by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady asked,
What is your opinion on the NeutronicEar? It costs $500 and is advertised as ‘reading glasses for your ears’ in a magazine.
The NeutronicEar is just another name for the older Crystal Ear hearing device that has been around for few years now. The two devices look identical. In fact, two of the pictures they use on the NeutronicEar website are identical to the pictures used on the old Crystal Ear website.
The NeutronicEar website is definitely short on contact information—no name, no address, no contact person—so they’re hiding all that information—and people with nothing to hide put that information on their websites. That is a red flag right there.
This is really a hearing aid that is not being marketed as a hearing aid, but as an assistive listening device (ALD) so they can circumvent the need for FDA approval. Notice that the NeutronicEar home page keeps repeating the mantra that this is “not a hearing aid”. Normally you tell your prospective customers what your product is and its benefits, not what your product is not. Another red flag.
It is a one size fits all device—another red flag. Everyone’s hearing is different so obviously we need different settings to best help our hearing. The NeutronicEar is likely set for the “average” or “typical” high-frequency hearing loss. If that is exactly where your hearing is at, this device may work reasonably well in certain situations.
There are no adjustments on the NeutronicEar apart from a volume control. Their website doesn’t say whether it has any compression built in so it amplifies softer sounds while at the same time limiting louder sounds. Thus, we can assume it doesn’t have any (or they would have been sure to mention that feature). Nor is there any mention of a t-coil to pick up signals from other devices. Furthermore, there is no tone control which even cheap ALDs typically have.
All in all, this is a high-priced assistive device (if you give them the benefit of the doubt and consider it “not a hearing aid”. It’s main feature is that it is nearly invisible. In my opinion, it’s main feature should be that it helps people hear better!
As I see it, this is just a smaller version of well-respected assistive devices such as the PockeTalker, but without the functionality of a PockeTalker, and at a 350% inflated price.
If you want a low-cost hearing aid, you can go to Lloyd’s Hearing Aids and purchase a real behind-the-ear hearing aid for less than that too. (Lloyds is a very ethical outfit—I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about them in all the years they have been in business!)
So just from what the NeutronicEar website says and doesn’t say, I urge caution. Very likely you will get much better use of your money by purchasing real hearing aids or assistive listening devices from reputable dealers that are not afraid to let you know exactly who you are dealing with and who accurately advertize their products without trying to circumvent FDA regulations.