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A Non-Technical Look At How Open Fit Aids Work

Overview

Open fit hearing aids have changed the hearing aid industry. We believe that if you give them a chance, they will change your life, too. They are amazingly easy. They are comfortable. And they are so small they're nearly invisible.

Although most people would never wear hearing aids by choice, for those of us with hearing loss it is getting to be less of a chore. Two big changes have brought that about: open ear fitting and digital technology.

  • Open-Ear Fitting Means Comfort - Open-ear (also called open-fit) hearing aids are much more comfortable to wear, mainly because your ear canal is not plugged by the device. In the same way that taking a pair of ear plugs out of your ears brings a relief, so does taking out in-the-ear hearing aids. Open-ear hearing aids leave your ear canal open so you don’t even notice you are wearing them.
  • Digital Technology - Today’s hearing aid technology is more automatic than ever before. By monitoring your sound environment as it changes during day-to-day activities, hearing aids can automatically change volume, regulate the amount of noise reduction and cancel feedback.

Channels.
Human speech ranges in frequency from roughly 250 Hz to 6000 Hz. Hearing aids are built so that this group of frequencies is divided into smaller sections, called Channels. Not only can each of the channels be controlled individually, the overall large group can be controlled at the same time. By controlling (or setting) each of the channels to the loss shown on your audiogram, a digital hearing aid is programmed specifically to meet your hearing loss.

Noise Reduction
Technology to separate voices from other sounds is continually being improved. Each manufacturer has patented processes and trademarked names for noise reduction. What noise reduction can really do now is determine whether a sound is a non-modulated sound (i.e., road noise in a car), or a modulated sound (i.e., voice).

When road noise or other non-modulated sound is detected, the channel where the noise is occurring reduces power and amplification of the noise. The more channels a hearing aid has, the more surgically a noise can be removed. It is pretty easy to tell improved Noise Reduction as you move up in the number of channels a hearing aid has - until you reach 12 Channels. When comparing a 12-channel hearing aid to one with more than 12 channels, detecting big improvements in performance is much harder, however, it is fairly easy to detect big advancements in price.

Feedback Reduction
Acoustic Feedback, also known as squealing, buzzing, ‘your aids are talking to you,’ etc. Acoustic Feedback is an unwanted sound a hearing aid makes when the hearing aid’s output sound is picked up by the microphone and re-amplified causing the amplifier to go into distortion.

The squealing sound is Acoustic Feedback.

The Feedback Reduction circuit is capable of canceling feedback by sending out a canceling sound or reducing amplification in the Channel where the feedback is occurring.

What Feedback Reduction can do now is greatly improved over what it was capable of even a few years ago. Feedback is the limiting factor to how much of a hearing aid’s total power can be used to correct a hearing loss. Once feedback occurs by overpowering the Feedback Reduction circuit’s ability to cancel it, the limit of amplification has been reached. At the point where increasing amplification results in feedback, amplification must be decreased to stop the squealing.

Directional Microphones
Microphones are the electronic component that picks up sound. Microphones are very small and can be made to pick up more sound in one direction than all others. This is called a directional microphone. Most modern microphones can operate in omni-directional or directional modes. Some microphones are smart enough to operate in an adaptive directional mode where, by determining the amount and type of noise in the surrounding sound environment, the microphone can switch into the mode that best fits the current sound environment.

Physical Fit
Open ear hearing aids are small units that fit behind the ear. A small tube about 1 mm in diameter goes from the hearing aid into the ear canal. These tubes, which come in various lengths, are measured in two dimensions. The first dimension is the length from the top of the ear to the bend where it enters the ear canal. The second dimension is the length of the tube that extends into the ear canal from the bend in the tube. As the size of the tube increases (i.e., from a 1 to a 3), both dimensions get longer.

Tips (also called domes, tulips, baskets, etc.) slide tightly over the end of the tube and help to center the tube in the ear canal. Tips are available in sizes ranging from 4 mm to 10 mm in diameter. Some tips are also made with a longer center portion that slides over the tube. Making the center portion longer makes the tube extend deeper into the ear canal. The tip and the tube assembly (may be called an earmold) is inserted into the ear canal.

Tubes and tips can be changed by the wearer.

Feel Secure
We only work with hearing aids from manufacturers with strong technology. Having strong technology and using open fit hearing aids are key to fittings with minimal need for adjustments. If needed, we will make tuning or physical fit adjustments free of charge during the trial period.

Completely Safe
We offer a 45-day money-back period, with no restocking fee, that starts on the date we Express Mail the aids to you. All hearing aids are brand new and carry full factory warranties. The purchase price (except for Starkey brand hearing aids), specifications and warranty for each aid is listed on the website page for that hearing aid. There are no other charges or tax beyond the price of the item and shipping.

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Precise Hearing's trained specialists are happy to assist you in choosing the right hearing aid solution for your unique loss. They can also:

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