Hearable, PSAP, or Hearing Aid: Which One is Right for You?

Posted by HearStore on Dec 6th 2017

The difference between Hearables, Hearing Aids and PSAPs


Over the past few years, we’ve seen extraordinary advancements in technology in almost every realm of electronic devices. You can stream Netflix to your TV through your smartphone; you can tell Google to play a song on Spotify; and you can use electronics to improve your hearing abilities. The innovations in hearing technology has not gone unnoticed. In fact, Entrepreneur magazine dubbed 2015 the “Year of the Hearable,” noting the exciting new devices released that year by major hearing aid brands (namely, two Made for iPhone hearing aids, Starkey Halo and ReSound LiNX2). Similarly, for people who need a little boost, there are a number of assistive listening options, such as hearables and personal sound amplification products (PSAPs).   If you’ve been looking for a hearing solution, how do you decide which one is right for you? We’ll take you through the differences between and the different features of hearables, PSAPs, and hearing aids.


What are hearables?

Hearables – a hybrid between “headphone” and “wearable” – are wireless, in-ear “computer” hardware that are worn in your ear canal. Because they often rely on wireless technology to connect to apps that support your listening experience, hearables may be referred to as “smart headphones.” In terms of appearance, most hearables sort of resemble earplugs, except they are more visible in your ear. Hearables tend to be round with detachable sleeves that enable to fit a range of sizes of ear canals, and they are controlled by touch or voice.

What do hearables do?

Wondering about today’s weather? Ask Siri and she’ll feed the information directly to your hearables. Want to drown out that boring colleague in your office with your favorite tunes? Your hearables can stream audio directly to your ears. This includes phone calls and any Bluetooth-compatible device. For people who are tracking their health and workout, hearables can monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature – and much more!

Get hearables if…

You’re interested in new technology and you want to connect your various devices in one convenient, tiny package that you can wear. Keep in mind that many hearables are in burgeoning development stages and may struggle to battery life. Though hearables are used for health-related things, like recording your vitals, and they could help amplify sound in your environment, it’s important to keep in mind that they are not designed to treat hearing loss.

Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs)

What are PSAPs?

PSAPs are small, electronic amplification devices that are worn in the ear, but they are not hearing aids. Think of hearing aids as equivalent to prescription eyeglasses, while PSAPs are like over-the-counter reading glasses than one can purchase without an exam. The US Food and Drug Administration specifies that PSAPS are “not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure hearing impairment and do not alter the structure or function of the body.”

What do PSAPs do?

Almost everyone with normal hearing (that is, people who do not experience hearing loss) has needed a little boost every now and then. PSAPs are off-the-shelf devices that come in various sizes to fit different ear canals. They amplify sounds in your environment, whether you’re trying to hear a lecture in a huge auditorium or you’re listening for animal footsteps in the woods.   Again, it is important to stress that while PSAPs are structurally similar to hearing aids, they provide a very general amplification and are not designed to treat any form of hearing loss nor should they be used as a substitute for hearing aids.

Get PSAPs if…

You need a boost in your sound environment. PSAPs are popular among hunters and birdwatchers, giving them something like “binoculars” for the ears. Unfortunately, PSAPs have been used by people who do experience hearing loss as a replacement for hearing aids, which could in fact cause more damage than improvement to one’s hearing abilities.

Hearing Aids

What are hearing aids?

Hearing aids are electronic, medical devices that are designed to treat hearing loss. Hearing loss is a medical condition that comes in various types, hindering one’s ability to fully hear and experience sounds in their environment. Hearing loss interferes with speech recognition and makes it difficult for people to identify the direction from which speech or sounds come. Hearing aids – not unlike hearables and PSAPs – are advanced pieces of technology that are worn in or behind the ear, providing improved access to sound.

What do hearing aids do?

Though there are different types and causes of hearing loss, one thing is clear: people don’t hear sound as well as they once did. Beyond that, they have difficulty focusing on sounds, especially when there is a lot of background noise or multiple speakers. In these scenarios, hearing aids – which are designed with ultra-fast processing platforms and advanced features – analyze audio data and provide clear signals for your brain to process as sound.

Get hearing aids if…

You’ve been diagnosed with a hearing loss, and your audiologist or hearing specialist has recommended hearing aids. Hearing aids are not “one size fits all,” but they do share many awesome features, such as improved speech recognition, wireless capabilities, audio streaming, and much more. If you’ve been diagnosed with a hearing loss, ask your hearing health care professional about your hearing aid options to best optimize your hearing.

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