The lay person often does not know what it means when audiologists discuss “channels” in digital hearing aids. Or when family members are reading articles online mentioning channels.
Why do hearing aids have channels?
Hearing aids use channels to improve sound processing by separating the frequency range into different sections. This allows for better differentiation between speech and noise, and for the application of varying levels of amplification to each channel. It enables hearing aids to differentiate between speech and noise.
Channels are the basic technology that make a digital hearing aid as interesting as it is. A channel can be defined as a filter that holds the door for different ranges of frequencies. Simply put, channels break down a frequency into tiny fragments of input signals so that once the audiogram has been taken, the digital hearing aid can provide the requisite amount of amplification in each frequency.
Have higher channels is especially important in the below usage scenarios:
1. Patients with sloping hearing losses – i.e. where the hearing loss increases as you go up on frequencies. Example of a sloping hearing loss is shown in the image.
2. Patients who need additional filtration of speech in noise.
The below graphics indicate how sound is divided-up in a 3-channel hearing aid and an 8-channel hearing aid.
Channels, however, tend to be discussed more liberally than they should. Differences in modern digital hearing aids go much beyond channels. There are a host of other features in digital hearing aids which make them different from one another – for example, noise management, feedback management, directionality, connectivity, wind noise management, own voice management (occlusion), and many more.
The team at Centre for HearingⓇ would be ideally placed to logically explain and recommend the right hearing aid for you or your loved one. Reach us at 9811227269 for questions or a free telephonic consultation.
Multi-Channel Hearing Aids and Their Importance
As mentioned earlier, additional channels contribute to a better hearing experience for the user with better quality sound and less noise, since the digital hearing aid retains the original characteristics of the sound being processed. Considering the host of modern features, digital hearing aids are considered to be superior to other forms of devices. However, expert audiologists, including those at the Centre For Hearing®, have some more details to add. .
A study on the effect of multichannel hearing aids on speech understanding supports that the relative benefit to the wearer is negligible once a hearing aid has more than 15 channels. One thing to note is that the wearers cannot tune the channels alone, and only a qualified audiologist conducts it after thoroughly examining the degree of hearing loss.
Significance Of Multi-Channel Hearing Aids
Every hearing loss is a unique case and needs individual attention. Only an expert audiologist can determine the extent of hearing loss after a series of preliminary tests. Once the degree of hearing loss is determined, they can prescribe the necessary multi-channel digital hearing aids.
Following are some of the crucial reasons why you should opt for multi-channel digital hearing aids:
1. More adjustment options
The increased number of channels implies an increased frequency fragmentation, enabling the audiologist to fine-tune the hearing aids to the wearer’s satisfaction. Hearing loss varies in terms of mild, moderate to severe. In such a scenario, the affected individual gets more options for fragmented sound signals that can help them detect more precise sound signals.
2. Better features
As mentioned, increased channels’ benefits are not limited to their features, as they expand the benefits of multi-channel digital hearing aids. Such hearing aids often come bundled with state-of-the-art technology like directional microphones that improve audible sound quality. Such directional microphones are also termed HD locators.
3. Increased ambient sound detection
More channels leave more room for fine-tuning the digital hearing aids. They are better equipped to break down frequencies and filter unwanted sound signals simultaneously. The result is a crystal-clear absorption and suppression of ambient sounds.
This also reduces incidents of wearers stumbling their way in a crowded area due to poor ambient sound detection. Multi-channel digital hearing aids thus improve quality of life by enabling wearers to listen to nature’s beautiful soundscape.
4. Effective noise reduction
Some hearing aids are prone to excessive feedback and cause irritation. Multi-channel digital hearing aids pave the way for audiologists to tune the frequencies to eliminate noise and excessive feedback seamlessly. This type of hearing aid also has a high sensitivity to suppress unwanted noise and amplify much-needed sound signals once unheard by the wearer.
5. Reduced stress on ears
Few channels mean fewer options to get the desired sound input to the ears. This creates a bigger room for noise and unwanted signals to bombard the ears.
On the flip side, fewer channels mean that hearing aids won’t be able to convey necessary sound signals to the ears. Consequently, it increases pressure on the auditory system to compensate for the lack of essential sounds, negatively impacting the ears of the individual and ultimately beating the purpose of hearing aids. In contrast, a multi-channel hearing aid eliminates unwanted stress on the ears.
The various benefits and aspects of multi-channel hearing aids may feel overwhelming. The decision, however, is not to be made by the wearer alone. You need an expert audiologist to walk you through the initial stages of recommending an appropriate hearing aid.
Differences in channels offered by hearing aid brands:
Each manufacturer has a very different philosophy towards channels. Thereby making them hard to differentiate across brands. In example:
- Signia (formerly Siemens hearing) offers 16 channels in their basic Rs.25,000 price point Intuis-3 hearing aids. And their upper-end instruments go up to 48 channels.
- Widex (a sister brand of Signia and from the same WSA conglomerate) offers a maximum of 15 channels in even their latest top-end Sheer hearing aid priced at Rs.380,000 per unit.
- Phonak (the world’s largest brand), offers 12 channels (Rs.50,000) upwards to 20 channels (Rs.200,000 to Rs.385,000 per unit) in India.
Several studies (including this one) indicate that there is a marginal to no real benefit of more than 20 channels in hearing aids.
Centre For Hearing®: Trusted Guide In Hearing Loss Journey
Centre For Hearing® is a premier hearing care agency with more than 50 clinics across India. We are at the forefront of combating hearing loss with state-of-the-art equipment in all its clinics with the association of the best hearing care professionals in the country. They are adept at performing extensive tests to treat hearing loss effectively.
Centre For Hearing® offers easy access to many leading hearing aid brands. Considering the interest of our patients, We strictly employ a brand-agnostic approach in terms of prescribing the best and budget-friendly hearing aids.
Also, Centre For Hearing® has a free helpline purely dedicated to resolving any and all queries regarding hearing-related problems.
Visit our official website to learn more about the facilities.