Many older adults suffer from hearing loss, which can greatly impact quality of life. After all, when you can’t hear a conversation, you can’t participate—and when you can’t communicate easily with your loved ones, simple tasks become much more difficult and frustrating.
Hearing amplifiers can be extraordinarily helpful for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, and we researched some of the most popular devices available to find the best options. We’ve listed them here, along with an FAQ about the factors that set them apart.
First, though, a quick (but important) word on terminology: Prescription hearing aids work by taking in sound, compressing it, and sending it straight through the ear canal. Non-prescription hearing amplifiers accomplish the same task, but because they’re available over the counter, they’re not allowed to use the “hearing aid” terminology, per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Over-the-counter products may be helpful, but they’re not medical appliances, and you should always consult with your primary care physician (or a qualified audiologist) as soon as you notice symptoms of hearing loss to get their recommendation on the right solution for you.
With that in mind, here are our picks for the best hearing amplifiers currently available.
The best hearing amplifiers
Banglijian Hearing Amplifier Ziv-201ACheck Latest Price
Backed by an extensive warranty, Banglijian’s Ziv-201A is a durable hearing amplifier with high-end features at a great price point. It charges via USB, and users can select between normal sound amplification and a noise-canceling setting, which trims out excessive background noise while allowing the user to hear speech easily. Use the adjustable volume control to switch between five amplification levels with a peak gain of 53 decibels.
The Ziv-201A comes with a cleaning brush, a case, and an assortment of ear domes to ensure a great fit. There are also two kinds of “sound tubes,” one of which is designed to accommodate people who wear glasses. Altogether, this is an ideal kit for people with mild hearing loss, and while it’s expensive compared to other options on this list, it’s still quite affordable compared to prescription hearing aids.
- Great warranty and return policy
- Multiple sound tubes and ear domes provide plenty of flexibility
- Noise-canceling mode makes conversation easier in crowded environments
- Slightly more expensive than other options
- Maximum battery life of 20-24 hours on a full charge
- 3-year manufacturer warranty and 3-month hassle-free return policy
- Selection of sound tubes and ear domes allow use on the right or left ear
- Slim sound tubes can be worn with eyeglasses
- Five volume settings plus a noise-canceling function
- Memory feature retains program and volume selections when device is powered off
- Peak gain of 53 decibels
- Includes USB charger, cleaning brush, soft cloth, and shockproof case
- Brand: Banglijian
- Size: 1.4x 0.4x 0.3 inches, 3.7 grams
Coniler Smart Hearing Amplifier With Digital Noise ReductionCheck Latest Price
The main draw of this behind-the-ear hearing amplifier from Coniler is its integrated DSP intelligent sound chip, which applies dynamic compression to reduce background noise while allowing the user to hear more naturally. Coniler provides six ear domes that vary in size, but not in design—they all result in a slightly muffled sound, and some buyers choose to replace the ear domes with aftermarket options to improve sound quality.
This hearing amplifier’s battery lasts for up to 20 hours per charge, and the attractive charging dock automatically powers off at the end of the charging cycle. The device also comes with two sound tubes (one for the right ear and one for the left), and its thin profile makes it comfortable for regular use.
- Intelligent sound processing for easier conversation recognition
- Attractive and convenient charger base
- Comfortable, lightweight, and easy to use
- Modes for quiet and loud surrounding environments
- 45 day money back guarantee
- Shorter battery life than other behind-the-ear options
- Some users were dissatisfied with the included ear domes
- Maximum acoustic gain of 41 decibels
- Rechargeable battery lasts for up to 20 hours
- Includes magnetic charger base and USB adapter
- Smart language processing technology can help improve speech recognition
- Includes six ear domes (tips), two tubes (left and right), a cleaning brush, and a case
- Brand: Coniler
- Size: Product size and dimensions not listed, 12-ounce shipping weight
OneBridge Hearing Amplifier AidCheck Latest Price
These earbud-style hearing amplifiers are easy to operate and can help users with mild to moderate hearing challenges. A single button turns the hearing amplifiers on and controls the volume. The earbuds charge right in their case, making them a convenient and portable option.
The unit comes with 3 different sizes of earplugs, a cleaning brush and stick, the charging box, and a USB charging cable. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 12 hours and the unit only takes about 2 hours to charge. The slim carrying case can be easily slipped into a bag or a pocket so these are always with you whenever you need them.
- Lightweight and comfortable earbud style amplifiers
- 3 earplug sizes for a secure fit
- Earbuds charge in their carrying case for maximum portability
- Small earbuds can be easily lost
- Not as much amplification as other models
- Adjustable amplification modes
- Active noise reduction function to block background noise
- Rechargeable battery lasts up to 12 hours
- Single-button operation
- Brand: OneBridge
Our Best Hearing Amplifiers Guide
According to the FDA (link opens a PDF), less than 20 percent of people afflicted by hearing loss seek treatment. That’s unfortunate, as hearing amplifiers can provide great value for a relatively small investment.
Here are some of the most common questions regarding non-prescription hearing amplifiers, along with information to help you make the best possible purchase for your situation.
Do non-prescription hearing amplifiers work as well as prescription hearing aids?
Hearing amplifiers can be helpful, but prescription aids are typically customized for individual patients. That means that prescription options tend to be more effective for treating severe hearing loss.
As we mentioned earlier, the distinction is important; the FDA is clear that over-the-counter products are not the same thing as hearing aids. However, non-prescription hearing amplifiers are much less expensive, and for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, they can provide sufficient amplification to make everyday interactions much easier.
Should I speak with my doctor before buying a hearing amplifier?
Non-prescription hearing amplifiers are easy to operate and safe when used properly. They are even regulated for safety when it comes to output. With that said, you should get an assessment with a qualified audiologist as soon as you notice hearing issues, as it’s important to determine the cause (or causes) of your hearing impairment and get a personalized treatment recommendation.
What do decibel ratings mean?
Hearing problems are assessed in terms of a decibel range (written on audiology exams as “dB HL”). People who have lost from 26 to 40 decibels of hearing have a mild degree of hearing loss, while people who have lost from 41 to 44 decibels have a moderate degree.
To put those numbers into perspective, normal conversation occurs at about 60 to 70 decibels. Regardless of what you’re experiencing, you’ll need an examination from a qualified audiologist to assess your degree of hearing loss.
Hearing device amplification is also assessed in terms of decibels. If you have a hearing loss range of about 40 db HL, an amplifier that offers 40 decibels of amplification should allow you to hear normally. One important note: Because non-prescription hearing amplifiers aren’t fitted to your ear, they may not provide their full amplification potential, particularly if worn with a poorly fitting dome that doesn’t fully block out background noises.
What should I know before using my hearing amplifier for the first time?
You’ll need some time to get used to the experience of wearing a hearing amplifier, so don’t expect an immediately improved experience. Many older adults lose their hearing gradually, and suddenly restored hearing can be slightly uncomfortable.
You may have trouble filtering out speech from normal environmental sounds, and you might feel overwhelmed or exhausted at first as there’s increased demand on your sense of hearing. After a few weeks, your body will make adjustments, and you’ll be able to wear the device for longer periods without discomfort.
Be sure to clean your hearing amplifier regularly and in accordance with the device’s instructions. As sound tubes are worn in the user’s ear canal, they can increase the risks of ear infections if they aren’t sanitized properly. Fortunately, most hearing amplifiers come with cleaning brushes, cases, and other accessories that make this process easy.
Do I really need a hearing amplifier?
If you’re asking this question, you probably know the answer. Here’s the good news: Studies have shown that the vast majority of hearing aid users report satisfaction with their devices, and hearing amplifiers offer a similar benefit at a lower price.
In other words, if you’re living with hearing loss—or if you’ve seen hearing impairment affect a loved one—a hearing aid can make an extraordinary difference. To get the best possible results, speak with your physician before making your purchase, but don’t put off treatment. A properly fitted device can greatly improve your quality of life, and given the low cost and high-end features of modern options, there’s never been a better time to address hearing issues.