Everything You Need to Know About Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids
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Bose first entered the world of hearing aids back in 2016 with the debut of the Hearphone (which was discontinued in 2020), an over-the-counter, conversation-enhancing hearing amplifier. Fast-forward to May of 2021, Bose reappeared, introducing their direct-to-consumer SoundControl Hearing Aids. The company says the behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid is the first of its kind to be cleared by the FDA.
Consumers can purchase Bose hearing aids online, so you don't need to be fitted by a hearing care professional. And, at $849, you won't have to pay an arm and a leg for quality hearing aids. The device lacks some features that come standard with top-tier hearing aids like we’ve reviewed, like Signia or Widex. However, we're still impressed with Bose's emphasis on giving wearers custom, quality sound without the need to visit an audiologist. Below, we share the nitty-gritty of Bose's SoundControl Hearing Aid features, equipment, and value.
Bose has made a name for themselves with high-quality, out-of-the-box sound products like audio sunglasses, home theater equipment, and even earbuds designed for sleep. Talk about high-tech! Not surprisingly, the Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids build on this reputation, offering consumers customizable sound support with innovative features and durable equipment at an affordable price.
The SoundControl Hearing Aids are battery-powered, behind-the-ear (BTE) devices. The slim case sits behind the ear while a barely visible electrical wire connects to the receiver inside the ear. There are several benefits to this style of hearing aid, including a natural sound, and they don't have to be custom fitted, like most in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids.
We noticed that Bose brings personalization to even the smallest parts of the SoundControl Hearing Aids, including the eartips. Bose gives users six different tips so they can select which best fits their ear canal and sound preferences for optimal comfort. Some tips are “open,” which allows for more external sound to enter your ear, making your own voice sound more natural. While the “closed” tips promote focused sound in noisy environments. It's always nice to see this kind of attention to detail!
For older adults looking for various colors, styles, and models, the Bose SoundControl probably won't suit your fancy. The company has kept its product offering clean and straightforward with one style and one color (gray). We appreciate the simplicity, but if you're looking for a diversified product lineup, check out our Phonak review. They offer seven color options and multiple styles and models.
Did You Know: Bose partnered with Northwestern University to conduct a study on 75 participants with hearing loss. The study found that users were happier with the sound quality of the Bose hearing aids compared to prescription-fit users.
According to Bose, the SoundControl Hearing Aids were developed by the company’s experienced scientists, audiologists, and engineers.2 This team developed CustomTune technology that allows wearers to personalize their listening experience with professional precision using the Bose Hear app (more on that below). At less than $1,000 per pair, we think this is pretty valuable technology at a wallet-friendly price.
Let's say you're dining at your favorite bustling restaurant, and speech becomes difficult to hear. You're able to discreetly switch your hearing aids to the “Front” setting via your smartphone to hone in on the conversation in front of you and decrease the distracting background noise. On the other hand, if you're on a morning stroll and want to hear the birds chirping and leaves crunching under your feet, you can tap the “Everywhere” mode to allow a full spectrum of environmental sounds.
Keep in mind, since the Bose SoundControl hearing aids don’t need a prescription, hearing test, or doctor's visit, they aren't suited for seniors with severe to profound hearing loss. If you have a high level of hearing loss and need a powerful, custom hearing aid, a professionally fitted device is best.
Tip From the Pros: If you're looking for hearing aids to help with your severe to profound hearing loss, check out this year’s list of best hearing aids put together by our audiologist.
Since Medicare doesn't cover the cost of hearing aids, many seniors are left asking an understandable question: How much will this cost me? The good news is, Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids are $849 per pair, which is a fraction of the price of Miracle-Ear and Beltone's costs, which can run $5,000 a pair. Plus, Bose has a monthly payment option that makes them even more affordable.
Keep in Mind: Since the SoundControl hearing aids are battery-operated, not rechargeable, you'll want to factor in the cost of replacing the batteries every few days. A pack of eight batteries is $7 and has a run time of up to 56 hours, depending on usage.3
Compared to other top OTC hearing aids, the SoundControl Hearing Aids are a happy medium in price and features. Below is a quick comparison to give you an idea of where Bose stands among comparable brands.
|OTC brand||Price per pair||Tinnitus therapy||Sound streaming||Money-back guarantee||Smartphone app to adjust settings|
If you're among the majority of older Americans who own a smartphone, you'll enjoy the convenience of making adjustments to your hearing aids via the little device in your pocket using the Bose Hear app. This is a shift from the traditional method of getting hearing aids professionally adjusted. Wearers take the reins and personalize their hearing experience depending on where they are and what they're doing. The two Bose controls, World Volume and Treble/Bass, allow for clinically proven, professional-quality customization.
In the Bose Hear app, you won't find tinnitus therapy or Bluetooth sound streaming, like in some hearing aid apps. For older adults who want to adjust their hearing aids with their smartphone and don't need all the extra frills, the Bose Hear app is straightforward. It's well suited for seniors who are new to using apps or like to keep it simple!
The Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids can be purchased online. Unlike other online hearing aid brands, Bose doesn't require a hearing test to purchase their hearing aids. At the time of this writing, the SoundControl hearing aids are only available for purchase in the following states:
Bose plans to make its hearing aids available nationwide at a later date.
When it comes to hearing aids, the options are plentiful. What sets the Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids apart from other hearing aids is the amount of personalization and freedom they give wearers. As the name suggests, you've got the control! At $849, you're going to get similar technology to top-tier brands for thousands less, but you may have to sacrifice extra features like sound streaming and tinnitus support. If you're hunting for a bargain, some OTC brands are cheaper than Bose. But we think the value the SoundControl Hearing Aids offer with customizable settings is well worth it if there is wiggle room in your budget.
The app is required for initial setup and fine-tuning. There is a button on the hearing aid that can be used to adjust the World Volume without using the app.
With typical use, batteries will need to be replaced every four to five days. The SoundControl hearing aids require size 312 zinc-air batteries.
No. The hearing aids cannot take calls directly from your mobile device or stream music.
The hearing aids cost $849 per pair. Monthly payment plans are available. Though not covered by most insurance policies, they are available for FSA/HSA reimbursement.
Bose. (2020). Better Hearing Through Research.
Bose. (2021). BOSE OFFICIALLY INTRODUCES SOUNDCONTROL HEARING AIDS.
Bose. (2021). Hearing Aid Battery Pack.