Digital Hearing Aids
Hearing aid technology has changed a lot over the past few decades, but at their core, hearing aids have always been made of four basic parts: a microphone, a processor, a receiver and a power source.
Virtually all hearing aids on the market today are digital. A digital hearing aid is a hearing aid device that receives sound and digitizes it (breaks sound waves up into very small, discrete units) prior to amplification. A traditional analog hearing aid simply makes the sound wave larger to make sounds louder.
The processors inside today’s hearing aids are more programmable than ever before, allowing your Hearing Instrument Specialist to precisely fine-tune the amplification characteristics and customize other special features based on your individual hearing needs.
Hearing aid technology can be broadly divided into basic and advanced groups, based on the sophistication of features available in the processor. Today, even basic digital hearing aids offer more benefit to individuals with hearing loss than ever before.
Digital Hearing Aid Features
- Directional microphone systems allow you to hear better in noisy situations and can boost sounds coming from the front of the wearer and reduce sounds coming from other directions.
- Feedback management systems combat the feedback loops that occur when a microphone and speaker get close to each other. Feedback management systems cancel the feedback BEFORE it becomes an annoying whistle.
- Bluetooth compatibility enables hearing aids to wirelessly connect to mobile phones, MP3 players, and other Bluetooth compatible devices. You could even connect them to your TV or cell phone, and stream sound directly through your hearing aids.
- Digital hearing aids can be fine-tuned and programmed using a computer to meet your unique needs.
- Impulse noise reduction is similar in purpose to the digital noise reduction, impulse noise reduction improves listening comfort. This system detects any transient loud noises, such as car keys rattling, typing on a keyboard or dishes rattling, and softens them instantly.
- FM compatibility or Frequency modulation (FM) compatibility is a wireless feature that enables hearing aids to connect with FM systems, sometimes via a special attachment to the hearing aids called a boot. FM systems can be used alone or with hearing aids. Like telecoil, FM systems improve the signal to noise ratio without causing a feedback loop in the hearing aids. FM compatibility is especially important when selecting hearing aids for children because these systems are commonly used in educational settings to ensure that the teacher’s voice is heard above the clamor of the classroom.
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Today's Hearing Aid Technology
Sound enters a hearing aid through the microphone. It is processed by the circuitry inside the device and then delivered to a receiver (loudspeaker). The sound enters the wearer's ear canal from the receiver, either directly in the case of a custom style hearing aid or through tubing, which is connected to an earmold in the case of a behind-the-ear hearing aid.
Most hearing aids on the market today use sophisticated digital circuitry. The word digital refers to the method of sound processing. In the case of digital sound processing, the sound is coded mathematically into bits. This level of precision affords the audiologist flexibility to customize the hearing aid to your specific hearing loss requirements.
Like anything else in the world of technology, there is an array of digital hearing aid technology, ranging from basic to advanced. The more sophisticated the technology, the greater the number of features available on the hearing aid.
Find out what it sounds like before you buy! Call or send us a message for your FREE demonstration today!