Analogue and digital hearing aids

Hearing aids are often described as being analogue or digital, where these terms refer to the technology used within the hearing aid. However, traditional analogue technology is quickly giving way to digital, as it has done in many fields of electronics – and within a few years, it is likely that only digital types will be available.
 
 
Analogue hearing aids. 
 
A microphone picks up sound and converts it into small electrical signals that mimic the pattern of the sound. The signals are then amplified (made louder) and fed to an earphone (receiver) so you can hear them.
 
 
Digital hearing aids
 
These too contain a microphone to pick up sound and an earphone (receiver) for you to hear the amplified sound - but the main difference is that digital hearing aids have a tiny computer inside to manipulate the signals coming from the microphone. This means that they can be more easily programmed to amplify some frequencies and intensities more than others – enabling them to be better customised to the user’s hearing loss at different frequencies.
Digital hearing aids can also be programmed to pick up sounds coming from a specific direction – which can be convenient when the user is, for example, having a face-to-face conversation with a single person while in a noisy situation.

 

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