Listen Up Personal Amplifier: Does it Work?
By: Lauren Keith

Some pretty bold claims from this new $15 Personal Amplifer called "Listen Up," and we'll test each one.  Listen Up promises you can turn up the sound on the ear phones and hear whatever you want, without disturbing others.  Listen Up says you can hear secret conversations, even from across the street, and you can also watch TV at a low volume, without disturbing others!
Let's start at the park. Can we really hear a conversation from far away?
"Guys, go down the slide!"  says Mary Richards to her niece and nephew who are playing.
Meantime, I'm wearing the Listen Up ear phones with the volume turned all the way up.  I can see she's talking, but I can't make out one word, and she's not even that far away from me.
So far I'm not impressed with Listen Up, but let's see what Mary Richards thinks. I move about 15-20 feet away from her and talk to her new puppy while she puts on the Listen Up device.
"I had that turned all the way up, and I could see your mouth going, but I couldn't hear you!" she says.
The listen up device claims to turn "ordinary hearing into extraordinary hearing."
"I did not think it was extraordinary. It was defintely less than that," says Mary.
Now, let's get to the part of this test I call the "spy factor."
In the commercial, Listen Up says you can hear conversations from across the street.  We head to downtown Cape Girardeau where I spot some construction workers talking from across the street. I can hear faint talking, but even when I put on the Listen Up with the maximum volume, I still cannot actually make out what the guys are saying.  That definitely isn't like the commercial.  Plus, we waited to listen in, when no cars were coming down the street.  
It seems the Listen Up actually muffles my hearing, because when my photographer Grant Sneed tried to give me a camera cue, I couldn't even hear him!  He wasn't even that far away from me!
However, lend me your ear.... this Does it Work test has one last part.
"I would say if this works, it might be a good thing," says 93-year old Mary O. Damitz of the Chateau Girardeau in Cape.
Mary O. Damitz wears hearing aids. She insists I  call her "Mary O."  After she replaces her hearing aids with the Listen Up ear phones, we turn on her TV.  She says she can hear it just fine when the Listen Up is turned up all the way.  However, when we test the claim:  "you can watch TV without disturbing others", we find different results.  I turn the volume down on the TV.  You can still hear the TV faintly.  However, Mary's wearing the Listen Up, and she can't hear a thing!
"I don't know if they're talking or not. I don't hear a thing," says Mary. 
I also tried it with Listen Up at maximum volume and the TV at a low volume----and couldn't hear much.  I would still have to turn up the TV, which in turn could disturb others!  So, yet again, another claim that doesn't live up to its promise, in my opinion.
Still, Mary says she's impressed this $15 device at least allows her to hear without her hearing aids.
"But if you wanna listen to the TV, when somebody else doesn't, I know it would not work," she says. 
All right....let's get a final word from our testers.
"I'd give it a D. It amplifies it a little bit, but no.  Plus, you can't control what you want to make louder.  I could hear birds chiriping in the park more than anything else, not people talking.  I have no need for it," says Mary Richards.
But Mary O. is still impressed the device allows her to hear when she normally couldn't.
"I'd give it a"B", she says.
And that's going to bring the final average grade up, even though I'm not impressed with the Listen Up, given the claims it made in the commercial.  So, for $15, you might just try it for yourself.
Listen Up----listen to this: You get a C- on this Does it Work test.   I want to make it very clear, the Listen Up device states it is not intended to be used as a hearing aid.  You should consult a hearing specialist, if you think you may have a hearing loss.  I bought the Listen Up at Bed, Bath and Beyond which has locations in Carbondale and Paducah.