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Comparing Eargo hearing aids to find your OTC hearing aid solution

Hear us out: These four models of hearing aids from Eargo are worth considering if you're ready to try OTC hearing aids.

Comparing Eargo hearing aids to find your OTC hearing aid solution

When you think of hearing aids, you might picture an older person adjusting a clunky device, frustrated by the feedback they're receiving as they try to tune into your conversation. But the assumption that hearing loss is limited to an older community, or that only older adults or those with severe hearing loss are those who need hearing aids is a patently limited view.

Quick overview

In reality, the picture is different: Hearing loss is a very real, complex issue that affects roughly 37 million adults (in fact, one in eight Americans over the age of 12 have hearing loss in both ears!). And anyone with hearing loss — regardless of age or the level of loss — should be concerned with maintaining their remaining hearing. This is because hearing loss is linked to other long-term negative health outcomes including loneliness, depression, dementia and even suicide.

But experiencing hearing loss doesn't mean you have to settle in for a long, challenging road ahead. Hearing aids are a proven tool that can help you remain engaged with those around you, and, according to a 2024 study, they may even help reduce rates of mortality in those who have hearing loss.

Thanks to a 2022 ruling by the FDA, over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are now available without a prescription, making it easier (and more affordable) than ever to fight back against the negative effects of losing your hearing.

One brand that has been particularly proactive in leading the way with OTC hearing aids is Eargo, which offers four models of hearing aids ranging in price from $799 to $2,550. To help you decide which model is best (or best for your specific needs), we poured through consumer reviews and chatted with a brand specialist and other audiologists to learn more. In fact, we even took the free-trial samples for a spin (very cute and comfortable, we say). So if you're looking to learn more about Eargo hearing aids, here's what you need to know.

Founded by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon in 2010, the California-based brand has made hearing aids more accessible — dare we even say fashionable — with its self-fitting designs. This self-fitting process starts right at home with your online hearing screening followed by a phone consult with an Eargo hearing specialist. If the results indicate you’re a good candidate for Eargo hearing aids, you can opt to have a free trial Eargo device sent to you by mail. Easy breezy!

Eargo offers OTC hearing aids without a prescription. The brand's current models include the Eargo 7, Eargo 6, LINK by Eargo and Eargo SE. They're all FDA cleared for mild to moderate hearing loss.

Aha, the golden question! When we asked the Eargo brand specialist to clear this one up, she sent us a helpful article that — spoiler alert — basically said it's possible, but it depends. Your specific insurance plan or Medicare coverage determines your eligibility. Give your insurance a call directly, or reach out to Eargo and they can help you navigate your options. Also, if you have a FSA or HSA plan through your employer, you may be able to use your funds to offset or cover any out-of-pocket costs.

Like traditional hearing aids, Eargo hearings aids are small electronic devices that — when worn inside the ear — convert sound waves so you can hear better. Eargo's difference? The hearing aids are teeny-tiny ("virtually invisible" in brand speak) with FDA-proven technology.

As Eargo explains it: "Eargo devices are hearing aids — exempt medical devices registered with the FDA and subject to FDA regulations or standards." Many competitors are amplifiers, which improve sound but don't meet the same standards by a long shot.

Frankly, millions of Americans could benefit from hearing aids! Hearing loss varies from mild to profound, so a specialist can work with you to pick the right Eargo model based on your needs. Eargo has ear experts on call 24/7 (ear emergency, anyone!?), which makes it all pretty simple.

This FDA-cleared hearing aid is Eargo's most high-tech headliner. Like Eargo's other models, the Eargo 7 uses a feature called "sound match" to adjust your hearing preferences (in each ear), right in the Eargo mobile app. The flexible tips on the hearing aid — adorably called "petals" — help create a snug fit in the ear. The differentiator from the other models? The 7 uses upgraded sound-reduction technology, called "sound Adjust+," to auto-adjust to your surroundings (think: noisy restaurant, roaring stadium or a relatively quiet night in front of the TV.)

"Eargo has hit a home run," an Eargo 7 user wrote on Amazon. "I've had them for almost two weeks now and I wear them all day, around 10 to 12 hours, in every environment. Restaurants, on the golf course, watching TV, at church. They have performed beyond my expectations."

Pros
  • The latest and greatest model, launched in 2023
  • 2-year warranty (unlimited repairs and one-time loss/damage coverage)
  • Rechargeable with 16-hour battery life; or two days with charging case
  • Water-resistant; can undergo 30 mins in a meter of water
Cons
  • Most expensive model
$2,450 at Amazon
Explore more purchase options
$2,951 at Target$2,450 at Best Buy

Launched in 2022, the Eargo 6 shares many of the same features as the more recent 7: FDA clearance, a sleek design and "sound match" technology to find the right noise level for your ears. The difference? The 6 introduced "sound adjust" technology (auto-adjusting your hearing aid to your environment), whereas the 7 improved the algorithm for even better performance ("sound Adjust+"). 

If you've narrowed your choice to the 6 or the 7, but your budget can't quite make the 7 work, you shouldn't feel like you're missing out with the 6. It's a great pick with most of the same features and a notably lower price point.

Pros
  • "Sound adjust" technology
  • Rechargeable with 16-hour battery life; two days with charging case
  • Water-resistant; can undergo 30 mins in a meter of water
Cons
  • A more limited 1-year warranty (same terms as Eargo 7's, but half the time)
$1,850 at Amazon
Explore more purchase options
$2,250 at Target$1,850 at Best Buy

With the LINK by Eargo, we move into what the brand calls its low-profile, "earbud-style" design. A brand new launch in 2024, these OTC hearing aids use Bluetooth 5.3 to produce clearer sound for music streaming and phone calls. You can tap between listening profiles — hearing aids, streaming or phone calls — depending on what you need in a given moment. That means you can listen to your favorite podcast or a playlist on Spotify while sitting at your desk, but when your boss walks by and wants to talk, you simply tap the earbud to switch to hearing aid mode for a crisp and clear conversation. 

One Amazon reviewer admits that these earbuds aren't quite strong enough to help with his severe hearing loss, but he was still impressed with the features and said they were a good "back up option" to stand in for his primary hearing aids when they were due for a charge. 

Pros
  • Bluetooth 5.3 audio streaming
  • Lowest price of the Eargo models
  • Familiar-looking technology — function and look similar to Bluetooth headphones
Cons
  • 1-year warranty (unlimited repairs, but no loss/damage coverage)
  • Shorter battery life than other Eargo models (up to 9 hours or 36 with case)
  • Not water-resistant (but dust-, splash- and sweat-resistant)
$699 at Amazon
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$800 at Target$699 at Best Buy

Like the LINK by Eargo, the SE model is also new to market in 2024. It shares some bells and whistles with its predecessors (self-fitting, FDA clearance, tap-able listening modes), but what's unique is its design. The SE is in a category all its own called completely-in-canal — or CIC — which means it can be worn even more discreetly than the other models.

"These small [CIC] devices sit within the ear canal, making them virtually invisible, and therefore, an ideal choice for those who value discretion," the brand explained.

The reason that’s a big deal: A recent literature review found numerous studies pointing to a negative stigma associated with hearing aids. Younger adults, in particular, shy away from using obvious hearing aids, and often forego hearing aids altogether to try to avoid any stigma. So if you prefer an "undercover" option for mild to moderate hearing loss, the SE model might be the perfect solution. 

Pros
  • Discreet in-ear-canal design
  • Rechargeable with 16-hour battery life, like Eargo 6 and 7
Cons
  • Only a 1-year warranty
  • Not water-resistant (but dust-, splash-, and sweat-resistant)
$1,290 at Amazon
Explore more purchase options
$1,651 at Target$1,290 at Best Buy

Your best bet is to talk to an audiologist and to get a hearing test. "If you don't know a good audiologist, ask your doctor for a referral," the Mayo Clinic advises. "[You can also] usually get a hearing aid with a trial period. It may take you a while to get used to the device and decide what’s right for you." For instance, you can try any of Eargo's models for up to 45 days.

Astoundingly, only about 17% of the people who need hearing aids actually use them. For many, cost is the barrier. At about $2,500 for out-of-pocket costs for prescription hearing aids, "hearing aids are unaffordable for three-fourths of Americans with functional hearing loss," a recent study found. "And their purchase would result in impoverishment for hundreds of thousands of individuals." That’s why some of Eargo's more affordable options are a really big deal.

No, you don’t need a prescription (or office appointment) to get Eargo hearing aids. The beauty of Eargo is that you can tackle your hearing issues right at home. Start with the online hearing screening, and an Eargo specialist will connect with you to chat through your options from there.