How Do Hearing Aids Work?
Advances in technology have made Beltone hearing aids smaller and more comfortable than ever before. But how do hearing aids work? Our experts answer your question below.
If you’ve tried Beltone’s hearing aids, you know that professional hearing care has come a long way in recent years. The days of bulky, uncomfortable hearing aids that weren’t personalized to your lifestyle are gone, replaced by sleek, rechargeable models tailored to your unique hearing needs.
That’s impressive for a technology that started out with animal horns in the 13th century and evolved to ear trumpets in the 18th century, wouldn’t you say?
If you’ve ever wondered how, exactly, your hearing aids work, keep reading.
What a hearing aid is (and what it can do)
Technically speaking, hearing aids are what’s known as “electroacoustic devices” that are designed to amplify and process sound. Today’s hearing aids can be easily adjusted to:
- Filter out background noises or amplify certain types of sound
- Enhance speech clarity and recognition
- Improve overall hearing ability
Hearing aid come in many styles to suit every lifestyle and can even be customized to the shape of your ear.
What’s inside your hearing aids
A hearing aid is made up of five main parts:
- Sound processing chip
- Receiver (speaker)
- Volume control
The microphone picks up a sound and converts it into an electrical impulse. Most hearing aids have several microphones placed in multiple locations to detect sound from different sources and directions.
The microphone converts a sound into an electrical impulse and then into a digital signal, before sending that signal to the processing chip.
Sound processing chip
In today’s digital hearing aids, the sound processing computer chip is where the “magic” happens. During your hearing aid fitting, a Beltone hearing care professional will input data from your hearing assessments directly into the sound processing chip. Additional data, based on years of hearing research, is also encoded on the chip.
The sound processing chip will then analyze the digital signals from the microphone and create a personalized amplification program— all in mere fractions of a second!
Receiver delivers high-quality sound
The receiver is essentially a heading aid’s speaker. The receiver collects a signal from the sound processing chip and converts it back into sound for you to hear.
Depending on the style of hearing aid you have, the speaker will be in one of several places:
- Receiver-in-the-ear (RIE) hearing aids have the receiver at the end of a thin wire that goes from the hearing aid that sits behind your ear, into your ear canal with a dome that holds it in place.
- Various in-the-ear hearing aid styles (RIE, IIC, etc.) have the receiver at the tip of the hearing aid that goes into the ear canal.
- Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids have a receiver that’s housed in the hearing aid itself, with sound sent to the ear via a hollow tube which ends in an earmold.
Today’s digital hearing aids feature volume control that automatically adjusts to suit your current listening environment. You can control volume levels manually via a button or dial, or better yet, by using your paired smartphone or remote control.
Options for powering your hearing aids have expanded over the years. You now have the choice of either a replaceable (zinc-air) button cell battery or a rechargeable, fully encased lithium-ion battery.
Cutting-edge features of today's hearing aids
You may be surprised by how sophisticated today's modern digital hearing aids really are.
- Discreet and compact – Today’s hearing aids are so small that they’re virtually invisible when worn, and they’re so comfortable that you may forget you’re wearing them.
- Better quality sound – The sophistication of the advanced silicon chips in today’s hearing aids allow them to distinguish between sounds that need amplification and unwanted background noises that need to be reduced. As a result, you will hear more clearly.
- Fine-tuning to different environments – Digital hearing aids can be customized to work with your personal hearing and lifestyle needs. They’re carefully programmed for different situations, such as one-on-one conversations, loud concerts, or parties where there’s a great deal of background noise.
- Wireless compatibility – Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids can easily link up with your television, stereo system, mobile device, or computer to wirelessly stream sound, with accessories available to further enhance your listening experience.