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.
If you struggle to hear conversations and make out dialogue on TV shows, movies, or other media, you’re probably curious how well personal sound amplifiers like the Bellman Mino can enhance your listening experience.
As someone who has tested this device first-hand, I can tell you the Mino is an excellent compact amplifier that makes sounds much easier to hear and understand.
The digital processor significantly reduces background noise that can drown out the audio you want to focus on. It clarifies everything from phone calls to theater performances.
Standout features like the dual microphones help you engage in conversations in noisy restaurants where you may miss words. Custom audio settings allow you to tune amplification to match your hearing needs precisely.
In my testing, the directional microphone helped conversations stand out from restaurant background noise. The omni-directional mic enhanced discussions at home.
Lengthy battery life means you can listen all day without recharging worries. The telecoil system also makes venues with hearing loops more accessible.
While the lack of Bluetooth and smartphone support is disappointing, the Mino excels at providing customizable, all-day sound enhancement that can improve your daily listening experiences.
- Small and lightweight for discreet use
- Dual microphones for quiet and noisy environments
- Built-in telecoil system for accessibility
- Works seamlessly with hearing aids
- Multiple listening device options (headphones, earbuds, neck loop, etc.)
- Fully customizable audio settings
- Easy to use with minimal buttons
- 29 hour battery life on 4 hour charge
- Great audio amplification and sound quality
- Not Bluetooth enabled, cords required
- Button labels could have higher contrast
- Customizations require some tech knowledge
- No connectivity with mobile phones
- Can’t disable magnetic coupling
- Some hearing aid interference possible
- Not the cheapest option
Bellman Mino Personal Amplifier
Video Review of the Mino
If you prefer videos over reading, here is my video demonstration and walkthrough. You’ll also get to see the Mino in action as I tested and used it!
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 to better boost the specific sounds 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 may be a little more tech-savvy and prefer a more discreet listening device.
If you are interested in a simpler, more straightforward amplifier, check out my review of the Bellman Maxi Pro.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Turn on the device. Press the power button in the center of the device until the lights come on.
- Insert earbuds or put on headphones. Adjust your headphones to your preferred fit.
- Adjust the volume and tone. Enjoy clear, digital audio!
Charging the Mino
The Mino has a universal charging adapter and a specific plug connector for your 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 that 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.
Using the Mino for TV Listening
You can use the Mino to amplify the sound of your TV. 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) to do this. 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 simplify it, Bellman sells a cable kit on their site that works with 3.5 mm and RCA jack outputs. This setup should work with almost any TV, 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, you must press a special series of keystrokes 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.
Bellman Mino Personal Amplifier
The Mino is loaded with features that give you many options to improve your overall hearing. Here are more details about these features and how they help.
The Mino uses a fully digital processor, which also offers noise cancellation and compression for clear sound while reducing background noise or “static”.
There are minimal buttons on the Mino which is a bit surprising for all the features it has. A Mic button, a Power button, and a Telecoil button are on the top row. A large 4-way rocker button is just below that 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.
To increase or decrease the playback volume, press the + or – buttons on the rocker switch in the middle of the Mino. For safety, limiting the max volume in the custom settings is possible.
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), 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.
The Mino comes with two different built-in microphones, each having a very specific purpose. The omnidirectional 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 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 done by pressing the “MIC” button on the Mino. A green light means you are using the omnidirectional, and an orange light means the directional microphone is being used.
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 headphones for people who don’t want the device to draw much attention.
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, ensure you are at a facility offering this. Then, 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.
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.
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!
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 (TV, computer, tablet, etc).
- Bass Reduction. This sets the level of amplification of low-frequency bass settings.
- Tone Control Blocking and Preset. If you don’t want to use those, you can use this to deactivate the tone control buttons. 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.
You need to enter the customization menu to make any of these changes to your settings. This menu can only be accessed with a very specific sequence of keystrokes. So, you or an elderly user can’t accidentally get into 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.
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 owner’s manual has a full troubleshooting guide that addresses the most common questions and walks you through a solution matrix for each potential problem.
Pros: Why the Mino is a Great Option for Those with Hearing Challenges
- The small, lightweight size allows you to discreetly improve hearing wherever you go. No more drawing unwanted attention with bulky devices.
- The dual microphone modes make it easier to engage in conversations, even in noisy environments like restaurants where you may struggle.
- Built-in telecoil support provides accessibility at theaters, churches, and public venues where you may miss information.
- Seamless hearing aid compatibility means you don’t have to remove aids to use it. Enjoy amplification together.
- Customizable settings allow you to tune the Mino precisely to match your personal hearing needs.
- Minimal, easy-to-use buttons prevent frustration. No complex controls to deal with.
- All-day battery life gives you confidence it will be ready when you need it, without constant recharging.
Cons: Potential Limitations to Consider
- Lack of Bluetooth requires cords to connect to TVs and devices, which may be tricky for those with dexterity challenges.
- Customization involves some technical steps which could be difficult for less tech-savvy users. Assistance may be needed.
- No smartphone connectivity limits use for phone calls and audio on-the-go. You’ll need separate amplification.
Based on my first-hand experience testing and using the Bellman Mino regularly, I can confidently recommend it as an excellent personal amplifier option for those with mild to moderate hearing impairment.
The digital processor delivers clear audio amplification that makes conversations, TV shows, and other media much easier to hear and understand. The dual microphone modes allow you to adapt to different sound environments seamlessly. Custom audio settings provide further personalization options.
While the lack of Bluetooth and mobile connectivity is disappointing, standout features like the built-in telecoil system, long battery life, and hearing aid compatibility outweigh those drawbacks for me.
If you don’t mind a corded connection to devices, the Mino’s performance and customization features make this compact amplifier a great choice for enhancing your hearing ability. I’m very satisfied with the improvements to my everyday listening experience.