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Digital Hearing Aid Sound Processing

2012-08-06

Today's digital hearing aids are miniature electronic devices that sit in or on the ear, and selectively amplify and process sounds. All hearing aids contain one or more microphones to pick up sound, an amplifier that amplifies and processes sound, a speaker (called a receiver) that sends the signal from the amplifier into your ear, and a power source (a battery). All these components are packaged into various styles to fit people’s cosmetic needs and power requirements.

Digital Hearing Aid Sound Processing

Hearing aids today are digital, meaning incoming that signals are converted into a series of numbers, which is then processed using mathematical equations. Digital processing enables very complex manipulation of signals. For example, digital processing can help separate speech from noise. Many hearing aids today have more processing power than your desktop computer – gone are the days when hearing aids were simple amplifiers that only made all sounds louder.

Complex algorithms separate sound into different frequency regions and amplify each region selectively.  This means that hearing aids are programmed to fit the wearer’s hearing loss. It also means that they can be adjusted if the wearer's hearing loss gets worse over time, or if listening preferences change.  This is done by a professional at a local hearing center.

The processing in hearing aids also enables different amounts of amplification for soft, moderate, and loud sounds.  This means the wearer is able to hear softer sounds, without loud sounds being uncomfortably loud.  Digital processing ensures a precise replication of the original signal with minimal distortion, resulting in better, clearer sound quality than ever before.

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