Guest Post | How Do Hearing Aids Work?

There are many types of hearing aids and hearing aid technologies.

They all are high-tech medical devices that interact with other digital devices and offer a variety of features. Hearing aids have proven life-changing health benefits too, because good hearing health is linked to quality of life.

But how do they actually work? 

Our own Chief Audiology Officer, Dr. Laurel Christensen, recently spent time with Blake from the Hear Soundly blog to help answer that question.  An excerpt of his post is below.   

We encourage you to check out Hear Soundly for more real-world perspective, information and reviews directly from someone who wears hearing aids.

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How Hearing Aids Actually Work

Originally appeared December 12 on Hear Soundly

Like most people, I’ve seen lots of hearing aids throughout my life. My grandparents had various pairs throughout the years. Later, members of my immediate family got fitted, and this year I got my first pair. I’ve always understood that hearing aids made sounds louder, but I never fully understood how they work until I began my own hearing journey. In this article, I’ll attempt to break down how hearing aids work, the various types, and some of their features.

I was fortunate to interview Laurel Christensen, Ph.D., the Chief Audiology Officer at GN Hearing, to help with some of my technical questions. GN Hearing is one of the world’s largest hearing aid makers and the creator of ReSound. 

If you are just getting started on your hearing search, you might also want to check out these resources:
Affordable hearing aids, Best Hearing Aids of 2020, Invisible Hearing Aids

The Basics: How Hearing Aids Work

Most hearing aids include at least two microphones that take in the world’s sounds and turn them into digital signals that go to a computer chip inside your hearing aid. That computer chip then analyzes the signals it receives, makes some adjustments, and sends the information to a speaker inside your ear canal. The sound that comes from that speaker is what you ultimately hear. 

So let’s break this down into parts. 

Hearing Aid Microphones Gather Data
The foundation for a quality hearing aid starts with the microphone system. If you have just one microphone, the hearing aid will have difficulty deciding which direction the sound is coming from and can make noisy situations confusing or overwhelming. Most good hearing aids have at least two microphones. Companies like GN Hearing spend millions of dollars a year experimenting with this part of a hearing aid. ReSound ONE, for example, is a new model of hearing aid that includes three microphones instead of two. While traditional microphones are on the hearing aid body (the part behind your ear), this new mic on the ReSound ONE is actually inside the ear close to the earbud. This extra microphone gives the computer even more data to optimize the final sound. 

Digital Signals Sent The Hearing Aid Chip
The next important part of the hearing aid is the chip that receives the sounds from the microphone. The chip takes the mic’s data and runs it through an algorithm to determine which direction the sound is coming from, along with numerous other factors. Ultimately it decides on what sounds will go into your ear.  

In my conversation with Dr. Laurel Christensen, she described the work that the hearing aid chip does, “We develop signal processing algorithms for the microchip to process the incoming sound. The algorithms work to amplify soft sounds more than loud sounds, cancel feedback, reduce wind noise, and more. They automatically make adjustments to give you the most natural sound possible as you move about your life.”

The chip is the brain of your hearing aid, and this is where the top of the line hearing aids and good programming from audiologists can make a big difference in your overall experience. One challenge for hearing aid wearers is that this computing system is tough to describe, and descriptions vary by brand. The result is that you may have to try various models or read lots of reviews to figure out which hearing aids have good computers inside of them.  

Sound Comes From The Speaker
The final step of the hearing aid process is the speaker. Different hearing aid brands use a range of components to build their speakers, and in some cases, these speakers range in quality. Still, for the most part, this final step is less of a significant factor in your hearing aid experience than the microphone and computer chip. 

If you are just getting started on your search for a pair of hearing aids or simply looking for a new pair, I hope this research has given you a bit more insight into how hearing aids actually work. If you have questions or thoughts feel free to leave a comment or you can email me at blake(at)

Hope to hear from you soon!


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7 thoughts on “Guest Post | How Do Hearing Aids Work?”

  1. Marlene DiCosolo

    I have used Resound hearing aids for almost 6 years. when I tried on your new and improved aids the sound was awful, not at all what I am accustomed to. Sounded like someone speaking through a megaphone with a cloths pin on their nose. I did not purchase them. The hearing specialist said that is how they sound and my brain will get used to it. Is that true? Also when I stepped out of the soundproof room the noise level was almost unbearable.

    1. Hi Marlene. Thank you for reaching out to us. Your audiologist is right. There is a time of adjustment while wearing new hearing aids, just like the first time you started wearing them. We are not sure why you would have been having trouble with our latest hearing aids, as they are designed to deliver a more organic, natural sound, and we have received good reports and feedback from others using them. We encourage you to continue to work with your audiologist to adjust them for your specific hearing needs. Please contact our Customer Care Support Team at 800-248-4327 and choose option #2 with any other questions you may have. Hope this helps. Thank you so much!

  2. My husband is thinking about getting hearing aids this year. Thanks for explaining how they send digital signals to the chip. I’m hoping that I can schedule a hearing test for him.

    1. Hi Eve. Thank you for reaching out to us. We are so glad to hear he’s thinking about getting hearing aids. We encourage you to visit a hearing care professional near you to schedule a hearing test. To find one near you, visit: Please contact our Customer Care Support Team at 800-248-4327 and choose option #2 with any additional questions you may have. Thank you so much!

  3. I had no idea that hearing aids processed data like a computer. My mom is in need of hearing aids we think but she won’t go to the doctor. Maybe knowing how they work will ease her nerves and she’ll be able to go get fitted for some.

    1. Hi Jessie. Thank you for reaching out to us. We have included some resources below that you may find helpful.

      For an online hearing test, visit:

      For more information on ReSound hearing aids, visit:

      For support tips on helping a loved one, visit:

      If you have additional questions, please contact our Customer Care Support team at 800-248-4327 and choose option #2. Thank you!

  4. It’s good to know that the microphone is a critical part of the hearing aid. My daughter got diagnosed with hearing loss, so she needs to get hearing aids. I don’t know that much about them, so I’m hoping to do a lot of research on the matter.

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