Personal sound amplifiers can boost environmental noise and make it easier to hear other people, while also picking up noises from the TV and other sources. They typically contain many different features and settings and can suit a range of different users.
These hearing devices won’t work for everyone and will likely provide no benefits to users with complete hearing loss, so keep this in mind as you browse this guide to the best personal hearing amplifiers.
Hearing Aids Vs. Sound Amplifiers
It has been estimated that over half of all seniors above 75 have some form of hearing loss. However, the actual number may be much higher, as many seniors don’t seek treatment for hearing loss. They either don’t realize they have a problem or they are reluctant to admit it.
Instead, they may choose to increase the volume on the TV, blame everyone for “mumbling,” and insist that the world is just very quiet. A lot of this stubbornness is because they don’t want to admit that they have a problem and their hearing isn’t what it used to be. In many cases, though, seniors simply hate wearing hearing aids.
They can be uncomfortable, intrusive, and expensive, which is why experts suggest that close to 30 million Americans can benefit from them, but fewer than 4 million actually use them.
Hearing amplifiers are much cheaper than hearing aids and they are also somewhat effective. However, even the best personal sound amplifier can’t replace a tailormade hearing aid. The former is designed to enhance all noise, including unnecessary background noise, while the latter is designed to meet the specific needs of the wearer.
Obviously, hearing aids are better and if you have a serious hearing problem and your budget allows, they should always be your first choice. However, if you just need a little support or don’t have the spare cash, hearing amplifiers are much better than nothing.
To give you an idea of the cost of these hearing devices, many of the amplification devices outlined below cost between $20 and $100, with some exceptions. Hearing aids, however, rarely cost less than $1,000 and can cost over $5,000.
What to Consider When Buying a Hearing Amplifier
Before buying a personal hearing amplifier for yourself or a loved one, keep the following tips and recommendations in mind.
- Think About the User: If you’re buying a hearing device for a loved one, be sure to consult them or choose something that that will actually like and wear. Many of these devices are bought for elderly parents who have moderate hearing loss. Children insist that they wear it and these orders are followed for a few days or weeks, but only when the children are present. After that, the devices are discarded and forgotten about like so many unwanted gifts before them. Don’t buy something that will go the same way. Consult with them, discuss their options, and get something they like.
- Comfort: How comfortable is the device? As noted above, many seniors reject hearing aids because they are uncomfortable and awkward. If they have the same issues with the sound amplifier, they won’t wear that either.
- Quality: Cheap doesn’t mean bad and expensive doesn’t mean great, but the price of an item is a good indicator of quality. If it’s suspiciously cheap, it probably won’t work as well as it claims. Read the reviews, check the manufacturer’s reputation, and make sure you’re getting something that is well made and will last for years to come.
The Best Hearing Amplifiers for Seniors
The following personal sound amplification products are available at Amazon.com. We have included them on this list because they are well made, highly rated, and provide good value for the money. However, we can’t guarantee that these products will work for you and we recommend doing some research of your own before hitting that “Buy” button.
Britzgo Digital Hearing Aid Amplifier Bha 220
A sleek and affordable device that promises over 500 hours of battery life on a full charge. It can switch between low and high frequencies with ease and can be adjusted to suit either ear. It’s one of the best over-the-counter hearing aids on the market and is a steal at around $50. You get a 1-year warranty with this device and the company seems to have a good reputation.
We have seen some complaints and bad reviews, but these are dwarfed by the positive comments and we couldn’t find anything to worry about. Many users complain that the device stopped working after a year or two, others seemed to believe that it would restore crystal clear hearing.
In the first instance, these things do happen and it’s not something you can prepare for. The device should last for longer when it is properly maintained, but the best approach is to imagine that you’re paying $50 for a year of improved hearing and anything you get beyond that is a bonus.
As far as the second issue is concerned, these simple devices will not replace tailormade hearing aids and you shouldn’t expect them to.
Etymotic QSA Personal Sound Amplifier
These beautifully stylish earbuds are finished in brushed gold, bronze, or platinum and look like a premium pair of wireless earbuds. They are expensive, costing around $300 for a pair or $200 for a single earbud, but you get a lot of quality for your money and if you’re looking for a compact and stylish amplifier, it’s ideal.
Williams Sound PockeTalker Ultra Duo Sound Amplifier
This device amplifies sound that is closest to the device, making it ideal for watching television or having one-on-one conversations. It features earbuds and headphones, with adjustable tone and volume control. Simply point the microphone at the source of the noise and it will be picked up and directed into the earphones or headset.
Personal Sound Amplifier – Personal Audio Amplifier Device
Sold by an Amazon vendor known as MEDca store, this generic device is very cheap, retailing for less than $30. Based on the customer reviews, it’s not as reliable as the other products on this list, but for such a low price that is to be expected.
If you have a very limited budget, we recommend looking at this particular sound enhancer. It promises an increase of 50 decibels from up to 100 feet away and seems to be rather well designed. Just don’t expect it to compare with premium digital hearing aids and you won’t be too disappointed.
Omker Hearing Amplifier
A simple rechargeable hearing amplifier that is available for around $40. The Omker looks very similar to many other hearing aids being sold on Amazon.com, but it’s one of the cheapest and has some very good reviews. Its small size means it’s easy to wear and not intrusive, and there is a volume control setting to adjust the level of noise.
OTOFONIX Elite Digital Hearing Amplifier with Digital Noise Reduction
A pair of noise cancelling listening devices for seniors with mild to moderate hearing impairments. The OTOFONIX tucks into the ear canal and promises improved sound quality and control, with ten volume levels and 35dB of gain. Background noise and feedback are reduced to deliver a clear sound at all times.
This product has some good reviews and seems to work as promised. The only issue we have is the price. You can buy a right ear or left ear single unit for $199.99 at the time of writing, but that number increases to around $380 for a pair.