Purchasing a hearing amplifier requires considering several important factors. Hearing amplifiers differ from hearing aids, which are designed for those individuals who suffer from hearing loss. If you suspect you have a hearing problem, consult your physician. Using a hearing amplifier in place of a hearing aid could delay a proper diagnosis and may worsen any existing health condition. Amplifiers are meant for non-hearing-impaired individuals who want to improve their hearing in certain situations, like sporting events, lectures, theater performances and other public events.
Manufacturers produce hearing amplifiers in three primary styles. The first is similar to a classic hearing aid with a plastic case that rests behind the ear and connects to an earpiece. Another option resembles a Bluetooth device, consisting of a plastic component that clips to the ear. The third style looks like a traditional MP3 player and consists of a small handheld device connected to a headset or earbuds. These handheld models often feature LED screens and are easier to manipulate and control than their smaller, earpiece competitors.
Basic hearing amplifiers may cost as little as $10, while higher-end devices may retail for $300 or more. Aside from advanced features, the higher-end models possess a durability not found in the cheaper devices. Consider the hearing amplifier's construction, including its weight and the strength of its components, before purchasing.
Hearing amplifiers run on small internal batteries that may or may not be rechargeable. Some inexpensive models may not even allow for installing replacement batteries. When comparing amplifier models, check if the batteries can be replaced, the types of batteries used and the expected battery life. High-end amplifiers often feature rechargeable batteries that boast up to 15 hours of life on a single charge.
Hearing amplifiers provide different gains, or amplification, in different frequency ranges. Most human speech occurs between roughly 1000 and 2000 hertz, so favor amplifiers that provide amplification within that frequency range. If the hearing amplifier has significant gain below that frequency, voices may sound muddled and distorted.
Check the hearing amplifier's maximum saturation sound pressure level, which measures the loudest sound the device can produce. Look for a rating of 135 decibels or less. Any noise at 140 db or higher can damage the ear and cause pain. If the device were to ever malfunction, you want to be able to remove it before suffering any potential hearing loss. Also, consider the device's equivalent input noise level, which is the amount of noise the device makes during general operation. An input noise level higher than 30 db may hinder performance.
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