other OTC hearing aid brands like Eargo and Lively. With these hearing aid brands, a remote hearing health specialist can help you tune your hearing aids to suit your particular type of hearing loss. With Audien, users are more or less on their own.
At The Senior List, we are very excited by the advent of OTC hearing aids, as they will likely increase access to otherwise very expensive devices; however, by removing an audiologist (or hearing health specialist from the equation), hearing aid users will be responsible for fitting and managing their own devices.
Audien hearing aids, however, offer little in terms of customization. In fact, the only adjustments you can make are increasing or decreasing the volume, and this must be done manually with a screwdriver.
Alternatively, Lively hearing aids and Eargo hearing aids allow you to control your hearing aid volume through smartphone apps. Moreover, these hearing aids have more advanced control over sound settings, allowing you to alter microphone settings depending on your environment. Just as importantly, these companies provide telecare services, allowing users to meet with a hearing health specialist who can remotely fine-tune the settings on their hearing aids.
Ryan has years of experience researching and testing products that help people successfully age in place. After years of working for various publications such as Boston Magazine and The Believer, he has found his home at The Senior List, writing about all things related to caregiving and senior healthcare.