Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs) look a lot like hearing aids and use a lot of the same technology, but they are not FDA-approved hearing aids.
Most often, PSAPs are far less expensive than hearing aids. They are sold over the counter (and over the internet) and don’t require a hearing test. Many provide good amplification along with other features normally found in high-quality digital hearing aids, including volume control, feedback cancellation and noise suppression.
But under U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, PSAPs must be marketed not as hearing aids that amplify sound to compensate for impaired hearing, but as devices for non-hearing-impaired consumers to amplify sounds in the environment for a number or reasons, such as for recreational activities. For instance, some PSAPs are sold to hunters who want amplification of quiet sounds in the forest combined with noise suppression to protect their hearing by muffling the sound of the shotgun blast.
- Click here for a list of popular PSAP brands
- Click here for more information about the difference between PSAPs and hearing aids.
The FDA web site explains the difference between PSAPs and FDA-regulated hearing aids:
While personal sound amplifiers may help people hear things that are at low volume or at a distance, the FDA wants to ensure that consumers don’t mistake them—or use them as substitutes—for approved hearing aids…. The products are different in that only hearing aids are intended to make up for impaired hearing… Consumers should buy a personal sound amplifier only after ruling out hearing loss as a reason for getting one.
But even if you get a personal sound amplifier for recreational use, it can be an affordable means of seeing whether you will benefit from hearing aids. If the amplification helps you understand everyday speech and makes you realize you have mild high-frequency hearing loss, you can go get your hearing checked and get fitted with a pair of custom hearing aids programmed to compensate for your individual hearing-loss profile.
— Recent Posts On Personal Sound Amplification Products —
- Sensor-Laden Wireless Headphones Heat Up “Hearables” Market January 15, 2015
- New Class Of Internet-Connected In-Ear ‘Hearables’ Could Become A $5-Billion Dollar Market May 17, 2014
- Sound World Solutions Improves Audio, Adds iPhone App To Its Bluetooth Sound Amplifier March 25, 2014
- Personal Sound Amplifiers Need More Than Bluetooth To Make Them Cool March 23, 2014
- Better Bluetooth Hearing Enhancement Coming In 2014 December 26, 2013
- VitaSound Personal Audio Enhancer Provides Powerful Sound Processing November 22, 2013
- VitaSound Puts High-End Hearing Aid Technology In A New PSAP November 22, 2013
- FDA Still Struggles To Explain Difference Between Hearing Aids And PSAPs November 20, 2013
- Take It From The Hearing Aid Makers: Without Great Design, ‘Wearable Computing’ Products Will Go Nowhere February 23, 2013
- SoundFest To Deliver iPhone App And Bluetooth Earpiece Making It Easier To Understand Speech In Noise September 18, 2012
- Naming Names: Hearing Health Groups Ask FDA To Force Four Personal Amplifier Marketers To Stop Calling Their Products Hearing Aids September 15, 2012
- Wall Street Journal Introduces The World To Personal Sound Amplifiers, The First Step Toward Programmable Hearing Aids September 12, 2012
- CES Preview: Will 2012 Be The Year Of The Personal Sound Amplification Product (PSAP)? December 12, 2011
- With FDA’s Blessing, New Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids And Personal Sound Amplifiers Promise To Disrupt Global Hearing Industry May 27, 2010