Hearing aids versus amplifiers: pros and cons

Both hearing aids and hearing amplifiers seem similar at first glance. Their purposes are similar; they both make sound louder for the wearer. 

However, it’s important to note that the main difference between hearing aids and hearing amplification devices:

  • Hearing aids are medical devices designed specifically for people with hearing loss
  • Hearing amplifiers are for anyone – they can be store-bought or are commonly bought online.

The FDA has clearly delineated the difference between hearing aids and hearing amplifiers.

It notes that hearing aids are restricted devices and can only be sold according to state and federal requirements. Only audiologists and hearing instrument specialists are licensed to dispense hearing aids.

While it may seem like hearing amplifiers should be used for impairments, it can actually be quite dangerous. Using an amplifier to support any hearing impairment could result in a delay in treatment or could further damage your hearing.

Ultimately, you should go to a hearing care professional if you find yourself suffering from any hearing impairments or loss of hearing. Using an amplifier won’t help.

PSAPs - Hearing amplifiers

PSAPs or hearing amplifiers are designed to boost sound for those who aren’t suffering from hearing loss.


  • They can be used for recreational activities, such as in the theatre to amplify far-away sounds. A hearing amplifier is what is used in baby monitors, so parents can be alert to sounds
  • Amplifiers always make things louder, no matter what frequency or volume sound is already at
  • These can be sold anywhere, over the counter
  • They are usually less expensive


  • Hearing amplifiers are not designed to help with hearing loss – they are intended for recreational use
  • Amplifiers aren’t fitted to the ear
  • Amplifiers aren't considered medical devices

Hearing aids

Hearing aids are solely for people with impaired hearing. Their purpose is to aid and assist those suffering from hearing loss.


  • Hearing aids are professionally fitted
  • Hearing aids help mitigate hearing loss by, essentially, boosting sound to at specific frequencies, depending on the specific hearing loss. This frequency is different and subject to the wearer
  • An audiologist or hearing aid specialist must also program and optimize hearing aids before they can be used


  • Hearing aids must be professionally fit, just like prescription eyeglasses, and are not as accessible as hearing amplifiers
  • Hearing aids can cost more. They provide a more specialized function than hearing amplification devices

Knowing what to choose

So, before setting out without being sure, it’s always important to get a medical check-up. This is crucial if you feel that you have problems hearing – medical advice is important and will help you distinguish which device would be best suited for your needs.

Alternatively, you can start by booking a hearing test first, which will give you a clearer idea on which device is best suited to your needs.

With you on your journey to better hearing.

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