A few years ago, we relayed a snippet we read in Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma about hearing aids:
“…the transistor first found its niche in hearing aids; can’t stick a vacuum tube in your ear! So even thought the early transistors couldn’t compete with tubes for music applications, its SIZE gave it an advantage where ANY sound was better than NO sound…”
Of course, he was just referring to the speaker part of the device. The microphone and other bits of electronics were still too large and had to be carried around. As you might guess, hearing aids have changed quite a bit since then. In fact, most are so small that the entire device fits inside the ear.
None of us at RainyDayMagazine require a “hearing-enhancement device” at present. However, we all have parents who are getting on in years and some of them do have need for such a device. When more than one of the editors mentioned they knew someone who could help review a hearing aid, it prompted us to looked around at what was available. We found the FIT from MDHearingAid to be a good option for those who want to discretely enhance their auditory abilities.
The MDHearingAid FIT features the following:
- In-the-ear design with rubber dome – comfort, easy access, customizable fit
- MDSound™ audio processing – enhances speech-specific frequencies
- Advanced Noise Reduction – clearer sounds in noisy environments
- Wide Dynamic Range Compression – hear quiet sounds without loud spikes
- Advanced Feedback Cancellation – less whistling, reduce feedback
The FIT’s Size 10 battery, electronics, and control are all housed in the tiny body of the hearing aid. The battery compartment swings out for access, but keeps the battery secure. This is important for older wearers as their fingers may not be as dexterous and this reduces the fumbling with the small cell. To make things even easier, included is a magnet-tipped wand. Some will definitely find it helpful with handling of the battery.
The complete FIT kit contains the following:
- FIT hearing aid
- Custom fit rubber domes (various sizes)
- Magnet-tipped cleaning wand
- Extra batteries
- Carry pouch
The MDHearingAid FIT is an all digital unit with audio processing circuitry for 12 bands and 8 channels.
By dividing up the hearing spectrum into bands, each frequency range may be adjusted separately much like that of an equalizer for a stereo system. For those with hearing loss in the higher ranges, but not in the lower spectrum, amplifying just the higher pitches only (leaving the lower pitches un-amplified) will result in clear hearing with less distortion.
Channels are related to the volume of the sound. The goal is to keep everything amplified inside a comfortable range, not letting loud sounds from becoming too loud, and minimizing noise and feedback. For example, if an ambulance with its siren wailing goes by, having a hearing aid that amplifies that sound would be undesirable. Channels compress (flatten) the siren’s spike and prevent it from being loud enough to cause any hearing damage.
Check out how the FIT sits in our ear model. It is shaped to be ear-specific, to fit unobtrusively, and comfortably inside the ear. The profile is such that it is almost hidden from many angles. Note that the dial of the on/off/volume control (upper arrow) is easily accessible when worn.
MDHearingAid FIT has four (4) Sound Processing Programs (lower arrow) to address the most common types of hearing loss in the most common environments:
- Male and female voices (low & high pitches), at home watching TV and time with family: Normal (enhance in ALL frequencies).
- Voices of women and children, social settings: Low-cut filter (enhances high frequencies above 1000 Hz).
- Nature sounds and high octave music: Mid-cut filter (enhances high frequencies above 1500 Hz).
- Noisy situations (parties, restaurants, construction, traffic, or large crowds): Maximum Noise Reduction.
We had a few folks—some who needed a hearing aid and some—who didn’t, tried MDHearingAid’s FIT. We will post their thoughts regarding the device in the FirstUse write-up.
While we chose the FIT based on their In-The-Ear design, MDHearingAid has a selection of models at different features/price points. Go check them out, if not for you, then maybe for your parents.