Hearing Instrument Technology
The most important part of any hearing instrument is the technology inside. Put simply, the more sophisticated the technology the more precise and realistic the listening experience.
Until now, the majority of hearing instruments used either analogue or digital technology to process sound, but the very latest advances in hearing instrument technology have led to the introduction of state-of-the-art hearing instruments with nanotechnology.
Everyone’s hearing difficulties are different but the choice of hearing instruments Today, particularly through private hearing care professionals, is comprehensive enough to provide clearer hearing to everyone. All instruments work on the principles of amplifying sounds received by the ear so they can be transferred to the brain, but hearing instruments differ enormously in their refinement and customising.
The two basic categories of hearing instruments are analogue and digital. A simple way to understand the qualities of these different technologies is to compare them with personal music players. Analogue instruments are from the same generation as cassette tape players.
Digital instruments are from today’s generation of CDs and MP3 players and, being digital, they are capable of exceptionally refined individual adjustments and programming so that they automatically respond to changing conditions. Not surprisingly, thousands of previous users of analogue hearing instruments have already converted to digital hearing instruments.
Analogue Hearing Instruments
This is the oldest, simplest and least expensive hearing instrument technology available. Analogue hearing instruments amplify sounds, both speech and noise. Quiet sounds are amplified until they are loud enough to be heard, but loud sounds that are already loud are given less amplification, so you’re protected against uncomfortably loud sound levels. Many of the advanced features which are offered in digital instruments are not available in analogue instruments.
Digital Hearing Instruments
With the advent of digital sound quality, patients were able to experience significantly better sound quality. Digital hearing instruments are embedded with computer chips
which allow sound to be amplified at the specific frequencies where hearing loss has occurred. This enables the hearing care professional to customise the hearing instrument to your unique needs, resulting in a more realistic and natural hearing experience.
Digital hearing instruments are also available with wireless technology. These instruments are capable of steaming sound from your TV, radio, MP3 player, computer and even your mobile phone directly to your hearing instrument. They are self learning and gradually and automatically learns your volume control preferences and pinpoints sounds you want to hear while minimising those you don’t.
Beyond digital, this cutting-edge science occurs at the molecular level to further enhance the listening experience and deliver more features than previously possible.
Hearing instruments built with nanotechnology can virtually eliminate several of the most troublesome characteristics of older instruments like feedback and sound artefacts. Other advantages include a seamless transition from one listening environment to the next, improved speech intelligibility, automatic activation to eliminate the need for manual adjustments and near-perfect feedback elimination.
Designed to make listening easier – designed to fit your life
One ear or two?
If your evaluation shows that you have hearing loss in both ears, two hearing aids will almost certainly be recommended. While it may be tempting to try a single hearing aid, the truth is that one hearing aid will never be able to do the job of two just like our own natural hearing abilities.
As we know when we listening to music, hearing in “stereo” rather than “mono” massively improves the quality of sound. Stereo is more generally natural and clearer, with a fuller, cleaner and richer sound. The brain naturally hears sound in this way, but it needs the signal from both ears to do so. Using only one hearing aid when two are required does not provide the full signal input the brain requires.
Just as you have two ears, you have two halves of your brain, they both work together to create what is known as auditory intelligence. Each ear sends a slightly different signal to your brain, and the signals travel a complicated neural pathway. Some signals stay on the same side of the brain; others cross over to the opposite side where they are received differently and have different effects on perception and understanding.
This complex system – involving both ears and both sides of the brain – helps increase auditory function giving you a better understanding of everything around you.
Sound signals from both ears give your brain the ability to locate the sound source. This is particularly important when in company, being able to quickly identify which person in a group is speaking so you can bring your attention to them. It is also important for reasons of personal safety; for example, binaural hearing helps you identify the direction from which traffic is approaching.
Being able to hear speech both sides in a group setting is crucial to participating fully in a conversation. If you’re only wearing a hearing aid in one ear, you can’t hear the person on the other side of you as well.
When two hearing aids are worn, you can keep the volume lower and still hear perfectly well. With just one hearing aid, you often need to turn up the volume to an uncomfortably high level in order to compensate. This often causes some sounds to be over amplified and also can cause the hearing instrument to feedback causing whistling.
Two hearing aids especially ones with directional microphone, this enable you to draw speech when in a noisy environment helping you focus on the person who is speaking with greater ease. This helps to reduce auditory fatigue. With only one hearing aid, noises blend together and it is difficult to discriminate between the sounds you want to hear and those you don’t.
The quality of sound provided by two hearing aids significantly enhances the listening experience. Most say once they’ve tried two hearing aids, they would never go back to wearing just one.
10 reasons why people find two hearing aids better than one!
- Better understanding in speech
- Better understanding in a group or even in a noisy situation
- Better ability to tell the direction sounds are coming from
- Better sound quality
- Greater listening comfort
- Hearing is less tiring and more pleasant
- Keeping both ears active preserves speech understanding in both ears
- Tinnitus masking
Hearing Instrument Styles
Some people who know they have a hearing loss are too embarrassed or feel they’re showing a weakness if they acknowledge the problem. While you are no doubt concerned about appearance, others will be much less aware of your hearing instruments than you.
The majority of today’s hearing instruments are very discreet – keep in mind that your hair style and colour can also play a role too. Most likely, once you have a hearing instrument your quality of life will be so improved that cosmetics won’t be as much
an issue for you. In fact, some hearing instruments even come in bright and metallic colours, making hearing instruments a fashion statement instead of something to hide!
There are many factors we will discuss with you before recommending a hearing instrument style, including your hearing requirements, lifestyle, and of course your budget. The following styles are all available with many different programmable technologies to suit your needs.
INVISIBLE IN THE CANAL (IIC)
The newest custom fit style is virtually invisible when worn. Living in the second bend of the ear, the IIC comes complete with the world’s industry-leading technology.
COMPLETELY IN THE CANAL (CIC)
These devices fit completely in the ear canal. Only the head of a tiny plastic line – with which you insert or remove the instrument – shows above the canal.
IN THE CANAL (ITC)
ITC instruments feature a custom earmould that fits down the ear canal and a small portion that faces out into the outer ear.
IN THE EAR (ITE)
ITE instruments house the technology components in a custom earmould that fits within the outer portion of the ear.
RECEIVER IN CANAL ABSOLUTE POWER (RIC AP)
The RIC AP combines a custom earmould with a sleek RIC instrument allowing people with even the most severe hearing loss to enjoy style without sacrificing power and performance.
RECEIVER IN CANAL (RIC)
The RIC device is small, discreet and incredibly quick to fit; perfect for many first-time wearers.
MINI BEHIND THE EAR (miniBTE)
The mini BTE rests behind the ear. The case at the back of the ear houses the technology, while a clear tube then directs amplified sound into the ear canal via a custom earmould or earbud.
BEHIND THE EAR (BTE)
BTE instruments’ technology is housed in a casing that rests behind the ear. A clear plastic tube then directs amplified sound into an earmould inside the ear canal.