PROGROMMABLE HEARING AIDS-ANALOG & DIGITAL
Ever since hearing aids have been manufatured, they have include potentiometers (Pots) which is another word for adjustment devices. They usually appeared as a screw head (arrow) either visible or invisible in the body (case) of the hearing aid.A very small (jewelers type) screwdriver was used to make the adjustment. The adjustment was intended to alter the current (voltage) or change resistence which altered the response curve of the hearing aid and thus the sound wave and how it was heard.
About 12 years ago, with the introduction of what are called "Programmable" hearing aids were introduced. At that time only Analog Signal Processing was available because of cost and size constraints.
These Hearing Aids were advertised as "DigitallyProgrammable" hearing aids in an attempt to exploit the use and association of the word "Digital" which was then, and is now, a very hot Buzz word in the World of Audio and Electronics.
A Computer replaced a Screwdriver and added a degree of technical knowledge and image sosphistication to the dispensing of hearing aid sales and dispensing.
Over time, features were added to the software used to program hearing aids which improved their performance.
About 10 years ago, Digital Signal Processing became available for use in hearing aids.
The Hearing Aid Manufacturers quickly adapted the chips and software to their own use, and promoted the finished products as "100% Digital Hearing Aids" which is inaccurate since the Microphones and Receivers (Speaker) used are still Analog, and have to be. All such labeled and identified hearing aids are actually HYBRIDS,because they use both Analog and Digital Components. It just sounds better to say 100% Digital for marketing purposes. Calling them 100% implies there are 90%,80%,70%,or some other degree of Digital Hearing Aids, which there aren't. There should be laws against such deception because obviously moral and ethical codes are ineffective.The incoming Analog Signal,produced by an Analog Microphone (the only kind there is) is converted to a Digital Signal through and A/D adapter,enters the DSP Chip, is processed and then converted by to Analog by an D/A adapter, and then is processed through an Analog Reciever (the only kind there is) and is heard by a human ear.
DSP is used because it is cheaper,faster,cleaner,and more accurate.
The use of Programmable Circuits, whether Analog or Digital, permits hundreds of adjustments to the performane of the electronic components within the hearing aid which affects the Response Curve and other Characteristics of the hearing aid and how the sound performs and how it is heard.
Analog linear hearing aids, used to sound terrible, and only those that really needed them would wear them. That is why a lot of them were kept in dresser drawers and not worn.They were responsible for the bad reputation of the quality of hearing aids.
The introduction of Digital Signal Processing, for hearing aid purposes, have made hearing aids, MORE TOLERABLE,MORE EFFECTIVE,IN MORE ENVIRONMENTS.
That is the primary advantage.
Everyone wants to sell Digital Hearing Aids because of the tremendous financial rewards, but once the aids are sold, and retained beyond the legal return privledge trial period, very often the People that sell them don't want to take the time programming the hearing aids to the satisfaction of the User. Sometimes as many as 10 office visits are required.
Make sure you have in writing how many office visits you will receive before buying the hearing aids, and find out if there will ever be a charge in the future for the Programming Service.
Since Digital Hearing Aids can be adjusted to hearing loss changes and desires forever, there may no need to ever buy hearing aids again.
Before you buy Digital Hearing Aids, be assured that such Hearing Aids can be programmed by any Independent Hearing Aid Office.
You buy a Private Labeled Hearing Aid such as Miracle-Ear,Beltone,NuEar,Audibel,Sonus,or HearX at your own risk. Buyer Beware.
If they are the only Offices that can service,repair,replace,or program the hearing aids, there is no compeition.
It is to the Consumers Disadvantage to buy such products.
Restricted Distribution is always to the detriment to the Consumer.