Understanding Hearing Aid Technology


By Gail Hubbard, Aud. Doctor of Audiology

All hearing aids are small amplification devices with three basic components: microphones to pick up sound and convert it to an electronic signal, amplifiers to make the signal larger, and receivers to convert the magnified electronic signal back to sound. In addition there are filters to reduce unwanted components of sound and tiny computer chips that govern how the components work together. So is there really any difference between hearing aids?

It’s in the chip!

Every hearing aid manufacturer has a team of engineers who apply current knowledge about how we hear to develop solutions for the problems caused by hearing loss. Each team has its own idea how to best overcome those problems. They develop rules or algorithms that govern how the computer chip directs the operation of the hearing aid components. Those algorithms are unique to the manufacturer and are constantly being improved.
In addition, the computer chips used are constantly being improved to handle more information more quickly. The faster the computer chip can analyze incoming sound to determine whether it should be enhanced ( speech) or reduced (noise) and instruct the components to respond as conversation changes the more effective the hearing aid can be.

Something for everyone

We all have different listening needs. Some people lead quiet lives preferring to communicate with only one person at a time, enjoying the quiet at home, and spending time reading or researching. Others enjoy a very active life, attend lectures and concerts, socialize often, go on tours, take road trips, visit with grandchildren. Because we have different lifestyles and preferences, hearing aid technology is designed to address those differences…but not in the same instrument.
Basic technology is designed for the budget minded person who can understand conversation clearly when it is loud enough. It works well in quiet and has limited controls. Listening in noisy places or with multiple talkers is more difficult.
Advanced technology addresses more difficult hearing losses and when there is more background noise. It works well for small group situations and can be used with various accessories to overcome listening at a distance or in noisier restaurants.
Premium technology provides superior sound quality and maximum flexibility for listening in all communication situations. It provides the best solution whenever hearing is a priority.

Consider a hearing aid consultation

Hearing aid technology is complex. There are many options available that work well when matched to your hearing loss and lifestyle needs. After a complete hearing evaluation and medical clearance for hearing aid use, consider making an appointment with our audiologist for a hearing aid consultation. We can help you find your best hearing solution.