Two Lexie hearing experts discussing hearing aids and an amplifier

Hearing Aid or Amplifier – What is the Difference?

February 8, 2021

Hearing aids and amplifiers can improve your ability to hear sounds. But, each one is designed with a different purpose in mind.

Do you have hearing loss and need a device to help you hear better? Not sure what the difference between a hearing aid and an amplifier is? Both hearing aids and amplifiers can improve your ability to hear sounds. But it’s vital to know that they are intended for two different purposes.

You may have come across people advertising an amplifier that allows you to hear better. They may have even called it a “one size fits all” device. This is NOT a hearing aid. It is a device that amplifies ALL sounds and doesn’t take your hearing needs into account. Amplifiers are not custom-made to fit your hearing loss as hearing aids are.

It may seem as if the amplifier and hearing aid are similar, but they are quite different. Before buying an amplifier, you should consider all the pros and cons and consider getting professional advice from a hearing health practitioner too.

Let us first understand what the purposes of amplifiers and hearing aid are. Then we can discuss the differences between the two devices.

What is an amplifier?

An amplifier is a ‘hearing device’ that makes all environmental sounds louder. It uses a microphone to pick up sounds from the environment and transmits those sounds into your ears via earphones. Amplifiers come in a variety of different colors, designs, and models.

People with normal hearing who need sounds amplified in certain situations will benefit from wearing an amplifier. For example, a bird watcher will use one to assist them in hearing birds. Then they can easily identify the type of bird by its chirp.

You can buy an amplifier without needing to consult with a hearing specialist. You also don’t need a hearing loss to buy one. An amplifier can not be programmed to your hearing loss because it is a “one size fits all” device that makes ALL sounds louder. 

Remember, an amplifier is not designed to assist your hearing loss in any way. It is for people with no hearing loss. If someone with hearing loss uses an amplifier, all environmental sounds will be louder. This will make listening to speech in noisy environments difficult. The background noise and speech will be at the same volume. Constant loud sounds in your ears could cause further hearing damage.

What is a hearing aid?

Hearing aids are programmed and fitted specifically for your hearing loss needs. Hearing aids do not amplify ALL sounds, but if they have dual microphones they can amplify the sounds you want to hear and fade out the sounds you do not want to hear.

Newer digital hearing aids can enhance sound quality and switch environmental programs so that the wearer can select the setting best suited to their environment and activity. For example, you can choose the “noisy environment program” to hear better in loud places like restaurants. 

Six differences between an amplifier and a hearing aid

  1. Amplifiers make all sounds louder. Hearing aids provide custom amplification to fit your hearing needs.
  2. Amplifiers are usually less expensive than hearing aids.
  3. Amplifiers are for people who have normal hearing. Hearing aids are for people with hearing loss.
  4. Amplifiers are for people who want amplification of sound for recreational purposes. Hearing aids assist people who have hearing loss.
  5. Hearing aids make speech sounds easier to hear. Amplifiers make the noises around you louder.
  6. An amplifier will not be effective for a person with hearing difficulties. Using an amplifier could be more dangerous as the loudness levels are not controlled. That’s why it is crucial to know that amplifiers are not a replacement for hearing aids.

It is important to make the right choices when managing your hearing health as it has such a significant impact on your personal life, relationships, work, and emotional state. Hearing aids can improve your quality of life.

Do you still have questions about whether hearing aids are the right choice for you? The team of hearing experts at Lexie is ready to answer any questions you might have, at no cost to you. They can assist you with the most suitable hearing solution for you.

Image of post writer Faatima Nakhooda.

Written by Faatima Nakhooda

B. Communication Pathology Audiology; M. Communication Pathology Audiology


Woman sitting with a healthcare professional purchasing direct to consumer hearing aids

The Guide on Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Hearing Aids

Hearing aids have undergone major changes in recent years—and so has the way people obtain them. In the past, those in need of treatment for hearing loss would visit an audiologist or other hearing professional to purchase hearing aids. These devices typically cost upwards of $3,000, not including any medical bills from a clinic visit. …

Read More

Marcellé Swanepoel

June 5, 2022

Senior woman listening on headphones wondering if do earbuds cause hearing loss.

Do Headphones and Earbuds Cause Hearing Loss?

Whether you’re walking on a busy street, waiting in line at the grocery store, or studying in the library, it seems like everyone is wearing headphones or earbuds. Although they can transport us to another place and romanticize whatever mundane task we are performing, they can also cause irreversible hearing damage if we have our …

Read More

Marcellé Swanepoel

May 4, 2022