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Difference between Conventional hearing aid and Digital hearing aid

This page compares Conventional hearing aid vs Digital hearing aid and mentions difference between Conventional hearing aid and Digital hearing aid with explanation of block diagrams of each.

Introduction : Hearing problem is caused due to hearing loss due to aging or long term exposure to ear to sound energy. This is mainly because of loss in sensitivity or loss in discrimination ability for speech sounds or both.

Due to aging, ear of patient becomes less sensitive to sound and becomes less effective as speech processor. By the time, patients realize this, most of their sensory cells of inner ear may have damaged or missing. Hence they are left with use of hearing aids of various types to compensate for this loss. There are two main types of hearing aids viz. conventional hearing aid and digital hearing aid based on their functions and internal modules.

Conventional hearing aid

Conventional Hearing Aid

This hearing aid type operates on the battery. It is packaged in the miniature housing such that it can easily be fitted inside or behind the ear.

The figure-1 depicts conventional hearing aid. As shown, it contains microphone, AGC, filters, mixer, registers, audiometer and receiver. Microphone converts sound energy to electrical energy which is pre-amplified by Automatic Gain Control (AGC) module. Filters help in removing undesired frequencies and passing desired frequencies. Receiver converts the electrical energy back to sound energy for the person to hear without any issues.

Digital hearing aid

Digital Hearing Aid

The figure-2 depicts digital hearing aid. As shown, it contains microphone, ADC, DSP, DAC, receiver, memory and audiometer/programmer. Microphone converts sound energy to electrical energy. This analog electrical signals are converted to digital signals using ADC (Analog to Digital Converter). The digital signals are processed by DSP chip and converted back to analog signals using DAC (Digital to Analog Converter). The converted analog electrical signals are converted to sound waves by receiver for the patients to hear.

The major difference between conventional hearing aid and digital hearing aid is that conventional type does not use DSP where as digital type uses DSP. Due to use of DSP chip, digital hearing aid requires ADC and DAC ICs which adds cost and complexity. Digital hearing aid reacts very quickly compare to conventional hearing aid.


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