An In-Depth Review of the Mino Personal Speech Amplifier

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

The Mino is small, lightweight and easy to use personal sound amplifier that is designed for active people who prefer a more discreet way to hear better. But, is it the best choice for you and your needs? Let’s find out.

Income Disclosure: I recommend products based on my personal experience working with seniors. I may earn a commission on items purchased from links in this guide. Learn More.

I was sent a Mino Personal Amplifier to use at no charge for the purpose of this review. However, I received no other compensation and the opinions are my own based on my own personal experience with the device.

Hearing loss seems to affect almost everyone eventually. For some, it happens when we are way too young. For others, it may not happen until we’ve been gray for decades.

But, there are products out there to help mild to moderate hearing loss without jumping right into hearing aids. The Bellman Mino Personal Amplifier is one such device.

But, is it a good alternative for you? Let’s take a closer look!

Review Summary

Here is a quick summary of the information you will learn more about in this review. Keep reading for the details and full explanations.

Bellman & Symfon Mino Personal Amplifier
4.5

Overall, the Mino Personal Amplifier will serve people with mild to moderate hearing loss very well! It amplifies and improves sound quality extremely well and works with multiple devices - including hearing aids. The device is small, lightweight, and easy to use with easy to read buttons and controls. The batteries charge quickly and have more than a full day's supply of power.

If the Mino was Bluetooth-enabled and worked with mobile phones, it would be nearly perfect. Some elderly people and less techy seniors though may find it a bit technical to customize.

So, if you or the user have some experience using technological products (or know someone who can help), I highly recommend the Mino Personal Amplifier.

Pros:
  • Small, lightweight and discreet
  • Works with multiple types of devices
  • Dual microphones for quiet and noisy environments
  • Built-in telecoil system
  • Works with hearing aids
  • Options can be customized
  • Easy to use with minimal buttons
  • 29 hours of battery life with 4 hour recharge
Cons:
  • Not Bluetooth enabled
  • Some technical understanding recommended
  • Button print could be better contrasted
  • Does not work with mobile phones
See it at Bellman

Video Review of the Mino

If you prefer videos over reading, check out the video version of this review. You’ll also get to see the Mino in action!

What is the Mino Personal Amplifier?

Bellman & Symfon’s Mino is a personal sound amplifier (PSAP) is designed to provide excellent sound amplification of the environment and conversation around you. It has two built-in microphone options for varying sound situations that can be switched at the touch of a button. You can even personalize it so that it better boosts the specific sounds that you may struggle to hear.

The is designed to be small and light enough to be stashed easily in your pocket. This personal sound amplifier is best-suited for more active people who are maybe a little more tech savvy and may prefer a more discreet listening device.

If you are interested in a simpler, more straight-forward amplifier, check out my review of the Bellman Maxi Pro.

mino amplifier package contents
Mino Personal Amplifier System from Bellman & Symfon

How Does It Work?

The Mino Personal amplifier works by taking in the sounds around you through its built-in microphones (or external devices through corded connections). Then, it digitally enhances and amplifies the sounds playing them back to you through your preferred listening device, usually headphones or earbuds.

Setting Up the Mino for Use

After unboxing the Mino, follow these steps to set it up and get started using it:

  1. Charge the device. The Mino comes with built-in, rechargeable batteries plus an adapter. Plug the adapter in the wall then plug the other end into the Mino. Both the charging pin on the adapter and the charging port on the Mino are yellow for easy identification.
  2. Plug in the headphones. Your headphones (or earbuds, neck loop, etc.) plug into the side of the unit into the 3.5 mm audio port.
  3. Turn on the device. Press the power button in the center of the device until the lights come on.
  4. Insert earbuds or put on headphones. Adjust your headphones to your preferred fit.
  5. Adjust the volume and tone. Enjoy clear, digital audio!

Charging the Mino

The Mino comes with a universal charging adapter plus the specific plug connector for your individual country. When it arrives you need to attach the plug to the adapter with a simple twist motion. Note that you only need to do this for the initial setup.

The charging port on the Mino has a yellow ring which matches the yellow-tipped charging pin on the adapter. This makes it very clear where to plug the charger into your Mino.

A full charge lasts about 29 hours and it takes about 4 hours to fully recharge the batteries. This is more than sufficient for using it every day with nightly charges.

mino charging close-up
Close up of charging port and charging adapter

Using the Mino for TV Listening

You can use the Mino for amplifying the sound of your TV. To do this, you’ll have to use a corded connection between your TV and the Mino (or for other audio/video devices such as MP3 players or computers). There is no Bluetooth option for the Mino.

The good thing is that this is a simple connection once you have the right cord setup. There aren’t any buttons or syncing processes to go through!

For example, my TV (like most) has a 3.5 mm headphone out / audio out jack on the back. The Mino uses a 2.5 mm or mini headphone connection for its input. I already had a long 3.5 mm male to male audio cable (this one) so I purchased a 3.5 mm to 2.5 mm adapter (this one). The 3.5 mm side went into my TV and the 2.5 mm plugged into the Mino.

To make it even simpler, Bellman sells a cable kit on their site that works with both 3.5 mm and RCA jack outputs. This setup should work with almost any TV out there – even older models.

Using it with Hearing Aids or Cochlear Implants

The Mino can also be used with hearing aids and Cochlear Implants. To use this feature, you will need the neck loop option from Bellman. Just plug the neck loop into the headphone out port on the Mino and sync it with your hearing device (see instructions for your particular device). The sound will then be sent wirelessly direct to your hearing aids or implant.

Personalizing the Device

You can make quick “tone control” changes to the treble and bass by using the tone control buttons on the front of the device. You can easily increase or decrease the treble to personalize the Mino for your personal preferences. Increased treble makes conversation easier to hear and decreases the rumble of bass from music.

However, the Mino can customize much more than just the simple treble. Using the customization menu, you can disable buttons and functions, limit volume, and control left and right balance and more.

To get into the customization menu, there is a special series of keystrokes you must press in the right order. This prevents you from accidentally getting into the menu and potentially messing up the current settings.

I have more details about this in the Features setting below.

>>>Buy the Mino Personal Amplifier at Bellman Audio<<<

Features

The Mino is loaded with features that give you lots of options to really improve your overall hearing. Here are more details about these features and how they help.

Digital

The Mino uses a fully digital processor which also offers noise cancellation and compression for clear sound while reducing background noise or “static”.

Buttons

There are minimal buttons on the Mino which is a bit surprising for all the features it has. There is a Mic button, Power button, and a Telecoil button on the top row. Just below that is a large 4 way rocker button for operating the volume and tone controls.

The buttons are raised and adequate in size. The print is fairly easy to see and is a dark gray print on a light gray button. People with significant vision problems may have a difficult time seeing them. But, because there are so few of them, it’s easy to learn which button is where.

mino button locations
Mino Button Locations

Volume Adjustment

To increase or decrease the playback volume, just press the + or – buttons on the rocker switch in the middle of the Mino. For safety, it is possible to limit the max volume in the custom settings.

Tone Adjustment

Think of the tone adjustment as a simple treble/bass adjustment like you probably have on your favorite radio. When you want more treble (higher pitch sounds) like when someone is speaking, use the right arrow to turn up the treble. If you prefer more bass (lower pitch sounds) then use the left arrow button to reduce the amount of treble.

You can disable these buttons or set a default preset level in the custom settings menu. That way, your preferred level will be playing whenever you turn the device on.

Dual Microphones

The Mino comes with two different built-in microphones, each having a very specific purpose. The omni-directional microphone picks up sounds all around you and is best used for quieter settings.

In more noisy environments, you can use the directional microphone instead to focus in on the person you are talking to or the specific sound you want to hear. Essentially, you can “aim” it at the sound you want to hear.

Switching between the two is simply done by pressing the “MIC” button on the Mino. A green light means you are using the omni-directional and an orange light means the directional microphone is being used.

mino microphones close up
Close up of Mino’s Dual Microphones

Listening Output Options

When purchasing a Mino, you can choose which listening output device you prefer to use: headphones, earbuds, stetoclips, or a neck loop for use with hearing aids. You can use multiple options by ordering them as accessories.

Every Mino also comes with a Microset which consists of a lapel microphone and a single earbud. Connect it to the headphone input and the sound will be picked up by the small lapel microphone instead and passed to a single earbud. This is a more discreet option than using the headphones for people who don’t want the device to draw much attention.

Loop/Telecoil

The Mino has a built-in telecoil function that works with hearing loop systems offered at some ADA-compliant theaters, churches, and other public venues. This lets the audio from the event be picked up by the Mino electronically.

To activate the feature, make sure you are at a facility that offers this. Then, simply press the T (for telecoil) button on the front of the Mino to switch to the telecoil function.

Clip & Lanyard

The microphones on the Mino are angled in a way that they pick up sounds no matter if they are laying down flat (horizontal) or upright (vertical). The device comes with a clip that you can use to place it on your belt, shirt pocket, or even a sleeve.

Mino Audio Ports
Mino audio ports for connecting headphones and accessories via audio cables

Size and Weight

The Mino is very small which is a plus for people who prefer a more discreet option. It is less than 4 inches high, 2 inches wide, and barely an inch thick. Plus it only weighs 2.5 ounces including the built-in battery of course.

Battery Life and Charging

The Mino has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery with sufficient battery life to get you through a full day’s use. The average battery life is 29 hours with continuous use and it takes about 4 hours to fully recharge the battery. The charging port and plug are both yellow so it’s easy to know the proper place to plug the charger in.

If you are using your Mino daily, just put it on to charge every night before bed and it will be ready to use when you wake up. That way, you will always have a full day’s charge – plus some!

Ergonomic Design

The Mino features a sleek, curved ergonomic design that fits naturally into the hand. The outer casing is soft touch rubber and very durable.

Custom Audio Settings

There are lots of settings you can customize with the Mino to really personalize the device to your own personal preferences. The settings you can choose are:

  • Balance Control. You can control the left to right audio balance if you have more severe hearing loss in one ear or the other.
  • Basic Attenuation. This limits the maximum volume for safety and prevents sudden loud noise from causing potential injuries.
  • Stereo/Mono. You can select Stereo or Mono input for the line in (TV, computer, tablet, etc).
  • Bass Reduction. This sets the level of amplification of low frequency bass settings.
  • Tone Control Blocking and Preset. You can use this to completely deactivate the tone control buttons if you don’t want to use those. You can also set the default tone level when the device is turned on.
  • Disable Telecoil. Use this setting to disable the telecoil function and button if you rarely visit telecoil locations.
  • Reset to Factory Default. Resets all settings back to the original.
  • Software Revision. For unit servicing and diagnostics only.

To make any of these changes to your settings, you need to enter the customization menu. This menu can only be accessed with a very specific sequence of keystrokes. So, you or an elderly user can’t accidentally get in the menu and mess up your settings.

Here is a video from Bellman that walks you through that process:

Returns and Warranty

If you purchase your unit direct from Bellman, you may return the unit for any reason within 30 days assuming it is still in the original condition. The return shipping costs will be up to you.

The Mino has a 2 year warranty for any defects in material or workmanship. If you have problems with the Mino, Bellman will repair or replace the unit. They may also choose to refund the purchase price. Accessories such as headphones and batteries may have a shorter warranty period.

Product Support

If you need help with your product, there are several options for you. Bellman offers a customer support line that is open from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM EST Monday to Friday. There is also an email option.

The owners manual has a full troubleshooting guide which addresses the most common questions and walks you through a solution matrix for each potential problem.

Pros & Cons: Is the Mino Right for You?

There really is a lot to love about the Mino. But, it has some technology that might not be appropriate for everyone. Here’s what I like about it and what I think could be improved.

What’s To Like?

  • The Mino is a small and lightweight device that hides away in a pocket for discreet use. The included Microset makes it even more discreet.
  • It is a multi-function device that can be used as a general sound amplifier, a TV listener, with hearing loop systems and more.
  • The dual microphones improve your ability to hear in both quiet and noisy environments at the touch of a button.
  • The telecoil system is built-in and works without any additional accessories required.
  • The Mino can be used with hearing aids by adding the neck loop function.
  • You can customize certain options on the Mino to tailor it to your unique needs.
  • The system is easy to use overall with just a few buttons that are easy to read.
  • The batteries provide more than enough power for a full day’s use and recharge quickly.

What’s Not to Like?

  • Because it does not come with Bluetooth, you must use a corded connection with TVs and other audio devices.
  • Customizing the device does require a bit of basic technical understanding that some seniors and elderly people may struggle with.
  • The device is not designed to work with mobile phones.

Conclusion

Overall, the Mino Personal Amplifier will serve people with mild to moderate hearing loss very well! It amplifies and improves sound quality extremely well and works with multiple devices – including hearing aids. The device is small, lightweight, and easy to use with easy to read buttons and controls. The batteries charge quickly and have more than a full day’s supply of power.

If the Mino was Bluetooth-enabled and worked with mobile phones, it would be nearly perfect. Some elderly people and less techy seniors though may find it a bit technical to customize.

So, if you or the user have some experience using technological products (or know someone who can help), I highly recommend the Mino Personal Amplifier.

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