Consumers are bombarded with advertisements for hearing amplifiers in newspapers, magazines, mail and on internet. The ads promise great hearing at a cost sometimes as low as $19.95!
These inexpensive hearing amplifiers are, for the most part, fairly rudimentary devices. Their primary purpose is to receive sound through their microphones and amplify it through relatively simple circuitry.
They are not designed to replace the sophistication and performance of digital hearing aids. There is a great deal of functionality in hearing aids such as noise suppression, feedback avoidance, and wind reduction, to name a few, which are not addressed with hearing amplifiers.
While these types of amplifiers may be readily available for order on the internet, from newspapers and from direct mail notifications, as well for purchase at discount retail stores such as Wal- Mart, they do not represent the reproduction of sound found in hearing aids. Hearing aid devices are designed to be individually fit for a patient’s hearing loss and listening environment. They are custom fit based on a patient’s hearing evaluation. Buyer beware. You are not comparing apples to apples. It is more akin to comparing apples to lemons and one should not spend good money after bad.
It is very important to understand that, unlike hearing aids, these devices are NOT regulated by the FDA and are NOT true hearing devices.
The purpose of a hearing amplifier is very simply to make sounds louder. But we all know that most times louder is not better; louder is not clearer. Often times simply “louder” is not only insufficient amplification but also is uncomfortable amplification. Hearing amplifiers are mass produced hardware that do not have individually programmed features. Hearing aids come standard with sound limiters and filters that prevent further hearing damage. The cheap devices come with a pre-set range of volume and have the potential to damage your hearing!
The objective of a hearing instrument fitting is to find the appropriate acoustic gain at the necessary frequency response to afford a patient the most effective and comfortable amplification of sound. The most critical part of dispensing amplification devices is the audiologist who is programming and fitting the products. Even a basic hearing aid will deliver a healthier and more natural listening experience. It is worth the investment!
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