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Hearing Amplifiers vs. Hearing Aids: Availability & Features

close up of a hearing amplifier and a hearing aid being held by separate hands

The two types of hearing devices are sometimes confused with one another, but they have important differences. While hearing aids and amplifiers increase volume, they’re intended for different hearing abilities.

Purpose and Function

Hearing amplifiers: Also known as personal sound amplification devices (PSAP), digital sound amplifiers and voice amplifiers, these electronic devices increase environmental sounds. Hearing amplifiers are intended for people with normal hearing who require increased volume in recreational settings. They are useful for attending a performance or lecture, hunting and birdwatching. Hearing amplifiers are not worn all the time.

Hearing aids: These devices are designed to enhance volume, adjust sound frequencies and filter background noise. Unlike amplifiers, hearing aids treat and address specific hearing needs. These devices have processing chips that complete millions of calculations per second to provide a quality listening experience. Hearing aids should be worn daily.

Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing amplifiers are only suitable to boost ambient sounds and are not intended to treat hearing loss. Prescription hearing aids can address mild to profound hearing loss.


The FDA does not regulate hearing amplifiers. They’re available online and at drug stores and don’t require an appointment with an audiologist or hearing specialist. You are responsible for fitting and adjusting personal amplifiers on your own.

You can only purchase prescription hearing aids through a licensed audiologist or hearing specialist. You must get a hearing test to assess your type and degree of hearing loss and determine which hearing aid style is right for you.

Hearing aids are considered medical devices by the FDA and must meet strict health and safety standards. Over-the-counter hearing aids are available at drugs store but don’t offer the same quality listening experience as prescription devices.


Hearing amplifier features include:

  • A mic
  • A receiver
  • An amplifier

Some models offer different listening modes, volume levels and noise reduction technology, but they aren’t programmable like hearing aids.

Hearing aids offer the following features:

Hearing Amplifiers vs Hearing Aids Price Point

Depending on the features and quality, hearing amplifiers cost $50 to $500. Hearing aids are more expensive due to their advanced technology, customizability and unique features. Prescription hearing devices can cost $1,000 to $6,000.

Hearing Aid Styles That Fit Your Needs

Hearing Associates offers a wide variety of hearing aid styles to suit your hearing loss needs. We also sell assistive listening devices and PSAPs to improve your listening experience. Call 888-760-2032 or contact us online to schedule your appointment at our Iowa or Minnesota locations.