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Best Value: In-Ear

Sony CRE-C10 Review

Prices, Sound Recordings, Models
Blake Cadwell
Blake Cadwell

Blake Cadwell is a hearing aid wearer and co-founder at Soundly. He regularly tests and reviews hearing technology to share his experience with Soundly’s readers. Blake's research and perspectives have been featured in the The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, AARP and FastCompany.

Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A

Dr. Amy Sarow is a practicing clinical audiologist and serves as Audiology Lead for Soundly. Her expertise and experience span topics including tinnitus, cochlear implants, hearing aid technology, and hearing testing. She holds a doctoral degree in audiology from the University of Iowa. During her residency at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Sarow was inspired by the three-tiered, patient-centered approach, incorporating clinical work, teaching and research.

Updated
June 19, 2024
Methodology
i

Soundly is an independently owned hearing health research tool. Our reviews are conducted by hearing aid wearers and audiologists. We physically review the leading hearing aids on the market for sound quality, comfort, durability, and more. Our review process starts with hands-on unboxing and days, weeks, or months of wear. We also record live sound demos using a calibrated binaural microphone (read more here). We experiment with backend fitting software for prescription products and use test box measures to measure prescriptive accuracy and flexibility. Our work is funded through reader support. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Read more about our story here.

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Sony teamed up with WS Audiology (the second-largest hearing company in the world) to co-create its products. Sony's CRE-C10 devices are some of our favorite invisible-style devices on the market and offer prescription-grade sound quality controlled through your smartphone.

CRE-C10 uses a size 10 disposable battery that offers over 70 hours of continuous wear. Size 10 batteries are widely available and commonly used in small devices. CRE-C10 is among our favorite invisible-style devices on the market.

CRE-C10 comes with a Sony app that allows users to control the volume and sound quality of the devices. No audiologist visit is required. 

Pros 👍
  • Nearly invisible
  • High-quality sound for a lower price
  • Self-fit at home
Cons 👎
  • Not as small as OTC competitors like Eargo
  • Not rechargeable
  • Does not allow Bluetooth streaming

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Soundly Scorecard
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Hearing Loss Level 🔊
Mild - Moderate
  • Sony CRE-C10 hearing aids are sold over the counter and are appropriate for those with mild-moderate hearing loss
  • If you have more significant hearing loss it is recommended that you access professional care through Telehealth or local care
Care Type 🏥
Over-The-Counter
  • Available for purchase here Soundly.com with a complimentary guide setup service
  • Does not require a prescription from a doctor
  • Customize your hearing aids with an onboard hearing test and app-controls
Sound Quality 🔊
Average in Background Noise
  • Sony CRE-C10 is made in collaboration with hearing leader WSA audiology
  • Sony CRE-C10 offers good background noise management but performs slightly lower than Sony CRE-E10 and other premium prescription hearing aids
Comfort 🦻
Somewhat Comfortable For All-Day Wear
  • Sony CRE-C10 sits discreetly in the ear and comes with various ear tip sizes
  • Sony CRE-C10 is not custom-molded to your ear shape
  • Our team finds all in-the-ear models slightly less comfortable for all-day wear than RIC hearing aids
Style  💫
In The Ear - Non Molded
  • Sits inside the ear
  • Only available in one completely-in-canal size (nearly invisible in many ears)
  • Only available in black
Battery 🔋
Disposable Only
  • Sony CRE-C10 is only available with disposable size 10 batteries (last 5-7 days)
Connection 📡
Bluetooth Not Available
  • Sony CRE-C10 does not come with Bluetooth streaming
Dexterity Level 🤏
Difficult
  • Sony CRE-C10 is a small device which can pose dexterity challenges
  • Sony CRE-C10 requires regular battery changes
Waterproof Level 💦
N/A
  • CRE-C10 is not waterproof and we recommend you keep it away from water and moisture
App features 📱
Has An App
  • Sony CRE-C10 uses a smartphone app which includes an onboard hearing test and manual controls for bass, treble and volume
  • The app is required to make changes (no buttons onboard)
What's Included
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2 Sony CRE-C10 hearing aids 

Sony Hearing Control app to change programming and volume

Jewel carry case

6 size 10 batteries

click sleeves in 4 sizes, and care tools

Purchase Through Soundly
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You can purchase Sony CRE-C10 hearing aids directly through Soundly and access upgraded care and services. 

  • Soundly is an official Sony retailer.
  • Your purchase comes with Soundly's comprehensive set-up service. 
  • All orders come with 45-day risk-free returns.
  • All orders come with free shipping.
  • Soundly offers MSRP pricing and deals. We will match the price of any other official retailer for the same product and terms.  
  • Your purchase comes with 60-day price-drop protection

Purchase on this page or contact our team to purchase over the phone. Your hearing aids will be shipped to your home along with setup instructions and an optional guided setup call with one of our hearing professionals.

Technology
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Sony branded devices are fully functioning hearing aids that will allow consumers to perform an app-based fitting augmented with AI (artificial intelligence). 

CRE-C10 comes with several sizes of "click-sleeves" that can be swapped out to match the size of your ear. 

According to our tests, Sony's technology offers sound quality similar to traditional hearing aids. That means more coming from the 2nd largest hearing aid maker in the world. 

CRE-C10 hearing aids are wirelessly linked to create a 360 audio "picture" of your surroundings. The algorithm onboard the devices then reduces background noise that it deems less critical and prioritizes voices. 

Sony CRE-C10 hearing aids do not allow Bluetooth streaming and use a disposable size 10 battery that will need to be changed about once a week. 

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Name

Full Review

Blake Cadwell
Written by
Blake Cadwell

For hearing health nerds like me, the last few years have been some of the most exciting on record.

One significant cause for excitement (or angst for some) was the FDA's new guidelines that made over-the-counter hearing aids FDA-official for the first time.

Starting in October 2022, those with mild-moderate hearing loss could purchase products directly from retailers like Walgreens or online through shops like Soundly's. No more required visits to an audiologist.

One of the most exciting effects of the FDA's ruling is that tech companies like Bose, Jabra, and are jumping into the hearing aid world with their own OTC hearing aids.

Sony offers two OTC hearing aids:

CRE-C10 - Invisible style without Bluetooth or rechargeable batteries
CRE-E10 - Earbud style with Bluetooth streaming and rechargeable batteries

I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Sony CRE-C10 for an in-depth review.

In this review, I'll break down what I've learned, share some sound recordings and give you my take on how Sony's hearing aids match up to other options.

Sony CRE-C10 Background  

Sony teamed up with WS Audiology (the second-largest hearing company in the world) to co-create its products. Sony's CRE-C10 devices are nearly invisible and offer prescription-grade sound quality controlled through your smartphone.

CRE-C10 does not offer Bluetooth streaming or rechargeable batteries.

CRE-C10 uses a size 10 disposable battery that offers over 70 hours of continuous wear. Size 10 batteries are widely available and commonly used in small devices.

CRE-C10 comes with the Sony Hearing Control app that allows users to control the volume and sound quality of the devices. No audiologist visit is required.

Now that you understand the basics, let’s start unboxing my Sony CRE-C10 hearing aids.

Sony CRE-C10 comes in a simple little box with a well-built jewel case. Both hearing aids are inside the case and underneath the case is a storage compartment with alternate ear tip sizes, batteries, and a cleaning brush.  

Sony CRE-C10 hearing aid unboxing
Sony CRE-C10 case and box.

Sony CRE-C10 hearing aids use a size 10 battery that will need to be replaced after around 70 hours of use. Open the battery door to change the batteries or turn off the devices. Your Sony hearing aids will turn on automatically when the battery door is closed.

Sony CRE-C10 with battery compartment open
Sony CRE-C10 disposable batteries.

I was very impressed with the tiny profile of these devices. In the image below, you can see the Sony CRE-C10 side-by-side with Eargo’s invisible hearing aid. Eargo is officially the smallest OTC device on the market but costs more than twice as much.  

Sony CRE-C10 in hand next to Eargo hearing aid
CRE-C10 compared to Eargo 7.

Every ear canal is different, but the CRE-C10 pretty much disappears in my ear. My wife did not notice the devices in my ear until I called them to her attention.  

Sony CRE-C10 Invisible in the ear

Let’s move on to the CRE-C10 app setup process.

Once my CRE-C10 hearing aids were out of the box I downloaded the Sony Hearing Control app to my iPhone (also available for Android users.

The app guided me through a basic setup process and prompted me to create a Sony account.

Screenshots of the Sony app onboarding screens

Next, the app prompted me to connect the right and left hearing aid to the app.

After the devices connected, I began a simple hearing test which played beeps at varying frequencies through my hearing aids.

After I finished the hearing test in my right and left ears, the app took a moment to “apply settings,” and my hearing aids began to deliver customized sound.  

Screenshots of the Sony Hearing Control hearing test

One crucial point is that the app includes a master volume setting which defaults to a seamingly low level of amplification. This setting is different than the remote control volume, which we will talk about in a moment.

I suggest you hit the three lines (pictured below), click “adjust loudness,” and turn the volume to maximum.

At the default setting that came out of the box, I could not get enough amplification for benefit.

Images of the volume control section of the Sony Hearing Control App

Once your hearing aids are setup, you will have access to the remote control. Sony opted for an incredibly simple remote control system with just two screens.

One screen changes the sound quality and the other screen changes the volume.

Even after boosting the volume (in the last step), I found myself wanting even more amplification from the volume screen.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony ads more volume in the future.

screenshots of the Sony hearing control app

How did the Sony CRE-C10 sound?

I wore my CRE-C10 hearing aids while watching TV, interacting with co-workers, and running daily errands. These were my early impressions:

Comfort 9/10 - CRE-C10 is basically invisible in my ear, and felt very comfortable. This is a product I could wear all day and forget it’s there.

Sound quality 8/10 - I felt the sounds quality was smooth and well fit to my hearing loss. I have cookie-bite hearing loss, and some lower-cost hearing aids struggle to boost mid frequencies without overdoing it on low and high frequencies. Sony CRE-C10 didn’t seem to have this issue.

Speech understanding 7/10 - At full volume, the CRE-C10 hearing aids certainly improved my speech understanding with my wife and colleagues. My biggest critique is that I had to fully max out the volume in order to make the devices work for me. I would have appreciated a bit more volume.

Final Thoughts

Sony CRE-C10 is a reputable OTC option for anyone angling for an invisible hearing aid. Other options for your shortlist could include Eargo or Sony's earbud-style device Sony CRE-E10.

Blake Cadwell
Written by
Blake Cadwell
Soundly Staff
Reviewed by
Soundly Staff

Blake Cadwell is a hearing aid wearer and co-founder at Soundly. Soundly began as a passion project after Blake’s frustrating search for hearing aids. Blake regularly tests and reviews hearing technology to share his experience with Soundly’s readers.

Soundly conducts in-depth research to guide prospective hearing aid wearers. Our work is funded through reader support. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

The breakdown

Sony CRE-C10 hearing aids offer an innovative self-fit approach and impressive backing from the audiology space. But are they good?

The product is still relatively new, so reviews are hard to come by, but we know this product will be one of the leading in-the-ear devices available.

Man holding a case with Bose hearing aids in it
Sony hearing aid in a man's earSony Hearing Control app

The tech inside

CRE-C10 is a reasonably simple device without rechargeable batteries or Bluetooth streaming capabilities. What makes this product unique is that it makes audiology-grade technology available over the counter.

Getting up close

Sony CRE-C10 is only available in black at this time.

Each hearing aid sits inside the ear canal using one of four click-sleeve sizes.

CRE-C10 does not come with any buttons, so adjustments to volume and sound quality will need to be made through the app.

Sony invisible style hearing aid in carry case

Overall notes:

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