Are Personal Sound Amplifiers As Effective As Hearing Aids?

Here at McGuire’s Hearing Centers, we’re passionate about educating you about how important ensuring the health of your hearing is, including both the impact untreated hearing loss has on your overall health, particularly your cognitive health and quality of life, as well as the amazing advances in hearing technology.

In our newest video, owner and board-certified hearing instrument specialist, David Carr, explains why treating your hearing loss is so important and how he uses the best technology available for each patient, as well as the differences between advanced hearing technology and personal sound amplifiers.
The importance of treating your hearing loss
There are many reasons that having your hearing checked and treating any hearing loss found is important. David Carr stresses that it’s a huge misconception that hearing loss just affects people as they age and in fact is a disability that is seen in all ages from birth through to old age. So why should you treat your hearing loss?

  1. Improve your cognition: board-certified hearing instrument specialist, David Carr stresses that recent research has shown a correlation between dementia and untreated hearing loss.
  2. Better Mental Health: When you can’t follow or understand conversations, you might start to avoid interacting with people. By treating your hearing loss, you lower your chances of developing depression because you stop isolating yourself.
  3. Improve your quality of life: Studies show that treating your hearing loss not only reduces cognitive decline but also means higher income than if you do nothing.

Why hearing devices aren’t one size fits all

You might have been watching television or seen an ad on the internet for hearing aids or other devices that make it seem like they can work for anyone regardless of the type of hearing impairment you might have. The cost and promises seem too good to be true. And the truth is, they are. In fact, these devices aren’t hearing aids at all, but are something the FDA refers to as “personal sound amplifiers.”

As David Carr says in the video, it’s important that you receive thorough and advanced hearing testing “to find out exactly what type of hearing loss it is, whether it’s a conductive loss in the middle ear, or whether it’s a sensorineural hearing loss in the inner ear.” That’s because when your hearing loss is in the inner ear is usually when an audiologist will treat your hearing loss with a hearing instrument. Let’s take a look below at the differences between hearing instruments like hearing aids and listening devices like personal sound amplifiers below.

The difference between advanced hearing technology & personal sound amplifiers

Let’s go back to those listening devices you may have seen on television or online and briefly go into how both hearing aids and personal sound amplifiers work because it can get confusing, and often the ads you see for these listening devices are deliberately misleading.

  1. Personal Sound Amplifiers: Personal sound amplifiers are designed to amplify sounds. They are placed inside your ears and are designed to be used by people who don’t have a hearing loss to be able to hear sounds that are far away or that are a very low volume. They are less expensive than hearing aids. However, they are not hearing aids like some advertisements might claim and the FDA hasn’t approved them for use as medical devices.
  2. Hearing Aids: There are many types of hearing aids and which one will work best for you depends on the type and severity of your hearing loss. All hearing aids usually have 5 components, including an amplifier, but also microphones, a loudspeaker, a battery, and a computer chip. The computer in your hearing aid is programmed by a hearing specialist to treat your individual hearing loss. A hearing aid actually makes the sound vibrations entering your ear larger so your ear can convert them into neural signals. Unlike personal sound amplifiers, hearing aids are FDA approved medical devices.


If you think you or a loved one might be suffering from a hearing loss, it’s really important to get your hearing evaluated by an audiologist, like those here at McGuire’s Hearing Centers. In the video and this blog, owner and board-certified hearing instrument specialist, David Carr, stresses how important it is for you to treat your hearing loss. With his help, we also told you that in spite of what you may have seen or heard, there is a difference between personal sound amplifiers and advanced hearing technology like hearing aids.

The ads you see online that claim personal sound amplifiers are an alternative to hearing aids are false. Over the counter listening devices like personal sound amplifiers are no substitute for a thorough hearing evaluation by a hearing specialist and personalized hearing loss treatment such as hearing aids that are programmed specifically for your hearing loss.

Feel free to call or contact us here at Mcguire’s Hearing Centers with any questions you might have about hearing loss treatments and the options available to you if you or someone you know is suffering from a hearing loss.