What’s the difference between hearing aids and amplifiers?

Published 27 June 2018  | Updated 16 May 2024  | 4 mins read

Oticon 'No Wax' wax guards next to a hearing aid.


Over the years hearing technology has changed drastically, advancing in new and innovative ways to help those who suffer from hearing loss. Hearing aids were once a dreaded idea by many, but now they can be so small that you can’t even see them. With a variety of styles and incredible technology to choose from, hearing aids can be tailored to you and your needs.

Whilst having advanced in hearing aid technology, it can sometimes be confusing when deciding which style to go with, because there are so many to choose from. Then just to confuse you even more, hearing amplifiers are thrown into the mix!

You might have come across these when looking into hearing aids but not been quite sure what they are and how they are different from hearing aids. They do look slightly different but more noticeably – they are a fraction of the price of hearing aids. So, which is best for you? We’re here to give you the lowdown.

What’s the difference?

Hearing amplifiers were created to do what it says on the tin: amplify sound. This means turning up the volume on each and every sound – with no filter or ability to identify between different sounds. With a drastically lower price tag, you may think why not – they do the job and they’re cheaper? Although this may sound like the perfect solution, if all sounds go from being muffled and quiet to loud and amplified, you can imagine the difference is quite extreme and uncomfortable. Plus, as much as it would be pleasing to hear birdsong or a loved one’s voice much louder, do you really want the sound of building work or traffic amplified?

This is where the differences come in. Hearing aids are specially tailored to you and your individual hearing needs. With today’s advanced technology, hearing aids can pick out the individual sounds you want to hear, and reduce the sound of the things you don’t want to hear. They will amplify the voice of the person you’re having a conversation with, whilst managing the levels of background noise. They can also limit the level of loud noises to keep the sound comfortable as well as clear. Modern hearing aids are now so cutting-edge, that they can change their own settings without you having to fiddle with dials or even take them off – easily adapting to the environment around you.

What’s right for you?

If you are suffering with a hearing impairment, amplifiers may not be enough to aid your hearing. When you stop hearing as well as you used to, the part of your brain that processes sound can become less active, which can, in turn, affect your hearing and long-term health. Hearing aids help to keep your brain active and healthy.

Hearing amplifiers are probably better suited to those who already have good hearing but want to enhance certain sounds. This could be to observe nature and pick up those subtle sounds you would usually miss without the amplifiers. Hearing amplifiers only provide low-level hearing support, they are not FDA (Food and Drug Association) approved, which means they aren’t registered medical equipment to benefit those with hearing loss.

Get it right

Whatever you feel is best for you and your hearing needs, the expert audiologists at The Hearing Care Partnership will be able to recommend the best option of hearing care for you and your lifestyle. You can book a free hearing assessment online or contact your local THCP branch to speak to one of the hearing care team. Don’t let your hearing loss get in the way of your life.