To find the best hearing amplifiers of 2020, we have researched more than 60 of the devices that are currently available. This meant reading every consumer review, the sales copy, and numerous FAQ pages. As well as the manufacturer’s responses to users questions that were made publicly available on review sites and in forums.
After all our research, one device stood head and shoulders over the others – the Empower BOOST Hearing Amplifier. Below is a summary of the top five contenders, plus a little extra information to help you to better understand why the BOOST ended up being our recommendation.
Our favorite hearing amplifier for the hearing impaired: Empower BOOST
We are positive, that right now, the best hearing amplifier for those with most types hearing loss is the Empower BOOST. It offers the best combination of usability, technology, and affordability that is currently available. Something that is not surprising given the fact that it is Doctor and Audiologist designed.
This is a very small hearing amplifier, which makes it easy to keep out of sight, should you want to do so. You will also be delighted to know that this hearing aid uses a lot less power than most do. Therefore, you do not have to constantly change the batteries.
Users benefit from twelve-band digital sound processing and Wide-Dynamic-Range Compression (WDRC). Technology that ensures it is the conversation you hear loudest rather than the background noise.
Its adaptive feedback canceling and layered noise reduction work together to create a crisp clear sound. While output limiting ensures that loud noises are not over-amplified, so you will not jump out of your skin when a car door slams.
The support is good too. You will find the Empower Hearing Solutions team responsive. They will be happy to guide you through setting each device up to suit your hearing loss and the environments you want to use it in.
There are other hearing amplifiers that seem to do the same, but the reviews tell us that the Empower BOOST is the one that actually delivers. It is consistently better than the rest and its price point ensures that you get great value for money. If you want to learn more about the Empower Boost, click here to read our full review.
Buying tip: If you see this device advertised for under $300 you are getting a fantastic deal. It sometimes retails for as much as $549.
[amazon box=”B075X25YKJ” title=”Empower BOOST Hearing Amplifier” description_items=”2″]
The Otofonix Elite Digital Hearing Amplifier
This doctor-designed, audiologist tested, hearing amplifier is another good choice. It has lots of really positive reviews, but, right now, costs a bit more than our favorite the Empower BOOST. Should the price drop, it is well worth considering. There is very little to choose between these two devices.
Users of this device have 10 volume levels and 4 pre-set programs to choose from. This level of flexibility makes it possible for most users to find a set-up that works for them.
It is a 12-band, 4-channel unit that really does pull speech out of the barrage of sound most people are faced with in their everyday lives. The built-in noise reduction and feedback canceling work in tandem to produce a reasonably clean sound.
When you buy the kit, you get two different length ear tubes, 3 sets of open domed and one set of closed dome ear tips. This makes it much easier to get the fit right, which is important for comfort, especially if you are going to wear it all day.
Included in the deal are a very generous 45-day money back guarantee and a 12-month warranty. Plus, you get lifelong phone and email support.
Click here to read a full review of the Otofonix Elite or purchase using the button below.
[amazon box=”B01H99L6MA” title=”Otofonix Elite Digital Hearing Amplifier” description_items=”4″]
A device for people with sensitive ears: Pocketalker Ultra 2.0
Not everyone gets on with behind-the-ear devices. Some people cannot find one to fit their ear. Others find them irritating to wear.
This is clearly something that Williams Sound, the creators of the Pocketalker had in mind. Their device is an omnidirectional microphone that can be attached to either a pair of headphones or, if preferred, ear-buds.
The user simply turns the microphone to face towards the sound they want to hear. This approach is especially good for one on one conversation. In fact, it is so good at in this situation that many physicians now have a set in their surgery to help them to communicate effectively with older people who do not wear another form of hearing amplifier. From the reviews, it was clear that people also liked using the extension cord to place the microphone close to other sound sources like the TV.
It has the added advantage of costing about half what traditional behind-the-ear hearing amplifiers do. However, the reviews were quite mixed for this product. Some people loved it others found it a too awkward to use. But, for some it is the right answer, so we have included it in our top five possibilities.
[amazon box=”B0161LU5YM” title=”Pocketalker Ultra 2.0″ description_items=”4″]
An interesting new hearing enhancer: iHear Max Definition
The nature of this market means that there are always new products being released. We do our best to keep up with this, so we can watch how well they sell and gradually find out what users think of these new devices. Researching new devices is always interesting and informative and every now and again we uncover one that looks particularly promising. The iHear Max Definition certainly falls into that category.
This hearing amplifier was launched in 2016 and features several new innovations. The most important of which is the ability to program it at home. It comes with award-winning software and a home use hearing screener that is the first to be approved by the FDA. Using this, users should be able to set the device up properly to fit in with their level of hearing loss. This tackles the biggest issue people have when buying Over the Counter (OTC) hearing amplifiers.
Importantly, this device comes with a 45-day money back guarantee. Plus, you get access to the support desk as part of the deal.
This device is definitely one to watch. As more people buy it we will learn more about how good this innovative hearing amplifier is for the average user.
[amazon box=”B01MYVG3JI” title=”iHear Max Definition” description_items=”4″]
A low-budget hearing amplifier: Britzgo BHA-220
Nobody wants to spend thousands on a hearing aid, which is why many people try out cheaper hearing amplifiers first. These are typically priced at around $300 to $400. However, for some people, this can still be far too expensive.
So, when we found the Britzgo BHA-220 we were really pleased. It is very affordable, yet unlike many other really cheap hearing amplifiers, it had excellent reviews.
Now, we are not saying that this is the perfect hearing enhancer. As you would expect for that price, it has its issues. For example, it is not very good at picking out voices from the background noise. It has Active Digital Noise reduction, but clearly, it is not that effective. But, some users found it to be exactly what they needed. Plus, even those who said it was not perfect still felt it was very good for the money.
The one thing everyone loved, aside from the price, was the long battery life. Provided you use the genuine German batteries they recommend you really can get 500 hours of use out of each one.
We have included it here, because we want to help everyone, regardless of their budget, to tackle their hearing loss. There is no doubt that some sort of aid is better than nothing at all. Plus, the Britzgo is far better than the majority of the cheap devices. As a result, it makes our list.
[amazon box=”B0194OSS4C” title=”Britzgo BHA-220″ description_items=”4″]
Time to decide for yourself
So, those are the five devices that peaked our interest or stood out from the crowd, this year. Now it is your turn to decide whether you go with our recommendation or choose one of the others.
If you are still not sure after reading this article just read on a little further. We promise that once you have things will become even clearer, enabling you to make your final decision.
What to Consider When Buying an Audio Amplifier
To recap hearing amplifiers can help those with mild hearing loss to hear more clearly in many situations. If you want to buy one we suggest you bear the following in mind when making your choice.
- Whether the hearing device is suitable for the situations you plan to use it in
- What the reviews say
- Whether you can program and adjust the amplifier
- Your budget is a factor, but always buy the best you can afford
- Ease of use. If the buttons are small and fiddley it will be a problem
What is a Hearing Amplifier?
As the name indicates a hearing amplifier enhances sound. It literally magnifies sound. When wearing one, you will find that your hearing experience is greatly enhanced as you can now hear sounds from all frequencies that were previously inaudible. Personal hearing amplifiers are also known as sound amplifiers and you will often find the two terms used interchangeably on the web.
They are easy to use, easy to remove, maintain and keep clean. The best ones are completely invisible, so no one need know that you are wearing one.
How do Sound Amplifiers Work?
The way they work is very similar to a microphone – picking up on surrounding noise and feeding it through to a tiny speaker. However, they have much greater range and are small enough to sit comfortably behind and in the ear.
An amplifier does not work in the same way as a medical grade haring aid. It amplifiers all sound and has less calibration options than a hearing aid.
Medical grade hearing aids amplify specific frequencies of sound. If you have lost the ability to hear high frequency sounds a medical grade hearing aid can be calibrated to pick up those sounds. An amplifier will enhance sound across the entire spectrum. This means that you will end up hearing background noise as well as what you are trying to listen to.
This short youtube video sums up the key differences between a sound amplifier and a hearing aid.
Who are Hearing Amplifiers Suitable for?
The fact that they pick up the full spectrum of sound means that this kind of hearing aid is not suitable for everyone. They are usually not as powerful as full-blown hearing aids. This means that if you have lost virtually all of your hearing a simple amplifier is not going to help you much.
For this reason, we recommend to all of our readers that they speak to their doctor about their hearing loss. It is important to understand what is behind your hearing loss and we recommend getting an audiometric test done. This will help you to determine whether an audio or sound amplifier can help you. Hearing amplifiers are not the same as hearing aids. It is very important to understand that they are not medical devices, and you should never buy one from someone who tries to tell you that a hearing amplifier is the same as a hearing aid.
However, that said they are helpful devices provided you use them for the right reason and in the right way. People with mild hearing loss can really benefit from using them.
Do Sound Amplifiers Enhance Hearing In Every Environment?
Most of our readers use hearing amplifiers for occasional use. Popular uses include going to church or the theater. In this situation there is not a huge amount of background noise, so the fact amplifiers enhance background noise is not an issue. You can hear the sermon or the people on the stage.
Many people also use them for watching TV or listening to music. It means that you can turn the TV down to a normal level. This means that you do not have to disturb everyone else in the house when you watch the TV.
Using them outdoors can be problematic. For example, you would not want to use one while at a sporting event or on a windy day. The sound of the crowd or the wind is likely to be too intrusive.
Some people say they get used to the fact background noises are enhanced and learn to tune this out. It takes a few weeks to learn how to do this, but if you can do so, it may be possible for you to use your amplifier in more places and social situations.
People report mixed results when making phone calls. Some experience feedback and cannot hear well, whilst others get on fine when using a landline or mobile phone.
Explanation of the key features of hearing amplifiers
While doing our research, it became clear what features are important to users and what things irritated them about some of the devices they had previously owned. Below is our summary of the features you need to check out and why they are important to you, as a user.
Noise cancellation – you really want to buy a hearing device that has some sort of noise cancellation built in. This technology helps to reduce feedback issues.
The number of bands and customization – the number of bands a hearing amplifier has is surprisingly important. A band basically controls the volume of an individual sound frequency.
When hearing deteriorates some frequencies become hard to hear, while others are more or less OK. Everyone´s hearing is different, so what you are looking for is a device that offers you the flexibility to adjust the volume of some of these frequencies. The more bands there are and the more they can be adjusted the more likely it is that you will find a configuration that will work for you. A two-band device may be adequate for some people, but if your hearing loss is more complex a 12-band device is a far better bet.
The number of channels and speech definition – channels also play a role in how easy it is to fine-tune the device. Hearing amplifiers with several channels are able to be adjusted more. This makes it possible to screen out loud noises like doors slamming and enhance the sounds related to speech. It is this that makes it possible for you to still be able to hear a conversation in a crowded bar.
A range of ear tip sizes – the way a hearing device sits in the ear is important for two reasons. Firstly, most people are going to be wearing the device for around 14 hours per day. Therefore, it has to be comfortable. In addition, if the device does not sit in the ear correctly there is a bigger chance of feedback and static.
Having access to the right size ear tips is important when it comes to getting the fit right. So, you should always look for devices that offer a range of different size ear tips. If you are petite you need to be particularly careful about this.
Interchangeable ear tubes – ear tubes are the part of the device that runs from the amplifier that sits between the mechanism at back of the ear and the tip that sits deep in the ear canal. If the tubes are too long or too short the device will not sit properly in the ear. This will make it uncomfortable to wear and it can also have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the hearing amplifier. They will also be uncomfortable if they are not flexible enough.
Battery life – battery life is not something many of us gives that much thought to, but you really should. Hearing aid batteries are tiny, so they are fiddly and awkward to change. Plus, of course, batteries cost money. If you have to change yours every day or two the cost soon mounts up.
Audiologist designed – there is no doubt that those devices that are designed, at least in part, by an experienced audiologist have the edge.
Proper customer support – no matter how good the device is that you buy, in all likelihood, you are going to need some sort of help to set it up. We have lost count of the number of times people have said in reviews they could not get their device to work, but were then helped to do so by other users and support workers. If there is no evidence of a responsive customer support team, usually, you are best off buying elsewhere.
Money-back guarantee – hearing amplifiers are not cheap and there is no one size fits all device. Therefore, even after extensive research, you can still end up misunderstanding what you are buying and make a mistake. If that happens, you need to be able to send it back and get a full refund. So, before buying, it is wise to double check that there is a money-back guarantee available and thoroughly read the terms and conditions.
A good warranty – once you have got your hearing amplifier up and running it should continue to work well for several years. However, things can still occasionally go wrong, so it is wise to check that there is a warranty and understand its terms.
Our favorite hearing amplifier for adults: Empower BOOST hearing amplifier
Looking at the features above you can see that there are a lot of boxes that need ticking before buying a behind-the-ear amplifier. You only need one of the above features to be missing or not very well designed to have significant difficulties. When that happens, your new hearing device will end up making you more frustrated instead of helping you to live your life.
The Empower BOOST has all of the features that you need and they all work well. Importantly, this firm has an excellent track record when it comes to support and development. They have just re-branded from LifeEar to Empower Hearing Solutions. As LifeEar, they sold tens of thousands of their hearing amplifiers and improved the lives of the vast majority of their customers.
Whether you are looking for just one amplifier or you want to wear one in each ear the Empower BOOST is the best option, right now. This firm has a long track record and most people get on well with this brand and model. So, all you need to do now is to click the link and buy one.
[amazon box=”B075X25YKJ” title=”Empower BOOST Hearing Amplifier” description_items=”2″]