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Understanding human hearing

Hearing is a crucial sense that allows us to communicate, navigate the world, and enjoy various sounds around us. It's important to understand how human hearing works to appreciate the complexity of this essential sense and how it can be affected by different factors.
Online hearing screning
Processing sound

How the magic happens

Our ability to hear and interpret sounds is a fascinating process involving our ears and brain. Sound waves enter the ear canal, causing the eardrum to vibrate and setting the middle ear bones in motion to transmit the sound vibrations to the inner ear. The cochlea in the inner ear converts this sound into electrical signals and sends them to the brain through the auditory nerve. 

Understanding this remarkable process can help us appreciate the amazing complexity of our bodies and how they allow us to experience and enjoy the world to the fullest.

HearUSA understands the anatomy of your year and can explain how hearing loss works
Ear anatomy

Working together

The ear has three main parts, each with a distinct function in the hearing process. These parts work together to capture, amplify, and convert sound waves into electrical signals for the brain. Knowing the role of each part can help us understand how intricate hearing is and why it’s crucial to safeguard our hearing.
How our ears transform sound

The main parts of the ear

At its core, hearing is the process by which sound waves are detected by the ear and interpreted by the brain. This remarkable feat is made possible by the intricate and delicate structures of the ear, which work together to transform sound into the electrical impulses that the brain can recognize and interpret.

The outer ear

...consists of the visible portion of the ear (the pinna) and the ear canal. Its main function is to collect and direct sound waves into the ear canal.

The middle ear

...is located between the eardrum and the inner ear. It contains three tiny bones known as the ossicles (the malleus, incus, and stapes) that transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear.

The inner ear

...is the most complex part of the ear and is responsible for converting sound waves into electrical signals that the brain can interpret as sound. It contains the cochlea, a fluid-filled organ lined with tiny hair cells responsible for transmitting the electrical signals to the brain.
Locating sound

About sound and space

Our ears work in tandem so we can experience the sounds of the world around us. They not only collect sound waves, but they also help us locate the source of sounds and distinguish between different tones and pitches. This ability is known as binaural listening, which refers to the process of using both ears to hear and understand sounds more clearly.

The way that our two ears receive and process sound, however, is different. Because our ears are placed on opposite sides of our head, sound waves reach each ear at slightly different times and with different intensities. The brain uses these subtle differences to locate the source of sounds in a 3D space.

Binaural hearing
Binaural hearing

Taking in the world around us

In addition to spatial awareness, binaural listening helps us pick up on the subtle differences in tone and pitch we might not be able to detect with just one ear. For example, listening to music in stereo (using two speakers) can create a more immersive and enjoyable listening experience than listening in mono (using one speaker).

Binaural listening is a crucial aspect of our ability to hear and understand the world around us. Screen your hearing online and get instant results.

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Complimentary online hearing screening

Act now and screen your hearing with no obligation

Knowledge is power. A complimentary online hearing screening is an easy way to get a general view of your hearing abilities. Screen your hearing in both ears and get instant results.
Online hearing screening

Understand your hearing

Multi generation family running on winter beach using hearing aids

Tips for better hearing

From simple lifestyle changes to advanced technologies, these tips can help you improve your hearing and lead a happier, more fulfilling life.
Binaural hearing

Why wear two hearing aids

Our ears process sound best when they’re working as a team. Find out why binaural hearing is the gold standard in hearing aid fittings and learn how using two hearing aids can help you lead a more active and engaged life. Try the online hearing screening to test how you hear.
Dinner with friends hearing aids

Hearing basics

Laughter, jokes, juicy gossip about last night—our ears do so much for our happiness and well-being. Understanding how our hearing works and what we can do to protect our hearing health means less time worrying about missing out and more time focusing on what matters most.


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