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Why Are Digital Hearing Aids So Expensive? 727

sglines writes "Over the last couple of years I've been slowly getting deaf. Too much loud rock and roll I suppose. After flubbing a couple of job interviews because I couldn't understand my inquisitors, I had a hearing test which confirmed what I already knew: I'm deaf. So I tried on a set of behind-the-ear hearing aids. Wow, my keyboard makes clacks as I type and my wife doesn't mumble to herself. Then I asked how much: $3,700 for the pair. Hey, I'm unemployed. The cheapest digital hearing aids they had were $1,200 each. If you look at the specs they are not very impressive. A digital hearing aid has a low-power A-to-D converter. Output consists of D-to-A conversion with volume passing through an equalizer that inversely matches your hearing loss. Most hearing loss, mine included, is frequency dependent, so an equalizer does wonders. The 'cheap' hearing aids had only four channels while the high-end one had twelve. My 1970 amplifier had more than that. I suppose they have some kind of noise reduction circuitry, too, but that's pretty much it. So my question is this: when I can get a very good netbook computer for under $400 why do I need to pay $1,200 per ear for a hearing aid? Alternatives would be welcome."

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