Some commercial earplugs can perform as well as hearing aids. The result, presented Nov. 15 in the journal iScience, could help a large portion of people with hearing loss gain access to more affordable sound amplification equipment. Hearing loss has wide-ranging health implications, but professional hearing aids are expensive and require multiple visits to otolaryngologists and audiologists for fitting. These factors lead to major barriers for many to access professional hearing aids. According to one estimate, nearly 75% of people with hearing loss in the United States do not use a hearing aid. Apple came out with a feature called “Live Listen” in 2016 that allows people to use their wireless earphones, AirPods, and iPhone for sound amplification. This feature makes AirPods functionally similar to a personal sound reinforcement product, which is designed for people with normal hearing for certain occasions, such as birdwatching.