When it launched the Eargo 5 two years in the past, Eargo grew to become a significant participant within the over-the-counter listening to help enterprise. The corporate’s providing was one of many first OTC listening to aids that had been additionally self-fitting, which implies you don’t want an audiologist to tune the best way it produces sound. Eargo has made its identify on the truth that it offers entry to an audiologist anyway, although you’re beneath no obligation to make use of them if you wish to go it solo.
The Eargo 7 is the corporate’s third model of its OTC self-fitting listening to help, and a refinement of the formulation that it’s been engaged on for the reason that Eargo 5. In actual fact, the Eargo 7 appears equivalent to the Eargo 5—and the Eargo 6, for that matter—a pair of black, 18-mm-long cylinders that sit cozily nicely throughout the ear canal and are held in place by a pair of interlocking “petals.” The Eargo 7 is even priced the identical because the Eargo 5 was at its launch: $2,650 with present promotions included. (The Eargo 5, nonetheless on the market, is now $1,950.)
I examined the Eargo 5 again within the day and located it to be a bit tough across the edges, affected by suggestions points and marred by a poor coaching program that Eargo calls Sound Match. Curious to see how issues have modified previously couple years, WIRED requested me to present the brand new model a hear.
The déjà vu hits onerous and quick. The gadgets look precisely the identical, and whereas Eargo’s app has fortunately been up to date, it’s bought the identical common feel and look. Eargo informed me in an interview that the one actual variations among the many 5, 6, and seven are all inside expertise tweaks: Every technology handles audio processing and filtering higher, and noise discount has improved every time.
In testing, these claims appear to carry. I spent hours carrying the Eargo 7 and was impressed by the readability of audio beneath a number of situations, and Eargo’s app lets you choose as much as three customized listening packages; I selected Restaurant, TV, and Assembly. To change modes, you simply double-tap in your tragus. Whereas tapping your tragus is all the time a great time, it turned out I didn’t actually need to modify modes. These aids supplied crisp, well-amplified audio it doesn’t matter what I used to be doing or what mode I occurred to be in, making dialog or real-world voices clearer and amplifying sound results on tv with out blowing them out. As a bonus, I didn’t expertise any of the shrill suggestions that every one however ruined my first go-round with Eargo. As soon as I had the aids skilled, I used to be capable of put on them for hours on finish with out criticism—although after hour 5 or so, I discovered the petals grew to become so itchy I had no alternative however to take away them.
Talking of coaching, Eargo’s Sound Match system stays a piece in progress that I nonetheless didn’t completely love. Whereas I by no means bought Sound Match to work in any respect with the Eargo 5, on the Eargo 7 issues had been at the least higher, if solely fitfully. Sound Match, like most phone-based listening to help methods, works by sending ultrasonic tones out of your telephone to the listening to aids, which inform it what to do. With my Eargo 5s, the items by no means picked up on these tones reliably, which meant coaching by no means labored. With the Eargo 7, the varied tones relayed to every ear got here extra reliably, however not universally, and I nonetheless needed to mash “replay” repeatedly to get the tones to chime. In the end, what ought to have been a 10-minute coaching session frustratingly took about half-hour to finish, although on the finish of it, I did at the least have a workable audiogram that appeared moderately well-tuned to the frequencies the place I most wanted a lift.
Eargo’s app has seen some helpful upgrades, inserting quantity management entrance and middle, and providing background noise filter controls and fast entry to handbook tweaks like “Emphasize speech.” It nonetheless prods you to wash the parts greater than I’d like, however that’s solely a light distraction.