AMP Hearing Aid Review
Released in early 2011 by Starkey Hearing Technologies, the AMP hearing aid has been met with both praise and criticism and often for the same reasons. In this post I’ll attempt to review the AMP hearing aid from both the hearing provider’s prospective, and the prospective of many of my clients whom I have fit with the AMP hearing aids. For starters, the AMP device is billed as “the hearing aid for people who aren’t ready for a hearing aid.” This description is spot-on. The AMP’s should be used by only “beginner” hearing aid users, and for a number of reasons.
First, the AMP is best for mild to moderate losses, which are the kind of losses most first time hearing aid users have. But more importantly, the AMP hearing aid is not a custom fit hearing aid. It is a one size fits all, small, plastic device which sits deep within the ear canal. Because it is fit “off the shelf” and is not fit with a custom mold, it is a bit limited in the amount of power or “volume” that it can output. So again, it’s best for those mild to moderate losses. Sometimes if a hearing aid is not custom molded and it is putting out a lot of power or volume, it is very prone to feedback, (that annoying whistling noise), which is another reason why it is best for mild to moderate losses. In addition, because the aid is not custom molded, it can sometimes work it’s way out of your ear if it doesn’t fit just right, and this can be very annoying and worrisome.
Second, the hearing aid is not very advanced. Although it is a digital 4-channel device which includes feedback cancellation, it’s just not equipped with a lot of the state of the art technology. What this means is, it’s not going to sound great in all environments. It’s just not equipped to handle a dynamic lifestyle. Meaning, if you’re “out and about” a lot, it’s not going to adequately suppress background noise for you, enhance the clarity of speech in noisy situations, or allow you access to multiple programs.
From a fitting perspective, the AMP hearing aids are a breeze to get set up and adjusted for clients. They are programmed by your hearing provider using an I-Pad & headphones, or software found on Starkey’s website. One drawback to these hearing aids is the way they are adjusted or programmed. So traditional digital hearing aids are fit very precisely to your hearing loss based on the results of your hearing test, whereas the AMP hearing aids are fit using a sort of “ballpark” estimate of what is going to sound right for you. There are essentially 3 preset “programs” which can be applied to the AMPs, all of which vary based on severity of hearing loss. From there, your provider can adjust the overall gain, and the output of the low frequencies and the high frequencies. These are very helpful features which allow a provider to make sure it sounds good enough for you, but it can be difficult to get them sounding perfect simply due to a lack of features and programming capability.
From the client’s perspective, I’ve fit probably 50 or 60 AMP hearing aids, and the reviews are mixed. I’d say the majority of people are happy with them and would rate them about a 7/10. I think probably the biggest hurdle many people have with the AMPs is that they just don’t offer a ton of flexibility in user adjustments. Meaning, it can be difficult to turn the aids on and off or adjust the volume (via the key-chain wand which comes with the AMPs). Another common problem is the AMPs just not fitting right because they are not custom molded. But for the majority of people that I have fit them with who have a low-key lifestyle and just want a very basic hearing aid, the AMP has been good enough.
The bottom line is if you don’t have an incredibly active lifestyle and are looking for your first very basic hearing aid without a lot of functionality but will still get the job done, it’s probably worth a try to give the AMPs a shot- depending on your loss. The AMPs are a great short term solution for a lot of people. They are however, not a great long term solution because as your hearing loss gets worse, you will likely reach a point where the AMPs just aren’t strong enough and you’ll need to purchase a stronger device. As always, your hearing provider will make the best recommendation for you based on your hearing loss, lifestyle, budget, and cosmetic preferences, but the above should give you a little more insight to the AMP hearing aid.
Below are a few good reviews I found of the AMP hearing aids on YouTube.
- General overview- how to insert, remove, & batteries
- Nice review showing how AMPs are programmed
- Starkey promo video
If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.