Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name





Barbara E. Weinstein

Subject Categories

Speech Pathology and Audiology


Personal sound amplification products, Etymotic BEAN, speech-in-noise, attitudes


Despite the remarkable prevalence of hearing loss in the United States, only a small percentage of these individuals utilize hearing aids. Many factors have been associated with the non-adoption of hearing aids, including financial reasons and the stigma associated with hearing aid use. Personal sound amplification products (PSAP) have been recently introduced as a more discrete and less costly type of assistive listening technology. While the Food and Drug Administration does not approve these devices for individuals with hearing loss, they are advertised as being useful for boosting soft sounds and amplifying speech in the presence of background noise.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the future usefulness and acceptability of personal sound amplification products (PSAP), particularly the Etymotic BEAN Quiet Sound Amplifier, for twenty-five normal hearing listeners between 21 and 35 years of age. Benefit to speech recognition ability in the presence of background noise was evaluated. A brief questionnaire assessing attitudes toward the BEAN was also administered.

The results revealed no significant differences (p= 0.38745) in speech recognition ability in noise while utilizing the Etymotic BEAN when compared to the unamplified condition. However, questionnaire data determined that the BEAN was rated most often by participants as “good” or “very good” (mode= 4.0 or 5.0) in regard to ease of use, physical comfort, appearance/aesthetics, and sound quality. Participants most often rated the BEAN as “poor” or “fair” (mode= 2.0 or 3.0) in regard to its perceived benefit to speech understanding in noise. When examining willingness to pay, subjects most often reported they would be “somewhat willing” to pay $200-$300 dollars for the BEAN if they needed sounds to be amplified. These results suggest positive attitudes towards and likely acceptability of personal sound amplification products in the future. Lack of benefit to speech understanding in noise is possibly due to the use of normal hearing participants. Further research should investigate the use of personal sound amplification products by participants with slight to mild hearing loss.

Poster_JRhoades (1).pdf (488 kB)