How do Hearing Aids Work?

Man Holding BTE
Dr. Steinberg
Latest posts by Dr. Steinberg (see all)

Hearing aids are incredibly innovative and savvy electronic devices that provide support for millions of people with hearing loss. These hearing devices are designed to absorb, amplify, and process speech as well as sound which transforms hearing health and communication. Today’s hearing aids are more advanced than ever before, offering a wide range of options. These options vary in style, features, and technologies which deliver enhanced sound quality and increased connectivity. Understanding how hearing aids work can better help you navigate your options effectively and select the device that is optimal for you. 

Hearing Aids: Key Components

There are numerous types of hearing aids that differ in style and the technologies they offer. But all hearing aids consist of the same key components that allow them to absorb and process sound. These are the following: 

  • Microphone: the microphone collects sound waves from the environment and converts them into digital or electrical signals (depending on the type of hearing aid). 
  • Amplifier: receives signals from the microphone and increases the strength of signals before sending them to the speaker. 
  • Speaker: also known as the receiver, converts signals back into sound that is sent to the brain where it is assigned meaning to. 

The last component of all hearing aids is the power source. All hearing aids are powered by disposable batteries or a rechargeable battery unit. 

How Digital Hearing Aids Work

Hearing aids are either analog or digital devices which inform how sound is processed. Hearing aids started as analog devices and were the standard in the industry. But as technology has evolved and advanced, the development of digital technology has innovated hearing aids. Digital hearing aids are now more common and offer a range of features. A few major differences between analog and digital hearing aids include: 

  • Analog: analog hearing aids absorb soundwaves and convert them into electrical signals which get amplified. All soundwaves that are absorbed get processed in the same way/ This means that types of sounds (background noise vs. speech) are not differentiated and adjusted. While volume can be changed and there are settings that are preprogrammed, advanced processing of signals is not possible with analog technology.
  • Digital: digital technology uses advanced (digital) sound processing to absorb soundwaves and convert them into digital signals. Advanced processing systems are then able to be manipulated in specific ways to meet the wearer’s hearing needs. This includes detecting and separating background noise and then minimizing it as well as scanning the environment the wearer is in and automatically switching to settings that would be most helpful. Digital technology increases speech comprehension in environments that are more challenging to hear in by sharpenign sound quality and filtering through unwanted noise. 

Digital hearing aids offer a wider range of features and technologies that allow people to hear seamlessly in all environments. 

Common Digital Hearing Aid Features

There are several features that digital hearing aids provide. Digital sound processing allows hearing aids to do more which serves hearing in significant ways. Common digital hearing aid features include: 

  • Wireless connectivity: using Bluetooth technology, digital hearing aids can connect to other sources of audio. This allows them to stream audio directly from those sources (TV, speaker, phone etc.) to the hearing aid. This creates personalized and seamless listening experiences. 
  • Digital noise reduction: this technology is designed to detect and minimize background noise. This helps deliver sharp sound quality and make it easier to hear in spaces that are noisier. 
  • Voice recognition: this feature is designed to recognize and distinguish the wearer’s voice from other sounds. It presents your voice more naturally, making it comfortable to hear your own voice. 
  • Sound localization: sound localization is an important part of hearing. It identifies where sound is coming from which is what this feature helps with. 

Digital hearing aids offer a wide range of technologies that increase connectivity, sound quality, and overall experience. 

Hearing aids are savvy devices that transform hearing. With many devices to choose from, it is important to know more about hearing aids and the technologies they offer. Contact us today to learn more about the latest hearing aids and the types of devices you could most benefit from in everyday life.