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Cheap Hearing Aids vs. Affordable Hearing Aids: What’s the Difference?

Last updated on Nov 16, 2018

When looking in a thesaurus, you may find that “cheap” is listed as a synonym for “affordable,” but that doesn’t mean they’re really the same thing. And while you may be able to find audio devices (even ones listed as hearing aids) for under $100, it may not be the best idea to get those cheap hearing aids.

But that doesn’t mean you have to pay thousands of dollars per ear to experience the life-changing benefits that come with hearing aids. There is a happy medium between cheap, low-quality hearing aids and expensive ones. But what’s the real difference between cheap hearing aids and affordable hearing aids?

Cheap Hearing Aids

First of all, very cheap hearing aids tend to not properly amplify the higher frequencies that cause the most problems to those with sensorineural hearing loss. The most common forms of hearing loss affect frequencies over 1,000 Hz (to varying degrees). In other words, the uppermost range of male speech, half of the range of female speech, and most of the range of children’s speech falls into the range of hearing most often affected by hearing loss.

These cheaper devices become all but useless in noisy environments when trying to hear conversations better. They are also more likely to send loud feedback noises to your ears than well-made hearing aids. By sending those loud, high-pitched noises straight into your ear canal, they could potentially damage your hearing even further.

Realistically speaking, the majority of “$100 hearing aids” aren’t actually hearing aids. They’re more likely to be PSAPs (personal sound amplification products). If you’re researching your hearing aid options, you’ve probably seen PSAPs advertised in online stores like Amazon. Some run even as low as $20. While this price may seem very attractive, these devices come with a catch.

cheap hearing aids

PSAPs are neither designed for nor adequate for treating those with hearing loss. They do exactly what their name indicates: they amplify sound. PSAPs usually do not have the technology to distinguish between background noise and voice frequencies, and are more likely to amplify the sounds you don’t want to hear as well as the ones you do.  Plus, PSAPs don’t offer many of the features of modern hearing aids, including telecoil technology for cell phone compatibility, multiple settings for different listening environments, and more.

If your hearing devices don’t actually help amplify these frequencies properly, you’ll find yourself with the same problem you had before: you won’t be able to hear what many people are saying.

Affordable Hearing Aids

Affordable hearing aids are real hearing aids–hearing aids that are designed to address the specific frequency amplification needs of those suffering from hearing loss–that don’t cost $3,000 per aid. There’s a sizable markup on hearing aids purchased from doctors’ offices, audiology centers, and even big box retailers.

While it is highly recommended that you get your hearing tested by a doctor or audiologist prior to purchasing hearing aids, you can save a substantial amount of money by cutting out the middleman and ordering directly from a real, FDA-approved manufacturer like MDHearingAid. In a study by the Better Hearing Institute, direct-to-consumer or mail order hearing aids are just as beneficial as traditional, more expensive hearing aids. On the average, the direct-to-consumer buyer enjoys an 80% cost savings with mail order hearing aids.

cheap hearing aids*Data in table sourced from: Kochkin, S. A comparison of consumer satisfaction, subjective benefit, and quality of life changes associated with traditional and direct-mail hearing aid use. Hearing Review. 2014;21(1):16-26.

You may pay a little more than you would for affordable hearing aids compared to cheap hearing aids, but they’re an investment; you’ll get more bang for your buck in terms of technology, quality, and longevity. These hearing aids often include the settings, voice amplification, and performance you would expect from higher priced hearing aids. Many lower cost hearing aids even offer background noise reduction technology and advanced feedback reduction (like the MDHearingAid line).

We also offer advanced technologies that prioritize voices and higher frequencies. This makes affordable hearing aids more effective for those who fall into the mild-to-moderately-severe range of the hearing loss spectrum.

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