Hearing aids are incredibly good at enhancing a person’s ability to hear, but when used in a crowded atmosphere they can quickly bombard the wearer with unnecessary noise. Concert halls, auditoriums, places of worship and theaters are particularly tricky for the hearing impaired. Fortunately hearing loop systems permit people wearing hearing aids to easily focus on the sounds they want to hear – sermons, presentations, music and movie dailogue – without any unwanted distractions.
Hearing loop systems work together with the telecoil feature found in many hearing aids. Originally, the telecoil feature was used primarily to pick up on magnetic signals created by telephones. People who had a telecoil could enjoy a clear phone conversation without having to worry about background noise. Hearing loop systems use this same concept but on a larger scale, creating magnetic signals that anyone in the area with a telecoil can pick up on.
A hearing loop system begins with an audio input, either from a dedicated microphone feed (such as in an auditorium or place of worship) or a PA system. This audio signal is fed into a hearing loop amplifier, which drives a current through a cable (or series of cables) looped around the room. Properly installed loops do not have dead zones, which means that anyone with a telecoil who is inside the loop can pick up on the transmitted audio.
There are newer forms of technology (such as FM transmission neck loops) that have established themselves in many venues, but audio loops are still common and offer a number of advantages. The fact that hearing loop systems are reliable, relatively easy to set up and work with the telecoils already installed in many of today’s hearing aids makes them popular with facility managers as well as with guests. They also provide a simpler, more discreet listening experience, since they don’t require the user to wear any additional equipment.
While hearing loop systems require some initial investment in terms of equipment and set-up, they are a proven way for venue owners and managers to offer a high-quality listening experience to as many visitors as possible.