Eargo is a direct-to-consumer hearing aid company that manufactures an invisible in the canal hearing aid that was actually designed by an ear-nose-throat (ENT) doctor. The company was started in 2011 and began selling their hearing aids in 2015. Eargo targets people with mild to moderate high-frequency hearing loss who do not have access to or do not want to visit a hearing healthcare professional.
Here, I take a closer look at the pros and cons of Eargo.
Pros of Eargo Hearing Aids
1. Good company with nice customer support. The online ordering process was easy, and the Eargo support personnel that I spoke with was knowledgeable and user-centered. I intentionally sent in an asymmetrical hearing test and they called him to let him know they did not think he would achieve benefit in his left ear since it was out of their frequency range.
2. Invisibility. Eargo hearing aids are virtually invisible when inserted into the ear canal correctly.
3. Rechargeable. Eargo hearing aids are rechargeable, and as far as we know, are the only rechargeable invisible in canal hearing aids on the market. Eargo’s charging port is actually really unique as well. The case itself can be charged, and then the hearing aids can charge within that case without the need to be plugged into a wall.
4. Comfort. I tried the devices myself and found them to be quite comfortable. I found the right hearing aid to be more comfortable than the left, and attributed that to potentially different canal anatomies in each ear. Comfort will depend on each individual’s ear canal shape.
5. Convenience. You do not need to visit a hearing healthcare professional to get Eargo devices. Simply order online or call their support center – even if you’ve never had a hearing test. Ordering is easy, and shipping is extremely quick.
6. Noise Reduction. Noise reduction features in hearing aids reduce the level of amplification in noisy environments to make the sound levels more tolerable for the wearer. After our tests, Eargo devices were able to reduce the noise by 4 decibels.
7. Low initial cost. For about $2,000, you can get the two devices, the charging port and all accessories delivered straight to your door. This price also includes email and phone support. Financing options are also available.
Cons of Eargo Hearing Aids
1. No proper hearing evaluation required. This is worrisome because some hearing losses are the cause of a benign (such as earwax buildup) or serious (tumor on the auditory nerve) underlying condition. When our asymmetrical hearing test was sent in, the company did call to say that we would probably not get benefit in that ear. However, they should have focused on recommending us to see an ENT doctor to determine if there was another medical issue present.
2. Only sold in pairs. If you have hearing loss in just one ear (unilateral hearing loss) or have a hearing loss that is outside of their range in one ear, you are still required to buy both hearing aids.
3. Long-term cost. Eargo devices have a one-year warranty, so if anything goes wrong in that 12-month period, you can simply return the devices and the company will send you new ones. Outside of this 12-month period, if your devices stop working, you will need to shell out an additional $2,000 for a completely new set (even if only one breaks, as the company only sells the aids in pairs).
4. Extra accessories are quite expensive. If you lose any accessories and need replacements, they are quite expensive. A new charger will cost you $400, extra flexi-fibers will cost you $40, and wax traps are $25.
5. Limited fit range. If you have a low frequency hearing loss, you are not a good candidate for Eargo devices. If you have a severe hearing loss in the high frequencies, you are also not a good candidate. This leaves out a large hunk of the population of people who could benefit from hearing aids.
6. Not custom programmable. This is the most important con on this list. In order for hearing aids to work well, they need to be custom programmed to your unique hearing loss prescription. By not allowing these aids to be custom programmable, a huge deficit in benefit exists. The only way to get full benefit from hearing aids is to use real ear measures to ensure the aids are emitting the frequencies that match your hearing loss.
7. No standard outcome measure. The only way to truly determine how much benefit a person is getting from their hearing aids is through standard outcome measures. The company could remedy this by giving standardized and research-based subjective assessments based on wearer’s hearing before they start using Eargo and after their 45-day fitting period.