Review: Unitron/Phonak? TV connector

Since I had trouble finding much information about TV Connector details, I thought I’d write a review of the one I purchased.

Short version – it does what it’s supposed to do and I’m happy with it. Pairing with HAs is quick and easy, and once paired, the TV Connector transmits whenever an input audio signal is present and the HAs are in range. Very slick and convenient, and can connect to multiple sets of HAs at the same time.

Unitron vs Phonak, and volume controls - I have the Unitron TV Connector without volume controls on top. It appears to be identical to the Phonak version without volume controls. I say that because I compared an Ebay photo of the underside of the Phonak version, to my own. The Ebay listing claimed it was exclusively for Phonak Direct models, but it was identical to my Unitron version. The Unitron web site shows the version with volume controls being compatible with my Moxi Alls. My guess is that either version with or without volume controls, works with Moxi Alls, Phonak Direct, and Phonak Marvel. The default volume of my HAs in TV streaming mode was too high. If I had the TV Connector version with volume controls, adjustment would have been easier. Instead I had to changed the gain of the TV Connector settings in the HAs.

Input – the TV connector has a single audio input which accepts either a standard 3.5mm male analog stereo connector, or an included short adapter patch cord to mate with a standard Toslink optical cable.

Power- standard Micro USB. The TV connector came with a cube power supply and cord, or one can power it with the cord alone from any suitable USB port.

Wrinkles

  1. For whatever reason, the analog output of my 4 yr old Samsung TV has some signal on it even when the TV is off (standby). Therefore, when the TV Connector was powered by its cube and using the analog input, the TV connector was always live and transmitting. The optical output of my TV didn’t have this problem, so the TV connector would stop transmitting instantly once the TV was turned off. However, when using the optical input, the TV Connector starts flashing red whenever it sees a Dolby Digital or DTS signal, and doesn’t transmit. Since there’s no practical way to change audio formats on my setup, it was back to analog. The solution was to power the TV Connector from one of the (switched) USB outputs on the TV. That way the unit powers off when the TV is off, solving the previous problem. Other folks’ setups will be different of course.

  2. When in TV streaming mode, the buttons on the HAs changes to a balance function. Right side button increases TV sound and decreases HA mic level. Left does the opposite. This means that when one is using the TV connector and normal speakers at the same time, there are now three elements to volume control. There’s the main volume (adjusted via the app or maybe by the buttons on the version of the TV Connector that has those), there’s the balance between the HA mic levels and the streamer input, (via the app or the HA buttons), and there’s the volume of the audio system speakers, which is in turn affected by the level of the audio input signal (which can vary greatly between sources). If you turn up the TV speakers, you get an increase in sound passing through open domes, plus an increase in output from the HAs. So, when my wife asks for more or less volume on the TV speakers, I sometimes have to adjust either the HA volume and/or balance as well. Additionally, if I use the HA balance buttons as a sort of easy workaround to increase TV volume, it makes it that much harder to hear anything my wife has to say, which is usually that she wants a speaker volume change. :slight_smile: This was all a bit confusing at first, but little issue once I got used to the foible. I also found that I had to adjust the delay in the TV speaker output to match what was coming in via the streamer, otherwise there was what most would call an echo.

  3. Once my wife gets HAs, then whenever I’m watching TV and she isn’t, but she’s in range of the TV Connector, she’ll have to manually change programs on her HAs. Which, while a very small thing in the context of age-related PITAs, is different in that it’s the person not watching TV who gets the inconvenience. :thinking:

I’m considering Phonak Marvels for her, so I hope I’m right about the Unitron TV Connector being compatible with those. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

Wish list – HAs that can adjust to a specific saved volume level regardless of the level of the various streaming audio inputs.

D.

I have just replaced my Unitron Moxi Pro aids - now 5 years old - with Phonak Marvel M 90 rechargeables and the TV transmitter - the improvments in speech clarity in noisy backgrounds and in the car is impressive. TV sound quality is also superb and the bluetooth connects easily. Using the direct bluetooth connection with my mobile is also a great feature.

With my previous aids I had the Unitron uDirect 2 neck dongle, the uTV2 and the uMic (mainly used in the car so I could converse with my wife) and none of them are compatible with the Marvels. Whether the later uTV3 will connect I have no idea.

I bought a Avantree Priva 3 Dual Link low latency wireless transmitter to enable me to stream audio from my computer. Although it theoretically had the compatible bluetooth version it would not connect to my aids and I sent it back.

I am not optimistic there is yet an alternative sender to the Phonak one, which in the UK costs about £150. I didn’t pay separately for mine - it was bundled with the cost of the aids at £2,950.

Phonak dropped the ball on letting us have one side for TV volume and the other for room volume.

The connector drives me nuts if you walk in and out of the room as it randomly connects and disconnects. A remote on off with volume control on the unit would fix all my issues.

And I believe @Rand will find this answer useful: you can ask your fitter to change TV connector program to not connect automatically when it detects the gadget but on manual (there are two manual options, I chose the one without any sounds).

Then when you want to listen, you either click the button on HA to switch to that program, or for lazy of us, you grab the phone and select it from there.

I usually know when I want to watch TV and have phone near me (or HA button), however I’m also lazy to stand up and turn on/off TV connector, as I saw many people do as a solution. So I share mine :wink:

So basically, remote is there, just not for TV connector but your HAs.

The Phonak RemoteControl is something I am wanting to be able to toggle through programs which includes the TV Connector. I think it would be much handier than pulling out a phone.
https://www.phonakpro.com/com/en/products/wireless-accessories/remotecontrol/overview-phonak-remotecontrol.html

You can use HAs volume up down button, just long press and it switches between programs you have, including tv connector or roger or partner mic, depending what is currently active. That should work unless you want very discreet option or you can’t access HA (eg under some cap), or you hate clicking that button for any reason.

I mean, it works, I use that or phone.

Yes, I know.
Big hands little buttons.
And, I really don’t want to play with my phone all the time.

Yeah, I totally can understand both. During my trial for marvels, I had problem opening the battery door while the aid is on my head, it is/was so tough. I feel sorry for everyone with any dexterity problems of any sorts.

And those buttons also aren’t easiest to click, they’re too slippery and need non trivial pressure to catch a click IMO, and whole aid is slippery as well.

That’s why I mostly use phone for switching. Plus, it says what it is, I don’t have to count :joy: