At Ars Technica, Kevin Purdy writes:
A study in the journal iScience suggests that, in some noise situations, AirPods, particularly the Pro model, can work just as well as far pricier prescription-only models.
The AirPods were tested against a $1,500 Bernafon MD1 and a $10,000 OTICON Opn 1. In quiet settings, AirPods Pro helped people hear as well as the Bernafon and nearly as well as the OTICON. The AirPods 2 performed the worst but still helped people hear a human voice better than without using any device.
While I would never recommend that someone experiencing hearing loss rely on a pair of AirPods Pro instead of seeing a healthcare professional, this small study gives some support to using Live Listen if you need a little boost to hear better. I must also note that, even before the advent of the AirPods, Jeff Porten suggested a similar technique over a decade ago in “iOS Hearing Aids… or, How to Buy Superman’s Ears” (8 February 2011). The next question is how the AirPods Pro stack up against the inexpensive over-the-counter hearing aids that are starting to appear.