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Bricks and Mortars selling OTC Hearing Aids/sound amplifiers: Which Hearing Aid is the Best?

a blonde woman is wearing behind the ear hearing aids


The Reasons Behind the Emergence of OTC Hearing Aids


Before 2017, the only option available for individuals with hearing loss to hear clearly without a doctor's prescription was solely hearing amplifiers.

However, in 2017, the FDA amended medical regulations to make it easier for consumers to purchase hearing aids that were certified by them without the need for a separate prescription. This change led many hearing aid companies to focus more on OTC (Over-the-Counter) hearing aids.

The following are the reasons behind the emergence of OTC hearing aids.

1. 2017 FDA Regulation Change: In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) altered regulations pertaining to hearing aids, allowing the sale of OTC hearing aids without the requirement of a doctor's prescription in some cases.

2. Increasing Demand for Affordable Hearing Aids: Many individuals found traditional hearing aids to be prohibitively expensive. The introduction of OTC hearing aids provided a more affordable alternative, making it easier for a larger number of people to purchase hearing aids.

3. Growing Aging Population: The aging population in the U.S. has been steadily increasing, leading to a higher prevalence of age-related hearing loss. OTC hearing aids offer a more accessible hearing solution for this aging demographic.

4. Technological Advancements: Advancements in digital technology have improved hearing aid capabilities. OTC hearing aids provide better sound quality and customizable options, allowing users to receive personalized hearing support more easily.

5. Rising Public Health Awareness: Increased public awareness and concern for healthcare have encouraged individuals to have more open discussions about their hearing issues and to actively seek solutions. OTC hearing aids align with this growing healthcare consciousness by offering viable options.


Nowadays, with the easy availability of hearing aids and hearing amplifiers in my vicinity, many people are experiencing the joy of regaining lost hearing more frequently than before.




The Difference Between Hearing Aids and Sound Amplifiers


This article will introduce the top three hearing assistive devices that are bestsellers at the most easily accessible Brick and Mortar stores in the vicinity. These hearing assistive devices include hearing aids and sound amplifiers.

Hearing aids and sound amplifiers serve similar purposes in amplifying sounds to assist individuals with hearing difficulties, but they have significant differences in terms of design, functionality, and regulation. Here's a breakdown of the key distinctions between the two:

Hearing Aids:

  • Medical Devices: Hearing aids are classified as medical devices and are subject to strict regulations in many countries, including the United States. They require a prescription from a licensed audiologist or hearing healthcare professional.

  • Customized: Hearing aids are custom-fit to the individual's specific hearing needs. Audiologists conduct comprehensive hearing assessments and program the devices to address the user's unique hearing loss pattern.

  • Advanced Signal Processing: Hearing aids employ advanced signal processing technology to amplify sounds selectively based on the user's hearing loss configuration. They can filter out background noise and provide a tailored listening experience.

  • Speech Enhancement: Many hearing aids have features like speech enhancement, noise reduction, and directional microphones to improve speech clarity in noisy environments.

  • Comfort and Discretion: Hearing aids are designed for comfort and discreetness, often being worn inside or behind the ear, making them less visible.

  • Cost: Hearing aids can be relatively expensive, with prices varying based on features, technology level, and brand.


Sound Amplifiers (Personal Sound Amplification Products or PSAPs):

  • Consumer Electronics: Sound amplifiers, sometimes referred to as Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs), are consumer electronics devices designed to amplify sounds. They are not considered medical devices.

  • No Prescription Required: Sound amplifiers do not require a prescription or professional fitting. They are typically available over-the-counter or online.

  • One-Size-Fits-All: Sound amplifiers are generally one-size-fits-all and lack customization for individual hearing profiles. They provide a uniform amplification of sounds.

  • Limited Signal Processing: Unlike hearing aids, sound amplifiers have limited signal processing capabilities and do not provide the same level of noise reduction or speech enhancement.

  • Use Cases: Sound amplifiers are often used for recreational purposes, such as birdwatching, hunting, or listening to lectures, rather than specifically for addressing hearing loss.

  • Cost: Sound amplifiers are usually more affordable than hearing aids, but their performance and features may be less sophisticated.


It is not necessary for every individual with hearing loss to wear expensive prescription hearing aids. In cases of mild hearing impairment or tinnitus symptoms, using a formal hearing aid can be cumbersome and expensive due to its appearance and cost. In such situations, the available options are Over-the-Counter (OTC) hearing aids or sound amplifiers.




Near Bricks and Mortars selling OTC Hearing Aids/sound amplifiers

shopping carts have been displayed infront of the yellow brickwalls


I have chosen 'Costco' and 'Walmart' as the most accessible Bricks and Mortars stores where you can purchase these items. Both brands are large retail chains scattered throughout the United States, making it highly likely that there is one in your neighborhood.




Best 3 : Hearing aids / Sound Amplifiers from Costco 


costco signboard in the night time


At Costco, they only carry a single model of OTC hearing aids.



Brand Name : Bose
Product Name : Lexie B2
Hearing aids / Sound Amplifiers : Hearing aids
Price : $999

  • Pros
Even during extended wear, it causes less ear fatigue compared to typical BTE (Behind-the-Ear) models.Despite being an OTC (Over-the-Counter) hearing aid, it offers excellent sound quality similar to prescribed hearing aids.It comes with various pre-settings.


  • Cons
BTE (Behind-the-Ear) design : it may not be suitable if you desire an inconspicuous appearance; it can look like a quite noticeable hearing aid.There may be initial discomfort when wearing it.The pre-settings are not excellent.No charging case like AirPods, which can be inconvenient for extended use.It is only capable of Bluetooth connectivity for calls, and not suitable for listening to music or watching videos (And also the connectivity for calls is iOS exclusive).

Wearing a behind-the-ear (BTE) style hearing aid at a somewhat higher price may be a bit conspicuous compared to in-ear types, but most reviews rated the sound quality of this model as excellent. Moreover, even individuals who had previously worn prescribed hearing aids evaluated this hearing aid as outstanding, making it arguably the top performer among the OTC hearing aids we'll discuss today.


  • Recommendation: Those who prioritize sound quality and functionality, even if it means a somewhat noticeable appearance due to the somewhat higher cost of BTE hearing aids.





Best 3 : Hearing aids / Sound Amplifiers from Walmart


walmart app


Walmart offers a variety of OTC hearing aids and sound amplifiers. Due to the wide range of models available, the affordable options were quite popular.

Below are the top three OTC hearing aids/sound amplifiers sold at Walmart.




Brand Name : Go Hearing
Product Name : Go Prime OTC Hearing Aids
Hearing aids / Sound Amplifiers : Hearing aids
Price : $299


  • Pros

A discreet earbud-style design that doesn't resemble a traditional hearing aid.

Comes with a rechargeable case for convenience during extended outings.

When optimized through settings, it provides satisfying sound quality.

  • Cons
Shorter battery life compared to other hearing aids:        8 hours when using only the voice amplification function.

Issues with ear dome fittings: Lack of consideration for various ear sizes.

Problem with one of the hearing aids not charging.

Disappointing sound quality.

Volume permanently decreasing during use.

Durability issues.

Uncomfortable fit.

Unsatisfactory customer support.



Brand Name : HearingAssist
Product Name : HearingAssist Connect Rechargeable Full Streaming Hearable Kit
Hearing aids / Sound Amplifiers : Hearing aids
Price : $599


  • Pros

A modern design that closely resembles AirPods.

Bluetooth streaming available for all types, including calls, music, and hearing aid functions, allowing seamless switching between them.

Pre-settings are available for common scenarios like restaurants, making it convenient.

Battery lasts everyday activities without issues.

  • Cons
Disappointing Bluetooth connectivity considering the price: Frequent disconnections when pop-ups occur within the application, requiring numerous attempts.

Difficulty in setting adjustments to match individual hearing profiles (application-related issues): Resulting in unsatisfactory sound quality, including occasional screeching.

Unsatisfactory customer service response.

Shorter battery life during video/music streaming modes.



Brand Name : Go Hearing
Product Name : Go Lite OTC Hearing Aids
Hearing aids / Sound Amplifiers : Hearing aids
Price : $199


  • Pros

Decent hearing aid functionality considering the price when optimized for hearing settings.

A design that resembles Bluetooth earbuds.

Decent battery life.

  • Cons
Protracted adaptation period with unsatisfactory results for hearing settings.

Dissatisfying sound quality, including persistent whistling noises.

May require the use of the included screwdriver.

Unsatisfactory customer service response despite purchasing warranty insurance – advised to purchase a new one if one side is lost.

May not fit well in small ears due to large ear domes.

Indeed, Walmart's OTC hearing aids/sound amplifiers are budget-friendly, but they haven't received high ratings in terms of quality.

  • Recommendation: Beginners who have not yet tried OTC hearing aids/sound amplifiers. 

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