You may have seen how the price of hearing aids can vary tremendously. Ever wonder what makes the difference between tiers of technology? What is the Ferrari of hearing aids, and what is the Honda? And are they all that different?
Well, the good news is that the level of technology does NOT affect the physical form, color, or appearance of the hearing aid itself. Just like our grade school teachers tell us, it’s what’s INSIDE that matters :)
There are five different key components that are important when choosing a hearing aid. Those five components are channels, directional technology, processing speed, speech in noise, and manufacturer warranties.
You may be wondering what a hearing aid channel is - and no, these are not TV channels! A channel is used to process sounds in a certain frequency range, typically between 125 Hz and 8000 Hz. If a hearing aid has four channels, for example, one channel could process sounds from 100 HZ – 750 Hz, the second channel can range from 750 Hz to 1500 HZ, the third channel from 1500 Hz- 3000 Hz and the last one from 3000 Hz to 6000 Hz. Depending on what type of hearing loss you have, an audiologist might recommend a hearing aid with more channels. The more channels a hearing aid has, the more custom fine-tuning can be done to match your precise hearing loss; think about them like pixels on a screen!
Microphones in hearing aids play a big part in the user experience, and microphone technology is different in every tier. Basic hearing aids may or may not have simple directional microphones. Directional microphones help by focusing on or preferring sound from a particular direction; for example, sound coming from the front rather than from the the side or back. If you live or find yourself mostly in a quiet environment, then a basic hearing aid will be a good fit for you but if you live a more active lifestyle, a more advanced level of hearing aid technology may be beneficial. This technology can be useful when you are at a restaurant, at a party, or at work.
You might be asking yourself what the difference between the Ferrari hearing aid and the Ford hearing aid is, and the short answer is speed. The processor or the chip of the hearing aid is an important part of the hearing aid because it is sort of like the brain. The processor is in charge of breaking down all of the sounds that are coming in through the microphones. The processing speed varies depending on the tier of technology and the capacity of the hearing aid. A top-of-the-line hearing aid may have more capacity for features compared to a more basic hearing aid. These features can include adaptive directional microphone technology, automatic volume control, Bluetooth compatibility, battery management, and rechargeability.
You may have heard a family member, or a close friend tell you that hearing aids do not work and all they do is make everything louder. This is partially true - hearing aids do amplify sound. However, hearing aids have noise reduction algorithms that help with speech understanding if they are being worn “full time”. Not all hearing aid tiers have this awesome feature that filters noise unrelated to speech. Directional microphones and hearing aid noise reduction technology work together to increase speech sounds over background, or unwanted noise. Equally amazing are additional features like music mode, which allows sound to come in completely unfiltered, giving a warm listening experience for music appreciation!
At the Los Angeles Center for Hearing & Balance, we work with four tiers of hearing aids. If you are a current hearing aid user and hate changing batteries, then we have good news for you! All of the hearing aids we work with here at LACHB are rechargeable, and on top of that, they come with a full-service repair & loss/damage warranty. By full-service, we truly mean everything; hearing aid cleaning, every type of repair, and reprogramming over time done by a Doctor of Audiology.
The warranty length varies in each tier - our most advanced hearing aid comes with 3 years of repair and 3 years of loss/damage. Our most basic hearing aid comes with a standard warranty of 2 years repair and 1 year of loss/damage. No matter what tier you choose, we are dedicated to providing the best service to you and your new set of hearing aids.