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How a Cochlear Implant Works


A Cochlear Implant Helps you Hear Differently than a Hearing Aid

A cochlear implant (CI) system has two parts.

Together, they help you hear again by sending sound signals directly to your hearing nerve.  

The first part is placed under the skin and in your inner ear with surgery. It includes the implant and electrode array.

The second part is worn outside on the ear. It includes a sound processor and a headpiece.  


How It Works

Naída CI Marvel and HiRes Ultra 3D implant work together to help you hear your best.


A numbered diagram showing how the Naída CI Marvel cochlear implant sound processor works

  1. The microphones capture sound waves that pass through the air.
  1. The sound waves are converted into detailed digital information by the sound processor.
  1. The magnetic headpiece sends the digital signals to the implant.
  1. The implant takes the digital signal and directs the electrode array to send a signal to the hearing nerve.
  1. The hearing nerve sends impulses to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound.


Like your natural hearing, your hearing devices should work together. By using a hearing solution that matches on both ears, you can experience a better sense of where sounds are coming from and hear better in noisy situations.  

A matching hearing solution can be customized for you by your hearing care professional based on your hearing needs. You might benefit from using two cochlear implants, a cochlear implant with a matching hearing aid on the other ear, or a cochlear implant with a CROS device on the other ear.



Who cannot get a cochlear implant?

Cochlear implants may not be for people with certain medical conditions. Your hearing care professional is the best person who can tell you if you are a good candidate for a cochlear implant. 


When I got my second implant, my audiologist told me that I should be hearing better in noisy environments, but I think I actually heard better in all environments. 

– Jacob L, hears with two AB cochlear implants

Cochlear implant solutions that meet your hearing needs

Advanced Bionics provides a full range of products designed to meet your needs and your lifestyle. Our cochlear implant system offers great sound quality, is comfortable to wear, and easy to use. It is built to last, which gives you peace of mind, and allows you to hear your best.

The award-winning HiRes™ Ultra 3D cochlear implant is proven to give you clearer speech1 and a wider range of sound.2 It is designed to exceed industry standards for impact resistance.3 It’s strong and durable so that you can enjoy life’s adventures!

The new Naída CI Marvel is a smart and user-friendly sound processor with Marvel technology from Phonak. It’s designed to fit into the way you live, and help you connect with the moments you love.  


Cochlear implant solutions that fit your lifestyle

You have places to go, and things to do — listening to a live show, talking to a friend on the phone, attending a meeting, playing sports, or enjoying the sounds of nature. Our cochlear implant system is built to fit into your daily activities.


Marvel from Ear to Ear
Marvel CI is designed to be a solution that helps you hear with both ears.  

MRI safe
Our Ultra 3D implant is safe for MRI scans without head-bandaging or surgery. See more on MRI safety details.

Universal Bluetooth Connectivity
Enjoy hands-free calls and hear audio from your smart phones and Bluetooth devices directly in your ears.

Waterproof and sturdy
Our accessories keep your CI safe while you enjoy your favorite sports and activities.

Phonak integration
Have Phonak devices? They are likely to work with our CIs too!

Color choices
Choose from skin tone colors, or fun colors that show off your personality.


How long does a cochlear implant last?

There’s no defined ‘expiration date’ for cochlear implants and they can last decades. But with AB, you will have opportunities to upgrade to the latest sound processors as new technology is developed every few years. This way, you can expect your hearing experience to get better and better over time.


  1. Koch DB, Osberger MJ, Segel P, Kessler DK. (2004). HiResolution and conventional sound processing in the HiResolution Bionic Ear: using appropriate outcome measures to assess speech-recognition ability. Audiology and Neurotology, 9:214-223.

  2. Firszt JB, Koch DB, Downing M, Litvak L. (2007) Current steering creates additional pitch percepts in adult cochlear implant recipients. Otology and Neurotology, 28(5):629-636.

  3. EN 45502-2-3:2010. Active Implantable Medical Devices. Particular Requirements for Cochlear and Auditory Brainstem Implant Systems.