My Experience with the Sony CRE E-10

Based on the results at Hear Advisor, I decided to give the new Sony CRE-E-10 OTC hearing aids a try. The E-10’s posted the highest overall score on Hear Advisor’s lab tests of any of the 37 hearing aids tested, which included traditional RIC hearing aids as well as self-fitting OTC hearing aids, without the hearing aids being divided into separate categories. To me, it was shocking that an OTC hearing aid could achieve these kinds of results in a direct comparison lab test. And it wasn’t close. On a 5-point scale, Sony rated 5.0. Second was the Oticon More 1 at 4.6. The 11 other of their Expert Choice Award Winners all scored between 4.0 and 4.5. So, I had to see for myself.

Users tend to value different features in hearing aids. Hear Advisor tested 5 different aspects of hearing aids’ performance: speech in quiet/moderate noise, speech in loud noise, feedback, my own voice, and streaming music. I care most about clarity of speech both in quiet and noisy setting. Sony was tested as excellent in both of these, so this especially attracted me to them. They tested slightly below average in the “my own voice” category, but I long ago gave up on that, so my decision wasn’t affected by that trade off. Everyone values different things.

Just a word about my background with hearing aids. I have been wearing hearing aids for 7 years, 5 years wearing Oticon Opn 1 and 2 years wearing Whisper hearing aids. I have trialed a number of other brands over the past 7 years, including Bose OTC hearing aids which I found to be significantly different than from a prescriptive hearing aid and simply not able to do the same job.

Sony markets itself to people with mild to moderated hearing loss. My hearing loss would best be described as moderate to moderately severe, so I am not in Sony’s target group.

I’ll start with the buying experience. Sony has several outlets for this product, one of which is Best Buy. I decided to go there because it would be the quickest and easiest way for me to get them. Regardless of where it is purchased, the price is $1299. When I got to the closest Best Buy, I learned that they didn’t have any in stock. The customer service rep explained to me that Best Buy is just getting into the health care products market, and is only sticking a limited number of these Sony hearing aids, waiting to see what the demand will be. He referred me to 2 other Best Buy stores which were only a little farther away and gave me the other alternative of ordering them and having them delivered to his store for a more convenient pick up. I opted to go to another store.

Each of the other stores to which I was referred had only one of the Sony E-10’s. The first one I tried did in fact have it in stock. It comes in a fairly compact box. Plainly marked in the front it said “FDA registered medical device”. As I was paying for it, I asked the sales clerk about the return policy. He told me “15 days”, so I asked to speak with the manager. In my state, hearing aids are allowed a 15 day trial period by law. When I explained to the manager that a 15 day return period for hearing aids is illegal by state law, she explained that 15 days is Best Buy policy but that she would “work with me” and would comply with state law. She thought that perhaps these are considered “personal sound amplification devices” and as such are not subject to the legally required trial period. Obviously the Sony packaging itself tells her that she is wrong on this point. Also obvious is that she is not very familiar with this product and that Best Buy has provided little or no training regarding hearing aid sales. When I got home and logged onto the Sony website where I learned that hearing aids purchased on line directly from Sony come with a 45-day trial period.

When I opened the box, included were a 1-year limited warranty, a user guide, the ear bud style hearing aids themselves, a compact hard shell charging box, a charging cord but no charging plug, a micro fiber cleaning cloth, a standard hearing aid cleaning instrument with a brush and wire loop at one end, and a set of half a dozen different sized domes in addition to the two which were already installed on the hearing aids themselves. Because these are ear bud style the domes are a little different than what anyone using traditional RIC hearing aids might be used to. Sony calls them click sleeves. All of the ones which come in the box are closed although optional vented click sleeves (domes) can be ordered directly from Sony.

The charger is pretty interesting. Placing the hearing aids in the charging box turns them off. Removing them turns them on. (I’m used to removable batteries with the battery doors serving as the on/off switch.) Full charging takes 4 hours and the hearing aids are then charged for 26 hours! The charger box is designed to be portable so after being fully charged, it is capable of recharging the hearing aids 2 more times without being plugged in again. With just a 30-minute charge, the hearing aids are good for 6 hours of use.

The set up is done on line through the Sony Hearing Control App. At this point, the user guide becomes pretty useless. The instructions on the app are excellent and walked me through the set up step by step. It’s easy and takes about 10 minutes or so. What surprised me is that I quickly found myself going through what was similar to a traditional hearing test, identifying beeps - or not if I couldn’t hear them - at different pitches and different volume levels. After this hearing test us completed for each ear the Sony system creates an audiogram and uses an algorithm based on thousands of other audiograms to programs my hearing aid. The beauty of this is that the sound is being delivered through the same ear buds which were used to conduct the test. This is not REM, but it’s a lot closer to it than what a lot of audiologists do when they put you in a sound booth and use those results to program your hearing aid with the manufacturer’s fitting software. After the hearing test is complete, I was then able to choose a relative preferred volume for each ear separately and that was also built into my personalized settings.

After the hearing aids are programmed, the user still has fine tuning options which are done through the app on your phone as well at any time. These allow the user to adjust volume, sound balance, and directionality. The directionality feature is the most impressive because it allows the user to control incoming sound from each of 4 directions, which can be particularly helpful in crowded, noisy situations. Without individual adjustments, the hearing aids are programmed to do this automatically, based on the environment.

I’ve only been wearing these hearing aids for a few days, but I am very impressed! Everything sounds normal and speech clarity is excellent. Streaming is equally excellent when taking phone calls although I have no yet had the opportunity to listen to music yet. With the standard domes, they fit comfortably in my ears for an entire day. I have worn them while riding in a car with an open window next t me and on a 10 mile bike hike. In neither situation have I had any problem with wind noise and have not had any other problems with feedback otherwise. My own voice sounds fine to me. The standard settings are a little loud, which I actually prefer although I’m sure that some users would want to adjust for this. Once set, I haven’t found myself needing to make volume adjustments during the course of the day. The only exception was at an outdoor restaurant with a lot of loud talking in the background around me. But even with all of the loud background noise, I had no trouble understanding and participating in the conversation at my large table with a party of 7. At another outdoor restaurant on a Main Street in a small town, I found the loud noise of several passing motorcycles to be extremely annoying but so did everyone else. The good news is that the noise was not overwhelming! Neither is the sound of neighborhood yard equipment.

My overall first impression is that these Sony E-10 hearing aids are superb and that they live up to the high expectations created by the HearAdvisor lab tests in every way. One of my questions about the E-10 is whether it has wax filters and how to change them - something which I routinely have done with my other hearing aids. If not, I’d like to know how they are protected. Ear bud users may already know the answer to this question. One other observation is that there are no controls or rocker switches on the hearing aids themselves. Everything is controlled from the app on my phone. Given that my hearing loss is moderate to moderately severe, I have to thing that these hearing aids would be a superb choice for anyone with mild to moderate hearing loss. If first time hearing aid users have trouble with t ge process, there is a support system available via a phone call which is available to all users.

The Sony CRE-E-10 is on of a pair of OTC products brought to market by Sony. The other is the CRE-C-10. The C-10 fits completely into the canal, making it invisible and therefore more discreet. It is designed for users who are concerned with the stigma of wearing hearing aids. The C-10 is not rechargeable, does not have streaming capabilities, and did not perform as well on the HearAdvisor lab test - although it’s results were still commendable.

Both of these hearing aids are the products of a partnership between Sony and WS Audiology, manufacturers of Widex, Signia, and others. I don’t know the exact nature of this partnership or what Sony brings to the product beyond the brand name and marketing benefits. I’d like to find out more about this.


At the moment its just as you say, Sony name and marketing is all it is, these are the signia silk, which version (NX or X ?) i don’t know but i see this is a good solution for OTC.
Oh and thanks for your review as im sure those in the market will benefit.

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The E-10 is most definitely not the Silk, but you most certainly are onto something. In all likelihood the C-10 is in fact the Silk. The E-10 is probably from the Signia Active-X series. They look exactly the same. share many of the same feature - And the Active-X uses AI , which might help to explain its superior performance both on the HearAdvisor tests and in my small sample of personal use.

What’s impressive about the E-10 is that it outperformed Signia’s flagship Styletto in the HearAdvisor lab tests by a significant amount - a score of 5.0 for the E-10 vs a score of 4.2 for the Styletto.

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Yes sorry got those models around the wrong way ; )

As for the HearAdvisor lab tests, we’d need to wait and see what the real world experience turns out to be, I’m quite liking what hearingtracker is doing in this department, did you see the results for the Lexie’s.

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Yes, I did notice that the Lexie by Bose got a good overall score (4.4). Since my priority is speech clarity, the Bose mediocre speech in noise test result left me uninterested. Sony was more than twice as good in noise and my real world test in noisy restaurant environments confirms that. I wouldn’t normally be interested in an OTC product. It’s the fact that Sony was exceptional that provoked my interest.

Thank you for your detailed review. There’s also a pretty good video review here: Blog –

In my opinion, the Sony (or better: Signia) OTC devices are one of the best that are currently available, especially for the price. I haven’t seen any cheaper OTCs that sound as good as those.

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You’re welcome, @user930. And thanks for your comment.

I didn’t mention it in my post, but I completely agree with your point about what you’re getting for your money with this hearing aid. By buying directly from Sony, you get a 45-day trial period. If the set up and any fine tuning you do, works for you, you’ve got a premium hearing aids fir $1300. If it doesn’t work for any buyer and you really need the assistance of an audiologist to get a better fitting, then simply return it and schedule an appointment with an audiologist. It’s certainly worth a try. I don’t see how you can go wrong.

One of the things this ear bud style hearing aid provides is no more fussing with wax guards or batteries and a charger that gives you 26 hours of use AND is portable for 2 more charges before you have to plug it in again. The ease of use makes it very appealing.


TL;DR Thanks for the review! Did you did you notice, or have an issue, with the long latency (12ms) of the E10?

Thanks for the thorough review, and happy to hear they’re working so well for you. I was very interested in OTC, especially the E10 because of the Widex association, but what’s kept me trying the E10 OTC are their spec of 12ms for latency. That’s something I’ve found to be a specific issue for me. With HA in the 5-8ms range I found myself not looking at faces as people speak to avoid the disconcerting effect, and the artificial sounding reverb/robotic sound in an echo-ey place (car, tiled room, etc.) Have you noticed similar sound effects with the E10?

I did not notice any effects of latency. The first thing I noticed was how natural other voices sounded. I would expect some distortion with that kind of latency, but I haven’t heard that, but I’ve been using them less than a week, so I’ll keep an ear out for that as I experience different situations.

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That’s great news! Maybe having half decent hearing in the lower frequencies of my audiogram is part of why I notice it when it is there. But if Sony and Widex Have it resolved, that’s a game changer!

This is the Signia,not a Widex tho.

I think that was the C10 model.

The E10 C10 is a Widex? They seem to be Signia rebrands.

Yes, the C10 and the E10 are both made by Signia.

Just to follow up the question of who manufactures the Sony CRE-E10, I called both Signia and Sony customer service representatives. The company line from both is the same. WS shared their technology, but Sony is the one who actually manufactures these hearing aids.

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Are you sure, I mean as in their own respective production line, not made by WS and supplied for Sony?

I’m not sure of anything. But the reps of both companies were clear. Their public position is that these hearing aids are manufactured by Sony and are not simply rebadged Signia/WS hearing aids. The Signia audiologist explicitly acknowledged the two products “look similar” (I replied, ”identical”), but despite that, she said, they are not manufactured by Signia.

The same as Philips sells hearing aids, but it is actually produced by the Demant group, which also produces Oticon, etc. This may be Sony’s step to enter the hearing aid market with a low stake, if sales start, it can later buy the ownership of another manufacturer to would have a higher profit. Let’s recall that a Sony enthusiast collaborated with the Ericson company and together they started selling mobile phones under the Sony Ericson name. After several years in business, Sony bought the remaining business from Ericsson and began selling under its own name.

Each of these agreements is individual. All of the releases from Demant and Philips were clear that theirs was a licensing agreement for the purpose of distributing a Demant product.

The releases from WS Audiology and Sony are not like that. They consistently talk about a partnership in which they work together to bring a new product, i.e. OTC hearing aids, to market. Here is how they present their combined resources:



  • Electro Acoustic, Signal proc.
  • Context recognition
  • AI and Cloud technology
  • Brand and Own design house
  • B2C sales channel


Conventional HA

  • Audiology and Fitting Tech.
  • Design capabilities and technology
  • Electro Acoustic, Signal proc.
  • Form factor innovation
  • Manufacturing and Service
  • B2B Sales Channel


OTC Hearing Aids

  • Audiology Expertise
  • IT/Audio Technology
  • Medical Technology
  • Business Asset

The first two lists are what each company brings to the enterprise individually and the last list is what the combined assets of the partnership are. In the joint announcement the Sony Deputy President stated that they sought out WSA for their expertise in hearing aids: “You are the experts.” But he also cited Sony’s expertise in acoustics and miniaturization. The WSA Chairman of Marketing talked about using Sony’s design capabilities and technology while acknowledging the power of the Sony brand. He called the joint enterprise a “collaboration”.

I may be wrong, but all of this has the look and feel to me of something more than the relatively simple licensing agreement between Demant and Philips.

The reason I’m interested in this is because of the phenomenal results which the CRE-E10 demonstrated on the HearAdvisor lab tests. Their 5.0 score far surpassed the 4.2 score by the Signia Styletto AX, which is Signia’s flagship offering at this point and which uses a new platform, which Dr. Cliff describes as “a game changer”. The Signia Active series uses the older X platform, which is in the process of being phased out. If the CRE-E10 is simply a rebadged Signia Active X or Active Pro, I’m at a loss to explain how it was able to demonstrate such capabilities.

One possible explanation is that some new input (Sony) has changed the engine that is powering the CRE-E10 even though it is housed in the same shell, uses a similar i-phone control app, and uses the same charger. The other explanation is that HearAdvisor’s lab tests were somehow defective and resulted in “ false positives”. This could certainly be the case because these tests are new and might still have some bugs to be worked out. The problem is that multiple reviews on line are also giving it superb ratings as well and my own brief trial has also verified to my satisfaction that this is a premium instrument.


Yeah but it’s marketing fluff, nowhere anywhere is there anything (tech specs or white papers) to say they are anything but…

I think this statement says it all, Sony didn’t have anything in this regard, only the noise cancelling technology that they pretty much set the standard for headphones back in the day.

Yeah I’m thinking this statement means, we supply the material you supply the name = collaboration (well at the moment anyway) I believe that Sony will release their own respective OTC in the not to distant future.
But your right it’s definitely more then a “licencing” agreement, but what it is, time will tell.

Just remember these aren’t real world based experience or tests, these will come out over time, but I’m very impressed with what hearingtracker is doing here, given nothing else is available in this regard.

Could well be, but you’ve backed up the results so that says something.
Interesting times.