Now hear this

Since the invention of the first electronic product in 1920 to help people with hearing loss, hearing aids have evolved from a large box on a table to the first body-worn device, and now head-worn designs. In the modern era, the cost for a custom-fitted pair of hearing aids from an audiologist ranges from $2,200 to $7,000.

In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration coined the acronym PSAP (for personal sound amplification product) to draw a distinction between sound amplifiers and hearing aids. PSAPs aren’t subject to state or federal regulations and are available without medical referral or prescription.

PSAPs like Etymotic’s BEAN are available direct to consumers at a lower cost than custom-fitted hearing aids. According to Etymotic, BEAN has a slim profile, is worn completely in the ear, and enhances soft sounds so that speech can be heard more clearly, while also allowing louder sounds to pass through naturally as if nothing is in the ears.

BEAN is helpful for consumers who need a boost in sound for worship, television and other situations, depending on background noise and proximity to a sound source, says Etymotic. The company, which is located in Elk Grove Village, Ill., can be reached at 847-228-0006 and