How hearing works

A man seen from the back sitting in a theatre enjoying a concert.

Hearing is the process of perceiving sound

Sound waves travel down the ear canal and hit the eardrum, causing it to vibrate. These vibrations are carried into the inner ear, which converts them into electrical signals and sends them to the brain.

How the parts of the ear work together

Your ear can be divided into three parts. The outer ear and middle ear help collect and amplify sound. The inner ear converts sound waves to signals that are sent to the brain.

Outer ear

This is the visible part of the ear, which collects sound waves and directs them into the ear canal, towards your eardrum.

Middle ear

When sound hits the eardrum, it vibrates. These vibrations are transferred through the ossicles, which are small bones that amplify and transmit the vibrations to the inner ear.

Inner ear

In the inner ear, the vibrations enter the cochlea, where they set the fluid inside into motion. 15,000 sensory ‘hair’ cells convert sound the motions into electrical impulses.

Interesting facts about hearing


The smallest bones in your body are the ossicles in the middle ear: the incus, the malleus, and the stapes


Our ears never stop working, even when you sleep - your brain still hears the incoming sounds


Ears are more than just necessary for hearing; the inner ear also help you keep your balance

Stories from people with hearing loss

A man called Dietmar Ludewig working with his hands.

When communicating with clients and architects it is very important for me to understand what is being said. (…) thanks to Bernafon hearing aids, I can perceive what is being spoken again - normally.

Dietmar Ludewig

Independent craftsman, Switzerland

A smiling blonde woman called Virginie Delalande sitting in an outdoor cafe.

Compared to other products that I've worn before, my Bernafon hearing aids have given me a better perception of sound diversity.

Virginie Delalande

Lawyer, coach, and motivational speaker, France

A man called Jean François Bérard seen in profile.

Bit by bit, I’m hearing better and better, I’m well adapted to working in everyday life, and with people.

Jean-François Bérard

Head chef, France