Losing my sense of hearing slowly over time has not been a pleasant situation for me. Asking friends and family to constantly repeat themselves is always humiliating and frustrating. In the hopes of saving money on new hearing aids, I’ve wasted thousands of dollars trying nearly every over the counter sound amplification device known to man. They all work the same by amplifying the ambient sound around me. My experience has been, these devices increase ALL the sound around me, making it very difficult to zero in on the conversation I’m having with friends.
When I was offered the opportunity to test and review the BEAN QUIET SOUND AMPLIFIER, I was skeptical. I admit, I actually entered the testing phase of this review, expecting the BEAN to work the same as all the rest.
Several things impressed me about the BEAN before I even put them in my ears.
Seeing all the items included in the box with the BEAN is impressive. The first thing I noticed is there are several different size and shaped ear buds included. There are even sponge buds for sensitive ear canals. No two ear canals are the same, so by providing several different types and sizes, I was able to custom fit the BEAN to my ears. I immediately noticed there was no occlusion effect. You know, that hollow voice sound made when you cover your ears and speak.
The very easy to follow instructions include clear photos to help identify every aspect of each step. From installing the battery (8 #10 batteries are included), to replacing the included wax filters, the instructions are simple and very easy to follow. The instructions are also written it six languages, (English, Deutsch, Espanol, French, Italiano and Netherlands) so the world will discover the BEAN.
The kit also includes a leather pouch to carry the BEAN and the accessories.
Although the included accessories are impressive, the operation of the BEAN is the reason to run out and get itfor yourself.
Once I inserted the BEAN into my ear, I wasn’t sure if it was any different from the other amplifiers. The ambient sounds increased just like all the others, but within a few minutes, the difference that puts the BEAN above all other amplifiers became very clear. The improvement was subtle, as voices seem to jump out of the ambient sound and words became understandable and crisp. The BEAN also has a switch to adjust the loudness between normal, (15-dbs) and hi, (23-dbs) making the BEAN capable of even being used while talking on the telephone. Other devices I’ve tried would squeal if I held the phone receiver close to my ear.
Even replacing the #10 battery is very simple. After 9 days of continuous use, or 2 weeks if you turn the unit off when you’re not using it, a slow, quiet clicking sound indicates the battery is running low. Since the battery will only fit in one direction, it’s impossible to install it wrong.
The BEAN also has a built-in sensor that automatically adjusts to the level of sound around you. If the sound is very soft, it is amplified to a level that is easy to hear. If the sound is loud, it won’t be any louder for you than for someone who is not using the BEAN. The BEAN gives a boost for soft high-pitched sounds which is where people often need help hearing. Consonants are naturally softer than other sounds, and vowels tend to fade away. That boost for high-pitched sounds is what provides the clarity for speech, especially when the listening environment is less than ideal or the talker is too far away to be heard clearly.
The BEAN has an automatic circuit that operates an electronic volume control to make soft sounds audible and a tone control to provide a treble boost for soft sounds. Loud sounds (e.g., dishes clattering, paper crunching, wind howling and people shouting) passed through without amplification, just as if the hearing amplifier was not there.
The goal of the BEAN is to provide a low-cost, quality amplification device to assist people who are otherwise unable to purchase hearing aids (e.g., fixed-income seniors, low-income citizens and others). About 80% of people who could benefit from hearing aids do not buy them due to the high cost.
The BEAN provides the advantage over the competition. This is a product that really works. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I entered this product test with damaged expectations. I am now a true believer in just what the BEAN can do. I tried the BEAN expecting the find flaws and came away highly impressed with the quality and precision in the operation of this device.
While doing my research on the BEAN, I learned that Doctor Mead C. Killion, the inventor, is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University, Rush University, and has directed the graduate research at City University of New York. He holds 88 US patents and has written 85 published articles. This incredible man is also an accomplished pianist and violinist and in his spare time he runs half marathons, sails boats and flies a sport airplane. I must say, I am very impressed by this man’s incredible story.
In 1983 Dr. Killion founded Etymotic Research Incorporated. Etymotic Research Inc. is a research and development company that develops products to enhance hearing. Etymotic means, true-to-the-ear, and its products are used by musicians worldwide.
To recap the features of the BEAN:
- Operates so smoothly it is almost undetectable
- Provides high-frequency amplified hearing for the soft sounds of speech
- Excellent speech intelligibility in both quiet and noisy conditions
- 2-position switch offers two levels of enhancement
- Loud sounds are heard naturally with no additional boost.
- Subtle, low-battery signal alerts user before the battery dies
- Long battery life (10-12 days) on a tiny cell
The benefits of the BEAN:
- Can be purchased from any source without referral
- Designed to fit comfortably and look good in either ear
- Ready-to-use right out of the box
- No adjustments needed; no controls to adjust
- Delivers high-fidelity sound quality and amplified hearing
- Handles high inputs of music without distortion
- Does not require custom molds
Overall, in my opinion, the BEAN is simply the best over the counter sound amplifier I have ever used. Believe me, I have used a majority of the devices that are out there.
For further information you can contact the company at the address below.
Etymotic Research Inc.
61 Martin Lane
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007