Analog & Digital Hearing Aids
10th Jun, 2019
Analog and digital hearing-aids both help you recover your hearing, but they work in very different ways.
Which one is the right choice for you???
Modern hearing aid technology is very different from what was in use even just a decade ago. One of the biggest changes is the rise of digital hearing aids as an alternative to older analog devices. Whether you’re new to wearing hearing aids or you’re a long-time user thinking about a new model, you should know about the ways hearing aids differ and the advantages of each type.
For many years, analog hearing aids were the only kind you could get. Today, analog devices are still available and offer several benefits for users. Analog hearing aids work in a similar way to a microphone hooked up to a speaker. The hearing aid picks up outside sound, amplifies it, and outputs the same sound at a louder volume. Unlike digital hearing aids, analog hearing aids amplify all sound equally. They aren’t able to separate foreground and background noise or isolate certain types of sound.
That said, many analog hearing aids are still programmable, and even offer multiple listening modes for different environments. Some people also think analog hearing aids sound “warmer” because the sound isn’t digitally processed.
Other advantages of analog hearing aids include:
- - Lower prices on average
- - Longer battery life at the same output volume
- - Easier to set up
Most modern hearing aids are digital hearing aids. Digital hearing aids work by passing sound through a DSP, or Digital Signal Processor. This is a tiny computer chip which can read sound waves and process or manipulate them in many ways. Digital hearing aids offer many advanced capabilities and benefits that aren’t possible with analog technology.
If an analog hearing aid is like a microphone and a speaker, a digital hearing aid is more like a computer. It still takes in and puts out a sound, but in between, it can do some amazing things. Digital hearing aids can amplify or eliminate frequencies and noise patterns and even shift sounds to more comfortable ranges. They can also interact with computers, phones, and many other devices.
Digital hearing aids offer some other advantages too, like:
- - Multiple listening modes for different environments or circumstances
- - More adaptable to your specific listening needs
- - Less prone to feedback, such as whistling or whining
- - Usually smaller or lighter than analog hearing aids
- - Constantly monitor your environment to automatically determine the best sound quality
So we can conclude that beyond programmability, the digital hearing aids often offer more controls to the wearer, and have additional features because of their capacity to manipulate the sounds in digital form. They have an array of memories in which to store more environment-specific configurations than analog hearing aids. They can also use sophisticated rules to detect and minimize background noise, to remove feedback and whistling, or to selectively prefer the sound of voices and “follow” those using directional microphones. Price-wise, most analog hearing aids are still less expensive than digital hearing aids, however, some reduced-feature digital hearing aids fall into the same general price range. Some users notice a difference in the sound quality generated by analog vs digital hearing aids, although that is largely a matter of personal preference, not a matter of whether analog or digital is "better."