Digital vs. Analog Hearing Aids

When it comes to hearing aids, there are two main options to choose from: digital and analog. Deciding which type is right for you is a matter of researching them both and deciding which one best accommodates your needs. Here’s some useful information on each.

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What Do They Have In Common?

Before considering the differences that set analog and digital hearing aids apart from each other, it can be useful to take a look at what they have in common. No matter what modern-day hearing aid you look at, they will all feature the following components:

• Microphone – Located on the outside of the hearing aid, the microphone draws sound from the air as it comes into the ear and transforms the sound waves into digital signals

• Microchip – This mini-computer is crucial to programming your hearing solution so it works at its absolute best

• Amplifier – Used to enhance the signals to make hearing easier for the wearer

• Battery – Used for powering the hearing aid

• Receiver – Transforms the digital signals into vibrations that then travel through the inner ear to the brain where they register as sounds

Analog Hearing Aids

Although they paved the way for digital hearing aids, the truth is that analog hearing aids still offer quality performance. Analog hearing aids use the same technology as digital hearing aids to capture sounds and process it for human use; it’s only in the amplification process where they differ, whereby the microphone boosts the quality and loudness of the sound.

Digital Hearing Aids

The 1987 release of the first commercial digital hearing aid came after previous decades saw the development of technology that enabled the creation of speech and audio signals, as well as the creation of the microprocessor. The first digital hearing aid required the user to wear a processor on their body along with an ear mounted transducer. Two years later saw the release of the first Behind The Ear (BTE) digital hearing aids.

Digital hearing aids feature many of the same components as analog hearing aids, however the amplification of sound works a little differently. They include a small silicon chip that processes and enhances the sounds they take in before delivering them to the hearing aid wearer at a clearer and more audible level.

Advantages of Analog and Digital Hearing Aids

Analog

• Typically less expensive than digital hearing aids

• Some models can in fact be more powerful than their digital counterparts

• Long-time users of analog hearing aids often prefer them to digital hearing aids

Digital

• Able to minimise unwanted background noise by programming with noise reduction algorithms

• Can program for a vast range of listening environments (e.g. home, work, the movies)

• More flexible than an analog hearing aid and can be easily adjusted for a variety of needs

• Much more readily available these days than analog hearing aids

To determine which option best suits your requirements, make an appointment with your nearest audiologist.

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