There are two types of hearing aids available on the market today- analog and digital. While they are vary and price, circuitry, performance, and the way they process sound, both have the same three parts.
The microphone on the aids is the part that gathers the sound waves in the air and changes them to electrical energy. The amplifier increases the strength of the sound wave, and then the receiver converts the electrical impulse back to sound energy.
Analog hearing instruments basically have the ability to turn all the sounds the wearer would hear louder. These hearing aids don’t have the technology in them to differentiate different sounds, which can most of the time leads to some sounds- usually in the low frequencies- being too loud, while others still are not loud enough.
Some analog hearing aids now utilize a program button, making the aid “Programmable.” Byers must be careful when seeing the word “Programmable” as many think that this word is interchangeable with digital.
However, a programmable analog hearing aid simply has a few different programs installed that the user can go back and forth between. This DOES NOT MEAN that the hearing instruments are set to the patients hearing loss.
Digital hearing aids convert sound in a different way from analog instruments, but almost all are programmable as well, whether they automatically adjust for different environments or utilize a program button.
Digital aids take the incoming sound and change it to a digital format before processing the signal and then changing it back to an analog sound that is delivered to the user.
These digital circuits allow the hearing aids to be customized to the user’s loss, allowing the troubling frequencies the user cannot hear to be amplified while the sounds that the user can hear well are not amplified as much.
The more channels a digital hearing instrument utilizes allows more customization and flexibility in listening environments. Channels are different frequency ranges that are tested during the user’s hearing exam, and the more channels that are present allow much more comfort and flexibility in different environments.
While the number of channels available on hearing aids differs from manufacture and instrument, this is only one component of a digital instrument. However, some might agree that this is one of the most important differences between analog and digital aids, as it allows the wearer to benefit from amplification comfortably in different environments.
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