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Personal Sound Amplification Products – PSAP’s

You’ve probably seen many ads for listening devices that look just like hearing aids……but sell for about $20!  If you haven’t, just do a search for “hearing aids” on Amazon.  You will see hundreds of devices called “hearing amplifier,” ”sound amplifier,” ” “hearing device,” “hearing enhancement,” etc.  The general term for these devices is Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAP’s).  To learn how they differ from hearing aids, please see my blog post, “When is a hearing aid not a hearing aid?

On Amazon, you will see products ranging from $4.99 – $570 including the very creative “Ear Glasses” for $9.95.  This “high tech” product  consists of two plastic half domes that go behind your ears to capture the sound.  🙂

Ear Glasses 2Ear Glasses

But, seriously, I wouldn’t consider any ear-level amplification product for under $200.  The cheap ones just amplify everything, including background noise, and have very poor sound quality.  However, there are some PSAP’s that have good reviews and at least two brands that include a t-coil.  All the products below claim to use “high-definition digital sound processing” which helps distinguish speech sounds from background noises.  They all offer a trial period and full refund if you are not satisfied, so no harm in trying them out.  I plan to sample some of them, but would really love to receive feedback from anyone who has tried these or similar devices.  Just leave a comment below.

Here is a list of some of the more reputable PSAP’s.  Please note, I am not recommending any of these products.  I am just gathering information and reporting on what I have found.  I recommend purchasing hearing aids from an audiologist, but if you can’t afford it or do not want to spend the money, I think a PSAP is better than doing nothing about your hearing loss.  Before making a purchase, I suggest browsing the websites for more information and calling customer service to learn more about the products.

1.  Etymotic QSA Bean – Retails at $479/each or $858/pair, but currently offering an introductory special at $375/700 (no t-coil). http://www.qsabean.com/buy-now/qsa-bean/
1-888-389-6684 (8:00 – 5:30 CST)
www.qsabean.com   Also available at Amazon.com.
30-day return policy; 1-year warranty.
2 models – the Bean and the T-coil Bean.  The Bean has 2 volume settings.
The T-coil Bean has 1 volume setting and a t-coil setting.  The T-coil Bean is expected to be on the market by the end of November.  No directional mic.

bean 2

2.  Able Planet Personal Amplifiers – $475 – $500/each
1-877-266-1979 (M-F 8:00 – 5:00 MST)
http://hearinghealth.ableplanet.com/personal-sound-amplifiers.html
30-day return policy; 1-year warranty.
In-the-ear model and behind-the-ear model.  None of them have a t-coil.
Sold online and at Brookstone online.  Brookstone sells an extended warranty.
4 preset programs and a volume control.  No directional mic.

Able Planet                   Able Planet smaller

3.  RCA Symphonix – $200 – $300 each
1-888-225-2644 (M-F 9:00 – 5:30 EST)
http://www.rcasymphonix.com
30-day return policy; 6-month limited warranty
Sold online and in Radio Shack stores.
2 models – one is rechargeable; No t-coil.
3 preset programs and a volume control.  No directional mic.

RPSA10_TH

       Symphonix Rechargeable

4.  CS 10 Bluetooth Personal Amplifier – $300 each
1-855-792-0117 (8:30 – 4:30 CST)
http://www.soundworldsolutions.com
30-day return policy; 1-year warranty.
3 preset programs and a volume control.  Has omnidirectional and directional mic.  Preset programs amplify different frequencies and you can program it yourself using an Android smart phone or computer with Bluetooth.
Uses a custom battery that lasts about 9 hours.  If using the Bluetooth feature, will last fewer hours, but comes with 2 rechargeable batteries.
CS10 2

5.  Focus Ear – $479 – $569 each
1-888-233-6678 (M-F 8:00 – 4:00 CST)
www.focusear.com
1 in-the-ear model, 3 behind-the-ear models; RS1 and RS2, have t-coils.
60-day return policy, 2-year warranty, extended warranty may be purchased.
3 or 4 preset programs.  RS2 model has a directional mic.

Focus Ear RS# small                           Focus Ear RS1 small

None of these products are approved by the FDA for use by people with hearing loss.  In my next post, I will review some of the FDA approved hearing aids sold online or over-the-counter.

4 Responses

  1. Very interesting. Thanks for info

  2. Thanks, Marilyn for rounding up all these devices!

    I agree – any hearing product less than $200 or even $300 is a waste of money. I’ve tried several of the devices here – the Bean, the CS10 and the Able Planet Personal Amplfiers. Each one is worthy of serious consideration if you have a so-called “mild” hearing loss and may even be useful if you have even more serious problems. They are not as programmable as more expensive hearing aids and the Bean simply has two settings. None but the Bean will offer a tcoil.

    The choice of which one you will prefer is strictly personal. The Bean sounds great, but the CS 10 is very programmable and even includes a hearing test if you hook it up via a smartphonne. The Bean is easy to use while the CS10 gives you an enormous amount of potential control. The Able Planet is the least “visitble” device.

    Regardless of whether you choose to get one of these devices instead of a (much more expensive) hearing aid, you need to get your hearing tested and evaluated by a professional if you are having hearing problems. That is absolutely essential and the use of these devices is in no way a substitute for getting a formal hearing evaluation.

  3. […] my last two blog posts, “When is a hearing aid not a hearing aid?” and  “Personal Sound Amplification Products –  PSAP’s,”  I have been discussing ear-level amplification products that are sold online or […]

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