The digital age has officially hit the hearing industry with the introduction of digital hearing aids in the last couple of years. Until quite recently, all hearing aids were analog, but they’re now being rapidly replaced by digital technology.
While both types provide the same function, are comprised of similar components, are powered by batteries, and pick up sound with microphones, there is one key difference – how they handle electrical signals.
Analog Hearing Aids explained
Analog aids increase the volume of continuous sound waves, even those you may not necessarily want to hear – speech and background noise. They very literally function like a microphone to a speaker, using continuously varying electrical signals to produce sound.
But not all analog technology is created equal. Higher-quality hearing aids compress sound using automatic gain control, which limits the volume of loud sounds while still allowing softer sounds to be heard. Some even have settings that can be programmed based on a users’ specific case or preference.
Digital Hearing Aids explained
Unlike analog, digital hearing aids use a digital signal processor that transforms electrical signals from sounds into digital binary codes. This digitalisation allows the signal to undergo advanced manipulation and adapt to changing environments with acute precision. Digital aids allow users to tailor and process sounds with accuracy that would be impossible with analog devices.
Apart from that very key functional difference, digital hearing aids also offer users a great deal of features and flexibility not available to analog users. They’re equipped with directional microphones and sophisticated algorithms that identify important sounds and eliminate unnecessary background noise.
Advantages to both
While digital may sound like the far superior option, there are still some advantages to going analog. First off, they’re typically more affordable and are sometimes more powerful than newer digital models. They’re also quite simple to use and understand, comparatively. However, if you’re willing to spend a bit more and are seeking something that allows you to program very specific needs, filter out background noise and pair with other devices (laptops, phones, etc.), then you may consider the more advanced digital options.