Along with all other technologies in our tech-driven world, hearing aid technology has developed more utility, increased productivity and a transparent listening experience with a full menu of new, user-friendly features to make the hearing and oversight of a hearing aid effective and painless.
A good example of this hearing health technology in action is Sonic Innovations Velocity- Hearing in Overdrive. This unit, like all quality ear gear, is jam packed with convenience-driven features that not only improve sound quality, but allow you to truly forget fussing with adjustments during a critical business meeting. With this level of automation and user-friendly features, you surely will be hearing in overdrive.
How Easy Is It?
Lets use the Velocity as our model to take a closer look at current hearing aid technology at work for you.
Lets start with what Sonic Innovations calls Sonic Sound. This is a 24-channel digital signal processing (DSP) system like the equalizer you used back when you were spinning vinyl. Ok, so slightly more sophisticated. This technology reads the environment for noise level and speech sources and automatically adjusts the highs and lows (pitch) to produce the most natural listening experience based on the inputs. Done. Automatically.
Yeah, feedback was extremely cool when Jimi turned it into a musical art form, but feedback and other audio blow-by from a hearing device is not cool. Sonic Innovations employs an adaptive feedback canceller and a situational feedback control, so regardless of the source of that ear-piercing screeeech, hearing aids like the Velocity tend to the problem smartly. So you dont have to.
Organic Sound Quality
Velocity and other premium models employ a number of background noise reduction systems. Again, without a thought on the part of the wearer, the Velocity reads background noise the signal-to-noise ratio and input level of noise and automatically increases the speech signal while lowering background chatter and clatter. Even more unique is it adjusts based on your hearing loss across various pitches. Makes dinner in a noisy restaurant much easier.
The microphones in top-shelf devices like the Velocity also employ numerous algorithm-driven functions including continuous automated adjustment from directional to omni-directional, placing your hearing focus where you want it across the table or across the room.
These sophisticated mics can also detect wind noise and other ambient sounds and adjust accordingly, again, without a thought.
How About Some Data Logging?
Now not all premium devices contain this feature but its helpful in getting max usage at highest quality. Data logging records listening and hearing activity over time. This data can then be used by a hearing health care professional to fine tune the device to the specific needs of the wearer. A symphony conductor wont employ the same settings as a mime, see?
Now talk about a no brainer. How about a device that provides voice alerts when the battery is getting low? How about a hearing device that reminds you to call your hearing health care professional for a tune-up? Its nice. Its something else you dont have to think about. Let the machine do it for you.
The user. Thats you. And, if youve never bought a hearing aid before, how can you determine reasonable performance expectations? You could wear a whistling tea kettle in your ear and assume that thats just the way its supposed to be. Its not.
Like anything else in this world, you get what you pay for. But even entry-level or economy models are deep in features like automated feedback suppression and a discreet profile. So, what should you look for?
A natural hearing experience. This means that the sound you hear doesnt sound processed, like its coming through a radio or telephone. It should sound organic. Now, it may take a few trips to the hearing professional to get the settings right, but you should expect a natural sound and settle for nothing less.
You should expect wearing comfort. Hearing devices come in a variety of styles from familiar behind-the ear (BTE) models to devices that fit completely into the ear canal for true invisibility. Visit a hearing health care professional and discuss your preferences and the pros and cons of each style. Theres lots from which to choose.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, shop for automated convenience. Look, youre going to be wearing this thing at work, at home, at the ballpark, at a quiet dinner and while you garden, and fiddling with the volume control or the microphone directionality switch is a headache when you have to do it 20 times a day every single day. You get the picture.
So the smarter the hearing aid, the less hassle for you. Now, expect to pay more for a device that learns your preferences and employs cutting edge digital technology to deliver that organic sound but, if you look at it as a quality of life thing, its probably worth spending a little more for the automated convenience provided by upper-tier models like the Velocity from Sonic Innovations.