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In May of 2021, Bose announced that it would be releasing its long-rumored hearing aids, the Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids. This is Bose’s foray into hearing aids, and they are unique in not requiring a hearing test or professional fitting.
Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids are some of the very first direct-to-user hearing aids designed for people with “perceived mild to moderate hearing loss.” They can be ordered online and adjusted by the user on the Bose SoundControl app. This is great news for people experiencing mild hearing difficulty and would like to try hearing aids without an appointment or the cost of more traditional hearing aids. But how do they perform?
Let’s take a closer look.
Pro Tip: New to the world of hearing aids? Check out my picks for this year’s best hearing aids to learn more.
Bose Hearing Aids – Pros and Cons
Bose Hearing Aids Pros
Affordable price: At $849.99 for a pair, Bose SoundControl hearing aids cost far less than traditional medical-grade hearing aids. Even when compared to other over-the-counter hearing aids, they’re still pretty affordable.
Easy setup: The hearing aids are set up by the user in the Bose SoundControl app. After initial setup, the app can be used for volume control and settings.
Remote support available: Support for setting up and using the hearing aids is available from Bose via video call, online chat, or phone call.
Invisible design: Eargo hearing aids fit inside your ear, making them one of the most discreet models we’ve seen.
90-day money-back guarantee: You can try out the hearing aids and return them anytime in the first 90 days for a full refund.
Bose Hearing Aid Cons
No audio streaming: Although the Bose hearing aids feature Bluetooth capabilities, neither music nor phone calls can be streamed although the aids. This can be frustrating if you often use Bluetooth headphones for hands-free talking and listening.
No rechargeable battery option: Bose SoundControl Hearing aids use traditional Zinc-air batteries, which means they will need to be changed at least once a week, as opposed to rechargeable hearing aids which can last years before requiring replacements.
Only one color and style available: Traditional hearing aids usually have multiple styles and colors to choose from, but Bose SoundControl only comes in a gray, behind-the-ear style.
What’s in the Box?
Upon opening the box, the first thing you see is the owner’s guide. It’s a small book that instructs you in setting up, fitting, and using the hearing aids. Under the user guide is a sleek case containing the hearing aids, and a compartment with an ear measuring tool, a cleaning tool, extra ear tips, and one package of batteries.
Using and setting up the Bose hearing aids was easy. The first thing the owner’s guide will ask you to do is download the Bose Hear app on your phone. Once you download the app, open it, and accept the terms and conditions, the app instructs you on how to pair the hearing aids to the phone. The first step is inserting the batteries and closing the battery doors. The Bose hearing aids use Zinc-air batteries, which must be replaced about every five days.
Once the battery doors are closed, you can begin pairing to the app. When I tested it, the hearing aids paired immediately and easily reconnected if I turned the hearing aids off and on again. This was refreshing, since many hearing aids I have worked with work well once they are connected, but can be glitchy or time-consuming when connecting to the phone.
After pairing, the app will take you through some tutorials. The first tutorials cover how to put the hearing aids on. The Bose hearing aids is a receiver-in-canal style aid, which means that most of the hearing aid sits behind the ear, with a thin wire going down the size of the face and the speaker and ear tip inside the ear canal. The tutorials will show you how to check that the fit is good on both the ear tip (also called a dome) and the wire, which connects to the speaker (also called a receiver).
The hearing aids come with every dome size, so if they don’t have the right size for your ear canal already on then, you can easily change them immediately. However, the speakers only come in one size. If they’re too short or long, you can measure your ear and order a replacement from Bose in the correct size. This might be disappointing if you wanted to wear your hearing aids right away. Unfortunately, if you need additional speakers, replacing them costs $50 each. In my experience, speakers are the most common component of hearing aids that need replacement.
If the fit is satisfactory, the next step is adjusting the sound. The Bose app asks you to turn on the TV or go to a noisy place and adjust the aids until they are at a comfortable level. Then you adjust the balance between treble and bass to best suit you and make your voice sound natural. It is important that this part of the process is completed by the person who is going to wear the hearing aids. I found the sound quality to be crisp yet natural.
The app is easy to use and allows you to choose between four different programs, change the volume and choose between all-around or forward focus. It’s a straightforward app that will work well for users who want to keep it simple. Unfortunately, you will not find any tinnitus therapy on the app, nor will you be able to stream any audio. This may be an issue for those that often need a hands-free streaming option.
It’s important to remember that Bose hearing aids are intended for those over 18 with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. If you find you continue having difficulty even after using the hearing aids, it’s probably best to get your hearing assessed by an audiologist who can provide you with a full evaluation, which includes a report of your exact hearing levels.
Although the hearing aids are designed to be set up completely independently, if you run into trouble you can schedule a free video call with a professional from within the Bose app, or use the text helpline.
Bose Refund and Warranty Policy
Bose SoundControl hearing aids come with a 90-day return policy. During these first three months, you can return your hearing aids for a full refund, provided they are in their original condition.
Bose offers a one-year manufacturer’s warranty that covers any defects in the product.
Bose SoundControl hearing aids are a solid product for those with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. Physically, they feel sturdy and well made, and they are small, like similar style hearing aids from leading brands. The Bose hearing aids are not suitable for those with severe hearing loss, or people who need a hearing aid that provides tinnitus therapy.
However, the Bose hearing aids are a good choice for individuals with mild hearing loss who want to try cheap hearing aids and don't mind the lack of bells and whistles in features and streaming capability.
Kasey is passionate about explaining hearing loss and communication strategies to her patients and their families, helping them get back to effective and fun communication. Her experience in public and private healthcare in the U.S. and abroad gives her perspective and familiarity about all sides of the hearing aid market. She studied linguistics at Rice University and got her Au.D. (Clinical Doctorate in Audiology) at the University of South Florida. When she is not helping her patients make the best decisions about their hearing health care and hearing aids, she enjoys photography and painting, in addition to hiking the hills of Scotland with her partner and kids.