Skip to comments.Advice Needed on TV Audio Solutions for a Hearing Impaired Person
Posted on 02/09/2013 5:29:01 PM PST by randita
A relative of ours is hard of hearing. He's tried several types of hearing aids but they have not met his satisfaction.
When he visits us and we're watching TV, he can't hear it unless the volume is so loud it drives the rest of us out of the room. We have a small house and an open floor plan, so moving to another room is not an option. We can hear a loud TV throughout the entire house.
A possible solution would be a headset for him on which he can adjust to volume to his liking while the rest of us can keep the TV volume at a reasonable level. But I haven't seen anything like that available according to the research I've done.
What I have seen are heat sets which take over the TV volume entirely (so that people without head sets have no audio) OR personal amplifiers which are placed near the person who is hard of hearing. I'm not sure how these amplifiers work, but I wonder if they would be annoying to others in the room.
There may even be a way to replicate what's seen and heard on the TV onto a computer with a head set running out of the computer. But we don't have an extra computer to devote to that.
FYI, the TV set is a Panasonic Viera plasma, two years old. There are a couple of HDMI outputs that we're not using.
We currently don't have a sound system connected, but will soon. We moved recently and are still unpacking items like that.
Please don't bother with suggestions for hearing aids. This person is stubborn and absolutely will not listen to any suggestions.
I hope I've explained the situation satisfactorily, but if not, please feel free to ask for more information.
Any ideas are welcome and GREATLY appreciated.
USE ALL CAPS WHEN SPEAKING!
Bose makes great earphones, but they are fairly pricey.
My dad is hearing impaired. He has a pair of Bose headphones that he wears, and can control the volume separately from the TV volume. Makes for happy family football!
Wireless tv headphones.
I do have hearing aids but just do not care to fiddle with them at home. If I was to watch TV without any aid, the volume would be excessive for my wife.
What works acceptably for us is "TV Ears" from Costco. The headset is wireless and has it's own volume control and a tone control that does not seem to do anything. I would like it better if it had a balance adjustment and better fidelity. An audio jack plugs into the external speaker jack on the TV (also a Panasonic Viera) that is unused. DC wall wart for power and the headset docks for battery charging when not in use.
The audio jack usedoes negate being able to link it into a sound system, but we do not care. The MUTE button does not mute this audio port, so I just crank down the headset if I need to shut out something.
It allows both of us to have a comfortable volume level. I often listen to sports without any external speaker volume at all.
Depends on if the hearing loss is in narrow bands or completely across the audio spectrum. I have a hard time hearing the tv, wife always telling me to turn it down.
Got a set of good stereo speakers and an amplifier at the thrift store. The kind with real speakers, a 10 wolfer, 4 inch midrange and a tweeter. Now I can hear the TV just fine, and half the time she says turn it up.
The surround sound speakers dont work, the low end is poor. What has happened is the full audio spectrum is present clearly and I can get enough clues to hear the conversations fine. With the tiny surround speakers, they primarily produce sound in the spectrum that I cannot hear well. (audio speaking range.)
Here is a general test, do you have to yell to speak to him, or can he seem to hear normally in conversations. If he can speak and hear normally when talking in a room with you, you might just get away with a good speaker system.
Focus on stereo amplifier, not 5.1 or 7.1. And get one with headphone out with volume control.
He can’t hear the TV? Tell ‘im I said he’s a lucky feller!
What my dad has - wireless and rechargable, volume control seperate from TV.
Oh, and the sound is awsome, sounds like a theater. I had 5.1’s setup and they compare poorly. Nice gimmic, bad sound.
At least to my funky ears.
OK, so to Amazon and look at this product:
BUT FIRST READ MY REVIEW OF THE PRODUCT:
This review is from: TV Ears 10341 2.3 System Wireless Headset System (Blue), with 10 Ear Tips (Electronics)
OK, so I own the basic unit. But my criticisms pretty much apply to all, I believe.
Great idea, but done very poorly. I can’t understand why they made it so uncomfortable. Nice not to have over the ear headphones, but the unit has cheap and uncomfortable ear bud cushions. The design and weight pulls a lot on your ears and hurts after a short period of time.
Pros: My wife gets to watch TV with me and not get blasted away.
- Very uncomfortable, cheap ear cushions that wear too quickly; replacements are overpriced
- Unit’s weight is excessive hanging from your ears with the cheap pads
- Line of sight use is annoying and limits the practical use of the unit
- Base unit for charging is cheap and head piece won’t sit properly. Have to play with it to get the charging indicator light to come on
My Fix made it a 5 star unit (***READ THIS***):
I altered my unit to make it the way it should have been in the first place. Now I love it, works 10 times better (including sound quality) and is so comfortable I hardly notice it. If you know anyone that can solder electronics this is easy. I wish I could attach a picture of mine. Open the unit. Cut off the ear units down to where they emerge from the central unit. Take a 1/16” stereo female headphone jack with at least 5” of wire. Un-solder the L & R ear bud connections that came with the unit and re-solder the headphone wires there. Cut, carve or fashion a hole in the housing for the wire so you can put it back together. Then you can use any ear bud set you like. I have a $100 Bose in ear set that is wonderfully clear. Worth the price. The unit sits on my lap or the arm of the sofa and isn’t a nuisance any more. Be nice to have a clip on it so I could attach it to my shirt. HINT! Make sure the new cord doesn’t interfere with the unit sitting in the charging stand.
I assume they don’t make them so you can use your own ear buds because they want to sell you their overpriced junk ones. Shame on them. I gave up using mine unit, figured I just wasted my money, until I made this fix. Now I use them every day.
Note that I bought mine from Radio Shack locally so I could return them if they didn’t work.
I don’t know know if any mfg has finally gotten sense and made one with a jack for your own head phones or ear buds. Although annoying to do, my fix has been a wonderful solution.
He can hear okay on the telephone and he can hear okay if you’re talking normally and you’re only a few feet away from him (as long as there’s no ambient noise). Across the room, no.
But he’ll have the TV volume at maybe a 20+ level when most people could hear it just fine at around 10.
2. 2 sets amplified speakers (like the older, amplified 'computer' speakers) with Headphone jack.
Plug Y-cable into jack on equipment, then each of the speaker sets into the cable jacks. Plug headphones into one of the speaker sets. Adjust one set of speakers for comfortable volume level, the other for acceptable headphones level. Older-style "cup" headphones have worked well on this end in the past, for Rockers that just HAD to have it blasting at full volume all the time for it to be "any good!".
Audio extension cables are optional / handy.
I produce a TV series for NBC Sports and, as the owner of the series, must pay for Closed Captions. They are NOT for just deaf people! They take a bit of “getting used to”, yet I think it’s a great service. USE IT...THE FEDS MADE ME PAY FOR IT! :)
I use a Sony Bluetooth transmitter on top of the TV, and Sony stereo headphones, comfortable and excellent, wireless up to 35 feet. About $200 for both.
These are what I use, but Sony's discontinued them.
You can get them from Amazon.
Ours have lasted more than 5 years. If you buy two or more sets, they will all work together from the same base.
Order now! Operators are standing by!
Thanks for the “fix” tip. I happen to have a second unit that I broke the ear stem on, so it should be an excellent suject for the stereo jack surgery.
Sony wireless headphones. You described my father. He is wearing the headphones now and the tv volume is bearable.
Sound amplifiers like this are worthless IMO. They amplify all the ambient sound, not just the TV. Net result is though louder, TV dialog is no easier to understand.
I use headphones during most TV viewing, partly because I live in an apartment building and partly because of the variations in volume during programs/movies.
My set-up is:
Vizio LCD TV with audio out. Long audio cable to my cumfy-chair. Logitech headphones with inline volume control ($20 at Walmart).
The TV sound is not affected by the audio cable.
Supposedly a new law is supposed to quit broadcasters from blasting commercials above normal audio levels. I also have a problem with loud background sounds/music overpowering voices in movies and tv programs. The headphone with volume control helps significantly.
Might just work for you. I know we love our TV center now. Thrift stores can be your friend. If your patient...
As a bonus, now my music is wonderful too. music on those tiny 5.1 speaker systems is like listening to 4 transistor radios to my ears, with a boom box add-on. But real speakers, man they sound good.
Good luck, nice of you to be so concerned.
This sounds idential to a situation here. I went to Best Buy and found a pair of wireless earphones. They came with a cradle for recharging. They are comfy around the ears and cost about eighty bucks. She wears them all the time and the rest of the family is also very grateful.
I am not hard of hearing but closed caption has saved my sanity. I have 5 loud boys (and a beautiful girl) that I love but, I haven’t heard a movie or tv show in 18 years. Thank you for paying for this service, even if you are only doing it because it is required.
You can try adjusting the TV sound. Set it to mono, with no theater sound, and then turn the mid range and highest frequencies as high as they will go with the bass as low as it will go. Works for me.
Amazon features a variety of “personal sound amplifier” devices in their “Health and Wellness” department that you might find suitable. These include headphone systems such as the Sonic SE4000 Super Ear Personal Sound Amplifier, priced at $22.95, and which gets four stars from users. Or the Williams Sound PKT D1 EH Pocketalker Ultra, which goes for $120, and is rated at five stars.
My own device, the Earglasses® Sound Amplifier, wouldn’t be suitable, since its modest amplification is best suited for use by those with less profound problems.
Friend of mine just got hearing aids that are bluetooth capable, so they’re also wireless headphones for any bluetooth device. There’s gotta be some sort of bluetooth audio for TVs. Kind of an expensive solution, but pretty cool.
My mother in law was very hard of hearing. I bought her a stereo amplified listener from Radio Shack and got a lightweight set of stereo ear phones to plug into it. She could adjust the volume to suit her.
It was also good for when we had visitors, for she could join in the conversations while using it. It amplifies the sound and does not require a connection with the audio source.
My listener is about twenty years old and they still work great. ‘Mother’ has been dead since 2001 and now I occasionally use them to listen to the birds singing.
You can buy wireless headphones that connect to the TV. I was tired of hubby cranking up the volume so I saw $15 headphones at Big Lots.. You can get more expensive ones, but these work great.
I hope you realize that overdoing the wrong kind of supplemental amplification will just make things worse. If the sound level he wants hurts your ears, it will cause more noise-induced hearing loss, aggravating his condition -- probably presbyacusis. Just boosting the loudness across the audio spectrum can make it painful in the frequencies which do not need to be amplified. And that's all turning the volume up, or using store-bought headphones will do.
So far, on this thread, I haven't seen any wise counsel on this. All seem to be advising to just boost the sound, and likely that is the WRONG approach, over time.
Don't steer your relative with advice that will harm him more. See that he gets professional advice. Do some research on this with the experts, The American Hearing Research Foundation
Find him a professional near you: http://www.asha.org/findpro/
He should also find funding help for the tests and device. I did. Unsure about who you can contact for information about audiology services and hearing aid coverage? There are a variety of resources at the state and national level that may have answers to your questions. Is he a veteran? Is the hearing loss service-related?
More loud noise will just make his condition worse -- slow enough so you won't be blamed for it -- but worse. Now you know.
One of the things I've done with TV and/or DVD movies is to turn on the "Closed Caption" feature. It helps you get the speech a little better, a kind of synergy.
Again, if he hasn't gotten advice from a professional audiologist, it's way past time. If he already has and refuses it, or won't -- figure out whether it's your problem or not, eh?
Hearing aids are a big, big business. Who to believe?
I went to my HMO and had my hearing tested sitting in a sound booth. Mild hearing loss. I have trouble understanding some people, but not others. The audiology nurse (I think that’s what she was), told me that hearing aid wouldn’t help me much if at all.
A year later I went to a free Italian lunch funded by a local hearing aid shop and signed up for a free initial hearing test. This time I sat next to the owner of the shop (whose speech I understood perfectly!), computer screen in front of him, and I tapped my knee whenever I heard a sound in the headphones. Mild hearing loss at certain frequencies, he explained quite a lot, and invited me for a comprehensive test which I knew would be followed by a high pressure sales pitch. Told me that of course a hearing aid would help me. Costs had been explained during that group lunch a week earlier. I declined the invitation.
(1) Not hearing the “beep” when the microwave oven is done
(2) Not hearing the top five or six notes on a piano
(3) Missing about 20 - 30% of the audio track for TV programming
So, here are our well tested solutions:
(1) If you have cable, DISH or Direct TV, they ALL offer some sort of closed captioning. We find it to be a bit distracting to follow the text while trying to watch the video, (especially action filled programming) but is IS one solution. We use it mostly during programs spoken with a Brit or other accents.
(2) Wireless headphones - and there are several variations
W/L Headphone Type #1 uses infrared beams to transmit the signal. NOT RECOMMENDED because they require pretty much line of sight and certainly won't allow walking into the kitchen for a fridge raid while listening to the soundtrack.
W/L Headset Type #2 - uses radio transmission and there are basically two transmission schemes. The CHEAPER type uses a low power FM BAND transmitter which will work pretty well if you are NOT in a large Metro Area like NY, LA or Chicago. In such areas, it's almost impossible to find an used frequency to use with this type of headset. The good news is that ONE transmitter can service multiple headsets, just like 88.5FM can be picked up by ANY FM receiver, including such headsets. The headsets are essentially FM Radios built into a pair of headsets, teamed with a very low power FM transmitter sending the audio from your TV to any FM Receiver within about 50 feet, just like Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh.
The BETTER type of W/L Headset uses the same technology as cordless phones. Since cordless phones for some years now have had automatic channel hopping/search capability, they seem to work just fine around the house even in densely populated areas. They have the widest selection of manufacturers and provide the best sounds quality.
Of the first type, Harbor Freight Tool Outlets sell a kit for around $10 - $15 that you can use as a “proof of concept”. (google their website)
The drawback to that particular set and many others out there - SO BEWARE - is that they have no internal charging system. That means every few hours you're swapping the batteries in and out of the headset, transmitter and charger. IT IS A ROYAL SUPER DOOPER PAIN, and for that reason, for the second TV, we recently went shopping again and replaced the Harbor Freight set with a kit from Acoustic Research.
They work well, but another “comfort factor” has emerged. On some sets, the AR included, the ear cups do not swivel left to right (horizontally), so they don't conform to one’s head is if is tapered from front to back. It's not a deal killer for us, but something to watch for. We found that issue was REALLY UNACCEPTABLE for the “stethoscope” style similar to the old commercial airplane headsets - just too uncomfortable/unadjustable for anything over a few minutes use. They're so useless, I'm not spending any more time on them than this.
We have had a wireless (cordless phone technology) set made by RCA for over five years and they still work fine in the den.
Over the ear vs in the ear is a personal choice, but from a sanitary point of view we prefer the OTE style.
Most newer TVs will have some sort of audio output that is not affected by the TV volume control and can be run into the headset transmitter, but there are kits out there fopr older TVs that use a small microphone placed near the TV speaker to pick up the sound. Volume Independence is lost with that sort of arrangement.
Expect to pay between $50 & 80$ for a decent pair, WITH INTERNAL CHARGING ability. Anything cheaper will disappoint you and anything more expense is wasting your hard earned $$$$. Put the headset on the charger every night just before going to bed and it will last several lhours the next day.
It makes life SO much more pleasant for all concerned.
The only issue now is trying to communicate while watching TV. I think there's a product need out there to allow old foggie couples to communicate even if one or both are watching TV via headset - kind of like when on a motorcycle with the helmet-com link.
As things stand, we have to pause the program if one of us wants to make a real time comment about something on screen.
Oh well, nothing’s perfect. And, one last comment - IF you're going to have more than one TV in the house equipped with a wirleess headset kit, make SURE you buy a type that includes MORE THAN ONE CHANNEL for the radio link. Our RCA transmitter is FIXED while the RCA headset is adjustable (strange design) but we are able to run the two TVs independently because the NEW set from AR has THREE chanels built-in. Hope this helps ....
Well, you could always go get your own beer instead of making her do it.
Sorry, I couldn't resist. :)
I have hearing aids, you might mention they aren’t cheap. Mine were a little over $8K.
I’m 67 years old and hear just fine with my aids. When I go to visit my parents and they turn on the tv, I have to remove my aids. Mom’s 92 and has hearing aids but doesn’t usually wear them.
Go to a professional first, whose interest is in your welfare, not just your wallet. Your first test was the comprehensive one. Did they give you the report for other professionals to evaluate? Your audiology (nurse?)(certified?) person might have been right -- at this point in your life, that is.
The owner of your hearing shop was also probably right. That was just a preliminary evaluation, not an analytical one. You might have to pay a fee for another comprehensive one, as I did. Glad I got one -- but not connected with a brand.
Thanks. I just don’t know who to believe, as I said. The owner of the shop explained how these devices work, they are quite sophisticated and finely computer tunable, something I hadn’t realized. But they are very expensive and require frequent care and tuning, none of it free, I assume, and too much bother, commitment like teeth cleaning and eye exams. The comprehensive test the man offered would be free as well, the payoff for him would come from the cost of the hearing aid and its maintenance. As for the HMO, I don’t know if the nurse there was protecting the organization and its finances by sending me on my way, but I’m pretty sure that hearing aids there wouldn’t come at much of a discount if any. For now, I’ll wait and keep asking people I don’t understand to repeat.
It's (re)programmable, to fit my loss profile. Seems to work real good. But everybody is different, even between left and right ear. I suspect my left is worse because that side is a little nearer to the muzzle of the M1 Rifle.
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