When the word "digital" first started to be applied to hearing aids, many were actually "hybrid" aids. That is,
they did use digital processing for some of its functions (like programmability), but they still used analog technology to handle the sound processing.
Advertising for hybrid aids did tend to focus on the "high tech" cachet that the word "digital" brought with it, and seldom stressed that the actual sound processing was still analog.
Even today, there are "digitally controlled" hearing aids, which use digital processing to control the hearing aid's settings and functionality, but use analog processing for the acutal audio.
But, if digital processing is so great, why aren't all aids fully digital? Even today, there are all three types of hearing aids being sold: Completely analog, hybrid, and fully digital. There are two main reasons for this:
- Price -- analog aids and hybrid aids are usually cheaper than fully digital aids.
- Power -- While fully digital aids may be a good choice for most people, aids which process the audio via digital processing are not usually as powerful as the "Power" analog aids. Some people with profound hearing losses need a more power than fully digital aids can provide.
Many people find that an analog or hybrid aid works well for them ... and saves them money. There are many nice features that fully digital aids are starting to exploit, so they may be the best choice for most people, but digital aids are not always the best solution for your hearing ... or your pocketbook.
To learn more about hybrid hearing aids, see a good article on them at: www.audiologyonline.com