Hearing Aids vs. Hearing Amplifiers

In Hearing Aids by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

Perhaps you have seen a commercial for a hearing amplifier lately. These ads come up time and again, promoting a cheap and easy way to assist your hearing. They promise to do what hearing aids do at a fraction of the cost. Commercials can pop up on daytime television, in mailers, and in big box stores, promoting these devices as a safe, easy, and affordable way to boost your hearing ability. Although these promises are enticing, they are also quite misleading. Hearing amplifiers are quite different from hearing aids, despite their apparent similarity. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between hearing aids and hearing amplifiers. When we raise the hood and take a look at how these devices work, we will find that hearing amplifiers are not only ineffective at supporting your communication, but they can even be dangerous to your future hearing. Our professional hearing services are the safest and most effective way to improve your communication ability.

What are Hearing Amplifiers?

As opposed to hearing aids, hearing amplifiers are simple devices that raise the volume on the world. Although that basic function might seem like enough to support you, most who try hearing amplifiers are quite disappointed with the results. These devices use a similar technology to hearing aids. They use a microphone to capture acoustic sound in the air, transform it into an electrical signal, raise the volume on that signal, and then transform it once again into sound that you can hear through tiny speakers. Some of the older models use headphones, but the latest models look something like hearing aids, sitting in the ears like wireless earbuds. 

The Problems with Hearing Amplifiers

From this perspective, it might seem like hearing amplifiers are sufficient to care for your hearing needs. Although these devices can make sound louder, they do so uniformly, with no attention to the differences in the environment or in your hearing ability. In the first case, the world is full of background noise and other sounds that make it difficult to understand speech. When hearing amplifiers raise the sound on the world, they elevate the volume of background noise at the same time as human speech. Although others’ voices might sound louder, so will all the other sounds in the room. The competing presence of very loud background noise can be confusing and exhausting. Particularly when there are multiple speakers in the room, all the voices will sound as if they are coming from the same place and at the same volume. This confusion is counterproductive for improving the quality of your communication. The other main problem with hearing amplifiers is the possibility to further damage your hearing. As opposed to hearing aids that raise the volume only on sounds that are difficult for you to hear, hearing amplifiers can blast high volumes into your ears for sounds that you are already able to hear. Take, for instance, a person who has trouble hearing in the mid-high frequency range where speech happens. This person might have no problem at all hearing lower frequencies, such as the sound of a passing semi-truck. Hearing amplifiers can raise those lower frequencies to such a high level that they actually cause further hearing loss due to noise exposure in those specific ranges of sound. Rather than supporting your individual needs, they can make matters even worse.

The Benefits of Hearing Aids

As opposed to hearing amplifiers, hearing aids are tailored to your individual hearing needs. Our hearing health professionals will perform a hearing test to determine which range of sound is particularly difficult for you to hear. The latest hearing aids are also effective at reducing background noise and isolating the sound of a voice closest to you, enabling better communication and protecting your hearing ability. If you need hearing assistance, don’t delay contacting our hearing health professionals for a hearing test. We will use that diagnosis to find the right hearing aids for your needs, and the benefits of professional treatment for hearing loss far outweigh the costs of the aids. We are here to help you on the way to safe and effective treatment for hearing loss, so don’t delay giving us a call.