©John M. Adams,
aid is different as designers put development
and manufacturing dollars in different places
to address the needs of a wide variety of
those living an active lifestyle might opt for
higher durability while more sedate consumers
might want an increase in frequency
So what does
all of that gobble-de-gook on the hearing
device pamphlet mean? Here’s a breakdown of the
response: is a measurement of how wide a range
the unit picks up between high and low sounds.
A low rumble puts out longer waves than a
high-frequency whistle. Most hearing aids
extend the consumers’ frequency range, enabling
them to hear sounds of higher and lower
frequencies. What to look for: the broader the
frequency range the better.
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: the
signal is the sound you want to hear. Noise is
just that - noise. Background noise in a
crowded bistro to wind noise out on the
golf course - noise is the stuff you don’t want
to hear because it muffles the signal - the
sounds you do want to hear. What to look for:
the greater the signal to noise ratio the
better. This ensures you hear more sound and
less noise. And after a long day, you’ll
appreciate that. Less ear fatigue.
Boost or Gain:
Power, juice, loudness - that’s what gain or
boost is. How much louder does one unit
increase sound versus another? Now, this may
sound like a specification of interest to those
with severe hearing loss only, and indeed,
boost is one of the first specifications these
consumers look for.
But, even if
you experience mild hearing loss, there will be
listening environments in which a little extra
volume goes a long way to improving the
listening experience. A quiet speaker at the
front of the crowd may require a little more
boost than usual, but fortunately,
device with ample head room, i.e., enough boost
to enable you to hear under a wider range of
listening conditions. What to look for: the
more boost (power) a hearing aid delivers the
more options you have today and into the
future. Your hearing pro can adjust gain for
your current hearing needs and, if things get
better (or worse) in the future, gain can be
A channel is a pre-set determined by you in
consultation with your hearing aid
professional. Some pre-sets are for various
listening environments. Others are for
automated convenience features like volume
adjustment and background noise suppression.
Even wind noise suppression if you’re out in
the great back woods. What to look for: the
more channels, the more options - both pre-sets
for different listening environments and more
options for automated convenience.
An entry level
unit usually comes with five channels. More
expensive units deliver more channels - up to
22 - providing much greater flexibility over
what you hear and how you hear it.
health professional will be glad to discuss the
different specifications of different devices.
Make sure you understand what you’re buying.
And if you don’t understand, keep asking the
professional questions until you do understand.
That’s what s/he’s there for.