Top 5 Devices for Watching TV With Hearing Loss

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.

Hearing loss is serious. If you think that you may need a hearing test, we can help you find a hearing specialist in your area
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Product Name
Rating

TV Ears

Phonak TV Connector

Sennheiser SET840-S Wireless Assistive Listening System

Phonak Compilot

TaoTronics 32-Inch Soundbar

4.4/5
4.1/5
4.0/5
4.2/5
4.6/5

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

4.4

Clear Living ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula takes into account the product's price, battery life, functions, size, and other features.

A pair of headphones that connect to your TV wirelessly.

Lifestyle
Lifestyle Relaxed
Warranty 5 years
US dollar price icon
Price $50+
  • The 3.0 transmitter is strong enough to cover a 600 square foot room
  • Charge two headsets with the base
Summary

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.

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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

4.6

Clear Living ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula takes into account the product's price, battery life, functions, size, and other features.

Connect your TV directly to your supported Phonak hearing aids.

Hearing Aid style icon
Intended for Phonak Hearing Aid Users
Ease of use Very easy
US dollar price icon
Price $180+
  • Have TV audio streamed directly to your hearing aids
  • Does not require professional installation
Summary

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.

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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

4.0

Clear Living ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula takes into account the product's price, battery life, functions, size, and other features.

Easily connected to a TV, hi-fi system or radio, Set 840 S produces excellent sound, delivered directly to your ears.

Battery icon
Battery life 9 hours
Ease of use Medium
US dollar price icon
Price $100+
  • Transmits through walls
  • 100m range
Summary

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.

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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

4.2

Clear Living ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula takes into account the product's price, battery life, functions, size, and other features.

The ComPilot II can wirelessly connect different Bluetooth devices to your Venture or Belong Hearing Aids.

Lifestyle
Lifestyle Busy
Ease of use Simple
US dollar price icon
Price $245+
  • Easy set-up
  • Compatible with Phonak hearing aids
Summary

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.

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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

4.6

Clear Living ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula takes into account the product's price, battery life, functions, size, and other features.

Rather than having the sound produced by your TV, a soundbar enables a full surround-sound experience.

Sound quality Fantastic
Ease of use Medium
US dollar price icon
Price $70+
  • Won't need charging
  • Allows for great sound experience
Summary

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!

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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.

Lindsey Banks is a graduate of the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at the University of Florida. She uses her diverse experience in hearing healthcare and her passion for helping people to provide credible information to those with hearing loss who visit Clear Living.

78 Comments
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  • Danette Foster
    We have a swanky new samsung qled smart tv... With our older tv we had a tv ear set for my husband who has to have the tv so loud I can't stand it. With the new one you have a choice. Blue tooth or tv speakers. We have found no way to hear through both.
    • Peter - UK
      Dannette, I share your frustration. All these devices but never advice on how to actually connect them to the TV without impacting others watching the TV. Currently I have a Panasonic TX-L26X10B. This is fortunate as connecting a device to the headphone socket does not disable the speakers. However it's only a 26inch TV and now I need something bigger.A visit to a TV store today and they had no information on which models would enable both speakers and headphones together. They didn't have any Panasonic but I guess I'll be checking there first. However, trying to find this information in the specs is also problematic. Glad I'm not the only one looking!
  • Shaylee Packer
    My father-in-law has the hardest time hearing the TV these days. He has to turn the volume clear up to hear, and then everyone else in the room has problems doing anything. I will have to mention this hearing loop to him, and see what he thinks of the idea.
    • terry best
      I donot wear hearing aids currently but have difficulty hearing the tv whilst watching Netflix.My wife is Philippino and loud when speaking to her relatives in tagalog. I need something to increase the volume to my ears but drown out the tagalog.As you may invisage we constantly compete.Whilst there are some practicle solutions I still love my wife and am looking for a less drastic solution. what could you recommend?
  • ZVOX VoiceBud VB20 Hearing Amplifier Review - Clear Living
    […] is likely experiencing difficulty with speech understanding in background noise and may also notice difficulty understanding TV, or on the […]
  • Ronald Cornelius
    I have been wearing hearing aids for over 50 years and continue to search for better aids. In the last two years I have added Starkey canal aids and Oticon behind the ear aids. They both have the same inherent problems they have always had. Too much feedback with canal aids and too much sound from behind with the behind the ear models. The one amazing advancement has been the Bluetooth wireless streaming from the Oticon tv directly to the aids. There is a separate channel on the aids that allows much better clarification than otherwise possible. The tv sound can be adjusted to any volume for other listeners or even muted while the user of the aids can set their own volume on the aids. What I can’t understand is how this is the only device that really works and why manufactures can only provide this kind of improvement on tv and not real life. It is very disheartening to see cities all over tearing up street corners so that the are wheel chair accessible and millions of people are unable to hear well enough to even watch tv or go to the movies. Most of these street corners will never see a wheelchair and ADA knocks themselves out making sure wheelchairs can go anywhere. I only wish those of us with hearing losses had more obvious means of conveying our handicap. Our only choice is to withdraw from communication in public.
    • Doris Salmond
      I, too, am a hearing aid user and find this forum great for information that unfortunately my audiologist has not given to me to enhance my enjoyment of tv and movies, etc. Also, regarding your comment on corner ramps, they might best be used in busy city areas. Putting them in residential areas with low volume of traffic and with homes having driveways just does not make sense.
    • Lindsey Banks
      You express a very real problem for people with hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of the "hidden disabilities" that is difficult for people to understand. As far as the TV system goes, that's great that it is working so well for you! The reason it doesn't work that well in real-life is with the TV device there are two separate inputs that can be processed independent of each other, the TV streaming input and your external environment being picked up (or muted) by the hearing aid microphones. In a real life environment, all the sounds are coming into the microphones and can not be easily separated.
  • Elise
    I am trying to help my father enjoy television more like he used to. He has hearing loss, but won't wear the hearing aids, and he had a long career as a musician. He is 95% blind now so he can't read lips anymore, and can't read the captions fast enough. He said if he turns the volume up high enough to hear the TV, it will bother the folks in the apt next door (he's in a senior step facility). The zvox sound bars sound especially good, but I wonder if he would still have to turn the volume way up on that?
    • Clear Living
      The zvox sound bar would be helpful but if he is worried about the volume of the TV he should use a pair of the wireless headphones. The TV ears of one of the Sennheiser devices above would be great options.