August 05, 2016

Hearing Amplifiers That Work Almost as Well as More Expensive Hearing Aids

CS50+ High End Hearing Amplifier
In my last blog, I argued that hearing amplifiers are not safe to use in patients with hearing loss. In fact, such hearing amplifiers can potentially cause further hearing loss given indiscriminate amplification of sound frequencies where hearing loss may be minimal/absent.

Given that caveat, there are a new breed of high-end amplifiers that approach the quality and safety of hearing aids. Such high-end hearing amplifiers typically run $300+, can be purchased over-the-counter (i.e., Amazon), and distinguish themselves from the low-end amplifiers in several key ways. Unlike low-end amplifiers which simply turn up the volume regardless of what type of hearing loss a person has and regardless of the sound environment (loud restaurant versus library), high-end amplifiers try to:

• Adjust the sound amplification based on what type of hearing loss you have. Typically, a hearing screening is performed through a smartphone. (Essentially, your smartphone is performing a hearing test.)
• The smartphone than adjusts the hearing amplifier sound output based on the results of the hearing screening (thereby minimizing risk of hearing damage to frequencies that hear better/normally).
• Finally, the device allows the user to select the sound environment such that hearing is optimized. For example, through a smartphone app, one can choose a setting for "movie theater" versus "restaurant" versus "library".

If you think about it, these are the exact same elements that make a hearing aid.... well, a hearing aid.

However, all these elements are driven by the user instead of a professional hearing specialist. Furthermore, such hearing amplifiers, even if high-end still fall short of the sound quality provided by a good hearing aid.

In any case, which are some of these high-end hearing amplifiers you can purchase directly? Check these out...

• Soundhawk
• CS50+
• Bean T-Coil


Low-End Hearing Amplifiers (just as an FYI that should be avoided)

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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