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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.