By Stephanie Bryant, CHHA-BC Resource Centre

Digital hearing aids are the newest kind of aids. You may have heard about digital hearing aids. The difference between digital and ordinary analogue hearing aids is in the technology inside the aids and how they work. If you think about how compact discs have improved sound quality over records, you’ll get an idea of the difference between digital and analog sound. They can be behind-the-ear, in-the-ear or in-the-canal models.

ear1_fullHowever, digital hearing aids contain a tiny computer. The aid converts sound into a series of numbers – information that the computer can understand. Digital aids, therefore; have much more flexibility for processing sounds than analogue aids. Digital aids can be programmed and adjusted by your audiologist to respond to your particular lifestyle needs, so that you can hear better in different situations.

One of the biggest problems hearing aid wearers face is in hearing what they want to hear – such as conversation – when there is a lot of background noise. Digital aids are marketed as being able to give better sound when there is noise in the background. Most cut out some background noise, but it is worth remembering that some analogue aids are designed to do this, too.

Digital aids have other advantages as well. Some are designed so that they whistle less than analogue hearing aids, and they may also last longer than analogue hearing aids because they have fewer parts. They also process sound in different ways to make it easier to understand speech, even when there is no background noise. Like analogue hearing aids, digital hearing aids vary, and may have different features. Any features specific to your particular hearing need will be offered or discussed with your audiologist.