Online hearing tests - What makes a good test?

The introduction of online hearing aid companies and free online hearing tests has dramatically lowered the cost of addressing hearing loss, making hearing health both more accessible and affordable. 

However, these tests can vary greatly.  Some tests are simply “screeners” to determine if significant hearing loss is an issue, while others measure “pure-tone air-conduction” which assesses your ability to hear at different sound frequencies, in each ear.   The results from “pure-tone air-conduction” tests are used by Audiologists to program your hearing aids.

Online hearing tests allow us to assess our hearing loss in the comfort and safety of our own homes without the costs, sales pressure, and health risk of visiting a local audiologist or ENT practice.  Virtually every online hearing aid retailer offers an online test option, and will sell hearing aids based on the results from these tests. Today’s tests can be conducted with a good set of earbuds or headphones and an internet-connected device.

  • Look for tests that have been designed by professionals within the field of audiology – preferably a team of neuroscientists, audiologists and/or sound engineers.
  • Avoid tests that take less than 5 minutes to assess your hearing as these are unlikely to provide accurate, separate results for each ear or identify specific types of sounds that can be creating your hearing issues. Remember, a set of premium performance hearing aids is a serious investment – taking an extra few minutes to get an accurate result is well worth the time.
  • Choose a test with clear instructions that are easy to execute.
  • More sophisticated on-line tests will provide an audiogram chart showing the performance of both ears:
  • Confirm that a certified audiologist will use the results to custom-program your hearing aids, if you decide to purchase. Some companies offer a “screener” test but do not use the results to program the hearing aids, instead offering simple amplification or universal programs which will not offer the sound clarity most users need.

Once you have completed the test, you should expect personal follow up and a detailed hearing aid recommendation, if appropriate.  Be sure that you are dealing with a reputable company who will custom program the hearing aids to your specific test results. Look for companies that carry current technology from a major manufacturer and will program your hearing aids to your specific hearing needs.  Strong customer ratings, a money-back trial period, and a comprehensive product warranty are also critical.  Make sure you feel that you feel comfortable with the honesty and integrity of the company and its representatives as you will be entering into a relationship that should last for 5 or more years. 

Embrace Hearing has partnered with SonicCloud to offer one of the best online hearing tests available.  The test was designed by SonicCloud co-founder Larry Gutterman, in conjunction with Dr. Jody Winzelberg, former Chief of Audiology at Stanford Children's Health. Sonic Cloud technology received Fast Company’s “World Changing Ideas” award, was recognized by Apple CEO Tim Cook as a “life changing App,” and has been downloaded over 100,000 times. Renowned Audiologist Robert Sweetow, PhD, Professor Emeritus UCSF School of Medicine, acknowledged that “SonicCloud’s Hearing Assessment is better than any other internet hearing test out there.” 

Our hearing test’s incredibly accurate hearing assessment finds your minimum threshold and loudness tolerances at each frequency. This leads to better speech understanding and mitigates “phantom” audio effects. In the clinical development of the test, SonicCloud hearing test results were not statistically significantly different from the clinic’s “pure-tone air-conduction” tests conducted with the same patients.

These test results coupled with Embrace Hearing’s unmatched technology, prices and customer service are guaranteed to provide our customers the best possible online hearing aid experience!

 

 

How accurate are the results of online tests*?  Researchers have been studying how online tests compare to similar tests given in a hearing-care professional’s sound-proof booth. Results have varied depending on the sophistication of the test, but newer tests are showing accuracy levels on par with those found in professional tests. In fact, recent studies published in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology and The International Journal of Audiology both concluded that some tests can be used as an accurate tool to measure hearing thresholds without the use of a sound-proof booth or a certified audiologist.

 

*No online hearing test can replace a comprehensive evaluation of your hearing health by an audiologist or ENT doctor.  Hearing loss can result from many factors including injury, illness, or even the accumulation of earwax. Some forms of hearing loss may be reversible while others may worsen over time without treatment.  If you are told that your results are unusual or irregular, make an appointment for a full evaluation by an audiologist or ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) doctor as soon as possible.

 

 

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