If you or a loved one is having trouble hearing properly and need a hearing aid, you may feel overwhelmed by all the choices on the market. There are two main types of hearing aids -- digital and analog. While digital hearing aids are the most popular, there are some advantages to each type.
Analog hearing aids work by picking up sounds and amplifying them, so you're hearing the same sounds at a louder volume. This means all sounds, including background noise, are amplified at the same level as a person speaking to you. Digital hearing aids contain tiny computer chips, called Digital Signal Processors or DSPs, that read sound waves and amplify the sounds differently depending on whether the sounds are speech or just noise. This is one reason many people prefer digital hearing aids -- they make it much easier to hear speech in noisy or crowded environments.
Digital hearing aids also cut down on feedback because the DSP allows them to anticipate and filter out feedback noises. Analog hearing aids aren't this sophisticated since they don't contain the processing chips. Many people who wear analog hearing aids report hearing squealing and whistling feedback noises.
Size and Style
Just like many other electronic devices, the technology for digital hearing aids is improving all the time. Because most people prefer digital hearing aids, there is a large market for them and designs are getting smaller and sleeker all the time. Some digital hearing aids are only about the size of a dime and are nearly invisible to the naked eye when you're wearing them. Most analog hearing aids are larger and much more noticeable.
Many analog hearing aids can connect to devices that have a 3.5 mm headphone jack with a cord that runs from the hearing aid to the device. This allows the wearer to listen to music directly through their hearing aid, but the cord can be inconvenient. Many digital hearing aids can connect to devices such as cellphones and televisions wirelessly, making it more comfortable and much easier to move around while listening to music, phone calls, television shows, or movies.
Cost and Battery Life
Digital hearing aid services are more costly than their analog counterparts due to the technology inside. This is one reason why some people choose analog hearing aids. Analog hearing aids also typically have a longer battery life since they're just amplifying sounds instead of processing and analyzing the sound waves. Most digital hearing aids are very quick and easy to charge, however, and the benefits often outweigh these drawbacks for many people.