When it comes to hearing amplifiers, there are a few different types to choose from. Each of these hearing amplifier model types have their own characteristics. Some people clearly prefer one type over the other, where others look more at the all-round picture and make a buying decision based on the bigger picture.
In this overview, we’ll look at the different types of hearing amplifiers and discuss those characteristics. I personally don’t think one type is necessarily better than the other, and there are many other options to consider when buying a hearing amplifier. Most of these model types are available in different price categories, so you can always find one in your budget.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Amplifiers
This is the most popular configuration for hearing amplifiers, and probably the type that comes to mind for most people. The BTE hooks on the ear and the device sits behind the ear (hence the name). A microphone receives sound, which is then processed in the device and sent through a small hollow tube into the ear canal.
BTE hearing amplifiers often come with differently sized domes that actually go in the ear. The tubes can require some setting up and need to be cleaned regularly. Ear wax will build up in the tube and domes and can reduce the effectiveness of the hearing amplifiers.
These models used to be quite big compared to other models, but they’ve gotten smaller over time. Still, some models might not work as well for people with glasses.
Best BTE models to try:
Receiver-in-Ear (RIC) Hearing Amplifiers
Many hearing amplifier manufacturers have introduced an RIC model in their lineup. In design, these newer models are similar to BTE hearing amplifiers, but instead of guiding the sound through a hollow tube, the digital sound transmits through a wire directly into the ear.
As you might imagine, this improves the sound quality. At the same time, offering these devices as an alternative to their older BTE brothers means making compromises. The crisp sound quality usually comes at the cost of sound depth (see bands and channels).
While they’re mostly comparable to BTE hearing amplifiers, the RIC crowd can be very loyal to their model. Some will never go back, whereas others hear too little of a difference to make the switch.
Best RIC hearing amplifiers to try:
Completely-in-Canal Hearing Amplifiers
These little completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing amplifiers look like the regular headphones the kids these days might be wearing (or a high-tech gadget in a 1970’s James Bond movie). You pop ‘m in your ear and benefit from a subtle hearing amplifier solution. Because of their small size and since they look nothing like the hearing amplifiers people expect, they are one of the most subtle hearing amplifier solutions you’ll find.
Some CIC hearing amplifiers to try:
Around the Neck
This type of hearing amplifier is often used in the hunting space, but some people buy them as regular amplifiers, too. These around-the-neck (not the actual technical term) hearing amplifiers are essentially a walkman that amplifies sounds for you. You pop the headphones in your ears and enjoy the amplified sounds that the little box around your neck catches.
As you may imagine, these around-the-neck amplifiers are the least versatile. Some people opt for this approach as a subtle first hearing amplifier, and while the headphones look quite inconspicuous, the box itself is anything but subtle.
Some ATN hearing amplifiers to try:
Because of the differences between hearing aids and hearing amplifiers, there are more types of hearing aids than hearing amplifiers. The reason is that hearing aids are tuned to fit someone’s specific situation. Some hearing aids fit your ear precisely. The generic nature of hearing amplifiers means that this approach is not possible for amplifiers.
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