When it comes to hearing aids, knowing the difference between digital and analog can make a world of difference.
All hearing aids consist of four components: amplifier, microphone, receiver and battery. The “digital” label refers to the amplifier, which increases the volume of sounds. Analog hearing aids could only do that – make sounds louder.
Today’s digital hearing aids are essentially a tiny computer that can do much more than simply amplify. Here are several of their benefits:
- Directional microphones: This function can help the wearer focus only on the voices they want to hear, turning down surrounding noises. Analog devices require the push of a button for this feature, where digital hearing aids can assess the noise environment automatically and turn on the microphone.
- Removing feedback: If you’ve used hearing aids, you’re probably familiar with the whistling sound known as feedback. Analog hearing aids either controlled this by plugging the ear or replacing loudness with softer high-frequency speech sounds. Digital hearing aids cancel out the whistling before you hear it, while also letting you soft speech sounds.
- Let the music play: While analog devices treated all sounds the same – music and voices included – new digital hearing aids treated the music differently. They are designed to let the wearer hear the tunes the way it was intended, with a refined sound quality not found in analog.
- Manage noise levels: Noise management could be used in numerous ways, including following conversations in loud environments or minimizing annoying sounds such as a computer fan running. Analog devices amplified all noises, while digital aids know to not amplify soft environmental noises but focus on conversations in muddled environments.
- Get connected: Hearing aid connectivity relates to the hearing aid’s ability to connect to other devices – namely smartphones in the case of digital hearing aids. You can connect wirelessly to hear phone calls, TV and music directly through your hearing aids. Analog instruments mainly connected to a device via a cord into the device’s headphone jack.