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 in Salem

31 March 2017 - 8.73K 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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Member
Member 24 March 2018
My daughter who is 22 now has 89% hearing loss. She grew up on analog hearing aids ever since she was diagnosed at the age of 2 years old. The switch between analog to digital at the approximate age of 16 was devastating for her it has destroyed her life and I cannot believe they have done this to all those whos brain learn to hear with analog. The extra sounds are too much for her to Bear. Without getting too personal it has literally destroyed her life! We have tried so hard to get her analog hearing aids back to the point that we actually found them however her audiologist no longer had access to the software to program them for her, Completely devastating! Why do these manufacturers not listen when there are millions of hearing impaired patients pleading for analog?

Amy Swain, AuD

Hearing Healthcare Provider in Rochester

30 March 2017 - 8.79K 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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Clifford Olson, AuD

Audiologist in Phoenix

30 March 2017 - 8.78K 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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Member
Member 26 May 2018
Is the answer here to look for a digital with NO compression?? Is there such a thing? Would that most likely give the analog experience in a digital h.a.?
Clifford O
Clifford O 26 May 2018 Replied to Member
It's more like find a digital aid that allows for linear programming by allowing the provider to remove compression in the software, then have that device fit to a linear prescriptive target using Real Ear Measurement.
Member
Member 02 July 2018 Replied to Clifford O
Well, when you have a person who has worn analog for 36 years and audiologists are saying that digital is the only way. I have tried many many different pairs of aids. The compression is a must to be nowhere in the aid and making it so basic is hard to do in the digital aids. So what is your advice in this area? I feel that digital is for elderly and children, not long-term wearers.

Daniel Pearce

Hearing Healthcare Provider in Cornelius

30 March 2017 - 8.78K 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 in Sparks

30 March 2017 - 8.78K 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 - 8.68K 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 in Glendale

30 March 2017 - 8.76K Views

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

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Member
Member 04 May 2018
That's great to hear. I'm having the worst time trying to get use to digitals. Been hard of hearing since birth and have wore hearing aids gfor over 50 years. I'm so damn depressed because I can't hear I the volume or don't have the comprehension of analogs. Why did they screw with what was working? I guarantee they don't suffer extreme hearing loss. I'm damn mad and frustrated and embaressed when I have to have people repeat things 5 times. Thanks for listening. Kendra parker

Keith Lam

Inventor, MBA-TM, BSET in Albuquerque

30 March 2017 - 8.76K 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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Member
Member 26 May 2018
The trouble with implantation is once that electrode is surgically inserted, whatever residual hearing you had will be gone. You cannot “go back” to what you used to hear with your hearing aid. Whatever that sound quality is available through the implant is what you are permanently left with and you must, at that point, adapt. And you may be even more unhappy. I can see this working very well with children. But as an adult who has used analogs for over 65 years, it was not worth the risk of living the remainder of my life in what could be very unacceptable sound quality from implantation. I am struggling now with trying to find a digitized alternative. Time is of the essence because my analog hearing aid is over 12 years old. I am not hopeful. I require huge amounts of power in order to function as what I perceive to be a normal adult and this digital trial is not cutting it so far. But I am trying to give it a chance. It is a challenge for me in that I experience sensory sickness and it takes a day or two to bounce back when I go back to my analog h.a.
Francis I
Francis I 22 February 2019
Wrong. Implantation equal digital, same thing. Implantation is not analog. 

Discussion

Ken P
Ken P 21 April 2017
Prairie Labs still offers a variety of analog aids.
Member
Member 19 May 2017
Wow. People are wearing hearing aids that probably cause cancer. According to the World Health Organization, radio-frequency microwave radiation, aka non-ionizing radiation, is a class 2b carcinogen. The science-illiterate, cell-phone representatives that run FCC approve of blue tooth but that is no sign that it's safe. I don't allow cell phones in my house, or a router, or a smart meter on my house, much less wear something like that on my head.
Member
Member 04 October 2018 Replied to Member
I often wondered about this, as well.  I think it's insane to place transmitters in the aids when they are placed against the skull for many hours/day--just what they say NOT to do with cell phones.  The many bells and whistles now incorporated into hearing aids are useless to most people and used to justify obscene prices.  I don't need to adjust the volume via a smart phone when I have an arm that can reach back and move a toggle switch.  I don't need one aid moving the volume of the other. 
Member
Member 08 August 2017
Music hasn't been brought up. I'm 87, was brought up on analog radios, hi, fi equipment, and digital hearing aids to me, distort sound, tone, and texture of music, I guess that speaks to the fact that I prefer vinyl, and tape to cds. I have digitalis that I wear daily (can;t under stand some women with them. But when I listen to my music, I put on a pair of analogs. I really don't under stand the lack of ingenuity in developing digitalis that can mimic can't analogs. So be it, there are those among you that prefer,what some would call antiques. those analog hearing aids. One more thing, I want hearing aids that produce true sounds, I don't give a damn how ting they are. They can be ting, but if you have to have a women repeat, what point in hiding the fact that you have hearing loss, Earle earleh@msn.com
Margaret ("Peggy") T
Margaret ("Peggy") T 26 September 2017 Replied to Member
Many hearing aids nowadays have dedicated music programs that preserve the fullness and richness of music, more akin to analog technology.
Member
Member 04 June 2018 Replied to Margaret ("Peggy") T
Do you have a hearing loss? Digital Hearing aids with Music Programs do not come close to capturing the rich sounds of music. Unless you yourself wear hearing aids, how could you possibly understand the complaints of Analog Hearing Aid users. Digital hearing aids do distort sound... it sounds more computerized, flat, robotic ... should I go on? Plus most Audiologist can't seem to wrap their heads around this, so many of us are getting inadequate programming.
Member
Member 03 October 2018 Replied to Member

Couldn't have said it better. It's obvious that the people making these digital  headaches do not have to use them on a daily biases. You have a brain, it does all the adjustments so why do they feel  a computer would have to determine what we want to hear. 

Member
Member 04 October 2018 Replied to Member
Absolutely agree.  I use headphones when listening to music.  Digital hearing aids do a horrible job with music.
Margaret ("Peggy") T
Margaret ("Peggy") T 04 June 2018 Replied to Margaret ("Peggy") T
I do not have hearing loss, so I have not personally experienced what you have. You are correct: hearing aids generally amplify from 125 Hz up to 8000 Hz, while music can range from 16 Hz up to 16000 Hz. All of the advanced features in digital hearing aids that make them so great for certain scenarios to optimize audibility and intelligibility (feedback suppression, noise reduction, directional microphones, frequency compression, etc.) make music sound very odd. The dedicated music programs disable all of those advanced features to make the sound more linear and "analog", which is much better than the typical automatic program that is the standard program in hearing aids nowadays. It's not perfect; a single on MP3 or CD is never going to sound as good as a single on a 45 vinyl (in my opinion).
Member
Member 18 October 2017
Most of the replies here are from Hearing Consultants that have probably never suffered hearing loss. The problem I find with digital aids (and I have tried almost every model on the market) is that a) They are not fast enough to process the sounds and therefore the sounds are distorted and warble. As pointed out by the Music fan previously. b) When the compression kicks in ('to let you hear sounds important to you") it often suppresses your own voice too so you end up shouting at people you converse with. Despite what people say on here I have been told you can't really turn off compression 100%. c) You get given 3,4,5+ programs to deal with different environments and have to mess about trying them all as you enter different situations, sometimes by a mobile app, other times by a program button on the aid. Analog hearing aids were simple and robust. If the sounds were too noisy you tuned the volume down to a comfortable level. Most of all though, you let your brain focus on what you want to hear, not a computer chip that has no idea what you are trying to listen too. I like to hear my footsteps when I walk and the sounds of leaves crunching underfoot, the crowds roar at a football game and music at a live concert. Sadly, digital aids interpret these sounds as 'background noise' so compress or suppress the sounds. I had to take out the digital aid so that I could here what the person next to me was saying at a recent hockey match because the suppress aid just acted like an ear plug. how bizarre is that? There is money to be made with all the marketing of advanced features and the add-on's pushing up the price (and profits) of what is fundamentally just a sound amplifier. As most technology is coming down in price, yet offering more features, the hearing aid companies capitalize on the suffering of the hearing impaired.
Member
Member 22 October 2017 Replied to Member
Hi, I have a severe hearing loss, however, I hear pretty well within the normal speech range. I've tried many digital hearing aids and I can't seem to adjust. I found the RIC models eliminated the static and tinny noises that overpowered sound and speech in restaurants and group settings. Why hasn't anyone made a hybrid ear mold for the high powered hearing aids that use the 675 battery? I think this would help tremendously. I'm looking for the power and clarity of the analog hearing aids along with the sound quality in the RIC ear mold.
Member
Member 04 November 2018 Replied to Member
I so agree with everything you said!!! I miss my analog hearing aids so so much and I hate these digital hearing aids!!! They are crappy hearing aids in my opinion and way over priced! It has affected me personally in my professional career. These hearing aids companies ought to be ashamed themselves and its all about money....not what is best for their customers!!! 
Member
Member 01 January 2018
I have digital hearing aid and the only thing I dont like is that when the sound become loud..it goes down. I dont like it cuz I cant hear it. when I turn the hearing aid up and turn the music up..still cant hear it! So..Whats the point having it when I cant really hear it when I want it louder like for an example..watching home theatre..I like it loud but I cant hear it cuz hearing aid goes down!! Arrghhh
Margaret ("Peggy") T
Margaret ("Peggy") T 04 June 2018 Replied to Member
That feature should be able to be adjusted by your hearing healthcare professional. It might be worth a shot to schedule an appointment!
Member
Member 18 January 2018
I am 81. I have had hearing aids for 10 years. A test yesterday shows that I have medium to severe loss shown fairly straight across the chart. Both ears the same. Ear drums are working normally. Recently my old aids were getting weak, gave out and couldn't be repaired AND I suspected some hearing deterioration so I looked into new aides. I went to Costco after my brother recommended them and purchased a set and am trying out the Kirkland brand. It is not working for me. I travel a bit and have had adjustments in Austin, TX, Rochester New York and twice in St. Louis MO. . I purchased the units in St. Louis. Costco can access my hearing loss data and information about adjustments from any store in the USA..... a positive. The adjustments made things worse so I am back to the original setting which frankly is not acceptable. A POSITIVE point is that with the medallion hanging around my neck (blue tooth), I can hear much better over the phone. I don't like having to have the medallion. I understand that some hearing aids do not need the medallion. The problem is that in social situations I cannot hear many women's voices and I cannot hear when there are two or three people in a room ......and forget TV. The sound of all of the voices are distorted. My voice is distorted. In addition, these aids, for me, are a disaster when it comes to music. Music has been a big part of my life and the music at church is AWFUL. I cant stand it. I cant even identify the key the music is being played in. I play a cello for fun and have to take the aids off to tell if I am playing in tune. I was wondering about analog. I remember when analog photography was much better than digital... not so now. What about audio??? Are they way behind the curve in technical advancement??? My conclusion was that the Kirkland units that I have just do not have the electronic capabilities to give me good speech and music. (my prior set were digital) BUT WHAT DO I KNOW SO I WENT TO A CERTIFIED AUDIOLOGIST. Yesterday the audiologist told me that the answer to my problem is a better grade of technology; digital of course. I asked about analog and she said they were not made anymore. I don't think she knew about analog. Thankfully, I can return the Costco hearing aids. One last question: How do I know who (audiologist??) can select the right units and make them work for me? Is this "magic" or just the dark arts????
Member
Member 16 February 2018 Replied to Member
Hello, I have been hearing impaired since birth and I did not start wearing hearing aids until I was about nine years old. The hearing aids that I wore were rather primitive-scratching, high-pitching, etc. I stopped wearing them until I was about 25 - 26 years old and that is when I started wearing hearing aids that were similar to analog hearing aids. Since then, analog hearing aids have improved so much that I enjoyed listening to music (my favorite pastime) which include concerts and easy listening music. Now, I have a dilemma, I tried three different brands of digital hearing aids and they are terrible! If my analog hearing aids quit working and I would have to resign to wearing (which I won't!) digital hearing aids, I would have to throw away my music collection and watch my quality of life spiral downward rapidly. When listening with digital hearing aids, I hear a piano concert as if I was hearing someone kicking tin cans! And when listening to songs, such as "Soldier Boy" by the Shirrells, I am listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks! It is just terrible. I had begun to wonder why change something when if it "Ain't broken, why fix it?" Then, a thought came to me, digital hearing aids cost more than the analog hearing aids. In other words, analog hearing aids are people hearing aids and digital hearing aids are corporate hearing aids!
Margaret ("Peggy") T
Margaret ("Peggy") T 04 June 2018 Replied to Member
Do you have a dedicated music program? If not, it is not surprising that music sounds distorted to you.
Margaret ("Peggy") T
Margaret ("Peggy") T 04 June 2018 Replied to Member
Have you tried a dedicated music program? That may help with the distortion. We still learn about analog hearing aids in our doctoral programs, but the unfortunate truth is that hardly any manufacturers make analog hearing aids anymore. And there is no magic or dark arts to selecting the right units for you :-) Audiologists have advanced degrees and many hours of training (including continuing education) to help them select what they think will work best for you. If they are unsatisfactory, that is what the trial period is for (to exchange and try something different).
Member
Member 21 January 2019 Replied to Margaret ("Peggy") T
I'm almost 38. I have a moderate to severe bilateral hearing loss that I've had my whole life. There is NO ONE on this planet that knows more than I do about hearing aids. I can tell you one thing, digital hearing aids are overpriced garbage.
Member
Member 21 February 2018
So as a hearing user for most of my life (since age 3 or 4) I find it extremely difficult to believe that hearing aid companies have discontinued analog hearing aids. It is stressful enough to losing my hearing and now dealing with a major transformation over to digital hearing aids. I find myself often stressed out trying to adapt to this new technology. As an analog user, I could immediately tell the difference wearing a digital hearing aid. I will say this once and never repeat. (NOT THE SAME!) It was disheartening when my audiologist told me that companies stop production of analog aids. I flipped out in my mind. I am happy to see I am not the only living thing on this planet dealing with this BS. I am trying to strive in this world. To be able to hear means the world to me. I cannot rely on this new technology to help me advance in my career. I am often stuck with poor communication. The only reason I had to stopped my analog days is because they have worn out due to constant outdoor life especially being near the beach. I have a tremendous amount of respect for my audiologist but I dont think this person is the right fit for my needs. I am seeking assistance for better hearing aids or possibly analogs. Ive always owned Phonak analog hearing aids where I could sit in a classroom at a young age and hear everything. But now I have to rely on support with these darn digital hearing aids. Please help.
Member
Member 19 April 2018 Replied to Member
I am going through the same.issue atm, my last analogue has broken so I've been forced to go digital. Wearing unitron Max e sp and it's not as bad as others I've tried but has a constant warble sound with speech, despite 4 trips back to the audiologist he cannot get rid of this horrible warble. I can't understand my children! Wish they would bring analogues back :(
Member
Member 05 June 2018
I have been wearing hearing aids for over 15 years, I bought my husband a cheap Amazon twenty dollar hearing aid because he wouldn't go fora hearing test. In a book I read about Quantum Physics it said our brain is analog, with that information I tried my husbands analog hearing aid and I get much better understanding from it than my $1,600 one. There is more noise but in life there is more noise. Now I am hearing all of the parts of speech and can understand better what people are saying. $20.00! I think the amazing abilities of analog are being overlooked. Technology isn't always right. Yolanda
Member
Member 14 December 2018

I have a medium to severehearing los. I am a musiclover. The only aids compatible for music are analog; I bought 3 pairs of different analogs through the Email made in china. through them I can again listen to music and play the piano !!! Try it. They are very cheap, For the price of one damn digital you can buy 20 analogs made in china!

For me they are also much better to understand speech. Ican again converse with people withou asking to repeat,Dan Steinitz 

111 tRY TH

tom p
tom p 18 December 2018

Hi, can you be more specific about those Chine analog aids?

Francis I
Francis I 22 February 2019 Replied to tom p
Don't buy from other countries. No guarantee and if you don't get what you pay for it is a pain in the rear to fight sellers in China and India for return/refund. If you have to, pay through using PayPal for protection. I went through this and PayPal sided with me from a shady seller in India. Most definetly do not buy from India. 
Francis I
Francis I 22 February 2019

I don't get it. There are thousands die hard analog users. Looks like to me there is a market here to start a business! What is wrong with you people sticking with digital only? Licenses audiologists are to suppose to help everyone, not just the digital side. It is a damn shame the audiologist communities turned around and went the other way. To say 'Go implantation, cochlear' is an insult at best. I may be deaf and dumb, but I ain't stupid, maybe you are, playing stupid? Cochlear is digital. 

Truly I tell you people you must be very BLIND to not see a market here for analog hearing aids. 

Digital is not for everyone. Analog users have been ignored or tossed aside. It is all about money, greed, and corrupted audiologists, the majority of them. Shame on you and you make me sick. 

Kat
Kat 11 July 2019

I have been hard of hearing my whole life. My first hearing aid was at the age of 3 and it was an analog. My last analog hearing aid I got in 1997. It lasted me until 2016. I have been hearing aid less since that year.

I’ve tried digital but the sound is so distorted AND I noticed when I try to talk, the hearing aid actually clicks. The best way to describe it is if someone is turning my hearing aid on and off with my every spoken word.

I also got a migraine the minute it was turned on. The room started spinning and I thought I was going to puke.

I tried going to Starkey but was treated like a second class citizen because I was only there to get a hearing aid...not to donate to the foundation. This happened on my second visit to the facility (first visit was a preliminary visit with hearing tests and to sit through their attempt to force a digital onto me even though I insisted I wanted/needed an analog). My appointment was at 9 am. I got there at 8:50 am. Had my ears cleaned (for free). Then waited...and waited...and waited. 12 pm I’m finally brought back to have an impression of my ear made. Then was told to go to lunch (at their facility). Came back to one of their couches at about 1:15 and waited. And waited...and waited. I waited while a former US ambassador was given the red carpet. Waited while a former fighter pilot was given the red carpet. Waited while an elderly radio personality was given the red carpet. Waited while a couple (who obviously are wealthy) were given the red carpet to the CEO’s office. I was finally noticed at 6 PM. “Oh I only have 20 minutes before I have to leave to catch a flight to Africa for the foundation.”

Mind you, my appointment was at 9AM! Their excuse: “we lost your file”.

I was given a refurbished analog that was not programmed correctly AND I had to pay full price (as if I was purchasing a digital). $3,000 for a poorly programmed/refurbished hearing aid and over 9 hours of my time. Needless to say, I couldn’t get used to the cruddy hearing aid and returned it. It took over 4 weeks to get my money back (took them all but a day to cash my check). I had to call them wondering if I was going to get my money before year end so that I could get it back into my HSA account. I got the refund check December 27th.

I tried another hearing aid place only to be ignored there as well.

I am now having difficulty at work and my boss keeps asking if I’m going to get a hearing aid. I lie and say I’m looking because I feel like if I say that I’m not, I’ll get fired.

I work an accounts payable desk job and have to have some contact with vendors. I have to have a visual notification for the phone and the phone system at work was “upgraded” to VOIP. There are no visual notification devices for deaf/hard of hearing that is compatible with VOIP. There are no PHONES for severely hard of hearing compatible with that system either! I’m stuck using the analog phone I had because it has a visual notification device that is only compatible with the phone line and not internet.

I am desperate to find someone that is willing to work with me to get a hearing aid that will work so I can go to work without feeling frustrated.

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