The Eargo 6 is an invisible self-adjusting hearing aid

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In the world of hearing aids, Eargo stands out for several reasons. Not least because of its different approach, but also because of its quick and annual release cycle. It’s all part of how Eargo operates more like a tech company than a stuffy medical device supplier. This year’s model? It’s number 6, and it’s not a huge jump from last year, but it’s still noticeable. One that pushes Eargo closer and closer to parity with the competition it seeks to outperform while maintaining its tiny form factor.

It is this form factor that is both beneficial and constraining. To be clear, “invisible-in-the-canal” (IIC) hearing aids are not unique to Eargo, but they do tend to come with trade-offs such as no Bluetooth connectivity, reduced battery life, and, of course, a lack of on-device controls (like volume). To Eargo’s credit, it’s found ways around most of those challenges with each new product, and this time it’s automatic profile switching – dubbed “Sound Adjust” – that’s scratched off the list of things it does. an Eargo can’t do.

First, a reminder of some of the things previous models could already do. Despite their size, you can configure the Eargos through the companion app. Initially this was limited to placing them in the (Bluetooth compatible) charging case, but newer models can be adjusted while wearing them thanks to the clever use of ultrasonic controls. You can also switch preset profiles with a gesture (by double-tapping your tragus). All Eargos are also rechargeable with a charging case, so you don’t have to mess with batteries.

More recently, since last year’s model, you’ve been able to customize the audio profile of the hearing aids to meet your own unique hearing needs, which is perhaps the biggest update for most people. As a direct-to-customer product, there’s usually no audiologist fitting them for you, so the app-based process goes a long way to eliminating that rather obvious negative and probably also does a good job of convincing the fence keepers that these are serious auditions. hearing aids and not fancy personal amplifiers (all Eargo products are FDA approved hearing aids).

James Trew / Engadget

When it comes to testing out the new Sound Adjust feature, it’s not as simple as monitoring the companion app and watching it update as the profile changes. Thanks to the way the Eargos communicate with the app (via the aforementioned ultrasound), the phone has to be very close to the hearing aids with the volume high (above 75%) for it to make changes. Of course, this is only one way. Right now, there’s no real way for the buds themselves to communicate with the app. So how do we know when hearing aids change modes?

As a rough test, I left the Eargos on the “Normal” preset, then simulated a noisy room by playing restaurant sounds on a nearby speaker. I can’t be sure what changes the device made, but compared to the same test wearing the previous model (without Sound Adjust), the noise seemed less jarring. The sharp sound of cutlery against the plate was more pronounced in the old model than in the Eargo 6.

There’s another difference, perhaps more immediately noticeable this time around and that’s noise reduction, which seems much improved. As before, you can decide how much noise reduction to apply from three different settings (low to high) or turn it off if you prefer. The impact of this feature on battery life is unclear. I was able to get a full day out of it with the activation and headspace on, so I can’t see why you wouldn’t use it – it really does make the hearing experience more natural.

These new features definitely add finesse to the whole experience. These are also more practical updates. There’s a new “mask mode” which, and I say this optimistically, hopefully won’t stick around much longer but it’s still here. Another practicality is that the Eargo 6 is IPX7 rated for water resistance: finally, you can shower with these things. With water resistant earphones/headphones, getting into the shower with them is a novelty, but with a hearing aid. you want to put on forget, do not having to take them off to take a shower just gives you one less thing to worry about.

All of these new changes increase the viability of the Eargo 6 as a replacement for any legacy device you are currently using. Or, if you feel like you could benefit from a hearing aid but the thought of going to the audiologist or haggling with insurance has put you off, this is about as easy an option as you can find. .

Eargo's mobile app running on the iPhone 12.

James Trew / Engadget

I wish they were a bit more comfortable for extended use. Generally they are fine – even for all-day wear. But some days my ears can feel a bit more clogged than others and when that happens I can feel some fatigue after a few hours with the Eargo inside. It can be further aggravated by eating, which reminds you of how many muscles in our jaw and ear are connected.

It would also be nice to know when the Eargos have reached their maximum or minimum volume. There are controls in the app to adjust them together and separately (perfect for my single sided hearing loss) but I never know when it’s maxed out so I end up pressing the “+” sign too much for myself sure I have to be maxed out when a few simple comments might just solve the mystery. This is obviously a small detail, although it can be useful in helping to strike the right balance to avoid being too loud to create feedback, which happens at higher volumes (on most hearing aids).

As always, if these look like they might be useful to you, you can purchase them directly from the Eargo website for $2,950 (financing is available). As to whether this might be covered by your insurance is less clear/something you will need to confirm with your provider.

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