A mild hearing loss does not in most cases require an expensive pair of hearing aids. The good news is that you can buy affordable top rated hearing amplifiers at a much lower cost than hearing aids.
Many seniors suffer in silence simply because they are afraid of the cost of acquiring a hearing aid or are in denial about their condition. Consequently, they continue to push a visit to the doctor further and further to the “back burner”. This certainly affects their quality of life. The question is why anyone should suffer this way?
How Do I Know that I Am Truly Experiencing Hearing Loss?
Because hearing loss is a gradual process, it can sometimes go unnoticed for a long period of time. Age related hearing loss generally begins at around age 40, with about 49% of people being affected, with this increasing to about 80% by age 59 (NIDCD 2012 , Resnick, S et al. 2014)
More than 60% of Americans over age 70 have significant hearing loss, with only a tiny fraction of those who need hearing aids selecting to buy them (New York Times 2016)
People with uncorrected hearing loss, have a three-fold risk of suffering falls, broken bones, and a reduced quality of life because of depression and social isolation. (Lin F & Ferruci L, 2012).
So What is the Difference Between A Hearing Amplifier (PSAP)and a Hearing Aid?
An electronic amplifier is an electronic device that can increase the power of a signal (a time-varying voltage or current). Hearing amplifiers (also known as personal sound amplification products – PSAP) make all the sounds in an environment louder. They are good for anyone who just wants to hear things louder. The FDA however, does not recognize them as medical devices.
Audiologists do not prescribe hearing amplifiers or any product that is not FDA-regulated to treat hearing loss.
In essence, hearing amplifiers can be likened to over-the-counter devices you can buy to enhance and amplify sounds you can hear around you. Buying a PSAP without doing some research is not recommended. Fortunately, you are already doing so since you reading this article. Furthermore, target users typically should have mild hearing loss.
Consider the following factors prior to selecting a brand to buy
- your lifestyle,
- physiology of your ear and canal,
- technology needs – why you need them,
- ease of use and
- your budget.
This article provides you with some top-rated hearing amplifiers in a quick comparative review. More detailed reviews can be found under the Review section of this website. Formally, many hearing amplifiers did not have noise canceling, but advancement in technology have addressed this.
A hearing aid is a device designed to improve hearing by making sound audible to a person with hearing loss. Hearing aids are classified as medical devices, are regulated by the FDA to ensure patient safety, and need to be fitted by an audiologist or hearing aid specialist.
Hearing aids are programmable medical devices that treat hearing loss. These medical devices must be programmed by licensed professionals based on an individual’s audiogram.
Make sure you clearly understand the differences. Why? Some manufacturers refer to their devices in the description as both a hearing aid AND a hearing amplifier. This can be confusing. For emphasis, only hearing aids receive regulatory approval and are programmable.
Do I Need a Hearing Aid or Hearing Amplifier (PSAP)?
The only way to find out which of these devices you need is to get your hearing tested, especially if you have difficulty understanding conversation or find yourself constantly increasing the volume on the television to near maximum.
Your hearing ability is specific to you, so your hearing loss will also be unique. A hearing test conducted by an audiologist or hearing aid specialist will provide details of your hearing ability. These results are plotted on a chart (audiogram) to help visualize and interpret your hearing ability.
The results also serve as a prescription. An audiologist or hearing aid specialist uses it to customize your hearing aids to your specific needs.
When a hearing aid is not prescribed (such as a hearing amplifier), it is still best practice to get an annual hearing evaluation. Firstly, this can help eliminate any serious underlying condition. Furthermore, it can help in the selection of an appropriate amplifier. This test will also detect if changes have occurred in hearing ability that may now require a fitted hearing aid.
Top-Rated Hearing Amplifiers
The marketplace is saturated with all kinds of hearing amplifiers – all with different specifications which can be confusing. There are only a handful of top-rated hearing amplifiers. We have waded through a mountain of products to provide you with some online top-rated consumer product reviews .
Note that while every effort was made to ensure consistency in the criteria used for comparison, some products were lacking in manufacturer detail about their weight or warranties.
A roundup overview is provided below.
TOP RATED HEARING AMPLIFIERS – HEADPHONE STYLE
1. Sonic SUPEREAR Plus SE7500 Personal Sound Amplifier with Case, Headphones and Discreet Earbuds
- Laboratory Tested. 5 Year Limited Warranty
- Product Weight: Unspecified
- Batteries: 2 P76 batteries required (Included) & Provide up to 80 hours operation
- Headphones are compatible with SuperEar Sanitary Disposable Earpad Covers
- Convenient, Stylish Carrying Case easily clips to pocket or belt. Volume Control on Unit.
- Lightweight, Unobtrusive Earbuds or Stereo Headphones increase sound 50+ Decibels
- Can be used for mild hearing loss? YES
TOP RATED HEARING AMPLIFIERS – CONTEMPORARY STYLE
2. BANGLIJIAN Rechargeable Asistive Listening Device for Seniors,Adults Right (Red) and Left (Blue) Ear (SOLD SEPARATELY)
- I Year Warranty
- Batteries : 1 Lithium Polymer batteries required. (included)
- Rechargeable : No. Included 8 batteries Size 312 ; Battery Life – 8 hours a day for 14 days
- Number of ear domes: 12
- Product Weight: 8 g
- Digital Noise reduction
- Can be used for mild, moderate, severe, very severe hearing loss? YES
3. BANGLIJIAN Sound Amplifier Rechargeable with 4 Channels Layered Noise Reduction, Adaptive Feedback Cancellation
- 3 year Warranty, Free Repair and Replacements
- Product Weight: 3.7 g
- Battery run time is 20-24 hours
- Rechargeable – USB Charging
- Noise Reduction
- SlimTube – For both ears; for people with glasses
- Thick tube – For both ears, adjustable length
- Number of Ear domes: 15
- Can be used for mild hearing loss? YES
TOP RATED HEARING AMPLIFIERS – TRADITIONAL STYLE
4. FIILS Super Mini Ear Sound Enhancer Noise Reduction Feedback Cancellation Suitable for Adults – Right and Left Ear (SOLD SEPARATELY)
- Product Dimension: 1.8 x 1.2cm
- Batteries : One Lithium ion battery included
- Warranty: Unspecified
- Color : Red for Right Ear, Blue for Left Ear – SOLD SEPARATELY
- Comfort Threshold Control
- Automatic Gain Control Output for Hearing Protection
- Comes with 3 different size domes to fit varying ear sizes
- Can be used for mild hearing loss? YES
TOP RATED HEARING AMPLIFIERS – BLUETOOTH STYLE
5. JINGHAO Hearing Aids Rechargeable Sound Amplifiers with USB Charging Case in The Ear Hearing Assist Looks Like Bluetooth Earbud, 1 Pair(White)
- Batteries : 1 Lithium ion battery required (included)
- Fashionable – looks like Bluetooth Earbud (1 Pair)
- 1 year warranty
- For Mild hearing loss – YES
- Rechargeable – USB charging / Portable charging case
- Noise reduction
If you have very mild hearing loss, use of a hearing amplifier can be beneficial as you possibly do not want to expend several hundreds or thousands of dollars on a programmable hearing aid. BUT it is recommended, and best practice, to have a professional hearing test done prior to going out to purchase an amplifier. This is to rule out the presence of any medical indications. Without a hearing test, you could risk worsening your mild hearing loss.
There is a mountain of hearing amplifiers that may be purchased online. Some are more popular than others, but there are generally only a handful of top rated hearing amplifiers that consumers have found useful for mild hearing loss.
When searching for hearing amplifiers, you really have to be on guard about the difference between a hearing aid and a hearing amplifier as some manufacturers use those terms interchangeably. Some hearing amplifiers are also advertised as ” FDA approved”. This tends to murky the waters. Remember – Only hearing aids are certified and approved by the FDA and are programmable to individual needs.
Susan Resnick et al (2014) Hearing Loss Linked to Accelerated Brain Tissue Loss https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_accelerated_brain_tissue_loss_
Frank Lin & Luigi Ferruci (2012) Hearing Loss Linked to Three-Fold Risk of Falling https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_three_fold_risk_of_falling
New York Times A Push for Less Expensive Hearing Aids (2016) https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/15/health/a-push-for-less-expensive-hearing-aids.html
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders – NIDCD (2012) https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/age-which-hearing-loss-begins