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Many people today experience a measure of hearing loss as they age. However, not only elderly ones are affected. Even young ones suffer from ear damage. The causes of hearing loss vary but it is usually a result of being exposed to loud noises. For most people, this happens at work. Others enjoy listening to loud music with headphones. Also, though many aren’t aware of it, smoking can cause hearing loss.
Hearing loss isn’t cool, as many who suffer from it would agree. It can have a big impact on your relationships, work, and emotional well-being. However, those effects can be mitigated or even eliminated with the use of hearing amplifiers. These amplifiers are little electronic devices that amplify sounds to enable you hear them better. They contain a microphone which picks up sounds, an amplifier which makes them louder and a receiver which sends the amplified sounds into your ear.
Though not everyone can benefit from these devices, most people can. Finding the right device can greatly improve the quality of your life. So how can you find the best hearing amplifier that will suit you? First, let’s learn about the different types of hearing amplifiers you can buy.
- 1 Different Types of Hearing Amplifiers
- 2 The Top 5 Hearing Amplifiers You Can Buy
- 3 Other Great Hearing Amplifiers
- 4 What To Look For When Shopping For Hearing Amplifiers
- 5 Conclusion
Different Types of Hearing Amplifiers
If you’re in need of hearing amplifiers, how can you know which type or style to choose? Let’s go over the different types of hearing amplifiers that are available on the market and the pros and cons of each.
Behind The Ear (BTE) Amplifiers
This type of hearing amplifiers are little, versatile units that contain all the hearing technology in a casing that is placed behind the ear. These hearing aids take care of most hearing losses. They’re connected to the ear by means of couplings or via tubes and ear molds.
BTE hearing amplifiers usually have a lot of useful hardware such as telecoils, programme buttons, and volume controls. They are extremely reliable and hardly fail. Thanks to the fact that all the components are housed in a case that is worn behind the ear, wax or moisture from the ear doesn’t get to them. They are also very easy to use and wear.
As for the cons, there aren’t really any downsides to these types of amplifiers. They’re very durable easy to use hearing aids. They’re also quite discreet, though the larger BTEs aren’t the most discreet out there. In all, these types of hearing amplifiers are a great choice.
Custom or ITE (In the Ear) Amplifiers
Custom or ITE hearing aids are custom-made instruments which are designed to fit within the outer part of the ear. They come in different styles, shapes and sizes. Some types of ITE amplifiers are invisible, completely in canal (CIC), full shell and half shell hearing aids.
Invisible hearing aids are amplifiers that fit deeply into the ear canal and thus, cannot be easily seen. Therefore, they are really discreet. Completely in canal amplifiers are also discreet as they’re made to fit into the ear canal completely. A small handle is used to insert and remove the device. They’re good for mild to moderate hearing loss.
As for full shell and half shell hearing aids, the concha or ear bowl is where they reside. They are usually larger than the other types of ITE amplifiers. The half shell aids fill half the concha while the full shell take up the entire ear bowl. These devices have more features, power and controls and bigger battery sizes.
As we’ve seen, custom hearing amplifiers are very discreet. They’re also easy to use and to place in the ear. However, due to their placement in the ear, the components are exposed to ear wax and moisture. The manufacturers do a lot to protect the receivers and the microphones. The best way to ensure longevity of these aids is to clean them regularly. Also, they aren’t suitable for everyone, so you should make sure it’s okay for you to wear them.
Receiver in Canal (RIC)/ Receiver in the Ear (RITE) Amplifiers
These types of hearing aids are relatively new in the market. These amplifiers are devices that have the receivers or speakers in the ear canal. Thin wires connect the receivers to the hearing aid. As a result, these amplifiers are very discreet and basically unnoticeable. They are also very versatile and take care of many types of hearing losses as the receivers can easily be changed.
On the cons side, the receivers are also exposed to the harsh ear environment. So, they have to be taken care of to prevent wax from damaging them. They are also very small devices which means they have small batteries and aren’t the easiest things to handle. Also, for people with certain ear conditions, these devices may not be ideal.
The Top 5 Hearing Amplifiers You Can Buy
Hearing Amplifiers or personal sound amplification products (PSAP) are not hearing aids. They are very similar though, with the main difference being the PSAPs can be purchased directly by consumers without consulting a professional in the hearing healthcare field. Hearing aids, on the other hand, are medical devices that are intended for prescription by healthcare professionals.
The manufacturing of these hearing aids is regulated by the FDA and they’re the recommended solutions for hearing loss problems. However, the main downsides to these aids are their costs which are usually very high and may not be affordable for many. While hearing amplifiers may not perform as well as hearing aids, they can be obtained for much less and can improve your hearing if you get a good one. Here are five of the best hearing amplifiers you can buy:
The LifeEar Cutting Edge Empower Hearing Amplifier is one of the best PSAPs you can buy. It is a hardly visible behind the ear amplifier that gives you clean amplified sound. The LifeEar Digital is a popular product on Amazon with a 4.1 out of 5 stars rating from over 500 reviews.
The Empower BOOST hearing amplifier features dynamic digital amplification and an advanced 12-band processing technology. This boosts frequencies that are associated with voices. This results in crystal clear conversations with background noises suppressed.
One major advantage of the LifeEar Digital is how it fits discreetly behind your ears. It is comfortable and easy to use. It comes with 8 batteries and a 12 month warranty. However, it does not feature directional microphones.
The LifeEar Cutting-Edge Empower hearing amplifier delivers great sound amplification at a very affordable price compared to prescription hearing aids. Thus, if you’re looking to enhance your hearing, this is one of the best personal sound amplification products out there.
The Otofonix Elite Personal Sound Amplifier is another great device. It is also a Behind The Ear hearing amplifier. It features digital noise reduction, 12 band digital sound processing, feedback cancellation, and volume control. It has four preset modes which users can switch between. They are: normal (regular listening), noisy (reduces background noise in noisy places), treble (reduces feedback and high pitched sounds), and quiet (for quiet places; saves battery).
The Otofonix Elite is has a 4.3 out of 5 stars rating from 325 reviews on Amazon. Customers praise the product for its performance and the excellent customer service from Otofonix. The company offers a 30 day trial period for customers to test out the product to see if it suits them. It also comes with a 12 month manufacturers warranty.
Otofonix also offers free live technical support over the phone to customers. If you need a high quality, affordable alternative to expensive hearing aids, the Otofonix Elite is for you.
With a 4.3 out of 5 stars rating from customers on Amazon, the Williams Sound Pocketalker Ultra Amplifier is one of the best personal sound amplifiers, and is loved by many users. The device is great for conversations as it amplifies close sounds and reduces background noise. It is meant to be worn for short periods rather than all the time. All users have to do is plug in the earpiece and position the microphone close to the desired sounds and adjust the volume to the appropriate level.
The Pocketalker Ultra amplifier provides users with the choice between full headphones with the noise-blocking benefits and mini earpieces which are much more discreet. It can be used with hearing aids. On the minus side, the Williams Sound Pocketalker Ultra doesn’t feature feedback cancellation. However, it’s a great device that does its job well, as the hearing amplifiers reviews on Amazon point out.
On the low cost side of the market is where the Britzgo BHA-220 amplifier resides. But its features and performance will make you think you’re using a premium device. This hearing amplifier offers the quality of it’s much more expensive counterparts at fractions of their prices. The Britzgo BHA-220 is a discreet behind the ear amplifier with great battery life. It is adjustable and thus, can fit in either ear.
It also comes with a digital chip and has frequency control which enables it adapt easily to different environments. The amplifiers feature digital noise reduction and are stylishly designed. They are also lightweight and very comfortable. Britzgo offers a 1 year warranty for this product. It has a 4.1 out of 5 stars rating on Amazon. If you need a hearing boost and you aren’t prepared to spend a lot, the Britzgo BHA-220 is the best PSAP hearing device you can buy. Anyhow you look at it, you’ll be getting more than you’re paying for.
Another excellent sound amplification device is the Walker’s Game Ear Elite. This device has a nano technology coating which makes it waterproof so you can use it in any weather condition. It comes with four program settings: general, crowds, nature and power boost. The Game Ear is one of the most powerful hearing amplifiers out there with 50db of hearing enhancement.
It also includes automatic feedback control, volume control, a low battery indicator and an eight band graphic equalizer. It also compresses loud noises to safer levels and gives users the ability to fine tune bass and treble with the Adjustable Frequency Tuning (ATF) feature.
The Walker’s Game Ear Elite hearing amplifier is a top of the line product and has a lot of positive reviews on Amazon with a rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars. Many customers praise it for working as intended and for its noise reduction capabilities and durability.
Other Great Hearing Amplifiers
The five products reviewed above are some of the best personal hearing amplifiers in the market. They’re great alternatives to prescription hearing aids that many can’t afford. They offer similar functionality at much more affordable prices. Here are a few other great amplifiers you may also want to consider:
What To Look For When Shopping For Hearing Amplifiers
We have considered the different types of hearing amplifiers out there and the best ones you can purchase. You must likely have noticed a couple of features that are common to these great products. Let’s consider those features that your hearing amplifier should have.
- Directional Microphone. Directional microphones make it easier to converse in environments with a lot of background noise. They make the sounds from a particular direction louder than the noise from other sides. Most hearing amplifiers that include this feature allow users to switch between this mode and omnidirectional mode. This feature is very useful if you find yourself in a social setting with loud background noises or conversing with someone at a noisy workplace.
- Telecoil. This feature is available on most modern hearing amplifiers. It is a tiny sensor or copper wire placed in the amplifier. It picks up magnetic signals from telephones that are compatible with hearing amplifiers and public address systems and converts the energy into sound. Thus, the hearing amplifier can stream the sounds from the microphones directly into your ears without any background noise. This feature is great for improving sound quality in very noisy places.
- Wax guard. Wax guards protect hearing amplifiers from being damaged by ear wax. For hearing aids that go in the ear or have receivers in the ear canal, this is a must-have feature. However, It will still be important to maintain regular cleaning procedures for your hearing aids.
- Digital feedback reduction. Feedback refers to those loud squealing or whistling noises we hear from microphone setups. It also occurs occasionally with hearing amplifiers. Feedback suppression technology helps quell these unpleasant noises which usually occur when the amplifier is slightly dislodged from the ear of the wearer as a result of jaw movement or when it is close to the telephone.
- Automatic and Manual Volume Control. Automatic volume control is another cool feature to look out for when buying a hearing amplifier. Hearing aids with this feature amplify low sounds to make them louder and prevent loud sounds from being too loud. Thus, you don’t have to worry about manually adjusting the volume. It is also important for hearing amplifiers to have manual volume control, which gives you the ability to adjust the volume until it’s just right for you.
- Digital noise reduction. Amplifiers with this feature eliminate some background noise in noisy environments. This results in greater comfort for the user and improves communication, making it easier to hear and understand what other say. It is worth looking out in hearing amplifiers.
- Other features that make for great hearing amplifiers include: low battery indicators, direct audio input, wireless connectivity between amplifiers, bluetooth technology and frequency shifting technology. You would also want a wearing aid that is discreet if it is suitable for your hearing loss.
- Price is also another factor to consider. The cost of these hearing amplifiers vary depending on the features included and the type. So you should look out for one that suits your budget and solves your hearing loss problem.
We have seen the different types of hearing amplifiers out there and the top personal sound amplification products in the market. We’ve also considered the features you should look out for if you need a hearing amplifier. It may be difficult to choose from the plethora of choices available in the market, but hopefully, this guide has equipped you with the knowledge to make a good decision.It is also helpful to read reviews from customers and keep in mind your circumstances and preferences. If discretion, price or ease of use is at the top of your list of considerations, be sure to look for hearing amplifiers that deliver in those areas. Make a decision and you might well be amazed with the results you can get from a hearing amplifier.