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Hearing Aids - Digital Technology versus Analog Technology

Whatever Works Best for You

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Updated February 20, 2011

Conventional hearing aids today come in two flavors: analog, or digital. Although digital hearing aids are capturing most of the market, some deaf and hard of hearing consumers prefer analog.

Analog Hearing Aids

  • Least expensive type of hearing aid today
  • Some are programmable for different environments and can be programmed for changing levels of hearing loss
  • Make sounds louder but do not discriminate among them

Digital Hearing Aids

  • Convert sound to digital signals
  • Programable
  • Can distinguish between noise and speech. Can suppress background noise so a person can hear speech better.
  • More expensive

Discussion of Analog and Digital Hearing Aids

My only personal experience has been with older analog hearing aids (before I lost more hearing), so here are selected comments from the forum thread "Analog versus Digital." Here is what About Deafness/HOH forum members had to say:

JBTHEMILKER:
I now wear two state of the art, BTE Widex Diva hearing aids. I started off my hearing loss with a cheep set of analog aids. They did almost nothing for me. Everyone has a different need when it comes to hearing aids and their own personal hearing loss. I have severe recruitment. I cannot tolerate loud sounds. I found that the simple amplifying analog aids, made the loud sounds too loud, and were therefore very uncomfortable for me to wear.

The digital aids are able to compress the loudest sounds down into a level I can tolerate.

If cost were a determining factor in my getting hearing aids, I would simply go without.

Shotgun410:
There is a little more clearness to the digital, but I don't think it is enough to justify the initial cost and later repair cost. The push-button(s) that are to be used to adjust to different situations I found to be just nuisances and had a wheel installed so I could adjust loudness levels.

If I have to pay for the next set (which it looks like I will), I'll go back to analog.

SuperRaider:
I am now wearing a Digital Hearing aid in which it is better than the analog Hearing aid. But I don't think their a real big different between the two. I have not had a chance to try the latest model but was told by the staff at the hospital that they are not much better than the one I am now hearing....

I am great in quiet places but once I get in a noisy place then I have problems.

But if I was to buy a hearing aid because mine is broke and I had to choose between a 300 dollar Analog Hearing aid or a 2000 dollar Digital hearing aid I would choose the analog.

DovesWife:
The best thing about the digital hearing aids for me is they can be programmed for my specific hearing loss and reprogrammed as my hearing loss continues. The different programs can be a pain to some people, but I've found I'm quite fond of them, I like having a setting for loud places that focuses more on speech, and having a T Coil setting for the phone. My new aids will have the capacity for 5 settings! Digital was the way to go for me because it left open a lot of doors for me and my audiologist to go through as my loss progresses.

DebsArt:
I'm wearing a pair digital hearing aids and I'm not real happy with them because every time I get a static shock, for some reason the settings on the aids gets messed up and I had to reset them...

Selected messages from a similar forum thread, "Digital versus Analog Hearing Aids (messages edited for spelling and grammar):"

Maytone:
Digital is the best for me. I can finally shut out all the background noise and hear whomever I talk to. It shuts out background noises by automatically moving a tiny microphone to the nearest sound. It is amazing. I love it.

CherylLocke:
Digital hearing aid is the BEST!! I absolutly love it !! I have so much confidence now because of those wonderful things. It makes you hear a lot more clearer.

I am profoundly deaf. i have had them for 4 months and it had made my life easier!! when i first tried them i couldnt believe how loud they were and it made me have a tear in my eye! i was soooo happy.

Analog is not very good, they whistle, with all the background noises it picks up, its impossible to commincate with someone in a noisy place! i have found that i can speak and hear someone in a pub (you know how noisy pubs are!) when i switch my digital hearing aids to programme two, it cuts down the background noise and picks up the person's voice in front of you. You will still hear the noise, but not as much. I used to want to scream when i couldnt hear very well with analog in such places. I can communicate now with my boyfriend in the car using programme two, cos of the noise of the engine. This really solved our problem because we used to argue alot in the car, as i couldnt hear him very well with the analog ones.

Even with all the raves about digital hearing aids, there are still those who prefer analog. For example, Starglynis wrote in another thread:

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