For those in need of sound amplification, there are two kinds of hearing aids available on the market. The more modern digital hearing aids are the result of a giant leap in hearing aid technology. Compared to the older analog hearing device, these are a big upgrade. However, many long-time users of an analog hearing aid might not want to get used to a new technology. Here’s a quick rundown on how both kinds work so you can make an informed decision.
Analog hearing aids were the only sort available in the market as recently as a decade ago. This hearing aid picks up sound and amplifies it. It doesn’t differentiate between sounds so you will end up hearing everything at the same volume. It also doesn’t automatically isolate sound or tune out background noises. Analog users can program and adjust their devices to suit the environment they are in. A typical model will offer a variety of listening modes for different kinds of environments. The biggest advantage of an analog hearing aid is that the sounds you hear aren’t digitally processed and so feel closer to the sounds you would hear naturally. They also have lower price points, longer battery life and are easier to set up than digital hearing aids.
Digital hearing aids pass sound through a computer chip called a Digital Signal Processor or DSP. The DSP picks up sound, manipulates it and processes it so that the wearer of the hearing aid gets a highly sophisticated output. Digital hearing aids amplify certain sounds over others, isolate sounds and automatically shifts to a different range for the comfort of the wearer. It can also identify noise and direction of sound much more efficiently than an analog hearing aid. A digital hearing aid is lighter, smaller and more convenient to wear, less prone to feedback and monitors the environment to give you optimal hearing. They can even connect to other technology and devices like mobile phones and computers and can stream music or act as an alarm. With a digital hearing aid, you get to enjoy a device that is specially adapted to your specific needs.
Whether you choose an analog or digital hearing aid, make sure you buy one tailored to the results of your audiology exam.