Last year we saw the FDA finalize its rules on over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids that don’t require a prescription, and many brands waiting for the change have now started selling their models online and in stores like Best Buy, Walgreens, and Walmart. These OTC hearing aids are less expensive, come in a wider variety of design options, and are certified to help with mild to moderate (and sometimes beyond) hearing loss.
Let’s take a look at the best options currently on the market, like the Jabra Enhance Plus, and why they’re the picks worth picking. We also include our favorite selections for hybrid models (which let you listen to music), high-end hidden versions, and more.
Jabra Enhance Plus
Best all-around OTC hearing aids
- Very small size
- Good battery life
- Clear audio quality
- Only work with select iPhones
- Can cause the occlusion effect
- Won't last all day
- Only available through audiologists
One of the biggest benefits of OTC hearing aids – aside from the lower cost – is that you can find a variety of extra features and new design options that can give hearing aids more uses and a better appearance. That is especially true of Jabra’s Enhance Plus hearing aids. These sleek earbuds can easily be mistaken for a pair of Jabra’s traditional Bluetooth buds, and for good reason. They have not only hearing enhancement capabilities, but the ability to play music via Bluetooth and take calls – something not all OTC hearing aids embrace.
In addition to the minimal, multipurpose design, Jabra uses four dedicated microphones designed for medical-grade hearing enhancement to cut down on background noise and boost speech to make it easier to hear what people are saying in noisy environments. They’re also water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about taking them outside or on workouts. Settings can all be easily controlled via the Jabra Enhance app to personalize and program the buds, then adjusted as needed. Plus, while they’re expensive compared to a normal set of earbuds, they’re on the more affordable side for OTC hearing aids. In the end, putting them at the top of the list wasn’t a hard decision.
Eargo Neo HiFi
Best high-end OTC hearing aids
- Great hearing tech
- Lifetime telecare support
- Discrete, hidden design
- Good battery life for the size
Eargo’s hearing enhancement technology is superb, and it can provide hearing solutions to those with more advanced hearing loss (although we always advise you to contact your doctor and get a professional hearing diagnosis before making a choice). These earbuds include high-quality audio, background noise reduction, and customization over key features such as audio feedback to keep things clear but not overwhelming. They also come with lifetime telecare support from licensed hearing professionals, a vital service for tuning the earbuds to individual hearing issues, and one that few OTC models provide
The design in particular is worth calling out. These buds are tiny, designed to fit into the ear canal discretely and avoid any interference with glasses or other apparel. They are also made with what Eargo calls an "open fit" design that uses soft, silicone "Flexi Tetrapalm" eartips (they kind of look like little flower petals) that float in the ear canal to ensure your ears do not feel clogged or plugged while wearing them. A full charge also delivers an impressive 16 hours of use for these tiny bids, and they come with a charging case to add some extra hours.
The downside is that these are pricey hearing aids compared to many OTC options. They also don’t have a lot in the way of extra features like music playback.
Best OTC hearings aids for battery life
- Excellent battery life at 70 hours
- Comfortable earbud design
- Environmental optimization
- No music capabilities
Sony also has its own FDA-registered hearing aids, and their sleek design also invokes more classic earbuds while still providing excellent sound enhancement. That’s partly thanks to the partnership with WS Audiology, which helped supply the technology used in setup, personalization, and automatic optimization based on your surroundings. Their small size isn’t quite as invisible as some picks like the Eargo Neo, but they still do a good job of staying out of sight – and have ear tips in four different sizes for a comfortable fit.
The battery is a particular highlight here, lasting for up to 70 hours on a full charge, a pretty incredible feat for hearing aids this small. It’s a bit disappointing that Sony, which makes some of the best earbuds we’ve ever listened to, didn’t include music compatibility with these hearing aids — for that, you'll have to wait for the CRE-C10's slightly more expensive sibling, the CRE-E10, to arrive — but they’re still a very impressive option.
Lexie B2 OTC Hearing Aids — Powered by Bose
Best OTC hearing aids with traditional design
- Bose partnership for many hearing modes
- Ability to save sound profiles
- 18-hour battery life
- 45-day trial period
- Traditional design is a bit clunky
Lexie offers a more traditional hearing aid design, with a primary module that fits behind the ear and is connected to a wired earbud that fits inside the ear. The advantage of this design is that it offers more power and more room for hearing technology, but it can often be more noticeable as a result.
Lexie partnered with Bose for these hearing OTC aids, and the result is a particularly versatile pair of earbuds with a variety of hearing modes for different situations. That includes a World Volume mode for general sound amplification, the ability to adjust treble and bass depending on specific hearing weaknesses, and options to adjust where the sound amplification is focused, like directly in front of you for conversations. You can save your preferred settings under different situations and switch as needed.
The 18-hour battery life is also nice for those who may need to wear hearing aids for most of the day. Plus, you can call Lexie support and get expert troubleshooting to solve problems. We also like that there’s a 45-day trial period during which you can send the earbuds back for free, something not everyone offers with OTC models.
HP Hearing Pro
Best hybrid OTC hearing aids
- Excellent music and hearing features together
- Water resistance
- 15-minute tuning program for each ear
- Lower battery life
HP brings an amazing hybrid option to the table for those who want the advantages of both earbuds and hearing aids, plus some unique hearing features that could be very useful for certain users, powered by specialist Nuheara. That includes Ear ID software that tests hearing frequency thresholds for each ear, then programs sound enhancement based on the results: It’s designed to only take around 15 minutes, and you don’t have to worry about making tiny adjustments yourself. It’s supposed to be a quick 30% boost in speech understanding, according to the National Acoustic Libraries.
There’s also full-fledged ANC (active noise cancellation) here to improve overall audio quality, as well as the ability to listen to music and calls via the Bluetooth connection. Plus, there’s a focus mode to direct the sound enhancement toward the front for more difficult-to-hear conversations. Battery life isn’t that great at up to eight hours on a single charge, but with a hybrid model that can do so much and offers thorough tuning, it’s far from an issue — and much aided by the 32-hour charging case.
Hearing Assist ReCharge! Plus
Best budget OTC hearing aids
- Still offer good hearing tuning and optimization
- Can adjust modes and volume levels
- 60-day trial
- Not quite the quality of some other picks
There’s no way around it, even at their drastically lowered prices, OTC hearing aids are still far more expensive than even the most advanced true wireless earbuds on the market. Those prices may drop over time as the technology and partnerships involved become less expensive. For now, one of the best affordable options on the market is this pair of hearing aids from Hearing Assist, an experienced player in the field. They offer the ability to take a tuning test, or input audiogram results to get an automatically adjusted sound enhancement. Then you can choose four programs and four different volume levels based on your situation.
Once again, the traditional behind-the-ear design can be a little awkward, especially for users with glasses, etc., but you still get a ton of features for the price. That includes a handy magnetic charge dock, background noise reduction, and a variety of ear tips to choose from. There’s also a 60-day return policy if you change your mind after trying them out.