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The Olive Branch

PSAP vs Hearing Aid...What's Best Device for Me?

PSAP vs Hearing Aid...What's Best Device for Me?

What is a PSAP? Can it replace my hearing aid? If you or a loved one in your family is looking for a hearing device, you’ve probably started to ask questions like this one. There are many hearing aids and sound amplification products on the market, and sometimes it's hard to tell what is the best for you.

What is a PSAP? (Personal Sound Amplification Product)

The term PSAP stands for "Personal Sound Amplification Product" and as the name suggests, is a device that utilizes technology to amplify sounds or provide clarity in noisy environments.

Until recently these devices were limited in usefulness and not at all comparable to traditional hearings aids. Recently, however, PSAPs have been rapidly gaining popularity as their improved technology and much lower prices start to blur the previously clear line between them and hearing aids. Improved sound amplification technology, Bluetooth connectivity, and customizable hearing settings are turning PSAPs into a convenient and affordable package for those who are looking to enhance their hearing.

What Are The Main Differences Between a PSAP and Hearing Aids?

1) Function

While both PSAPs and hearing aids are designed to help with listening, their functions and intended audiences are very different. 

  1. Hearing aids are FDA approved sound-amplifying medical devices intended to compensate for impaired hearing. Specifically, they are Class 1 medical devices that are manufactured and programmed for a person’s specific hearing loss and are distributed by hearing healthcare professionals, such as licensed audiologists. 

  2. PSAPs are not intended to make up for impaired hearing. They are, however, perfect for people who aren’t hearing impaired but sometimes have difficulty understanding conversations in noisy places or hearing TV sounds when watching with someone that prefers a different volume. 

2) Price

One of the most common reasons people avoid hearing aids is the price. In addition to the device itself costing upwards of $4000, the tests and examinations by an Audiologist and subsequent fittings and maintenance only add to the cost. In addition, most insurance plans and companies do not cover hearing aids, requiring one to pay completely out of pocket. Conversely, the cost of a PSAP is often only around $250-500 with no required tests or additional fees.  

3) Accessibility

A hearing aid requires a professional examination and fitting by a doctor or audiologist. Especially at the time of this article’s writing, due to Covid-19 that can be a challenge for many people. PSAPs, on the other hand, can be purchased from the comfort of your home. In addition, some specific models now offer their own hearing tests and customizable hearing settings. 

Which Should I Choose? Points to Consider When Making Your Purchase


The most important factor when choosing is to consider the severity of your hearing loss.

If you have been diagnosed by an audiologist or doctor with hearing loss, then a PSAP will not provide the level of hearing assistance you need. 

If you sometimes find yourself having difficulty focusing on people's voices during conversations or unable to hear soft sounds, then maybe a PSAP is all that you need! 

Other factors in your decision may include things like 

  • Battery. While the vast majority of PSAPs are rechargeable, many hearing aids still use batteries. The simplicity and savings of a rechargeable battery over a traditional replaceable battery is one factor to consider. 

  • Size and Fitting Style. Hearing Aids come in many different styles - In-The-Canal (ITC), Behind-the-Ear (BTE), Receiver-in-the-Ear (RITE). Likewise, PSAPs also come in a variety of sizes and shapes - consider the comfort and fit of your ear as well! 

  • Bluetooth Connectivity. Bluetooth hearing aids and PSAPs are becoming more common as technology improves - the convenience of being able to connect your phone to a Bluetooth hearing aid or PSAP and use it as an earbud is widely utilized feature, and this can be a make or break function for many. 

The Olive Smart Ear

The Olive Smart Ear is an example of a PSAP that can fill a wide range of needs. With the Olive Smart Ear’s designated application, the Olive Smart App, you can run a customizable and thorough hearing test that will detect which frequencies your specific ear needs additional sound amplification in.

Bluetooth connectivity also lets your Olive Smart Ear double as a Bluetooth receiver, letting you take calls with a tap of the finger or listen to your favorite music as a Bluetooth earbud. All of this in a rechargeable, discreet, and stylish package.


As you can see, technology has advanced to offer many more options for those looking for new hearing experiences. With more affordable options outfitted with greater technology, these products can give you the sound boost you need in a format and price tag that’s right for you.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our blog "The Olive Branch" for more information on sound and hearing!

The information in this guide has been written using the following reliable sources:






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