What analog hearing aids are currently available? I have severe hearing loss and digital aids aren't working for me.

Christopher S. Frink, AuD

Audiologist

31 March 2017 - 9.3K Views

Unfortunately, there aren't really any analog hearing aids available from major, reliable manufacturers.  I've had a few patients with similar situations to that presented here, where they are used to analog technology and can't get used to the sound quality of digital.  Because of this, I've polled the major manufacturers, and none of them make analog hearing aids anymore.  There are a few smaller companies that make them, but I resist ordering hearing aids from these companies for many reasons, primarily due to poor quality control.So what solution did I use for these patients?  I focused on trying various digital instruments from the major manufacturers (13 models altogether) with an approach of trying to make them sound as analog as possible.  This involved turning off various features that generally make digital hearing aids better for patients with less severe loss, reducing automation, making the sound quality as "linear" as possible, etc.  This last aspect is the most important, as generally you wouldn't like a feature called "compression."  This feature automatically adjusts the volume for comfort and intelligibility, but is one of the key features you may lot like, as it may make everything sound a bit soft or distorted.  You might then ask "why have it?", but I've found it's only in situations where patients have gotten used to analog sound quality that they don't like compression, whereas patients who are new to hearing aids actually appreciate how it works.

So, getting back to your original question, the instruments I've found that are currently on the market that have been the most acceptable (or "tolerable") to patients used to analog sound quality are the Unitron Max product line and the Signia Nitro product line.  Both of these, if properly programmed, sound very linear, very analog, and in my experience have been the most accepted by people who prefer analog sound quality.

One other word of advice:  keep your cost low.  The more features a hearing aid has, generally the more expensive it is.  For other patients, these features can do a lot to keep up with a busy, active lifestyle and make their use simpler.  But considering you'll probably want most of these features turned off, why pay for them?  This being the case, the entry-level models will make the most sense for someone preferring analog sound quality.  As an example, the Unitron Max has three models:  The Max-E, the Max-6 and the Max-20, which progressively have more features and therefore the Max-E is the least expensive, the Max-20 the most expensive.  Go for the Max-E; if you prefer analog technology, most of the features in the Max-6 and Max-20 that make them more expensive will be turned off.  For the Signia Nitro product line, there is the Nitro-3 and the Nitro-7; go with the Nitro-3.

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Amy Swain, AuD

Hearing Healthcare Provider

30 March 2017 - 9.36K Views

It is really difficult to find an analog hearing aid anymore.  I am currently fitting a patient who has your same issue. In my experience, I have found that you can fit a digital power unit and have it be successful for a long time analog user by not using the manufacturer's fitting prescriptions.  Use the NAL or Berger formulas and then shut off most all or all of the noise reduction features.   I have found the Oticon Dynamo to work well for this. Otherwise there just really isn't any analog aids available anymore unless you can find a more generic brand.   At least not that I am aware of.

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Audiologist in Phoenix

30 March 2017 - 9.35K Views

Analog hearing aids are hard to find, but you may be asking the wrong question.  Individuals who have worn analog hearing aids for years have a difficult transition to digital hearing aids.  This is commonly due to the fact that many providers will have a "crazy" amount of compression programmed into the hearing aid. While compression is good in most cases, when someone comes from a linearly programmed hearing aid, they will not be used to that amount of compression.  Digital hearing aids may provide different sound quality from analog aids, but this should not prevent you from being able to gradually switch to a digital aid if the programming is done right.  It isn't easy for the user or the provider, but it can be done.

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Daniel Pearce

Hearing Healthcare Provider

30 March 2017 - 9.35K Views

I agree with the above answer. You can take the compression out of the aid by using a fitting formula called NAL-R. That will give the aid maximum power and curb compression which is what people hate who have severe hearing loss. I hope this helps!

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Mark Butler, AAS

Hearing Healthcare Provider

30 March 2017 - 9.35K Views

To the best of my knowledge all six major manufacturers selling hearing aids in the US no longer offer analog aids.  Many of the digital models can be programmed to simulate analog sound though.  It is close but not the same.  Prairie Labs does still offer new analog aids in your choice of custom molded in the ear styles and a BTE version.  More information can be found on their website.  The hard part may be finding a provider who has an account with Prairie Labs and can service the hearing aids for you.  There are several other small manufacturers who still offer analog products but because they are so small I would avoid them and go with a larger company like Prairie Labs who can stand behind their product.

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Professional Member

Professional Member

12 April 2017 - 9.25K Views

Analog hearing aids are almost obsolete these days, however as others mentioned it is possible to program digital hearing aids to sound like analog hearing aids. The technology of hearing aids today is amazing and continues to grow.

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Ellen Nathan

Hearing Healthcare Provider

30 March 2017 - 9.33K Views

There are a few manufacturers of analog aids, you can get them from Prairie Labs, both refurbished and new. 

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Keith Lam

Inventor, MBA-TM, BSET

30 March 2017 - 9.33K Views

Most digital hearing aids can be programmed as " analog".  The hardest thing is really the transition from analog to digital since digital hearing aids do not have peak clipping anymore and for analog users, they do not seem to offer enough power.  If none of them work for you, you may want to look into implantation.

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