What Is the Difference Between Digital and Analog Hearing Aids?

What Is the Difference Between Digital and Analog Hearing Aids?

Gina Summers


Digital or analog hearing aids? Don't know what's the difference between the two? Here's a simple guide that explains it.

Digital or analog hearing aids? Which one to choose? Both technologies have the same basic purpose and that is to improve hearing for those who are experiencing difficulty due to hearing loss.

If you’re considering using a hearing aid but can’t decide on which specific technology to use, then here’s a quick guide that may help you with that.

Analog: The Older Technology

Analog hearing aids have been in the market since the 1940s. These types of devices were designed to amplify sound waves and the sounds. The improved sound is then sent to the eardrum. That’s basically how it works.

An analog hearing aid
An analog hearing aid

It’s a very simple type of hearing aid and is usually the more affordable option because it doesn’t have any other features. And its primary function is to amplify sound, it is not capable of processing them optimally or efficiently. Although the sound has been amplified, it has a tendency to be distorted or unclear to the person who is hearing it especially if they are in a loud environment.

Digital: The New Generation

Digital hearing aids, on the other hand, were designed to improve the limitations of their analog counterparts. They use a different kind of technology, particularly computer chips, not just to amplify sound but also to process it so the improved version is clearer and more audible to the user.

A digital hearing aid
A digital hearing aid

Digital devices also have the flexibility to use different kinds of processes and functions, which may further improve the audio quality, something that analog devices aren’t capable of doing. Some digital devices, particularly those that were manufactured by top hearing aid brands, even have noise cancellation features that can remarkably make the audio crisp and clear.

The Notable Differences

Customization: This is one of the key differences of these hearing aid technologies. In general, the analog types offer the same type of device for most users, regardless of their hearing loss conditions, and they usually don’t provide customizations. Their digital counterparts are the more flexible versions since they can be specifically adjusted and even set programs based on the needs of the user. A hearing aid that allows adjustments usually gives better performance since it can be fine-tuned according to the preferences of the individual who’s going to use it. And if, in case, the user’s hearing loss has improved or worsened, further adjustments can be made to improve the device’s performance.

User Control: Compared to analog hearing aids, digital devices offer more user control. This includes increasing or lowering down the volume, turning specific features on or off, switching between programs, and many more. Some even have remote controls, giving the user the ability to adjust the settings without the need to remove the device from their ear. Hearing aids that allow more user control provide a more personalized experience since they can set them to produce sounds based on their preferences and needs. In addition, digital hearing aids often come with remote controls, which allow the person to easily adjust their device without having to take it out of their ear.

Device Pairing: Since analog hearing aids were created prior to the invention of Bluetooth or wireless technology, they cannot be paired with smartphones and other mobile devices. This is what most digital hearing aids are good at. They can be easily connected to various devices including TV’s and streaming devices so that they can directly hear the audio that’s coming from these appliances and electronics.

Cost: Price-wise, analog hearing aids are usually more affordable than the digital types. But don’t let the price be the only factor in choosing which technology is right for you. Keep in mind that the benefits and features could outweigh the costs so it’s important to take all factors into consideration rather than just focusing on the price alone.

So Which Is Better?

In general, there are a lot of dissimilarities between an analog and a digital hearing aid so it’s important to know their features before you decide on which one to use. Both technologies have their fair share of pros and cons. The analog types are simple and more affordable but they offer user control and customization. The digital ones, on the other hand, use the latest technology and can be customized but the downside is that they usually have a higher price tag.

Hearing aid checked by audiologist
Hearing aid checked by audiologist

When deciding on which among these two technologies is best for you, be sure to weigh in a lot of factors including your level of hearing loss, your preferences, and amount that you’re willing to spend on a hearing aid. In addition, you might also want to consult with a hearing specialist so they can give you professional advice on which one to choose.

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A hearing aid is a device that amplifies sound waves to make them louder so they can be heard better with pure and refined quality if you’re experiencing hearing loss. Usually, it has one or more tiny microphones inside that picks up the sound, an amplifier that does the job in increasing the sound volume, and speakers that will send this improved and amplified sound to your eardrums so you can hear them better. This may be worn in or behind the ear, depending on the design and style.

The price of a hearing aid may vary and this would greatly depend on several factors such as the hearing aid type, the technology being used, and the available features. On average, a basic pair of adult hearing aids may cost around $2,000 and $3,000, while the advanced models with more features and better technology may have higher price tags.

There is no definitive answer to which hearing aid brand or model is the best, as it all comes to your specific hearing conditions, preferences, needs, and budget. Every hearing aid manufacturer may offer their devices with different kinds of features and this could significantly affect their prices. Some of the most popular hearing aid brands include Jabra, Eargo, Hear.com, Audious, MD Hearing, and Audien, so it’s worth checking out their products.

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