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Digital Hearing Aids UK - Discover digital hearing aid technology, costs and benefits

Updated 02/05/2024
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Digital Hearing Aids

 A brief look inside today's modern digital hearing aids

Our world is always connecting and communicating digitally.  When we are in our homes we are tuned in to digital TV, media, and sound systems.  We even drive with GPS systems, so why shouldn't our hearing aids offer digital solutions? 

Today's digital hearing aids are discreet and unobtrusive even though they include the most advanced technology out there.  Said technology assists in empowering those with hearing loss to live a better quality of life with better hearing. 

You might have just started researching hearing aids or may be wondering how your hearing aids cannot only enhance your soundscape but also give you access to advanced Bluetooth connectivity and personable focus.

The purpose of this page is to give you some background knowledge of the current digital hearing aids on the market and to answer the most common questions on this topic.

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Digital Hearing Aids

What is a digital hearing aid? 

A digital hearing aid is an electronic device that you either wear inside your ear or behind your ear.  These types of digital hearing aids are generically called:  Behind-the-Ear (BTE) or In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids.  A hearing aid amplifies sounds so that those with hearing loss can better hear, communicate, connect, and get the most out of their lifestyle.

However, those with hearing loss don't see hearing aids as just an amplifier - they see them as more of a lifeline. A clever and sophisticated communication device that can empower the hearing impaired - so they live life to the fullest.

Digital hearing aids offer bespoke hearing experiences and allow you to take charge of your hearing aids, so you gain from personalisation and a wide range of health benefits. We are now in a time that is benefiting greatly, as good hearing is linked to increased quality of life.

digital hearing aids UK

History of Digital Hearing Aids

Digital hearing aids vs analog hearing aids

 

Are digital hearing aids better than analog?

Wondering what the difference is between analog hearing aids and digital hearing aids?  Well, before the industry introduced digital hearing aids, there were only analog devices available.  In terms of sound signals, analog hearing aids were constant and uniform in flow.  This meant that the layers of sound were missing - unlike digital hearing aids.

Another digital and analog hearing aids difference is for analog hearing aids have to adapt - the volume has to be turned up, making your hearing experience more uncomfortable.  Background noise reduction was not possible either, without turning up the volume.   

 

Analog and digital hearing aids comparison

So, are digital hearing aids better than analog?  Well, in short - yes.  Digital hearing aids incorporate sound signals that change and are unique, which ultimately introduces a more natural-sounding speech and audio including depth and variation.  This means you can personalise how you hear the sound around you, due to all the digital features available.

So, which digital hearing aids are right for me?  When you embark on choosing the right hearing aid for you, there any many variances to consider.  Here are a few examples (and in no particular order):

 

The audiological requirements of digital hearing aids

Different types of hearing loss require different hearing aid fitting strategies. The hearing aids must have sufficient reserve amplification so they will last for several years – not just one or two.  We would say that five years is about right.

 

Digital hearing aids technology and performance

This above all else determines the cost of the hearing aid. The higher the technology, the higher the price.  This has nothing to do with the severity of the hearing loss, it’s about how well you want to be able to hear.

 

Accessories available for digital hearing aids

Some hearing aids have accessories that can be purchased. These include wireless transmitters that enable the sound from a television, telephone, or another device to “beam” sound into the hearing aid.  The need for certain assistance by way of accessories can heavily influence the choice of make and model of hearing aid required.

 

The size of digital hearing aids

As a general rule of thumb, the larger the hearing aid the more powerful it is. Smaller hearing aids have smaller batteries which could be difficult for people with poor dexterity. Smaller batteries don’t last as long.

 

Appearance and style of digital hearing aids

There are many different styles of hearing aids. The two main categories are ITE (in the ear) and BTE (behind the ear).  BTEs are becoming increasingly popular as they can be extremely small and cosmetic.   Here is a list of the breakdown of all the different types of digital hearing aids available on the market:

  digital hearing aids UK

Fully Digital Hearing Aids

What are the benefits of digital hearing aids?

 

Are digital hearing aids any good?  How can digital hearing aids help?

Over the last few years, there have been some outstanding hearing aid technology developments. Innovations such as advanced sound processing and frequency responses, faster Bluetooth connectivity and compatibility.

How well do digital hearing aids work?  Hearing aids are used to improve hearing and speech understanding for those with hearing loss.  A hearing aid amplifies sound vibrations that go into your ear. 

Those with hearing loss generally have surviving hair cells that recognise the most powerful sound vibrations and then switch them into neural signals to be sent to the brain.  With that in mind, here are some of the advantages of digital hearing aids currently available in the industry:


Connectivity and control

There has been a rise of digital hearing aid apps and remote assistant features offering quick and convenient rechargeable options and artificial intelligence that learns in real time.

Digital hearing aids can be paired with smartphones, tablets, and other digital wireless devices.  Connecting you to the world via streaming and entertainment. 

You can also discreetly control the sound you hear and your digital hearing aid volume and features at the touch of a button, via your smartphone apps.

More comfortable and natural

Turning up the volume in traditional hearing aids made hearing experiences screechy in various environments.  Digital hearing aids allow you to customise your hearing accessibility for more comfortable listening.  

Small and smart

The style of digital hearing aids has evolved over the years and now comes in smaller casings and offers discretion for the wearer - sometimes almost invisible!


Digital Hearing Aids

Different types of digital hearing aids

There is now a huge selection of digital hearing aids available on the market today that compliment, not just different levels of hearing loss, but deliver connectivity needs and enhance lifestyles. 

Digital hearing aids pair with smartphones and interact with other Bluetooth devices within our homes.   

Click on the below links to discover other types of digital hearing aids:

►Click here to read about rechargeable digital hearing aids  

►Click here to read about digital hearing aids for Tinnitus  

►Click here to read about digital hearing aid accessories  

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Digital hearing aid quality and clarity

The better the quality of the hearing aid the better the sound and the more natural your listening experience will be.  Device features like noise management, feedback manager, automatic volume regulator, and bandwidth make a realistic soundscape possible. 

Modern advanced hearing aids offer impressive ranges of features, settings, and personalised options, so the wearer can experience the best possible sound for their needs and connect wirelessly to devices and the world.

All digital hearing aids analyse, filter, and boost all relevant sounds.  The sound you hear is all based on the way your hearing aids have been programmed.  Your audiologist will program your hearing aids to suit your hearing needs - based on your type of hearing loss.

 how well do digital hearing aids work

How Digital Hearing Aids Work

The functions of the main digital hearing aid parts

 

Digital hearing aid parts

In all good and modern digital hearing aids, there are basic components - microphones, amplifiers, loudspeakers, batteries, and processing chips.  The processing chip assists the advanced technology and the batteries provide the power to do so. The three main pieces of technology that ensure the functionality of the hearing aid are the microphone, amplifier, and speaker. 

How do hearing aid amplifiers work?  The microphone receives the sounds, switches the sound waves into electrical signals, and transmits them to the amplifier, which then increases the power and level of the signals and finally sends them to the ear through the speaker. 

 

 A simple breakdown of how a hearing aid works

 

Conclusion

Hearing aids are highly customisable electronic devices designed to improve the hearing ability of individuals with hearing loss. They work by amplifying sounds and delivering them directly into the ear.

The settings and programming are adjusted by a hearing care professional to match your specific hearing loss, lifestyle, and preferences. This is why regular visits to a hearing healthcare provider are recommended for proper fitting, adjustment, and ongoing support.

Call us free on 0800 567 7621 for support and advice, as well as to put you in touch with your local audiologist for your future hearing healthcare needs.

Benefits of digital hearing aids

  • Selectively amplifies sounds for a more advanced listening experience
  • Reduces feedback like wind and noise
  • Automatically adjusts the volume to the environment you are in - even on the go
  • Uses directional microphones to better understand where sound is coming from and to give you a full soundscape
  • Improves sound quality - often in real-time

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This page was written by Paul Harrison - Audiology Expert

Meet Paul Harrison, Audiology Expert & Founder

Managing Director & founder of Hearing Aid UK, with over 20 years of audiology experience and a member of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists Council (BSHAA) between 2015-2020.

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Common FAQs about digital hearing aids

So, what do digital hearing aids cost?

What about the cost of digital hearing aids?  The biggest stumbling block to seeking help with hearing loss is the cost of digital hearing aids.  They are an investment, especially when most people need two hearing aids but the improvement in the quality of life they give is priceless.  Digital hearing aid prices do vary depending on manufacturer, style, technology, connectivity, level of hearing loss and much more.  

What digital hearing aids with Bluetooth are available?

What are the different types of Bluetooth hearing aids?  To find out more about Bluetooth hearing aids, how they work, Bluetooth hearing aids for iPhone, Bluetooth hearing aids for Android and Bluetooth hearing aids for Any Phone - 

What manufacturers make digital hearing aids?

What about digital hearing aid manufacturers?  Below are links to the digital hearing aid manufacturers we have available and the main brands within the industry:

  • Phonak digital hearing aids   
  • Widex digital hearing aids 
  • Oticon digital hearing aids  
  • Resound digital hearing aids 
  • Starkey digital hearing aids  
  • Unitron digital hearing aids  
  • Signia digital hearing aids  
  • Audio Service digital hearing aids 

Can digital hearing aids be recycled?

Digital hearing aids never usually get collected from your own home or even recycling points, but you can sometimes send them back to the hearing aid manufacturer, donate them or send them to charity.

Other places include:  Your local GP, NHS audiology department and private audiologist.

Do digital hearing aids use batteries?

So, do digital hearing aids need batteries?  In short, yes they do - as do all technical devices.  Hearing aids use different sizes of batteries depending on the technology features and size of the device. 

Modern-day hearing aids have lithium-ion batteries and rechargeable options available, so no need to replace your batteries - simply charge and go!

What is the life expectancy of digital hearing aids?

Digital hearing aids, as a rule, can last from three to seven years - however, we do advise that you visit your audiologist after three to check that your hearing needs haven't changed or that there is more beneficial technology out there for you.

This is subjective as it all generally depends on how well you maintain your hearing devices, the quality of the device and the 'wear and tear' of the product.

When did digital hearing aids come out?

The most impressive advancement in the audiology industry was when digital hearing aid technology was introduced.  Oticon was the first hearing aid manufacturer to launch a fully digital hearing aid back in 1995.

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