The Best Online Hearing Tests of 2022

Updated: Jul 17, 2022

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Hearing loss doesn’t discriminate and can affect people of any age. An online hearing test can be a helpful first step in figuring out if you have hearing loss. Our expert review will tell you everything you need to know about the best online hearing test. 

Who Should take an Online Hearing test?

You should take an online hearing test if you think you may have any degree of hearing loss. Maybe a friend or partner has complained that they need to repeat themselves around you. Or maybe you’re finding yourself having trouble with conversations in some settings. 

Signs of early hearing loss 

How do you know if you have hearing loss? According to the CDC, some signs of early hearing loss include:

  • Sounds and voices are muffled.
  • You struggle to hear high-pitched noises.
  • You have trouble following conversations in a noisy place.
  • You struggle with phone conversations.
  • You need to ask people to slow down when they speak.
  • You can’t tell the difference between certain consonants (e.g., mixing up s and f sounds).
  • You need people to speak louder.
  • You ask people to repeat themselves.
  • You frequently increase the volume of the TV.
  • You have tinnitus.
  • Some sounds bother you more than others or cause physical pain.
The Best Online Hearing Tests of 2022

How Online Hearing tests work

Most online tests will ask you some initial questions about your hearing and demographics. You’ll then be presented with sounds of various frequencies and prompted to adjust the sound level or say whether you can hear a particular sound at a specific frequency. 

The format can differ slightly from test to test, but tests generally assess your hearing ability to detect pure tones. As Dr. Kim points out, online tests only assess one component of your hearing. 

What is an audiogram?

An audiogram is a graph that displays the results of a specific type of hearing test called a pure-tone test. A pure-tone test is the kind of test administered by most online tests. 

It shows whether you have trouble hearing specific frequencies. For example, during testing, our tester received consistent results that they had potential mild hearing loss in their right ear, specifically in the case of low frequencies. 

But an audiogram has its limitations. According to one 2017 review, an audiogram only provides information about hearing sensitivity, not how you process sound. 

Tips for Taking an Online Hearing test

Most quality online hearing tests will take you through some preliminary checklist questions to ensure you’re prepared to take the test. 

When taking an online hearing test, you’ll want to:

  • Sit in a quiet room.
  • Eliminate distractions.
  • Turn off any noisy appliances (e.g., air conditioner, fan, etc.).
  • Use quality equipment like a good pair of headphones.

Compare Online Hearing Tests

Website
Signia
CostFree
Info requiredNone
Equipment needed In-ear or over-ear headphones
Length of test 5 minutes
Results processing Instant
Phonak
CostFree
Info requiredEmail
Equipment needed In-ear or over-ear headphones
Length of test 3 minutes
Results processing Instant
Miracle-Ear
CostFree
Info requiredFull name, email, zip code
Equipment needed In-ear or over-ear headphones
Length of test 5 minutes
Results processing Instant
Lively
CostFree
Info requiredFull name, email, phone number
Equipment needed In-ear or over-ear headphones
Length of test 5 minutes
Results processing Via email
Eargo
CostFree
Info requiredFull name, email, phone number
Equipment needed In-ear or over-ear headphones
Length of test Over 5 minutes
Results processing Instant
Audicus
CostFree
Info requiredFull name, email, phone number
Equipment needed In-ear or over-ear headphones
Length of test 5-10 minutes
Results processing Via email
MdHearing
CostFree
Info requiredFull name, email, phone number is optional
Equipment needed In-ear or over-ear headphones
Length of test 8 minutes
Results processing Via email
hearWHO
CostFree
Info requiredNone
Equipment needed Android or iOS smartphone and compatible headphones
Length of test 5 minutes
Results processing Instant

Pros and Cons of Online Hearing tests

Pros

  • They’re usually free.

  • They take just a few minutes to complete.

  • There’s no need to make an appointment.

Cons

  • They can’t assess all forms of hearing loss.

  • They’re unable to determine the ideal treatment option (e.g., hearing aid versus a cochlear implant).

  • They can’t tell if your hearing loss results from an underlying medical issue.

The bottom line is that an online hearing test is a solid preliminary screening tool for assessing your ability to detect sound. Still, it’s not able to tell you anything about how you’re actually processing sound. That said, if you’re not sure whether you have any hearing loss at all, an online test is an easy and convenient way to find out the status of your hearing. 

Online hearing tests also have other limitations. The test is really only as good as your headphones, so if you’re using low-quality equipment, your results may not be reliable. According to Dr. Kim, background noise can also interfere with the result.

What to Look for in a Good Online Hearing test

Most online hearing tests are relatively similar. But you should always make sure the test is free. There’s no reason to pay for an online hearing test. Don’t take a test if a company claims to have a superior option and requests a fee. There is no online test that can replace an in-person exam, and there are plenty of online options to choose from if you’re looking for a basic understanding of your hearing ability.

How to Choose the Best Online Hearing test for You

Some tests are more user-friendly than others. We found the most uncomplicated and straightforward tests to use were the Signia and Lively tests. They’re quick and provide thorough instructions for the user. 

How We Chose the Best Online Hearing tests

We determined our top picks based on the following criteria:

  • Easy-to-follow setup and format
  • Customer care
  • Free access
  • Registration process
  • Results processing time 
  • Equipment needed

Online Hearing Test Reviews

Pros

  • Easy-to-follow

  • Intuitive format

  • No need to fill out any personal details

Cons

  • None of note

  • Cost: Free
  • Equipment needed: Headphones
  • Results processing time: Instant

Our reviews team found this to be the best online hearing test, no email required! The Signia online hearing app is our pick for the best overall because it’s easy to use, has a simple yet comprehensive format, and doesn’t require you to input any personal information.

The test also asks you what kind of headphones you’ll be using to make sure you hear sounds properly. It’ll prompt you to adjust your volume to 100%, but don’t assume this is the case with all tests. Always start with your volume at a comfortable level and only change it when prompted. 

Pros

  • Super quick

  • Ability to select headphone style

  • Easy to understand

Cons

  • Need to provide your email

  • Cost: Free
  • Equipment needed: Headphones
  • Results processing time: Instant 

You can complete this intuitive test in three minutes. And all you need to provide is a valid email. The Phonak test is easy to complete and not complicated at all. 

During the test, you’ll hear tones at various frequencies. The test then prompts you to answer several questions about your general hearing ability.  

Pros

  • Tests hearing in real-world situations

Cons

  • No tone testing

  • Cost: Free
  • Equipment needed: Headphones
  • Results processing time: Instant

This basic hearing test takes five minutes and requires your name, email, and postal code. It’s a good choice for people who want to test their hearing using real-world situations. Unlike most other tests on this list, the Miracle-Ear test plays back audio of people having conversations in different environments, with varying levels of background noise. Once you hear the audio, you’ll be asked a simple question about what was said during the conversation.

It’s an easy test but doesn’t test right and left hearing independently or assess your ability to hear at different frequencies. 

Pros

  • Simple to take and includes a practice round

Cons

  • Need to fill in email and phone number to get results

  • Cost: Free
  • Equipment needed: Headphones
  • Results processing time: Results via email

This simple online hearing test from Lively checks hearing ability in both your right and left ear and provides detailed information about what your results mean. For example, one result suggests unilateral hearing loss and difficulty hearing low-frequency sounds. If you also get this result, you may struggle in group conversations or noisy environments, according to the results page. Sounds may abandon their fullness, causing music or voices to sound “thin.” 

The downside is that you do need to fill out your name, email, and phone number to even get your hands on any results. 

Pros

  • Thorough setup process

  • Helpful follow-up with customer service

Cons

  • Not as intuitive as other tests

  • Phone number required

  • Too many marketing emails

  • Cost: Free
  • Equipment needed: Headphones 
  • Results processing time: Instant

A thorough setup process ensures that you’re all set to receive accurate results. The process involves a hand rubbing calibration step that’s unique to this test. It ensures you have your device volume set correctly. 

Like the Audicus test, the Eargo test plays tones and asks you to click the button anytime you hear a sound. Tests like these are helpful for people who might not think they have hearing loss and might be swayed to fib when prompted if they hear a particular sound. But they can also be difficult for those who have trouble focusing. Another advantage is that Eargo encourages you to book a phone telecare checkup once you’re done with the test. 

To access your instant results, you’ll need to share your name, email, and phone number. One thing to point out is that we received multiple Eargo marketing emails after completing this hearing test. You can easily unsubscribe but skip this one if junk mail bothers you.

Pros

  • Immediate follow-up with the customer

Cons

  • Process is longer than other tests

  • Phone number and Email required

  • Cost: Free
  • Equipment needed: Headphones
  • Results processing time: Via email

If you know you want someone to follow up with you after your test, we recommend taking the Audicus online hearing test. You’ll need to fill out some personal information and provide your phone number and email, then you’ll be taken through the hearing test. The test will then play tones and prompt you to hit the spacebar when you hear a tone. After the test, you’ll be asked a few hearing-related questions before receiving results via email. 

This one took the longest of the tests we tried and wasn’t as intuitive. The results were inconclusive, requiring us to redo an entire section at one point. That said, we appreciate the prompt and personalized follow-up. If you prefer not to be contacted, though, this probably isn’t the online hearing test for you. 

Pros

  • Provides you with an audiogram

  • Free consultation post-test

Cons

  • Need to provide phone number and email

  • Cost: Free
  • Equipment needed: Headphones
  • Results processing time: Via email

This MDHearing online hearing test is one of the only tests we tried that provides the user with an audiogram. It’s also capable of detecting single-ear hearing loss. One downside is that you need to enter a valid US phone number to take the test, which some people might not feel comfortable doing. 

You also need to provide your email so you can see your results. However, all-in-all the test is comprehensive as far as online tests go and easy to complete. 

Pros

  • Straightforward to use

  • Allows you to save test history

Cons

  • Might take some time if you have slow typing skills

  • Requires a smartphone

  • Cost: Free
  • Equipment needed: Smartphone and compatible headphones
  • Results processing time: Instant

This best online hearing test app is a smartphone hearing testing available for iOS and Android smartphones. It was designed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and allows users to regularly test their hearing. Each time you take a test, your results are saved to your profile. 

During the test, you’ll listen to audio and try to identify sounds being spoken. We found the app to be simple to use while taking the test but did note that those who aren’t comfortable typing on a smartphone may have trouble finishing the test in a timely manner. The ability to store data is helpful if you’re tracking your hearing loss over time. And you can even test guest users. 

How Accurate are Online Hearing tests?

The drawback of online hearing tests isn’t necessarily that they aren’t accurate but that they don’t provide a complete evaluation of your hearing. They only test a single component of your hearing.

However, when used correctly, they often accurately assess your ability to hear tones at specific frequencies. One 2018 study involving 22 participants found that self-hearing test apps can accurately assess mild or more significant hearing loss. Another 2019 study involving 112 people found that home hearing tests are a reliable, cost-effective way to determine a person’s pure-tone hearing threshold. 

Unfortunately, while at-home hearing tests may be able to tell people they have hearing loss, not everyone seeks help after the fact. According to research from 2016, only 61% of participants who failed an online hearing test sought follow-up care. 

Online Hearing tests versus In-Office Hearing tests

An online hearing test is a quick and convenient way to assess your ability to hear sounds at certain frequencies. But it’s nowhere near as thorough as an in-office exam. 

“In a comprehensive hearing test performed by an audiologist, there is a component called speech discrimination score, where words like hot dog, baseball, or cowboy are presented to assess whether the brain is processing speech clearly,” explained Dr. Kim. 

This score can help determine whether you might need a hearing aid or cochlear implant, something an online test can’t determine. During an in-person exam, someone will also examine your ear for signs of physical problems, like earwax or tumors, affecting your hearing. 

How to Find a Traditional In-office Hearing test near You

Many hearing aid company websites provide information on where to get in-person testing done. ZipHearing, for example, has a handy hearing professional database. Input your zip code and find a hearing professional near you. 

Why You Can Trust Our Expert Review

Our experts independently research and recommend products we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. Throughout this process, we did the following:

  • Engaged in ongoing independent research
  • Consulted with independent audiologists
  • Mystery shopped the available tests

Bottom Line

Taking an online hearing test is an excellent first step in assessing your hearing. Many people may not want to make an in-person appointment before finding out if they even have hearing loss in the first place. An online test can’t tell you why you’re experiencing hearing loss in the first place, but it’s a start. 

While online hearing tests are pretty similar, they vary slightly in format. We recommend either the Signia or Lively hearing tests for simplicity and ease of use. If you’re short on time, the Phonak test will provide you with results in no time. Miracle-Ear is a good pick for those who think they may have mild hearing loss. 

Eargo offers a tone test that’s a good choice for people who might be in denial about potential hearing loss. For those who want a definite follow-up, Audicus makes sure someone is available to answer your questions and concerns after you’ve taken the test. MDHearing is the best option for getting an online audiogram. And finally, if you want to keep tabs on your hearing over a longer period, the hearWHO app is our pick for long-term testing. 

FAQs

An online hearing test is a test you take on your computer or phone.

“These are very cursory tests that only measure your ear’s ability to hear sound at a certain level or volume of presentation,” Ana Kim, M.D., told Health, Otolaryngologist and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. 

WRITTEN BY

Steph Coelho is a health writer and editor based in Montreal, Canada, who has a passion for health and wellness and an intimate knowledge of living with a chronic illness. She has bylines with Healthline, Everyday Health, and Medical News Today. You can find her on Twitter.