Closeup of ear facing left





So, is Eargo a hearing aid or just an amplifier?

We get this question every day. Given the numerous hearing aid options available and sometimes deceptive marketing, it’s no wonder consumers ask this question. This article will help educate you on the differences, what’s best for your lifestyle, and make it clear that Eargo hearing aids are exactly that – hearing aids. 

So, when someone asks about an “amplifier”, what exactly do they mean? Amplifiers are generally very inexpensive devices ($25 – $500 each) that look like hearing aids but amplify all sounds equally – both speech and noise. They are referred to as PSAPs – Personal Sound Amplification Devices. The FDA defines a PSAP as, “an electronic product that is intended for non-hearing impaired consumers to amplify sounds in certain environments, such as for hunting or other recreational activities, and is not intended to aid persons with or compensate for impaired hearing.” Sadly, many PSAP companies falsely advertise their products as hearing aids which leads to confusion.

Alibaba hearing amplifier listings

Common PSAP models you may see when searching online


How does the FDA define a hearing aid? Here you go: “A hearing aid is a wearable sound-amplifying device that is intended to compensate for impaired hearing.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that. When a company like Eargo registers their hearing aids with the FDA that means they are specifically addressing hearing loss with their technology while adhering to the FDA’s very high regulatory standards. Hearing aids routinely have the following features:

  • Enhanced high frequencies for speech clarity
  • Feedback control to prevent whistling
  • Noise management to reduce interference of background noise
  • Use of a mobile app for personalization and remote programming options
  • Multiple listening programs for different sound environments
  • Support from licensed hearing professionals
  • High quality design and comprehensive warranties

One of Eargo’s audiologists tells clients the following when asked about using amplifiers versus actual hearing aids. “Amplifiers will increase the sound of everything around you just as much as the voices you’re trying to hear, or you’ll hear the entire restaurant equally as opposed to just the people at your table. Basically, unless you live in a bubble with no distractions you’ll see little improvement in your ability to understand what is being said.” Properly designed and fit hearing aids are meant to greatly improve speech clarity and understanding, not just increasing loudness.

Consider the old saying, “if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.” In the world of hearing aids versus PSAPs, it definitely fits. While some PSAPs may be helpful for an occasional loudness boost, if you have diagnosed hearing loss and difficulty in numerous listening environments, then a proven hearing aid like Eargo will give you the greatest chance for success.   

In summary, Eargo hearing aids are FDA-registered exempt medical devices and distributed direct-to-consumer. Thousands of people every month improve their hearing by purchasing Eargo hearing aids and working with our team of skilled hearing professionals. The direct-to-consumer telecare model we pioneered years ago is designed to make hearing aids more accessible, more affordable, and more desirable to use.