No two people are alike and neither are their hearing losses and lifestyle needs. We offer an array of affordable hearing aid options to meet every budget, cosmetic and hearing loss need. As an audiologist with almost a decade of experience I use a personalized approach in recommending hearing aid options to best meets every patient’s needs. Below you will learn about the many different hearing aid technology features.
HEARING AID TECHNOLOGY
What features are important to you?
- – Better hearing at a cocktail party?
- – Bluetooth hands-free hearing for your cell phone calls?
- – Less wind noise on the golf course?
- – Hear your children in the backseat of the car?
- – Reduce the clatter dishes, pots and pans?
Today’s hearing aids offer more advanced feature than ever, but how can all that fit in a tiny package?
HOW DOES IT WORK
In simple terms: these are tiny computers that make complex decisions every few milliseconds. It is the audiologist’s job to program it using their computer software to a certain prescription and adjust the settings to suit the individual.
In more detail:
Sound received by a microphone is converted to analog electrical voltages and then converted to digital format by analog-to-digital (A-to-D) converters. This process is reversed at the output when electrical voltages are directed to a transducer (usually called a receiver) to generate sound. The digital hearing aid is typically fitted by adjusting programmable microprocessors which control the hearing aid’s smart internal micro-signal processors using “controls” or “handles” on the computer’s software.
- Signal processing in a digital hearing aid is governed by algorithms, i.e., step-by-step series of instructions determined by mathematical formulas to perform specific tasks. For example, the noise reduction algorithm may use a set of rules to judge if the input signal is speech or noise and react to it accordingly.
- It can filter signals, block loud sound impulses, and focus and follow sources of speech while reducing surrounding noise.
SPECIFIC FEATURES THAT EFFECT HOW HEARING AIDS PERFORM
Bands or Channels? How Many?
A frequency band is a section,or region, of frequencies within which one may shape or adjust the gain of the hearing aid with linear processing independent of input level. However, if a signal processing algorithm is performed, such as compression or expansion, so that more than gain is adjusted within a frequency region, it is called a channel. A channel may include many bands.
The Effect of Channels and Bands on Audibility
Research has shown that the number of bands affects an audiologist’s ability to shape a hearing aid’s frequency response and, in turn, may affect restoration of audibility. The number of bands may also affect how feedback (whistling) is prevented without sacrificing an accurate prescription. For steeply sloping losses, a greater number of bands is required. Specifically, increasing the number of adjustment bands from four to seven or greater improves match to prescription while preventing feedback. However, too many channels has been found to have a delay effect and create an echo.
Typically, speech comes from a listener’s front while competing noises come from all other directions. Directional technology has the potential to improve speech intelligibility in noise because it can maintain sensitivity to sounds originating in the front of the listener, while reducing sensitivity to sounds at other locations. Note: This is not the same as the digital noise reduction feature. Most performance levels of hearing aids have this feature but there are differences in how well they function. In lesser hearing aids it has to be activated by the user pushing a button when desired (“fixed” directional microphone). In the better hearing aids it is something that functions automatically when the noise level reaches a certain threshold (“automatic” directional microphone). The best technology also has a feature that makes it focus and follow the direction of speech. For example: hearing people in the backseat of the car, the waiter speaking to your right side. This is an “adaptive” automatic directional microphone. The newest technology uses two hearing aids sharing information to make the microphones even more effective at focusing on the speech that is prioritized over the noise (binaural processing).
DIGITAL NOISE REDUCTION
The challenge with this technology is that individual perception and preference determine which sounds are wanted and which sounds are not. In addition, environments, moods, and circumstances can result in different judgments of unwanted sounds for a given person. Speech, music, and even environmental signals can serve as wanted or unwanted sounds, depending on all these factors. To this end, the hearing aid industry has been challenged to perfect a way to reduce unwanted noise. Today most hearing aids have some degree of digital noise reduction, but some have demonstrated to be more effective than others. A study by Bentler and Chiou (2009) compared this feature across 3 manufacturers. The results show the first aid reduced the noise by an overall level reduction of 4.25 dB (Natura, Sonic Innovations Inc). With the same methodology, an overall level reduction was recorded for the second hearing aid (Axent, Starkey Laboratories Inc) and was found to be 13.6 dB. The third hearing aid (not identified) showed no reduction of noise; in fact, the overall level increased by almost 3 dB! Unless the audiologist has the knowledge and equipment to test the noise reduction of the hearing aid model (which I do), there is simply no way of knowing how well it performs.
Adaptive Feedback Cancellation
Acoustic feedback (whistling from the hearing instrument) can be annoying, embarrassing, and in some cases, prevent the hearing instrument wearer from using the correct amount of gain. Many of today’s hearing instruments have an automatic feature that quickly detects acoustic feedback and cancels it. Just like other features, some manufacturers do a better job than others. Your audiologist has the experience to know which work the best and hopefully fits products from more than one manufacturer.
Halo 2: The Made for iPhone Hearing Aid
iSDS™ hearing aids connect directly to the iPhone®, iPad® and iPod® touch via our TruLink™ Hearing Control app. Together Halo 2 and TruLink deliver the most personalized hearing experience ever and are designed to:
- Stream calls from your iPhone directly to your hearing aids using Bluetooth® 4.0 wireless technology
- Deliver pristine sound and exceptional listening clarity
- Help you hear comfortably in noise
- Eliminate buzzing and whistling
- Stream FaceTime®, music and more directly to your hearing aids
- Connects with Apple Watch
Wireless Streaming Starkey Hearing Aids
- Allow for streaming of phone calls, music and TV audio into your hearing aids
- Pairs with Surflink Mobile to reduce listening effort in noisy environment
- Fit comfortably and discreetly on your ears
Designed to deliver relief from ringing in the ears. New technology allows us to use sound therapy as a treatment for tinnitus with these wearable devices.
From simply a remote control to adjust your hearing aid settings to listening to your phone calls through the hearing aids we have options to make life easier and more connected! Click this link to see how this technology can keep you connected
HEARING (NOT SEEING) IS BELIEVING
Do the better hearing aids really sound different from the less expensive devices in the real world? Watch and listen for yourself in this video where they demonstrate some advanced technology features turned on and off for comparison. Or better yet, make an appointment for a free in-office demonstration so you can listen with your own ears.
Click this link for the Hearing Aid Feature Demonstration