Going Digital with Your Hearing Aids   

In Hearing Aids by Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A

Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A

Hearing aids have become much more sophisticated in the last twenty years. Today’s devices are smaller, more reliable, and more powerful in all respects. Almost everything in our world has been taken over by digital technologies, and hearing aids are no different. However, there are still some hearing aids out there that use analog amplification methods.

But does digital always mean better? What is the difference between the two? This piece will answer both of these questions. But first, let’s take a look at how a hearing aid works.

What is inside a hearing aid?

All hearing aids are designed to improve the loudness of sounds entering the eardrum so that the hard of hearing person can better understand voices and sounds around them. For this to happen, hearing aids require three critical components:

  • A microphone that gathers and converts acoustic energy (sound waves in the air) to electric power.
  • An amplifier to increase the volume of the sounds.
  • A receiver which transforms the electrical energy back into acoustic energy (sound waves), much like a miniature amplifier.

What is the difference between digital and analog hearing aids?

What separates wireless hearing aids from analog hearing aids is what happens inside the amplifier.:

  • Analog amplifiers: These are simple analog amplifiers. They increase the volume of specific frequencies of sound, and that’s about it – they usually focus on the higher frequencies between 2,000 and 8,000 Hz where the most hearing loss occurs.
  • Wireless amplifiers: Digital speakers are sophisticated and complex. They are small but powerful computers that turn sound waves into numeric code. They evaluate and adjust it before delivering it to your ear. Digital amplifiers will remove background noise, suppress feedback, zoom in on the sounds and voices you’ll need to hear, and more. The effect is much clearer hearing in the broadest range of listening environments possible.

Our digital hearing aids better?

In a nutshell, yes.

Digital hearing aids typically provide more versatility and are usually user-configurable due to their ability to split the sound into different frequencies. Here are some of the main advantages. 

  • Best for background noise: In digital hearing aids, the sound processor can discern the difference between longer-term power signals, such as intrusive background noise, and fast-acting signals, such as voice, which is critical in distinguishing between sounds that are important for you to hear and sounds that are merely distracting background noise.
  • Smaller: Miniaturized device technology means smaller sized, more discreet hearing aids are possible. These fit directly into the ear canal, making them almost invisible.
  • Customizable settings: A hearing professional may configure digital hearing aids to interpret sound differently, depending on the background. Users can achieve optimal hearing for various situations by changing settings to suit the environment they are in. 
  • Customizable sound: You can fine-tune digital hearing aids for each user. Every person hears different frequencies of sound at different decibel levels. Digital hearing aids enable the hearing professional to change the amplification for each sound frequency based on each person’s unique hearing loss characteristics.

What else should I keep in mind when choosing hearing aids?

When choosing a hearing aid, the choice between analog and digital is not the only one you’ll make. Other factors which should be considered include:

  • Type of hearing aid: There are so many types of hearing aids to choose from. The right one for you depends on your level of hearing loss, and the kinds of features you are looking for.
  • Hearing aid features: From Bluetooth connectivity to rechargeability, certain features can vastly improve wearing a hearing aid.
  • Your lifestyle: If you have a more active lifestyle, you will need a digital hearing aid that can see you many more sound environments. 

To ensure you get the best performance out of any hearing aid, you need a qualified, certified hearing professional who knows how to program them correctly. 

We have worked with people across Indianapolis and the surrounding areas improve their hearing for more than 35 years. Contact us today to see how we can help you.