Hearing aids work differently depending on the electronics used. The two main types of electronics are
analog and digital.
Digital aids convert soundwaves into numerical codes, similar to the binary code of a computer, before
amplifying them. Because the code also includes information about a sound’s pitch or loudness, the
aid can be specially programmed to amplify some frequencies more than others. Digital circuitry gives
a hearing specialist more flexibility in adjusting the aid to a user’s needs and to certain listening
environments. Digital circuitry gives the patient more flexibility by being able to choose from automatic
hearing aids, manual hearing aids or both. These aids also can be programmed to focus on sounds
coming from a specific direction. Background noise is also processed by the hearing instrument. This
makes noisy environments more comfortable for the wearer, and with some models gives the wearer an
improved signal to noise ratio and enables speech to be heard better. Digital circuitry can be used in all
types of hearing aids.
Analog aids convert soundwaves into electrical signals, which are amplified. Analog/adjustable hearing
aids are custom built to meet the needs of each user. The aid is programmed by the manufacturer
according to the specifications recommended by your hearing specialist. Analog/programmable hearing
aids have more than one program or setting. A hearing specialist can program the aid using a
computer, and the user can change the program for different listening environments from a small, quiet
room to a crowded restaurant, to large open areas, such as a theater or stadium.
Analog/programmable circuitry can be used in all types of hearing aids, but many manufacturers are
phasing out this product choice.