Online hearing tests - What makes a good test?

It has been over a decade since the FDA permitted the sales of hearing aids online and a number of companies are still the leaders in this field. The hunt for affordable hearing aids can be exhausting but the introduction of online hearing aid companies and, more recently, free online hearing tests has dramatically lowered the cost of addressing hearing loss, making hearing health both more accessible and affordable. 

However, the quality of 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 determines 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 "Pure Tone Air Conduction" hearing tests allow you to assess your hearing loss in the comfort of your own homes without the hassle, cost and resulting sales pressure of visiting a local audiologist or ENT practice.  A few critical steps in completing these tests are 1) Being in an extremely quiet place - any background noise will affect results and 2) Using headphones or earbuds connected to your Laptop or mobile phone.

  • 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 'screeners' and 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 result an audiogram chart showing the performance of both ears. This is the data that can be used to program the hearing aids. If the hearing test provider does not require the results, they are not programming your hearing aids - they are selling simple amplifiers.
  • 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 sell 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 our customers one of the best online hearing tests available.  The test was designed by Larry Gutterman (SonicCloud co-founder ), in conjunction with Dr. Jody Winzelberg, former Chief of Audiology at Stanford Children's Health. In the clinical trials, our hearing test results were not statistically significantly different from the results of tests conducted in hearing aid clinics. The test has 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.” 

Embrace's hearing test delivers incredibly accurate hearing assessment finds your minimum threshold and loudness tolerances at each frequency. Combined with the programming by Embrace Hearing's Audiologists, you will get better speech understanding in all environments. 

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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