About Tac Amplifier

By Derek Lakin
HighYa Staff
Published on: Jul 9, 2018

Bell + Howell’s Tac Amplifier is advertised as a powerful, easy to use device that can deliver an adjustable volume boost whenever you need, making it ideal for a wide variety of situations.

These include out in the field, listening closely in a noisy environment, watching TV at a volume that’s comfortable for everyone, or enjoying a sermon or lecture. And with its discreet, comfortable design, the website indicates no one will even know you’re wearing it.

But, is there really nothing else like Tac Amplifier on the market today, as emphasized in the commercial? And if not, how can you make the most informed decision before handing over your hard-earned money?

Over the next few minutes, we’ll place you on a path toward taking the next best step.

PSAP vs. Hearing Aid: How Do Devices Like Tac Amplifier Work?

At first glance, it might be easy to confuse Tac Amplifier with a more traditional hearing aid. After all, they tend to boast the same core features, including a built-in microphone that picks up external sounds, internal circuitry that amplifies these sounds and transmits them through an inner ear speaker, and the ability to adjust volume.

However, there's a small—but significant—difference between the two; primarily, in their intended use. For example, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a hearing aid is defined as “an electronic device usually worn in or behind the ear of a hearing-impaired person for amplifying sound.”

Comparatively, the Food and Drug Administration defines a personal sound amplification product (PSAP) as “wearable electronic product that is not intended to compensate for impaired hearing, but rather is intended for non-hearing impaired consumers to amplify sounds in certain environments, such as for hunting or other recreational activities.”

The FDA goes on to explain that because of hearing aids’ intended design, they typically feature more complex functionality, programmability to “address an individual’s degree of hearing loss across sound frequencies to improve speech intelligibility,” and are often require programming and optimization by an audiologist before use.

On the other hand, while PSAPs can feature a wide range of functionality, they’re often plug-and-play. Still, they emphasize that hearing aids and PSAPs can feature some cross-functionality, depending on the model.

Will you pay a lot of Tac Amplifier’s features? Let’s take a look in the next section.

How Much Does Tac Amplifier Cost?

Another typically big difference between these types of devices is the price. Whereas traditional hearing aids can cost thousands, one Tac Amplifier is priced at $19.99, plus free shipping. You can also purchase a second device during checkout for an additional $6.95 fee.

All Tac Amplifiers come with a 30-day refund policy, less S&H charges and any fees associated with the BOGO offer, as well as a lifetime guarantee. Customer support can be reached at 844-475-3594.

Who Manufactures Tac Amplifier?

As a brand, Bell + Howell has been in around since 1907, and was initially based out of Chicago, IL and manufactured media technologies like projectionist and camera equipment. In 1997, however, after nearly nine decades in business, the company was liquidated and dissolved and is currently owned by E. Mishan & Sons (EMSON), Inc.

Today, the brand focuses primarily on manufacturing a range of technology-related As Seen on TV products, including many others in the same lineup like the original TacLight, along with subsequent releases like Tac Light Max, TacLight Lantern, and Tactical Lighter.

As a company, EMSON Inc. is based out of NY, NY and held an A rating with the Better Business Bureau, based on eight customer reviews and nearly 100 closed complaints, as of 6/26/18. No details were available, although it appears a company representative responded in each instance.

Tac Amplifier vs. Other Personal Sound Amplifying Products (PSAPs)

With rapid advances in technology over the last several years, dozens (perhaps even thousands) of personal sound amplification devices have been released, with some priced as low as Tac Amplifier (> $20), while others are priced almost as much as a traditional hearing aid.

Even when only referencing bare-bones models like Tac Amplifier, we encountered dozens of meaningfully similar competitors who offered adjustable volume, along with discreet designs. Given the sheer number of options you have at your disposal, how can you choose the one that will best meet your needs?

As is almost always the case when referencing any medical concern, the first person you should speak with is your physician, who can run the appropriate tests to determine if you would benefit more from a traditional hearing aid, or from a PSAP alternative. In addition, they can help you gain a better understanding of which features on each device might deliver more bang for your buck, based on your specific diagnosis.

From there, the AARP recommends considering whether or not paying extra for additional features like the ability to connect with other electronic devices (including smartphones) via Bluetooth, extended battery life, and various ear tips for a customized fit will deliver meaningfully more value for your money.

With these crucial factors in mind, we contacted the support number listed on the Tac Amplifier website looking for additional details, although none of the representatives we spoke with were able to provide further insight. This left us with important unanswered questions, such as:

  • What’s the decibel range for volume, as measured in gain?

  • It appears the only way to adjust volume is with a small (e.g., designed for eyeglass repair) Phillips head screwdriver. Is this correct?

  • Along these same lines, won’t users require good eyesight in order to adjust? Are they out of luck if the plastic becomes stripped due to misalignment?

  • What kinds of batteries does Tac Amplifier use? How long will they last? How can users replace these batteries? Again, won’t the process require keen eyesight?

  • Does each device come with interchangeable ends to fit different ear canal shapes and sizes?

  • How does the microphone work? Does it only pick up sound from one direction (omnidirectional), or multiple directions at the same time (multidirectional)?

  • Does the device feature any noise filtering? What about background sound reduction technology?

Despite these information gaps, let’s see what kind of conclusion we can reasonably come to about Tac Amplifier, based on the publically available information we’ve discussed so far.

» See Also: Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs): A Comprehensive Buying Guide

Is Tac Amplifier the Right Sound Amplification Solution for You?

We’ve already outlined the topic in depth, but it’s important enough that it bears reemphasizing here at the end: If you’re regularly experiencing difficulty hearing in a variety of situations (e.g., at home watching TV, sitting at a table in a busy restaurant, out in nature, etc.), it's vital that you begin your journey by speaking with your primary care doctor.

If they recommend investigating a personal sound amplification product (PSAP) instead of a formal hearing aid, as with most other consumer electronics, it’s often the case that you get what you pay for. In other words, the more money you hand over, the more features you’ll gain access to (in addition to many of the unanswered questions regarding Tac Amplifier we discussed in the previous section), such as:

  • The ability to filter incoming sounds. This way, only speech is amplified, while background noises are reduced.
  • App connectivity, which often allows users to switch between presets and otherwise adjust sound settings on the go.

Along these same lines, Consumer Reports performed in-depth PSAP testing back in 2017 and found that devices under $30 (one of which was a different model from Bell + Howell) benefitted testers very little. In fact, they were concerned that they might even damage hearing by overamplifying sharp noises.

Regardless of whether you’re looking at a basic model like Tac Amplifier, or a top-of-the-line PSAP priced over $400, the reality is that like any other product (electronics or otherwise), no single device will work for everyone. In this regard, the company stands behind Tac Amplifier with a 30-day money back guarantee if it doesn’t meet your sound amplification needs.

Just keep in mind that you’ll lose your $6.95 fee for the second device (if you took advantage), plus whatever you’ll have to pay to ship the device(s) back to Bell + Howell if it doesn’t meet your sound amplification needs.

» For Further Reading: Which Hearing Aid Is the Best? A Comprehensive Buying Guide


Read 23 Tac Amplifier Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Customer Rating: 1.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 1 4 star: 1 3 star: 1 2 star: 0 1 star:  20
Bottom Line: 13% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 23
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  • 5 out 6 people found this review helpful

    BATTERY?!

    • Nevada,
    • Oct 20, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Don't usually do reviews, but, I ordered this for the Mrs., she has hearing loss in 1 ear, Tac Amp looked good, nice price, we ordered, received in good time, and all worked as advertised, BUT, try and replace the batteries! NO information in the booklet, no information on web page, no information on BATTERY! Or Packaging! And the 800 number is only open Mon-Fri 8-8 Est time. What is the number/size of the battery?! So I can buy/replace them as needed!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Junk

    • North Carolina,
    • Sep 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I just received the Tac Amp today. However, I quickly found out that all I heard was white noise, it wouldn't adjust no matter how I tried. I was looking forward to finally turn my TV down somewhat but I guess that was wishful thinking. Please don't buy this because it is a waste of your money.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Good amplifier

    • Sep 27, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    There are many bad reviews about Tac Amp, I think it’s about the regular one that operates with a battery. I bought one with premium quality with a rechargeable battery and my experience has been very good. It amplifies with crystal clear sounds and no background NOISE (I cap to emphasize). In the beginning, I had difficulty turning it on and adjusting the volume. Now I know how to operate it and every day I charge it and wear it until the charge spent, about eight hours. I use it on my left ear that has 35% normal hearing. The customer service is very good, very responsive, solved problem, like returning and exchange.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 17 out 17 people found this review helpful

    Total junk!

    • Memphis, TN,
    • Aug 9, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    My girlfriend got me two Tac Amplifiers from an ad on the TV. I read all the instructions and did what it said. Both of them wouldn't do anything except buzz in my ear. Couldn't turn it down. Could only turn it off. There is no number to call anywhere in the package for troubleshooting or returning items. She won't be getting me anything else again after getting burned on these items. I could understand one of these Tac Amps not working correctly, but both of them bad...(junk).

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 21 out 21 people found this review helpful

    Save your money, it doesn't work

    • Louisiana,
    • Aug 7, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    We purchased 2 and neither one worked. All was installed correctly, played with volume, etc., and all you hear is background noise and static. Garbage, don't waste your money. You will be out some money because of course, you have to pay to return ship their non-working products. This is the 2nd thing we have purchased from Bell & Howell that does not work.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 19 out 20 people found this review helpful

    Garbage!

    • Detroit, MI,
    • Jul 31, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Do not buy, this thing is a scam, doesn’t work for crap! I ordered a second for $6, the worst six bucks I ever spent. Would not give this to my worst enemy! All you will hear is static, the sound is muffled, I can hear better with my owned ears without the unit.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 22 out 22 people found this review helpful

    Company is a SCAM

    • Huntington ,
    • Jul 9, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have had the exact same experience as every single customer they have ever scammed a product to. I received mine after 3 months and 12 days, I luckily only ordered one and after I ordered it I saw online how much of a mistake I made.

    Neither one would turn on.

    I want you people to know that this company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and that is ridiculous.

    If you were scammed by any product with TAC in front of it, REPORT THEM!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 20 out 21 people found this review helpful

    Still waiting

    • Boise, ID,
    • Jul 9, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Ordered two with charger and carrying bag on 03/18/19. As of today, 06/27/19, no product and no word from the company. Looked up tracking number, order number, etc. on the company website - shows shipped 03/19/19, but DSL shows no shipment under the tracking number supplied by Bell & Howell. Will call company in am, demand either immediate shipment or refund. Then to the Idaho Attorney General...?

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 29 out 29 people found this review helpful

    RIPOFF

    The rubber tip will not stay on the device. Therefore, the device will not stay in my ear, the device is not the same as shown in the advertisement. Unfortunately, I've waited too long to return it. I would advise all interested consumers to not waste your money.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 26 out 26 people found this review helpful

    Amplifies background white noise

    • Indiana,
    • May 8, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    The Tac Amplifier magnifies the background white noise louder than what you want to listen to. I turned the television volume down to see if I could hear it better with the amplifier, but instead, it amplified the background white noise and muffled the television sound. I am returning the device.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 23 out 24 people found this review helpful

    Tac Amplifier

    • Ontario, Canada,
    • May 2, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I bought two of Tac Amplifier but unfortunately, I don't feel my hearing is better and the most important part is in the first day I tried to put the battery inside of Tac Amplifier and it fell to the ground and I couldn't find it. I looked online to find what kind of battery I have to buy it but there is no information anywhere even on Google. The battery itself doesn't have any number or name I can go and buy. Another problem, it doesn't have on and off button, so each time I want to use I have to put it in, and when I don't want to use it take it out. Finally I look on Tac Amplifier's website and could not find any email and so on, only you see "order here" or "order now"...

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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