Desperately Seeking...Analog Hearing Aids

Apparently, digital hearing aids are not for everyone. I received this e-mail from an visitor. It is long, but the person gives a clear explanation of why digital hearing aids will not meet his needs. After the e-mail is my response, which included a list of companies that still make analog hearing aids:

I am seeking sources for programmable analog hearing aids.

I have a moderate hearing loss, and am also blind. For me, hearing is more than simply a way to communicate, it is a limited form of vision. I navigate among objects in my immediate environment through a process known as echo-location, which involves hearing sounds that i originate, echoing off of objects near by. This is a very subtle process, and digital hearing instruments destroy key information required to perform it.

Since I still have usable hearing left, I am looking for a way to simply supplement my hearing. The open-ear variety of digital aid has been recommended to me.

However, all digital hearing aids I have evaluated so far introduce a certain amount of delay in the signal path, which is a time lapse from the instant a sound impulse is detected at the microphone, until the time it is actually reproduced by the instrument. This finite time delay results in a form of echo, which causes navigational confusion and unwanted sound coloration, especially as it relates to the sound of my own voice.

I am hearing two copies of the sound, one of them direct and immediate through the open ear, and the other delayed by a few milliseconds as it passes through the digital wizardry. From my experience as an electrical engineer, I know that analog amplifiers do not introduce delays of that magnitude.

Really, I simply want to find a nice clean analog aid, but with a few of the nice extras, such as dynamic range compression to deal with recruitment, and a programmable frequency response curve.

Please help! All three audiologists I have visited so far are pushing the digital solution, which just doesn't work for me, and decline to give me any leads on analog devices since *they*, the audiologists in question, don't happen to handle them. Any leads you can offer would be *very* much appreciated.

My response:

I did some research and found these companies still make analog or programmable analog hearing aids:

  • Audina
  • Phonak
  • Rexton - - their site says they do sell analogs as BTEs.
  • Rion - their site says they do have very basic aids, which might mean analog.
  • Unitron

Are there any companies that I missed? Fewer and fewer companies are making traditional analog hearing aids but as that e-mail demonstrates, there are still some people who need them.

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