Most people get hearing aids through local brick-and-mortar audiology clinics, but in-person care can be time-consuming or difficult for anyone who lives in rural areas or doesn’t like to leave home.
I live in Los Angeles, which makes any car travel a serious endeavor. That’s why I was excited to learn about Earlux’s virtual clinic offering. Earlux operates like standard clinics and offers the same leading brands like Phonak, Oticon, ReSound, and Signia. The only difference? Earlux completes the entire process remotely through telemedicine.
Importantly, follow-up appointments can also happen from anywhere - some patients hold appointments with their doctor in a noisy restaurant to test settings in real-time (we’ll get into that later).
I ordered a pair of brand new ReSound NEXIA hearing aids through the Earlux virtual clinic to get a hands-on perspective of the process. In this review, I’ll take you through what I learned.
Selecting a Pair of Hearing Aids
Earlux sells the same devices as any other local clinic. Their top-selling brands are ReSound, Signia, Oticon, and Phonak. Like in-clinic care, each of these products comes with a top-tier, mid-tier, and basic-tier technology option. You can read more about hearing aid technology levels here.
I chose ReSound NEXIA (released in October 2023) and went for the top-tier technology level. Earlux sells NEXIA for $4,999/pair (compared to the national average of $7,500/pair).
Earlux has agreed to give Soundly readers $500 off a pair of prescription hearing aids at this link with mention of Soundly. 👏
How Testing Works
Testing your hearing is a critical part of the fitting process. Like eyesight, no two hearing profiles are the same, and your hearing test is critical to properly program prescription devices like ReSound NEXIA. So, how does Earlux handle testing?
Customers have two options. The first is to send in an existing test from a local audiologist. You can take hearing tests at a local ENT, audiologist, or even Costco. A picture of the test should do the trick.
The second (simpler) option is to conduct a remote test during your fitting appointment. Earlux will ask you to take a quick online test to set a baseline for your hearing aids before they are shipped. Then, when you have the hearing aids in your ears, a doctor will guide you through a hearing test administered directly through your devices. Your hearing aids will emit tones at various volumes, and you will indicate whether you’ve heard them or not. Several studies suggest that this style of testing (sometimes called in situ testing) delivers similar results as testing in a clinic.
Regardless of whether you send in a test or get one during the appointment, Earlux will send an otoscope along with your hearing aid box that allows them to look inside your ears virtually. This step ensures your eardrums are healthy and you don’t have wax buildup.
My ReSound NEXIA hearing aids came in a compact little box with simple setup instructions. Earlux suggested that I download three apps (including the ReSound app, otoscope app, and Google Meet app) to facilitate the appointment.
My hearing aids came fully charged, but the setup instructions did suggest that I put them on the charger ahead of my fitting appointment.
Along with my hearing aids, Earlux included a portable Otoscope to give the doctor a look inside my ears, along with some cables to connect that Otoscope to my ears.
Earlux scheduled my fitting appointment with Dr. Cory Cook. The team put an invite on my calendar and a Google Meet link (anyone can use Google Meet for free). At the time of my appointment, I joined the meeting, and Dr. Cory was there with me on video. He walked me through connecting my phone to the Otoscope, and we started with a look inside my ear canals. Dr. Cory could see what I was seeing on my screen. The main goal of this step is to ensure there is no earwax block and that my eardrums are not perforated. I was okay on both fronts.
With that step out of the way, I put my new NEXIA hearing aids in, and Dr. Cory instructed me to open my ReSound app. I could hear him making adjustments, and gave him feedback as we went.
I had sent a hearing test in before my appointment, so we didn’t complete the in-situ test, but this is the point in the process where Dr. Cory could have tested my hearing using the hearing aids inside your ear.
The fitting process is where the experience shined. Dr. Cory walked me through the Bluetooth pairing process and encouraged me to walk around, talk, and experiment with the sound settings in my environment. As I gave him feedback, he made real-time adjustments. The experience was far more intuitive than listening to a doctor inside a quiet office. Dr. Cory even shared his screen to show me some of the live adjustments he was making.
Once the sound was set where I wanted it, we wrapped up the call and arranged a follow-up appointment.
Follow Up Care
Every pair of hearing aids purchased through Earlux comes with lifetime, unlimited follow-up support. Dr. Cory explained that the best way to get help is to text or call the Earlux number. A few hours after our appointment, I noticed that the door in my office was quite loud when it slammed closed. I texted the Earlux team and got a response within a few minutes.
The Earlux team offered to set up a follow-up appointment to make adjustments the following day. In theory, Dr. Cory could also push adjustments asynchronously through the app without a call.
Dr. Cory made some adjustments to impulse noises in the fitting software, and I was on my way. Dr. Cory shared that many patients take remote fitting appointments in challenging daily settings like noisy restaurants or offices. This remote programming style allows real-time experimentation.
For some people, nothing beats hands-on support inside a clinic, but for others who are busy, rural, or want to test their hearing aids in more realistic environments, the Earlux program is pretty darn compelling.