Hearing aids are small, complex medical devices that help you hear by amplifying sounds to a level your ears can detect. Several parts work together to make this happen, which we review below.
The first step in the amplification process is the microphone picks up sounds in your environment and converts them into electrical signals. Microphones in today’s devices are able to differentiate between sounds, such as speech sounds versus background noise, and process them differently to help you hear better in noisy environments like Sotto Mare.
There are two types of microphones: directional, which pick up sounds in front of you, and omnidirectional, which pick up sounds from all directions. Having both of these types of microphones helps you hear the person in front of you clearly and experience a natural soundscape that helps you orient yourself in space and stay safe.
The hearing aid processor, also known as the amplifier, is the computer portion of the hearing aid. It converts electrical signals into digital signals that can be manipulated. Then it adjusts the sounds to the wearer’s exact specifications based on the programming.
The processor can also reduce feedback and wind noise, and if your device has a tinnitus masking feature, this is where it is added.
After all the adjustments have been made, the processor converts the digital signal back to an analog signal.
Finally, the analog signal reaches the receiver, where the sounds are converted once again into an audible sound that is put out through the speaker to the wearer’s ears.
The location of the receiver varies depending on the type of device. For example, behind-the-ear (BTE) devices house the receiver behind the ear, channeling sound through tubing to an earmold. As the name suggests, receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) devices are worn with the receiver in the ear canal. Similarly, in-the-ear (ITE) devices are worn with the receiver in the ear.
For more information about hearing aids or to schedule an appointment with a hearing aid expert, call San Francisco Audiology today.