Multiple advances in hearing aids have been made in recent years, with perhaps the most significant having come through digital hearing aids. Compared to traditional, analogue hearing aids, digital hearing aids offer sharper sound quality, as well as much more precise tuning to your particular form of hearing loss. More recent models and series such as Phonak Hearing Aids also feature a range of extra settings that can create high quality sound ranges. How, then, do digital hearing aids differ from traditional types?
Traditional Hearing Aids
Older hearing aids used an electrical amplification mechanism that involved microphones and transistor to boost existing sound. While effective for sufferers of hearing loss, these analogue hearing aids can often struggle to deal with distortion and background noise. The level of sound amplification achieved, and difficulty with low frequency background noises, means that traditional hearing aids have limited capability for some users.
While analogue hearing aids still convert sound waves into electrical waves, they struggle to deal with precise changes in sound volume; one of the most common complaints for users of analogue hearing aids is that they have to constantly adjust settings, and have to put up with cumbersome and more prominent devices, the result of the larger technology used. However, most analogue hearing aids have now been superseded by digital devices, which offer many additional benefits.
Digital Hearing Aids
Compared to analogue hearing aids, digital hearing aids use computer technology and a microchip to provide more finely tuned sounds; digital aids can be programmed to reduce or completely cut out distortion, and pass sound waves back through amplifiers in clearer ways. Audiologists can also set digital hearing aids to be as close as possible to the level of hearing loss that you experience, while the aids themselves are able to handle a much greater dynamic range of sounds.
The difference in terms of sound quality is significant, with digital hearing aids able to provide everything from full surround sound, to connectivity with Bluetooth devices and smartphones that make it easier to use devices when driving, or when you just need to get better volume from your phone. Smaller digital hearing aids are also much less likely to need retuning than analogue hearing aids, and can be fitted both behind and over the ear, and as virtually invisible devices that are placed into the inner canal of the ear.
When choosing your digital hearing aids, it’s worth, then, appreciating how much hearing aid technology has progressed. Brands like Phonak, for example, can provide everything from StereoZoom to FlexControl, and Rear Ear Sound, and can also be set up for driving a car or being on a plane. Prices for digital hearing aids typically start from about £500 for high quality sets, and can progress up to £1500 for devices with an extensive range of features. Depending on what you need, there are also options for receiving free hearing aids through the NHS, but without as many of the features, or options for customisation, as you can find with premium branded devices.
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Patrick Hegarty ardent blogger, who suffers from hearing loss. He likes sharing his experiences and thoughts about hearing aids with everyone, to help people understand the issues of hearing loss.