Hear.com is an online hearing care company. The enterprise sells brand name hearing aids along with its own Horizon hearing aid line. Hear.com sells hearing aids via traditional audiologist office partners and directly via tele-audiology appointments with licensed hearing specialist staff. Hear.com recently announced the Horizon Augmented Xperience (AX) hearing aids line that the company claims “boasts an elite, revolutionary sound experience not found in any other hearing devices on the market today.”

Horizon AX hearing aids will be available in three styles: Style, Go, and Mini. According to the release, a behind-the-ear style is available now in multiple colors and in-the-canal versions will appear later this year. The major defining feature supporting the Horizon AX experience is mode selection. There are three listening modes. Speech Focus Mode apparently focuses forward and boosts normal speech frequencies and cancels background noise. Panorama Mode is a 360-degree listening mode to help you stay aware of sounds from every direction. Relax mode shuts down the microphones to cut incoming sound amplification and simultaneously plays ocean sounds.

Except for the relaxing waves sounds, we’ve experienced similar hearing aid listening modes before. We tested Nuheara IQBuds MAX OTC hearing aids with forward and 360-degree sound and ambient “world” sound level control. We also tested Phonak’s Audeo Paradise hearing aids that adjust listening direction dynamically as you go about your day. We didn’t have the opportunity to try the Horizon AX hearing aids for this article, but the company states that it uses two separate processors to differentiate between speech and background noise. Nuheara and Phonak use smartphone apps to adjust listening modes and other settings. Hear mentions a Horizon app that manages hearing care, so presumably that’s how you select and adjust listening modes. Like the Nuheara and Phonak hearing aids, the Horizon AX line supports Bluetooth connections, integrates with Apple iPhones and Android devices, and has rechargeable batteries with a carrying case that holds stores power for additional charges on-the-go.

There are two ways to acquire the new Horizon AX hearing aids. You can work with a traditional audiologist Hear.com partner for testing, fitting, and support. You can also work directly with Hear.com. Hear.com uses a monthly subscription program rather than selling hearing aids directly. If you choose Hear.com’s direct mode, you use online tools and consult with Hear.com hearing care staff to determine which hearing aid is best for you at one of several price points. Once you’ve chosen the hearing aids, Hear.com sends you a Clinic-in-a-Box with everything you need for testing and fine tuning the hearing aids via a Hear.com Tele-Audiology session. The box contains your hearing aids, a tablet set up with the necessary apps, and diagnostic tools to use with the apps and the tablet. According to the Hear.com news release, the Clinic-in-a-Box “is proven to deliver superior outcomes versus in-clinic fittings.” That statement isn’t likely to endear the company to its audiologist partners as it suggests Hear.com would prefer that you buy directly.

There’s not much specific information in the Hear.com news release or on the website about the technology in the Horizon AX hearing aid line. There’s no specific pricing information, either, other than a statement that “Our customers pay between $139-$229 per month over 36 months for a pair of medical grade hearing aid.” That’s a general statement but we don’t know where the Horizon AX hearing aids fall, although it appears they’re at or close to the top of the range.

The Horizon AX hearing aid line sounds promising, but these are exciting times with new developments and technologies from many sources. We suggest that greater transparency about how the various technology features work to back the numerous product benefits statements would be a good idea.