Hearing loss is surprisingly common, but the majority of people who could benefit from treatment I never had it. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, less than 30% of American adults age 70 or older with hearing loss have ever used a hearing aid. This number is even lower for adults aged 20-69 – at 16%.
While the only way to diagnose hearing loss is to see a audiologist for a professional examinationonline hearing tests are a simple and Fairly accurate way to initially assess the situation from the comfort of your home.
There are a few common types of online hearing tests, including a pure tone test, which assesses how well you can hear sounds of different frequencies, and a speech in noise test, which assesses how well you can hear spoken words over background noise. To help you figure out which at-home hearing tests are worth taking, we’ve tried 20 tests and narrowed them down to our absolute favorites. For best results, test with a high-quality pair of headphones or headphones in the quietest zone you can find. And for more on hearing health, check out the best over the counter hearing aids you can buy.
Best Overall Online Hearing Test
The Mimi hearing test app is our top pick overall because it offers multiple types of tests, is very easy to use, and requires no email signup. The results are more informative than other free tests, and you can go back and access them on an ongoing basis (they’re saved for you in the app).
We tried a total of 20 hearing aids from Jabra, Eargo, Phonak, Lexie, Costco and many other brands and retailers. Ultimately, most tests are usable and useful to some degree, but the ones we selected stood out in these areas.
- User Experience: Was it easy to understand the test steps and understand the results? Something as simple as a bar chart or a button can make the experience much more intuitive, which is especially important for people who aren’t so tech-savvy.
- Type: We’ve looked at different types of tests, including true tone and speech in noise, which can be useful for different purposes and offer different types of results.
- Accuracy: It goes without saying that any test is only useful insofar as it is accurate. We’ve prioritized tests that calibrate your headphones and make sure you’re in a quiet zone so you don’t skew the results. Tests with clear instructions were also ranked higher.
- Registration conditions: We looked at whether email sign-up was necessary, and if so, whether the company sent many follow-up emails, texts, or phone calls afterwards. Many of these tests are done by hearing aid brands or retailers, who will use the test as a marketing opportunity to you. They’re especially likely to do this if your results indicate you might benefit from a hearing aid, but there’s a fine line between helpful tracking and spamming.
Online hearing tests are a useful starting point to determine if you have hearing loss. They are convenient and easy to use. But your results could be skewed if you don’t follow all the instructions, including calibrating your volume correctly. Also, online hearing tests aren’t as comprehensive as in-office hearing tests, and they can’t diagnose the type or cause of your hearing loss. Audiologists have expertise and better tools, and they work in soundproof rooms with professional equipment, for healthy hearing. That’s why, even if your online test doesn’t find any issues, if you have hearing or ear problems, it’s worth having an in-person exam.
Online tests typically consist of one or two of the following test types:
- Pure-tone, which consists of listening to tones of different frequencies
- Speech in noise or background noise, which involves listening to a specific sound over background noise
- Speech audiometry, which tests the quality of hearing spoken audio at different volumes
An in-office hearing exam can include all of the above types of tests and more. These include (but are not limited to):
- Bone conduction test, which tests specific parts of the ear for issues such as fluid blockage
- Tympanometry, which tests how well your eardrum moves
- Otoacoustic emissions testwhich examines the function of your inner ear
- Physical examination of ear structures
Although online hearing tests are usually free, in-office hearing exams can come at a cost. But if you have health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, annual hearing tests are likely covered. Otherwise, the cost will vary by practitioner or location.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.