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What’s the difference between analog and digital hearing aids? Analog hearing aids basically take sounds and make them louder, just as cupping your hand behind your ear amplifies sound. Some analog hearing aids include a programmable microchip, but the functions are relatively basic. Digital hearing aids take in sound waves (in themselves, analog signals, for the tech folks out there), translate them into digital format, process, filter, distort, amplify and ultimately deliver a sound signal into your ear canal that is custom-tailored to your needs. In order to perform all these wonders, digital hearing aids contain a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) chip. To better understand digital versus analog, consider the difference between analog vinyl records and digital CDs. Vinyl records require fairly simple methods for playback, and a simple turntable and needle will do the trick. CDs take a little more hardware, as the digital information has to be processed and reproduced. While there is a greater amount to do, CDs provide clearer, high fidelity sound. Some people prefer the warm crackle of a vinyl record, but that fuzz simply won’t do when it comes to your hearing!
How Does A Hearing Aid Work In order to understand things better, you need to understand how a hearing aid works. A hearing aid is a digital sound processor, NOT AN AMPLIFIER, Someone suffering from hearing loss does not need the sound of everything around them to go up, which is what an amplifier does. So this means the person sitting next to you, as well as the crowd around you, is louder. This isn’t going to help you hear better. This is what going to make everything louder. What do you need is a better signal to noise ratio, and this is what hearing aids do…20 times a second. Adding strength to the voices close to you while minimizing the background noise.
How hearing aids work Hearing aids use the same basic parts to carry sounds from the environment into your ear and make them louder. Most hearing aids are digital, and all are powered with a hearing aid battery. Small microphones collect sounds from the environment. A computer chip with an amplifier converts the incoming sound into digital code. It analyzes and adjusts the sound based on your hearing loss, listening needs and the level of the sounds around you. The amplified signals are then converted back into sound waves and delivered to your ears through speakers.
Learning More About Hearing Loss To understand hearing health and hearing loss, you should first understand how your ear works to capture sound and transmit it to your brain. The outer ear is designed to capture sounds and funnel them into the ear canal. The sounds enter your ear canal, where they cause vibrations in your eardrum. The eardrum has the job of transferring the sound waves from your outer ear to your inner ear. As the sound passes through the inner ear, it vibrates tiny hair cells that represent individual frequencies or pitches. If you think about the inner ear as a piano, some hairs represent the highest notes on the piano, and some represent the lowest. As the various hairs vibrate, it triggers transmission of those frequencies to your brain for interpretation of what sound you have heard. Your ability to hear clearly can be impacted by certain medical conditions, genetics, accidents, prolonged exposure to loud noises, or even aging.