Sony CRE-E10 Over-The-Counter rechargeable hearing aids

Sony – A New Entrant to the OTC Hearing Aid Market

Sony entered the world of hearing aids in a collaboration with WS Audiology. Sony, the huge Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer and the third largest headphone maker in the world, needs no introduction. WS Audiology, the second largest hearing aid manufacturer in the world produces Widex, Signia and Rexton hearing aids, all of them well-recognized brands in the hearing aid industry. This collaboration was prompted by the FDA’s introduction of OTC hearing aids in October of 2022. OTC hearing aids are a new class of medical devices that can be purchased either locally or online without the need of a prescription and that can be adjusted by the users to best address their hearing needs.

Sony Hearing Aids were announced in the fourth quarter of 2022 with the first model, the CRE-C10, a set of self-fitting, invisible hearing aids, introduced at the end of 2022 and the CRE-E10, a set of rechargeable, self-fitting, Bluetooth-streaming hearing aids introduced at the beginning of 2023.

Sony CRE-C10 and Sony CRE-E10 Over-The-Counter hearing aids

This Sony E10 hearing aid review focuses on the rechargeable model but you can read our detailed review of the Sony C10 invisible hearing aids here.

Sony E10 Hearing Aid Key Facts and Features

Device Category:Self-Fitting Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid
Device Style:Wireless Earbuds
Colors Available:Black
Power Source:Rechargeable batteries / Charging case
Battery Life:26 hours
Sound Controls:Via Smartphone App – iOS and Android compatible
Bluetooth Streaming:Yes – Only with iOS devices
Hands-Free Calling:Yes – Only with iOS devices
Waterproof:IP68 –> Dust -tight and waterproof
Manufacturer’s Warranty:1 Year
Price:$1,299.99

Sony Hearing Aids (Sony CRE-E10) – The Pros

  • Sound Quality – Excellent sound performance with remarkable speech clarity and effective noise reduction functionalities
  • In-Demand Features – Rechargeability, Bluetooth streaming and hands-free calling
  • Battery Life – Impressive battery life and convenient charging case with built-in battery pack
  • Ease of Use – Simple controls via the app once the hearing aids have been customized to an individual’s hearing loss
  • Price – When compared to prescription hearing aids, these CRE-E10 Sony hearing aids are a good alternative to get more people to take action and seek a solution for their hearing loss
  • Design – For those concerned about the stigma of wearing traditional hearing aids, these sleek, modern-looking earbuds may just be the device they needed to start wearing hearing aids

Sony Hearing Aids (Sony CRE-E10) – The Cons

  • Comfort – For some people, these earbud-like hearing aids may not be the most comfortable hearing aids to wear all day
  • Limited Android Support – Not offering Bluetooth streaming and hands-free calling for Android users prevents a large portion of hearing aid users to take advantage of all the device’s features
  • No Power Adapter – We were surprised that the Sony E10 hearing aids don’t come with a USB power adapter to connect the charger’s cable to a wall outlet
  • Lack of Tap Controls – Given the modern earbud design, I expected these hearing aids to incorporate a few tap controls – like many earbuds do today – or, at least allow me to double tap to answer and hang up phone calls
  • Price – When compared to other OTC devices, these CRE-E10 Sony hearing aids are at the higher end of the price range and, at $1,300, one may even compare them to some prescription hearing aids that can be professionally fitted, have comparable features and perhaps include better warranties and even loss and damage protection plans

Unboxing the CRE-E10 Sony Hearing Aids

Unboxing the Sony CRE-E10 Over-The-Counter rechargeable hearing aids

First impressions are important and Sony delivers with a package that has the premium feel of a product from a highly-respected consumer electronics manufacturer. The box has all the FDA-required labeling for this type of medical device, clearly describes what’s inside and has two QR codes that allow the buyer to review detailed product information as well as terms and conditions at the Sony website.

Once you slide the cover off the box, you find the charging case with the hearing aids, which look more like earbuds than traditional hearing aids – talk about a pair of hearing aids that don’t look like your grandparents hearing aids! These hearing aids look like the consumer devices you see people wearing at gyms, office buildings or just strolling down the street.

Photo Credit: Sony Electronics Inc.

Oddly enough, I found that some people were expecting me to remove them off my ears while we were having a conversation. I could have told them that they were hearing aids but I chose to just say “I actually hear you better with these on” and just continued the conversation.

Underneath the tray that holds the charging case with the hearing aids, I found the user guide, a “getting started” card, the warranty document and a safety and maintenance information booklet. Also, in the box, there were a cleaning cloth, a brush and a pack of three pairs of ear sleeves (large, medium and extra small) that may be changed to fit the customer’s ear canal.

The hearing aids come with small sleeves already installed. Lastly there is a plastic bag with the USB cable for the charging case. I was surprised that a USB wall charger power supply was not included. Some may argue that this is a way to reduce waste and protect the environment, given that many of us have plenty of USB adapter plugs around our homes but when I purchase a $1,300 pair of hearing aids I don’t want to spend an extra $7.99 at amazon.com to get a wall plug for my new devices. Besides, my white Apple plug adapters don’t match the black cable of the Sony hearing aids.

Downloading the App, Pairing and Customizing the Sony E10 Hearing Aids

Downloading the Sony Hearing Control app and pairing your hearing aids

Photo Credit: HearingPeople

If you’re comfortable navigating the settings of your smartphone, then downloading the Sony Hearing Control app, pairing the hearing aids, walking through the self-fitting process and making sound adjustments to your hearing aids should be pretty straight-forward.

If you’re not very comfortable downloading an app from the Apple or Google stores, pairing and unpairing Bluetooth devices and adjusting various settings on your smart phone, then these hearing aids may not be the best solution for you.

Once you download the app, it prompts you to create a Sony account using your email address and your date of birth.

After setting up your account and selecting the appropriate product (either the Sony E10 of the Sony C10 hearing aids) the app guides you through the process of pairing your hearing aids.

Customizing your Sony CRE-E10’s amplification settings using the Sony Hearing Control app

Photo Credit: HearingPeople

In the next step the app walks you through the technical setup of your phone and provides hearing aid insertion instructions so you can proceed with the hearing profile check, which should be conducted without interruptions in a very quiet environment. The app plays a series of sounds through the left hearing aid and asks you to record how many sounds you hear each time these sounds are presented. Using your answers, the app personalizes your left hearing aid settings based on your hearing ability. The same process is repeated for the right ear.

In the last step, once your personalized settings are applied, the app gives you the opportunity to make loudness adjustments to both ears to ensure that the sounds in both ears feels balanced.

Sony CRE-E10’s app remote control functions: Volume, Bass/Treble and Directionality

Photo Credit: HearingPeople

After this initial set up, you can use the app to control volume, treble/bass and directionality. You can also make fine-tuning adjustments or you can start the customization process from scratch again by running a new profile check.

Solving Common Problems Like Feedback and Occlusion Effect

Changing a Sony CRE-E10’s click sleeve – Four sizes are included

Photo Credit: HearingPeople

After my initial set up, I noticed some feedback, coming from my hearing aids. Feedback is the squealing sound that we hear when a microphone picks up sound from a speaker while that speaker is playing sound from the microphone. This can happen when the ear tips of a hearing aid are too small for the ear canal. Therefore, I changed the small click sleeves that originally came with my Sony hearing aids for the medium size.

This change took care of the feedback problem but with the larger click sleeves I felt that the sound was too loud and there was a marked occlusion effect. Occlusion effect happens when tightly-fitting earbuds or hearing aids cause us to perceive our own voice as echo-y, hollow or booming. I tried to fix the problem using the “Own Voice” and “Loudness” fine-tuning adjustments in the Sony Hearing Control App with no good results. I then decided to go through a new hearing profile check using the medium-size click sleeves and this took care of both the feedback and the occlusion effect issues.

Sony E10 Performance in Real Life Situations

As a person with a real hearing loss who have been wearing prescription hearing aids for more than a decade, I strongly feel that testing the Sony hearing aids in real life situations is one of the most important elements of this Sony E10 hearing aid review. I normally wear my prescription hearing aids all day, starting in the morning after I shower and dress, all the way into the evening when I’m ready to relax at home. For this review, I wore the Sony hearing aids instead of my prescription hearing aids for 10 days and I went about my regular life.

I used the Sony E10 hearing aids in a myriad of situations, including streaming phone calls, music and movies from my iPhone, talking with colleagues at work, running errands and interacting with people at the grocery store, chatting with friends in noisy restaurants, watching TV, boating, working out, riding my bike and walking on the beach. I basically put the Sony E10 hearing aids through the ringer. Following are my key observations…

1) Excellent Sound Performance Even in Challenging Situations

I must say that I am impressed with the Sony E10 hearing aids’ sound quality, especially their speech clarity and their noise-reduction capabilities. I used their directionality functions while speaking with friends in noisy restaurants and on a moving motor boat and they really enhanced my ability to understand the conversation in those challenging situations. The noise reduction features in these Sony hearing aids are much better than I expected.

Speech clarity is what the majority of hearing aid users look for the most and these Sony hearing aids have remarkable speech clarity in group conversations, while streaming phone calls and movies, when watching TV and even in noisy environments like a loud restaurant.

2) Impressively Long Battery Life

Some days I wore these Sony hearing aids for over 17 hours and their rechargeable batteries never quit, despite the fact that I stream phone calls regularly and I sometimes I listen a to a couple of podcasts in the morning. Hearing aid battery life is dependent on the amount of amplification that a specific hearing loss requires, how often do the hearing aids engage their noise-reduction and speech-enhancement algorithms, and how long and often Bluetooth streaming is used. 

This pair of hearing aids did not need to be recharged in the middle of the day despite the fact that I used them the entire day. I expect that the battery performance will deteriorate over time but, with an average battery life of 26 hours, this should not be a problem for most normal users. Even heavy streamers have the reassurance that the charging case has a built-in battery than can provide six extra hours of battery life with a quick 30-minute charge. Also, for those who travel often, built-in battery in the charging case can provide three full charges without needing to be plugged into a power outlet.

3) Not the Most Comfortable Hearing Aids for All Anatomies

Despite the great marks on battery life that the Sony E10 hearing aids get, my outer ears were not so happy after wearing the Sony E10 for many hours. First of all, there was the feeling of having an object stuck in my ear – which I did! – that becomes more and more obvious as the day goes on. This is not a feeling I normally experience while wearing my traditional Receiver-in-Canal hearing aids, which sit on the back of my ears and have a discreet wire that connect them to a small speaker inside my ear canal.

How the Sony CRE-E10s look in my ear (left) compared to my prescription RIC hearing aids (center) and to the Sony CRE-C10s (right) – Photo Credit: HearingPeople

Although the Sony E10 hearing aids felt very comfortable at the start of the day, towards the end of the day I was very aware of the devices in my ears and there was a slight soreness in the tragus and the concha of my ears. The concha is the part of the outer ear that looks like a bowl and the tragus is small bump of skin and cartilage located right in front of the ear canal.

Outer ear anatomy showing the concha and the tragus
Photo Credit: HearingPeople

But don’t be discouraged to try these Sony hearing aids for yourself as the issue may be limited to the particular anatomy of my ears and you may not experience it at all. Others have reported a good level of comfort with the Sony E10 hearing aids.

It is very important to try various types of hearing aids and find the ones that work best for your hearing loss and for your individual anatomy. Also, this issue may not be as relevant for people that wear hearing aids for shorter periods of time or that only wear them in some specific situations.

4) Modern-Looking Earbuds

Photo Credit: Sony Electronics Inc.

When it comes to looks, the Sony E10 hearing aids look just like a pair of modern, sleek earbuds that we normally see on people’s ears around us all the time. They are not meant to be invisible but they certainly don’t look like the big, clunky hearing aids of yesteryears.

As I shared earlier on this Sony e10 hearing aid review, a couple people noticed the hearing aids and paused the conversation waiting for me to remove them. I had to tell them that I could hear them and that the earbuds actually helped me to hear them better.

Our Ratings for the Sony CRE-E10 Hearing Aids

Overall Sound Quality⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Speech Clarity⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Noise Reduction⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Directionality⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Battery Life⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Wearing Comfort⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
DiscreetnessNot Applicable
Ease of Fitting⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Ease of Use⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Who is the Right Buyer for the Sony E10 Hearing Aids?

  • You’re and Adult with Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss – First of all, you should be 18+ years old and have a perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. How do you know if your loss is mild to moderate? If you have trouble hearing soft sounds or if you hear conversation but can’t make out what people are saying, you may have a mild to moderate hearing loss. My strong recommendation is that you get tested by a hearing health professional or, at least take a few (more than one) online hearing tests to confirm your level of hearing loss.
  • You’re a Do-It-Yourself Kind of Person – You also ought to be looking for and over the counter solution – one that does not involve getting your hearing aids fitted by a hearing health professional over 2-3 appointments – but rather a do-it-yourself approach where you are in charge of performing your own hearing test, programming your hearing aids and making sound adjustments, all through the Sony Hearing Control app.
  • You’re a Technically-Savvy Smartphone User – You own a smartphone and know how to use it fairly well. You’re comfortable downloading an app from the Apple or Google stores, you can navigate through your phone settings and make various adjustments and you’re comfortable pairing and unpairing your smartphone to Bluetooth devices.
  • You Want a Modern-Looking Hearing Aid – You’re interested in a pair of hearing aids that look like modern, sleek, wireless earbuds and are willing to pay for their top-level sound quality and features like rechargeability and Bluetooth streaming

Sony E10 Hearing Aid Review Takeaway: They are an Excellent DIY Alternative

Sony CRE-E10 hearing aids compared to other earbuds and to a modern Receiver-In-Canal hearing aid Photo Credit: HearingPeople

The CRE-E10 Sony hearing aids are one of the best over-the counter hearing aids available in the market at this time. They are a do-it-yourself solution for adult users with mild to moderate hearing loss that choose to conduct their own hearing test and customize the devices to their individual hearing loss with the assistance of a smartphone app instead of looking to visit a hearing health professional.

With the Sony E10 hearing aids the company expects to attract users that prefer a sleek earbud look instead of a traditional hearing aids design.

At $1,300 per pair (they are only sold as pairs), they are at the higher end of the price range for over-the-counter devices but they deliver excellent sound performance with remarkable speech enhancement and noise reduction capabilities, not to mention impressive battery life and highly desired features like Bluetooth streaming and hands-free calling – Note that streaming and hands-free calling are currently not available for Android users.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans that have been living with mild to moderate hearing loss but didn’t wear hearing aids before, you should try wearing the Sony CRE-E10 hearing aids.

Website | + posts

In addition to being the Founder and Editor-in Chief at HearingPeople.com, Luis Zuluaga is the founder and CEO of Florida Hearing Institute, an innovative hearing health enterprise in South Florida, focused on bringing high-tech hearing devices at affordable prices to people with hearing loss. Before his latest hearing healthcare endeavors, Luis served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Zounds Hearing Inc., a US-based hearing aid manufacturer that introduced many technical innovations to the hearing aid market.

Share.
Leave A Reply