Etymotic QSA Personal Sound Amplifier Review

PROS: The Bean is easy to purchase, setup, and maintain. It requires no manual adjustment because a built in sensor atomically enhances soft sounds and adjusts the sound level to an optimal mode.

CONS: The two sound level settings may not offer enough sound customization for some users. The in-ear style may be uncomfortable for some ears.

SUMMARY: The Bean is a sophisticated in-ear hearing amplifier that can be hugely beneficial for someone who is looking for a low cost alternate to hearing aids, who only needs amplification some of the time. They have two models a basic model, and a T-coil equipped model that allow the user to get sound directly from loop systems and telephones.

The Bean Quiet Sound Amplifier is an in-ear amplifier developed for people who need a hearing boost when at church, while watching TV and to help communicate with friends and family.  The Bean is a high end amplifier created by a company called Etymotic Research, that has a 30 year history auditory research, hearing loss prevention, high-fidelity hearing aid circuitry and consumer electronics. The Bean comes in two models, the Bean and the T-coil Bean; if you are interested in the type of amplifier you should be aware of the difference between the two models. One standout features on this amplifier is the high quality of the high-frequency amplification to help with speech intelligibility in both quiet and noisy conditions. Another great feature is the built-in sensor that automatically adjusts to the surrounding noise level.

Comfort

When you are looking for P.S.A.P the most important feature of the product is that it is comfortable for you to wear. The bottom line is that if it is uncomfortable, you aren’t going to wear it. Some people don’t like anything in their ears so they have to use a hand held device with headphones, others prefer the behind the ear style. The Bean is what is known as an in-ear model, meaning that it is meant to be placed directly into the ear canal. This style isn’t for everyone, some users may find it uncomfortable and would prefer the behind the ear style. On the positive side, it doesn’t have the tube going behind the ear – which can be very noticeable on some models.

It is worth trying different styles to see what you find the most comfortable. The Bean has a 30-day return policy, so if you buy them and just don’t find them comfortable, you can always return them (if done with the 30 return policy window).

The Bean does come with different ear tips that can help you find the right fit for you. In order for the Bean to work properly if needs to have a tight fit in the ear canal, which isn’t the best feeling if you aren’t used to it.

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Sound Quality

The Bean model has 2 levels of enhancement: normal and high. You can adjust it depending on the communication situation that you are in. It uses advanced technology to clarify speech. The Bean is able to automatically enhance soft sounds and can also automatically adjust the level of sound around you. It is an amplifier so it takes some time to get uses to allow your brain to adjust to what sounds to concentrate on

It is important the ear tip is sealed properly with the ear canal so you can get the best sound quality. You may need to play around with the ear tips, if you are finding the device uncomfortable or are having trouble getting the sound that suits your hearing loss.

If you purchase the T-coil Bean you will be able to hook into loop systems while in public venues like churches and auditoriums. The t-coil can also be used when talking on the phone The t-coil works by turning off the regular microphone on your hearing amplifier and only picking up the sounds from the phone.  So the sound is focused on what is being said on the phone.

Setup

One of the nice things about some of the high end hearing amplifiers is that they are incredibly easy to set up and start using. The Bean is no exception; you can literally take it out of the box and start using it. There is no need for adjustments, as the device makes the sound adjustment automatically depending on the situation.

Who would benefit from this device?

Just to be clear, the Bean is not a hearing aid, but it can be helpful for various types of difficult listening situations. The people who would benefit most from this type of product are:

  • Anyone who needs a bit of a hearing boost in certain situations (restaurants, ono-on-one conversations, meetings)
  • Someone who isn’t ready to wear a hearing aid
  • If you need help hearing the TV
  • If you need help hearing when a speaker that is some distance away

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What is the difference between The Bean and The Bean T-coil model?

If you are looking for a device that will help you hear when you are at a worship service or in a classroom or at a play where the venue has a hearing loop, you should consider getting the Bean T-coil model. This model lets so hook into the loop system and get the sound directly to your ears (you aren’t getting all the sounds around you amplified). The T-coil model is also good if you talk on the phone a lot. When on the phone you can switch to the T-coil setting and the microphone on the Bean gets turned off, and you just pick up the sound that is coming from the phone. Most high end hearing aids are t-coil (telecoil) equipped.

The Basic model lets you switch between a normal and a high level of enhancement, but you don’t get the benefit of being able to turn off the microphone and connecting directly to a loop system or a phone.

The basic model is available in bronze, platinum or gold colors, while the T-coil Bean is only available in platinum.

Battery Life

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The battery life of the Bean is very good. It uses the same type of batteries as a lot of hearing aids (#10 Zinc-air batteries). You should be able to get about 9-10 days of use out of them if the device is worn continuously. You can increase the battery life if you turn off the device when not in use and open the battery door.

The #10 Zinc-air batteries are easy to get and are relatively inexpensive. The Bean also has a built-in low batter warning signal to alert the users when the battery needs replacing.

Warranty

When shopping around for hearing amplifiers, it is important to pay attention to the return policy and warranty of any products you are interested in. Since everyone’s hearing loss is so different, it may take a few tries to find a product that is right for you. If you are spending a few hundred dollars on a device there is a high chance it might not be right for you, and you will need to return if.  Etymotic Research offers a 30-day return policy from date of purchase if bought directly from Etymotic. If you purchase from Amazon you fall under their return policy which lets you return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon.com within 30 days of delivery for a full refund. Keep your original packaging.

The Bean also comes with 1 year warrant if bought from an authorized Etymotic reseller.

Help and Support

Etymotic Research has a great customer service reputation. If you need help with the Bean you can reach them between 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Central Time, Monday through Friday. Their customer service may be contacted using their Contact Us page or by calling Toll Free 1-888-389-6684 in the US or 1-847-228-0006 outside of the US.

Pros

  • Can be purchased from any source without referral
  • Easy setup
  • It automatically enhances soft sounds, you don’t have to adjust that yourself
  • The built-in sensor amplifies only soft sounds

Cons

  • The two sound level settings may not offer enough sound customization for some users.
  • The in-ear style isn’t for everyone, some users find them uncomfortable compared to behind the ear style.

Overview

The Bean is available through online retailers for approximately $300 per ear or $550 for a pair. Two devices are not required, but you tend to hear more effectively with two if you feel you need enhancement in both ears. The starter kit includes the amplifier, batteries, filter tool and extra filters, leather carrying case, 7 ear tips of different sizes and materials

Check it out on Amazon