Announced in 2021, Bose released the launch of its SoundControl hearing aids.

In the words of Bose, it claims to “amplify sound and help those with a perceived hearing loss” and is the first self-tuning mobile app that’s “clinically proven to provide audiologist-quality customization.”

As an FDA-approved hearing aid, it is recognized as an affordable hearing device, requiring no programming or further assistance.

It costs well below the range for regular hearing devices, starting at $800, making it an attractive option to many users.

But what’s the catch?

While we are quick to applaud any type of movement toward better hearing, as Northern Utah’s most trusted and experienced hearing care experts, we are always apprehensive before recommending technology to our patients.

Why? Because hearing aids are just one small part of the puzzle, and many factors contribute to the overall satisfaction you’ll receive from hearing amplification.

But before we get into it, let’s go back to the beginning…

What Is The Bose SoundControl?

Aimed for those 18 years or older, the Bose SoundControl is designed for those with a perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss.

As the Bose SoundControl is classed as an over-the-counter device, the individual will fit, program, and make adjustments on their own.

Usually, a hearing aid device would be customized to the individual’s ear and programmed to suit your listening requirements, which ensures that it can be functioned to medically treat hearing loss, preventing further deterioration.

With the Bose SoundControl, you are required to fit the device on your own and are responsible for programming it yourself should there ever be any issues.

This means that there is more room for mistakes when fitting the device, leading to a higher risk of improper amplification and a further decline in your hearing.

So, Why Are People Buying It?

While there are risks involved in purchasing any kind of device online, it’s true that the Bose SoundControl has attracted a lot of attention recently, and it mainly comes down to price.

Attracting mostly first-time buyers of hearing aids, a lot of people have come across the Bose SoundControl after seeing it online.

Due to the lack of education around hearing loss, most people don’t understand nor realize how advanced the technology inside quality hearing aids is, tending to think that they will receive the same benefits from over-the-counter hearing aids.

The Bose SoundControl is by no means a “one-size-fits-all device.”

Just like eyeglasses, you can go to Walmart and get a cheap pair of readers that simply “get the job done,” or you can go to an optometrist where your glasses will be customized to your specific vision loss.

Well, the same goes for hearing. Your hearing is as unique as your fingerprint, depending on your lifestyle, listening preferences, budget, and so much more.

Is The Bose SoundControl A Move In The Right Direction?

For a very select group of people, the Bose SoundControl can help those with very minimal requirements for hearing aid amplification.

The problem is, without a hearing test, there is no way the individual can assess their listening requirements nor work out what type of device is going to work best for them.

Someone who perceives that they have a mild hearing loss may actually have a much more significant hearing loss. Therefore, they won’t be treating their hearing loss properly.

What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids?

As Northern Utah’s most trusted audiologists, it is not often we recommend any type of OTC device or hearing aid amplification device which isn’t regulated by a hearing healthcare clinic.

However, there are certain circumstances where they can be beneficial.

For example, over-the-counter hearing aids provide hearing technology to those who truly cannot afford quality hearing aids.

Having some sort of amplification is better than none in most cases because it can help people fight off the social isolation and depression that are associated with hearing loss.

Except, There’s A Huge BUT…

The biggest negative to over-the-counter hearing aids is the risk of inappropriately aiding a hearing loss.

The most standard type of hearing loss is a high-pitched hearing loss with normal hearing in the low pitches.

People with this type of hearing loss typically say they can hear people talking but aren’t exactly sure what it is they’re saying. Those who struggle with clarity require amplification primarily in the high pitches only, which is something over-the-counter hearing aids lack.

OTC hearing aids will mostly bring ALL of the pitches up, which in turn can make everything sound louder, but not necessarily clearer.

It is also risky to have under amplified hearing because of the recent studies showing a link between hearing loss and dementia onset.

An untreated/inappropriately treated hearing loss may not stimulate the nerve as much as it needs to be to keep that nerve going from the ear to the brain active and healthy.

An audiologist has the technology and education to best aid a person’s hearing to help not only with their hearing but also their long-term brain health. 

What Should You Do Before Making A Purchase?

#1 Get a hearing test

If you are considering purchasing the Bose SoundControl, you should at least have a hearing test from a licensed audiologist so that you are aware of what degree of hearing loss you suffer from.

Even though the Bose SoundControl is relatively cheaper than the professional hearing aid administered from a hearing specialist, it is still a big investment to make, and it would be a shame to spend that type of money on a device that isn’t going to be beneficial.

Also, a hearing assessment offers the opportunity for you to raise questions and gain knowledge from your medical provider, which only serves as a benefit to you.

#2 Remember that hearing aids are not the silver bullet solution

Hearing aids are not something that you put into your ears once and magically your hearing is perfect again; it takes time for your brain to start hearing and understanding the sounds around you.

Often, when people are trying hearing aids for the first time, we have to set them to tolerate hearing these sounds again.

At regular frequent follow-up visits, we then often make adjustments based on patient feedback, which allows us to get your hearing aids up to your prescription level while keeping the great sound quality.

In truth, this is a skill that audiologists have gone to college for at least 7 years for and are experts in. When you purchase OTC hearing aids, you may not know what adjustments to make when experiencing certain problems. This can be discouraging and may lead to overall dissatisfaction with your device.

Getting these services from an audiologist will provide an overall much better, simpler, and stress-free hearing aid experience.

Help Yourself & Loved Ones

If you or a loved one has recently discovered they have a hearing loss, then you may be considering the Bose SoundControl hearing aids.

With 20 years of expertise and knowledge, our experts have dealt with all kinds of hearing aids in all shapes and sizes.

Whether you have a question about Bose, want advice, or simply want to know more about the different options available, then our team will be happy to help at 801-657-4175.

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Ben Chargo Au.D., CCC-A

Ben is a doctor of audiology (Au.D.) with the House of Hearing. He received his doctorate from the University of Utah in May of 2018. He has been an employee of ENT House of Hearing since 2014 when he started as an intern while working on his doctorate. Ben was originally introduced to this field while working with his father, as he is also an audiologist and the owner of a private practice in Minnesota. From the first time he worked with his dad, Ben knew that this was the profession for him, as he was able to combine his love for helping others with his skills as a problem solver and as a communicator. Ben strongly believes that the work he does here is essential to improving the quality of life for each and every one of his patients, and his work is never done for the day until he has done everything he can to improve the hearing and lives of those patients. Since moving from Minnesota to Salt Lake City in 2013, he has fully embraced the Utah lifestyle. When he is not at work, you can typically find him skiing or snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, golfing, or on a motorcycle ride with his friends.