Sony CRE C10 OTC Hearing Aids

Sony CRE C10 OTC Hearing Aids

Sony's Mini OTC Hearing Aids

Sony + Signia OTC Partnership

Sony partners with Signia and has released two OTC hearing aids: the CRE C10 and the CRE E10. And while the E10 is an earbud-style hearing aid like the Signia Active Pro, the Jabra Enhance Plus, or the new HP Hearing Pro, which will get its own review soon, is the C10 a CIC device, which stands for Completely In Canal, and is nearly invisible when wearing.

Now Sony/Signia are not the only ones with CIC hearing aids. We also have Eargo and Lucid Hearing to name a few. But it is interesting to see, what these $ 1,000.00 dollars Sony devices are capable of, compared to the Signia Silk prescription hearing aids. But let’s first have a close look at the C10.

Look and Feel

The Sony C10 looks exactly like the Signia Silk. It is a CIC-style OTC hearing aid with a size 10 battery. Sony states that the battery will last for up to 70 hours of continuous use. However, Sony also states that the battery runtime without streaming is up to 26 hours and up to 23 hours with 2 hours of streaming. Honestly, I believe that it will come down to the 26-hour mark instead of the 70 hours, as most Signia Silk users have to change the batteries every 3 to 4 days. So 3 days times 9 hours of daily use is 27 hours, and that’s also how long the hearing aids worked when I tested them.

We have the battery door, a microphone opening, a plastic wire to get the hearing aid out of the ear, and an ear dome. Beneath the ear dome is a small filter to protect the device from ear wax. By the way, contrary to many Behind The Ear hearing aids, the Sony C10 do not have an IP rating, so you better avoid getting them wet.

The hearing aids come with a case, 6 size 10 batteries, click sleeves in 4 sizes, a small microfiber cloth, and a brush.

The Sony hearing aids are compatible with all the other Signia ear domes. So if the click sleeves won’t fit, you can go on and try one of Signia’s ear domes.

When wearing, the hearing aid sits deep in the ear canal, making them invisible to other people. The click sleeves give a good fit and wearing them is comfortable. After a few minutes, I forgot that I was wearing them. Please be aware that a deep-sitting hearing aid is more prone to ear wax, so daily cleaning should be mandatory. And as those devices cost 1000 dollars one might invest into a hearing aid dryer to keep the devices dry and clean.

App and Features

Now how about the features? This tiny device can go up to 104 decibels, which is pretty loud. We saw that the C10 has only one microphone, which means that directionality features are limited compared to other hearing aids. The Speech/Noise Management feature helps with understanding speech in noisy situations. The C10 also comes with Artifact Cancellation, which is basically a function to reduce feedback. This is important, especially when a higher amplification is needed. And it works pretty well, I didn’t hear any feedback while wearing the devices. Finally, Impact Sound Smoothing reduces loud impact noise, like smashing doors or when handling eyeglasses.

Unfortunately, the Sony C10 neither features Bluetooth streaming nor rechargeability. However, they are wirelessly linked ear-to-ear to improve noise reduction.

The hearing aids get their initial programming through the Sony | Hearing control app. That’s also where the wearer can adjust the volume. Now you might ask: if the hearing aids don’t feature Bluetooth, how can I control them with a smartphone? Well, the hearing aids communicate with the smartphone app through very high sounds to get the programming adjustments from your app to the hearing devices.

When starting out, the app will guide you through a short hearing test for your initial setup. After that, the app allows adjusting the overall volume and the sound balance. So there are not too many options to adjust, which makes the app simple and easy to use.

Sound Impression and Tinnitus

One thing I noticed is that the hearing aids sound very natural – in fact too natural. That was because the initial amplification of the hearing aids is very low. So low, that I could hardly hear a difference if they were on or not. This might be the reason, that first-time hearing aids users to tend to prefer lower amplification. We see this in our clinic every day, and there’s nothing wrong with reducing the amplification in the beginning. However, to improve people’s hearing it is important to increase amplification after a few days because otherwise, they won’t get much benefit from the hearing aids.

So when you are trying these hearing aids make sure to get a little more amplification than the app would recommend.

Lower amplification is an advantage when it comes to avoiding feedback. When wearing the hearing aids with very low amplification, I did not get feedback at all. When I raised the volume, I experienced a little bit of feedback during phone calls.

So the hearing aids are intended for mild to moderate hearing loss and are designed for high-frequency hearing loss. You can easily see that from the pre-configured sound profiles, that focus most of the amplification on the high frequencies.

How about patients suffering from tinnitus? We know that 90% of all people with hearing loss also experience some form of tinnitus. Now here is the bad news: contrary to the Signia Silk, the Sony C10 does not offer any tinnitus therapy solution. Should you try these hearing aids, when you have tinnitus? Absolutely! It has been shown, that wearing a hearing aid when having hearing loss and tinnitus, in many cases the tinnitus gets less distracting. And that is even true when wearing hearing aids without special tinnitus noise function.

Conclusion

My impression of the Sony CRE C10 OTC hearing aids is that the sound is really good. With higher amplification, it is clear and smooth, but the speech in noise performance could be better. The initial programming is made within 10 minutes and adjustments are easily made with the Sony | Hearing control app. The only thing that might be problematic here is, that the app communicates with the hearing aids through high-frequency sounds. That’s a problem when you are in a loud environment, as you might not be able to make adjustments to the hearing aids when it is too loud.

The hearing aids are focused on having the smallest size possible, therefore they lack some features that bigger hearing aids have, like direct Bluetooth streaming, rechargeability, or two directional microphones per ear. Also, they come with only one year warranty, which – In my opinion – is too short for the price.

So these hearing aids are the right choice for people who want their hearing aids to not be seen and are therefore willing to give up some fancy functions.

All in all the sound quality and the extremely small design justify the price of $1,000 per pair.

Now for people who want all the cool features like rechargeability, direct Bluetooth streaming, and advanced directional microphones, Sony offers the CRE E10. These OTC hearing aids look exactly like the Signia Active Pro and have all of these features. However, they have an earbud design which means that they are way bigger than the C10.

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