Connecting TV Listening Devices for People With Hearing Loss

Wireless TV headphones can save your marriage

How to select and connect these devices:

Do you have moderate hearing loss and can't watch TV with a person that has normal hearing? It is very annoying to people, when you keep turning the Television volume up and they must react by turning it back down. This problem can be resolved with wireless amplified TV headphones. Here is what you need to know about selecting and connecting these products.

Over several years, I have tried many amplified TV listening systems. The stethoscope style (under chin) is my preference, units like TV Ears or Sennhauser provide great sound quality, comfort and clarity. They all work quite well if connected correctly, so below I discuss these connection issues:

When people connect there listening units to the earphone jack on their Televisions, they will completely disable the TV speakers. This, of course, is not good if someone with normal hearing is watching this TV at the same time. To solve this problem, some manufactures offer a microphone with their devices to place near the TV speakers, but I have not found this to work well, because of background noise and echo. I recommend connecting the unit directly to the audio output RCA jacks on the Television or DVD player etc. Sets have two types of outputs, fixed or variable jacks. Fixed outputs are not affected by the TV volume while variable outputs are directly controlled by TV volume control. Therefore, fixed outputs will give stronger signals to an external listening system. This output information is available in your TV brand's manual. Connection to these fixed RCA outputs on many new digital televisions can still create some similar issues. The software on many of the new flat screen sets will generally disable the TV speaker system as well. The TV's audio menu set up may not let the external speakers (RCA output) and internal TV speakers operate at the same time. So, if you own or plan to purchase a new digital TV, determine if both can be switched on at the same time.. (E.g.: external speaker: "on/off" and the internal speakers "on/off").

Most of the older non digital TV's are easier to work with, since they have variable RCA output jacks, which will not disable the TV speaker system when used. Therefore, both the TV speaker and wireless earphones can then be used simultaneously with separate volume controls.

If you own a newer style digital TV set that will not allow TV speakers and an external jack to be on at the same time, there as a way to resolve the problem. Take any audio amplifier with two small speakers, connect amplified headphones, then attach audio cables from the fixed RCA audio outputs on digital TV to audio inputs on the extra amplifier. Go to audio menu on the TV and turn "on" the external speakers, shutting off the internal TV speakers. The auxiliary amplifier's speakers system will now be heard by everyone and the hearing impaired listen with the amplified headphones.

In addition, most popular listening devices uses infrared technology (line of sight signal) which work with all Televisions except Plasma. Infrared signals cause interference and static on most Plasma sets. However, headphones using FM transmission technology will work and are available from some manufactures like Sennhauser. FM transmission allows you to leave the room and continue to receive the signal with your wireless headphone. Different channel selections are available on these devices to avoid receiving outside broadcast signals, since it shares FM radio band frequencies.

In summary, use the RCA output jacks and not the earphone jack on your TV to connect a wireless headphone, avoid Plasma TV's and if all fails simply install a separate amplifier. If you are aware of the above connection issues, you will find these amplified headphone units will save your marriage. The fight over the TV volume control will be over and everyone can enjoy TV listening at a comfortable sound level..

Jerry P. Ruby