Do you find yourself struggling to hear the TV, or understand what is being said at the movie theater?
Does it sound like the actors are mumbling or that the sound is muffled?
Are you constantly reaching for the TV remote to turn the volume up?
Then you might benefit from one of the assistive listening devices (ALDs) available for watching TV and movies.
5 Best Hearing Devices for TV
Even a mild hearing loss can cause difficulty understanding the television. Many people find themselves trying to raise the volume on the TV to hear it better. But, that can cause some disagreement between you and others in your household.
The good news is that there are several TV listening devices that can be used to help make watching TV easier and more enjoyable.
Some are used in conjunction with hearing aids and others can be used without the need for hearing aids. These devices help to eliminate the interference of the background noise and allow the wearer to adjust the volume independently of what others in the room hear.
1. Wireless Headphones for TV
This is the best option for those with hearing loss who do not wear hearing aids.
Even if you just have a slight hearing loss, TV assistive listening devices can be used to make the TV volume more comfortable and clear.
Wireless TV headphones help to make the TV sound more clear by creating a direct wireless stream from the television to the wearer's ears. It eliminates any interference of background noises in the room.
They consist of two parts, a transmitter base that plugs into the headphone jack of the television and a headphone receiver that wirelessly picks up the signal and is worn by the listener. One of the most common TV headphone device are TV Ears, which use an infrared wireless signal.
There are controls on the headphone portion which allow the user to adjust the volume of the TV independent of what is coming out of the TV speakers.
TV Ears Dual Digital
A pair of headphones that connect to your TV wirelessly.
- The 3.0 transmitter is strong enough to cover a 600 square foot room
- Charge two headsets with the base
The TV Ears are a wireless pair of headphones that can easily connect to your television. This product comes with two pairs that can be simultaneously charged. They can be swapped out to extend their already substantial battery life. They use infrared to communicate, so there is little-to-no latency.
2. Wireless Streaming Devices From TV to Hearing Aids
If you have a hearing impairment, wearing hearing aids will help you to hear the television better. Newer hearing aid models even have specialized TV programs to help with the clarity even more. But, sometimes hearing aids alone are not enough to make TV completely intelligible.
That is when wireless hearing aid accessories that work in conjunction with your current hearing aids are useful. There are a few different methods for wirelessly connecting your hearing aids to your television. You will need to choose the system that works with your specific brand of hearing aid. Be sure to talk to your hearing healthcare professional to get the correct device for you!
Phonak TV Connector
Connect your TV directly to your supported Phonak hearing aids.
- Have TV audio streamed directly to your hearing aids
- Does not require professional installation
The Phonak TV Connector allows you to connect your supported Phonak hearing aids directly to your TV. Rather than using a separate pair of headphones, you'll be able to get the sound from the television sent to you via Bluetooth – a very convenient way to receive TV audio.
And while this product only works for Phonak hearing aids, other hearing aid manufacturers, like Starkey, have their own versions of this product.
3. Loop Systems
A loop system is a magnetic field that is placed around the room or in a personal neckloop worn around the listener's neck. It can connect to the audio output of the television set or pick up the sound coming directly from the television's speakers. It works through the listener's telecoil setting on the hearing aids to transmit the TV audio wirelessly to the hearing aids.
The benefit of a loop system is that the hearing aids do not need to be wireless for it to function. They only need to be telecoil compatible. This is helpful for those people with older model hearing aids.
When watching the TV you can turn your hearing aids to the telecoil program to listen to the TV through the loop system. Full room loop systems are becoming more common in public buildings, theatres, and even grocery stores. Some people are now choosing to install these loop systems into their living rooms to avoid having to wear the neckloop portion. Room loop systems should be professionally installed.
Sennheiser SET840-S Wireless Assistive Listening System
Easily connected to a TV, hi-fi system or radio, Set 840 S produces excellent sound, delivered directly to your ears.
- Transmits through walls
- 100m range
The Sennheiser Set 840 is a loop system that can be paired with any hearing aid with telecoil functionality. While some hearing aids can be paired with TV connectors of their own brand, these loop systems can be used with any telecoil-enabled hearing aid, meaning you won't have to be sure about the brand you're buying. The Sennheiser is considered to be one of the most comfortable and function-packed options, with a large range and a battery life of around 9 hours.
4. Wireless Hearing Aid Streaming
The majority of hearing aids now sold are wireless hearing aids. Wireless hearing aid technology means that not only can the hearing aids communicate with each other, but they can also wirelessly communicate with other external devices such as televisions, smartphones, and computers.
The method by which the wireless streaming occurs will vary from hearing aid to hearing aid. Some work through Bluetooth, while others may work through FM connections.
Most wireless hearing aids connect to the television through an intermediary device. This device can either be worn around the neck or seated near the listener or television. This intermediary device receives the hardwired or wireless audio signal from the TV before sending it to the hearing aids via another wireless connection.
The hearing aid wearer can switch to the wireless streaming mode with just a press of a button and the TV setting can be customized.
These wireless hearing aid accessories can be purchased through your hearing healthcare professional. There is a different model needed for each individual hearing aid brand.
Phonak Compilot II
The ComPilot II can wirelessly connect different Bluetooth devices to your Venture or Belong Hearing Aids.
- Easy set-up
- Compatible with Phonak hearing aids
Not just for television, the Phonak Compilot allows you to stream any Bluetooth device to your Phonak hearing aid. For example, connect your phone or gaming device to the Compilot through Bluetooth and you'll be able to hear it through your hearing aid.
This device only works for Phonak devices, but other manufacturers will have equivalents for their own hearing aids.
5. Home Theater Systems (Vocal Clarity Devices)
For those with poor hearing who think the sound from the television is a bit muffled or tinny, a good quality sound system could be the push they need to really start enjoying watching things again.
TaoTronics 32-Inch Soundbar
Rather than having the sound produced by your TV, a soundbar enables a full surround-sound experience.
- Won't need charging
- Allows for great sound experience
Any high quality soundbar will do the trick, but we'll use the TaoTronics as an example. This soundbar allows the sound to be a lot clearer and more pervasive. If you have poor hearing, but don't want to spring for a hearing aid just yet, a good quality soundbar could be the answer.
If you're not a whizz with wires, you might need to get a professional, or even just a friend/family to come and help you set it up. It's not impossible though, so you could figure it out with brute force!
Top 2 Hearing Devices for the Movies
1. Assistive Listening Headset
When hearing aids are not enough, or for those who do not yet wear hearing aids, assistive listening devices can be worn during a movie to amplify the audio, similar to wireless headphones worn for the TV. This will allow the user to adjust the volume of the movie independent of what the rest of the audience hears.
Assistive listening headsets can be requested at the customer service desk for most major movie theaters. Just check out these “assistive moviegoing” options from AMC listed here. If you wear hearing aids or other hearing devices you can check out our recommended headsets, all comfortable to wear and noise cancelling.
2. Personal Closed Captioning Systems
Closed captioning systems are written visual cues relayed to the user in real-time with the movie. The written captions show the dialogue, narration, and sound effects during the movie. Only the user of the device will see the captions displayed on a small screen connected to the chair, or to glasses.
However, not all movies and/or movie showtimes are closed captioned. If you plan on relying on closed captioning, it is best to check with the theater prior to the movie.
There is no need to avoid the movie theater or get frustrated with not being able to enjoy the show. The assistive listening headset and/or closed captioning systems available at most theaters can help improve your movie-going experience.
If you're looking at these products due to experiencing hearing loss, it's a good idea to have your hearing checked by a professional. Arrange a free consultation with a hearing specialist near you and take the first step on your journey to clear ears.
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