5 Best Headphones for Hard-of-Hearing Music Lovers

June 22, 2023
Blake Cadwell
Written by
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.

Soundly Staff
Reviewed by
Soundly Staff
Soundly Staff

We reviewed dozens of headphone options, read hundreds of online reviews and tested a range of headphone apps to find the best headphones with personalized audio.

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.

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Whether you are 22 or 82, your hearing is one of a kind. We all hear different frequencies, better or worse, depending on our genetics, sound exposure, and age. That means you'll hear something different than I do when you put on a pair of headphones. 

For years, headphone makers haven't worried too much about the differences in our hearing and have created products that work for most people. That left people with unique hearing configurations or hearing loss without good options and the rest with "just ok" audio. 

Thankfully, technological advances and innovative new companies like Mimi Hearing are making way for a new generation of headphones that customize audio to match your hearing needs. 

How personalized audio works for hard-of-hearing listeners.

Before we talk about products and brands, let's take a look at how this works. I'll use my own hearing loss for illustration. I have a genetic cookie-bite hearing loss, so I need more volume in mid-frequencies. Here are my results from our 5-minute hearing test


If I put on a pair of un-customized headphones, I'll need to crank up the volume to get those middle frequencies to a normal level. The problem is that the low and high frequencies are then too loud. I'm stuck.

Headphones with custom audio solve this issue by correcting the mid-frequency without boosting my lows and highs. Some custom headphones do this by administering a short hearing test, while others give me access to a freeform equalizer (more on that below). 

Even if you don't have significant hearing loss, you still have one-of-one hearing, and you'll almost certainly like the sound better when it's matched to your specific needs. 

Enter headphones with personalized audio, hearing tests, and custom equalizers.

Now that you understand the magic (or necessity) behind personalized headphone sound, let's talk about products.  

As with any headphone purchase, you'll probably consider a few factors when deciding on the perfect audio companion: 

  • Personalized Sound: Naturally, for this guide, we're taking a close look at personalized sound, onboard hearing tests, and EQ controls.
  • Power and Charging: Battery power is an essential factor to consider if you spend time commuting, traveling or away from home. 
  • Comfort: You may prefer over-ear or earbud-style devices. Some hearing aid wearers prefer large over-ear devices that allow them to keep their hearing aids on. 
  • Noise Canceling and Ambient Sound: Noise-canceling headphones are safer for your ears in background noise (prevent cranking the volume up), but it's nice to have optional ambient sounds for safety on-the-go. 
  • Phone call quality: While most of us rely on headphones to hear we also rely on them to send clear audio to the person on the other end of a phone call or Zoom call. When it comes to mic quality, not all devices are created equal. 

These are the 5 best headphones for anyone with hearing loss. 👇

Apple AirPods Pro 2 Review
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Best for Apple Users

Apple AirPods Pro 2

Apple AirPods Pro 2

249.95
Listen to a demo
pause
Transparency Mode
Personalized Sound
4.5-Hour Battery
Pinch/Button Controls

Airpods Pro 2 makes this list for their truly personalized audio experience. 

Of course, AirPods come from the darling of consumer technology - Apple. The devices work seamlessly with iPhone and Mac products. These headphones have powerful active noise canceling capabilities and customizable Transparency Mode. Many users even turn Airpods Pro 2 into bootleg hearing aids (our how-to-guide here). Importantly, the Airpods integration with Apple Health makes it easy to upload an audiogram or take a hearing test. Your results are then applied to all Airpod audio. 

One other thing we love about Airpods is their built-in volume controls. Volume management is critical if you have hearing loss and want to protect your remaining hearing. Read more about Apple's safety features here

Important Features

  • Personalized Sound: Apple lets you upload a hearing test to your Apple Health app or take one through a partner app like Mimi. 
  • Comfort: Airpods Pro 2 comes with various ear tip sizes. This is one of the most comfortable earbuds on the market.  
  • Battery life: 4.5 hours of listening time or up to 3.5 hours of talk time on a single charge.
  • Phone call quality: Apple is the best in the game regarding phone call quality. Their new voice isolation feature (compatible with AirPods) just increases Apple's lead. 
Soundly Scorecard
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Pros
  • Apple integrates beautifully with iPhone and Mac.
  • Intuitive pinch-controls to pause music and activate Transparency Mode.
  • Airpods Pro 2 offers fine-tuned customization to both streamed and Transparency sound.
  • Apple offers a long-lasting battery and great overall sound quality.
Cons
  • Harder to use without an iPhone
  • More expensive than other options
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Jabra Elite 7 Pro Review For Hearing Loss
Jabra Elite 7 Pro
Best All-Around Player

Jabra Elite 7 Pro

Jabra Elite 7 Pro

199.99
Listen to a demo
pause
Hear Through
Personalized Sound
8-Hour Battery
Button Controls

Jabra gets talked about less than Airpods or Galaxy Buds, but when it comes to personalized sound, price, and overall features, we think this is one of the best all-around earbuds on the market. The Jabra app offers an impressive onboard hearing test and gives you fine-tuning control over your frequency and active noise cancellation. Jabra also gives you control over your hear-through volume (transparency mode), which is a boost for anyone with hearing loss.

The easy-to-use buttons on the side of each device make it one of the most dexterity-friendly earbuds to manage throughout the day. One lesser-known fact, Jabra is owned by GN Hearing, who also makes premium hearing aids like ReSound. The brand puts this experience to work in its customization philosophy. 

Important Features

  • Personalized Sound: Comes with an excellent onboard hearing test and fine-tuning options. 
  • Battery life: Up to 8 hours on a single charge. Five minutes of charging gives you another 1 hour of listening time. 
  • Comfort: Jabra uses a very comfortable silicone dome and offers multiple ear tip sizes. 
  • Phone call quality: This has been an issue for Jabra in the past, but the new Jabra Elite 7 Pro does an impressive job of blocking out background noise. 
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Pros
  • Robust customizations through the Jabra app.
  • Volume boost options for hear-through sound.
  • Wide-range of product styles and prices available from Jabra.
  • More compact than other earbud brands without sound-quality tradeoffs.

Cons
  • Active noise cancelation is not as strong as competitors.
  • You cannot pair to multiple devices at the same time.

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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Hearing Loss
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 2
Best for Android Users

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 2

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 2

229.99
Listen to a demo
pause
Ambient Sound
Personalized Sound
8-Hours Battery
Tap Controls

Galaxy Buds Pro is Samsung's response to Apple's AirPods Pro. The earbuds have great sound quality, a comfortable fit, and seamless connection with a wide range of devices. The Galaxy Wearable app gives you lots of control over your listening experience, starting with an onboard hearing test.

You can apply the results of that hearing test to streamed sound or pick from presets. Like Apple, Samsung Earbuds are sometimes customized and used as entry-level hearing aids (our how-to here). 

Important Features

  • Personalized Sound: Samsung offers an onboard hearing test, EQ presets, and a customizable equalizer through the Galaxy Wearable app (not available on iPhone).  
  • Battery life: up to 8 hours of listening time without ANC activated
  • Comfort: Galaxy Buds Pro 2 aren't a perfect fit for every ear but come with multiple ear tips and a compact size. 
  • Phone call quality: Samsung uses beam-forming technology to isolate your voice and clean up phone audio. These devices are up there with the best.  
Soundly Scorecard
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Pros
  • Integrates seamlessly with Samsung devices.
  • More compact than AirPods Pro 2.
  • Offers lots of fine-tuning via the Galaxy Wearable app.
  • IPX7 rating (can be submerged for up to 30 minutes).
  • Long-lasting battery and great overall sound quality.
Cons
  • Touch controls can be overly sensitive.
  • The Galaxy Wearable app is not available for iPhone users.

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Soundcore Headphone for hearing loss
Soundcore Liberty from Anker
Top Lower-Priced Choice

Soundcore Liberty from Anker

Soundcore Liberty from Anker

$109-$169
Listen to a demo
pause
EQ Controls
9-Hour Battery
Tap Controls

While Anker is best known for their batteries, the brand has quietly built a serious audio business under the Soundcore brand. Soundcore is a David compared to Goliaths like Apple and Samsung, but their earbuds and over-ear headphones have impressive features and personalizations. Soundcore Liberty 3 and 4 have a built-in EQ adjustment option that lets you set your EQ to suit your needs. The Soundcore app offers multiple preset EQ configurations and an 8-band EQ adjuster. Soundcore does not offer an onboard hearing test, so you'll need to take one before you play with the equalizer to match your hearing loss.

Important Features 

  • Personalized Sound: Adjust frequencies manually or choose from presets. Soundcore has no onboard hearing test, so you must make manual changes. 
  • Battery life: up to 9 hours of listening time without ANC activated or 8 hours with ANC
  • Comfort: Very comfortable for the price point with several ear tip options. 
  • Phone call quality: Soundcore has a good microphone compared to other smaller brands but doesn't quite stand up to Apple and Samsung. 
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Pros
  • Deal Seekers can find Soundcore earbuds for under $120
  • Soundcore has serious personalization options to support unique hearing needs
  • Soundcore works well with iPhone or Android (no turf wars here)

Cons
  • No onboard hearing test, so you'll have to manage your EQ adjustments manually
  • Slightly lower sound quality and call quality vs. Apple and Samsung (but not bad)

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Sony Headphones for hearing loss
Sony WH-1000XM5
Best All-Around Over-Ear Headphone

Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony WH-1000XM5

399.99
Listen to a demo
pause
Ambient Sound Mode
EQ Controls
30-Hour Battery
Button Controls

Sony WH-1000 series and Apple's Airpods Max have been duking it out for a few years to claim the top spot for the best-of-the-best among over-ear headphones. Sony's WH-1000XM5 is a 2022 upgrade to their hugely popular M4 device. This headphone has a lot to love, from the sleek exterior (offered in light and dark) to the comfortable and lightweight design. M5 added size to the earcup, which is great for anyone who wears hearing aids. M5 also added four new microphones to improve active noise cancelation and transparency mode.

Regarding customization, the Sony app gives you the full suite of EQ presets and five bands of customization. Sony does not offer a hearing test, so you must make EQ adjustments based on your ear or another hearing test (like ours). WH-1000XM5 is a powerhouse device with incredible audio quality and great features. The only real competition for the #1 over-ear spot is Airpods Max which isn't great for Android users.

Important Features

  • Personalized Sound: Impressive preset options or a fully customizable EQ with five bands of adjustment. 
  • Battery life: Up to 30 hours on a single charge
  • Comfort: Comfortable, lightweight option with vegan leather ear cups and a slightly larger size
  • Phone call quality: Sony can compete with the best in shutting down background noise and isolating your voice. 
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Pros
  • Beautiful and comfortable design
  • 30 hours of battery life
  • Customizable EQ
  • Works with all phone types
  • Easy earcup tap and swipe controls
Cons
  • Bulky for travel
  • Transparency mode is not quite as good as Airpods Max
  • Ears can become hot after a long wear-session

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Jabra Enhance Plus
Best Hearing Aid Headphone Hybrid

Jabra Enhance Plus

Jabra Enhance Plus

$499 / pair
Listen to a demo
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In the Ear
Rechargeable
OTC
Affordable

Jabra Enhance Plus is a new product from GN Hearing (the parent company to ReSound). The earbud-style product is self-customized to your hearing loss and can alternate between amplifying the sounds around you, playing music and podcasts or both.

You can read my full review of Jabra Enhance Plus here. It hasn’t replaced my hearing aids, but it offers a great starting point for someone who isn’t ready to take the leap and needs support in specific situations.

  • How it works:
    ✔️ Start by purchasing Jabra Enhance Plus hearing aids online.
    ✔️ Once the product arrives at your home, you'll download the app and self-program the hearing aids to match your hearing loss.
    ✔️ If you need further support you can call Jabra's customer service team.
  • Overall notes: Jabra Enhance Plus won't replace your all-day hearing aids but they can provide a boost to those with mild to moderate hearing loss that aren't ready to take the leap.
  • Price: $799 for a pair
  • Features: Self-fit, simple to get started, modern design, Bluetooth streaming and rechargeability
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Pros

Modern headphone appearance

Fantastic music and podcast quality

Easy to use app

Cons

Not as comfortable as traditional hearing aids for all-day use

Picks up some wind noise

Purchase Jabra Enhance Plus online or at select retailers 👉
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Final Thoughts

If you have hearing loss and are sick of muddy lyrics or frustrating phone calls, one of the headphones on this list might be just the ticket.

Of course, there are other options out there. Just ensure the devices you are looking for have an adjustable EQ or a built-in hearing test.

Oh... and get ready to hear the actual lyrics for all the songs you've been singing wrong.

Frequently asked questions

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