Sound quality Phonak TV connector vs Bluetooth

Let me try to summarize:

I think that @GR8Dane has answered the OP’s question by testing both TV Connector and Bluetooth streaming from a cellphone and noting that the quality seems to be the same. Thanks for that!

If we are trying to decide whether to pony up the “$200.00+ for the Phonak TV connector versus streaming by smart tv Bluetooth or a $50.00+/- streaming device like used for headphones”, then…

  1. Phonak’s proprietary Airstream vs Bluetooth, who cares? The connection seem simpler than Bluetooth handshaking, etc. But still, who cares? However, Airstream claims to deliver low hearing aid battery consumption. If it delivers significantly less battery consumption, that’s important!
  2. Auto-connect to the hearing aid when you move in-range. I would turn that off because I don’t always stream. eta, OH wait, some ppl like this feature.
  3. The TV Connector can supposedly be picked up by an unlimited number of devices as long as they are paired and you can’t do that with Bluetooth. This may or may not be important for you. How many ppl will stream at your house?

Has anyone tested battery consumption (Airstream vs Bluetooth). I dunno?

eta: Maybe I am over-simplifying by saying “Who Cares?”. It was just to make a point.

eta: Hey, Let’s ask about battery consumption over on the Phonak Marvel battery life thread.

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Bluetooth transmitters that transmit to two devices are common now. I have one, an Avantree, about $35. There is bluetooth broadcast but not sure that would be doable for a residence, but you could split the audio out cable and connect two bluetooth transmitters so that would take care of 4 people.

But, the Phonak transmitter probably works better and easier, no latency.


(Sorry guys. I’ve been out playing this weekend.)

I took my new TV Connector with me on our family trip this weekend. Just this morning I was watching a show on TV while my daughter was sitting next to me playing on her phone. I was laughing at something and she gave me this look like I was such an idiot since she didn’t know I could hear the TV just fine with it muted.

Here are a few great things about the streamer that will hopefully answer some questions:

  • Yes, you can use it without the TV volume being on. If you use the optical audio output on the TV, (which is the default and preferred method to connect) the volume control remains totally independent.
  • I’m a huge closed captioning guy since I hate not being able to follow along. I’m sure everyone is different, but even with the best hearing aids, I still struggle with word recognition unless the audio is pretty clear. This is particularly difficult when the show is animated and I can’t read lips or the characters are speaking off screen. I can turn it up loud enough to understand, but my family gets frustrated. They don’t love the captioning either, but it’s better than the TV blasting. The TV connector gives me the audio from the TV matched up with my hearing loss and is pumped directly into my ears and the clarity and speech recognition is amazing.
  • Yes, I still use the sound system when using the TV connector, most of the time. It’s great not to need the volume, but I have my TV Connector in a sound isolated theater in my basement. I love to watch movies late at night, and I didn’t want to disturb anyone with the volume and there is nothing to compare with all of the surround sound, bass, etc. you get outside of the streaming device. It’s really impressive what the hearing aids can do processing the audio in the room from the microphones and the audio coming in from the TV Connector. It’s like having a center channel for speech/dialog right in your head.
  • The up/down volume works the same way it does when you are streaming over Bluetooth. Up Vol turns up the audio input from the streaming signal and turns down the input from the ambient microphone. Down volume turns down the TV volume in my ears and turns up the speakers and ambient noise in the room. This is a really great implementation and it’s like having your own volume control. I had a big group together watching a race on Saturday night and I’m very, very into this stuff. Sometimes the big group gets chatting/carrying on about whatever and I have a hard time hearing what is going on. Usually I just grab the remote and crank the volume and try to not notice the glares from my wife about my rude actions. With the TV Connector I just give it a tap up on my Marvels and it quiets them down and turns the TV up. When a commercial comes on or if I want to talk with someone I just do the opposite.
  • Portability: Now that I have two of them I’m planning to leave on connected in my theater and will make the other portable to take with me on trips or possibly use in our master bedroom. It connects so easy that it’s worth taking with me if I know we’ll be watching a race or something while on the road.
  • Battery life: Like I mentioned earlier in this thread, receiving a single from the TV Connector broadcast seems to be very efficient. Streaming for 3 hours over Bluetooth would have killed my rechargeable Marvels, but the TV Connector barely made a dent. It’s also nice to not fuss with the pairing and be able to get phone calls over Bluetooth even while streaming TV. I’ve got several Bluetooth streamers that I use for other projects. I could do this over Bluetooth if I wanted, but even my best Bluetooth streamer wouldn’t be close to the range I get from the TV Connector.
  • Source for the connector: I’ve gotten both from my Audiologist and haven’t actually seen the price yet. I’m pretty sure it retails for $300, but I’ve seem them for $250 online.

GR8Dane - great post and very helpful. I’ve been using close caption for years when watching TV - so the Phonak TV connector seems like a “no brainer”. It will be interesting to find out if connection with Marvel HA’s draws down my disposable HA’s faster. I can handle $250 - $300 for a device that works well and serves a daily purpose. Now the Roger Pen and Roger Select (though I have never used either) come across as a complete rip off and extremely expensive. I’ve rarely seen the Roger Pen used anywhere and due to the “limited” response to my Roger Select post - its obvious the “Select” is more hype than reality. But as you so amply pointing out the TV connector works well, is discreet and within a reasonable price range. Thanks for post.

Great information!! Thank you very much. I am definitely getting one. I intend to use as you are doing to be able to watch with TV muted. Have you had occasion to try it with a laptop computer?

Yeah, it worked great on my laptop playing videos. No problem with the connection. The laptops connect with a regular audio plug instead of the optical audio and the volume on the computer can change the volume sent to the TV Connector whereas the optical audio on your TV is independent. Pros and cons, for sure on this, but it does work. For me, I’m hoping the Roger device will be an aggregator for me at the office since it supports 2-way communication. Ideally the Roger will connect to my desk phone and my laptop so I can keep the pairing with my mobile phone directly with the Marvels. I haven’t used the current Roger, but I did have the first Phonak streamer with a remote mic 10 years ago. It was pretty helpful for me since I often work in large training rooms with lots of people. It was nice to place on one of the tables near the back and be able to hear their questions really well. Not an every day use for that purpose, but it came in handy.

Okay, just what I wanted to hear. My audiologist says it will cost $279 from her so I’m going to pick it up on Monday when I get back from vacation. Most of the time I won’t be using it but it will help when I want to watch loud violent movies and not disturb my wife. Also, on occasion I will move it to my office and use it with my laptop. It looks pretty small so I’m guessing no big deal to unhook it from the TV and then hook it up to the computer. Will it have to pair each time?

Phonak TV connector works well for me.

Bluetooth with my laptop tends to lag… the audio quality a little bit wanting too … but that might just be the hearing aid…

Are you using the TV Connector with your laptop?

No, I am using the laptop inbuilt bluetooth.

The TV Connector is connected to the TV.

FYI the lag is the laptop as I have had similar lag with bluetooth headphone before too…

any yep if I used the TV Connector connected to the laptop audio out jack I am sure the lag will prob go away…

Ok good to know. I wouldn’t want to have any lag on the videos. Is it a big deal to unhook the TV Connector and use it with the laptop and then reconnect to the TV later?

It is not a big deal no, I could do that … just I have attached the TV Connector to the back of the TV.

So one more question. I have a surround sound system where the TV (and other devices) all run through my Denon Receiver. I’m assuming I can just connect the TV Connector directly to the Denon and not have to go to the back of the TV, correct?

It depends… if your Denon has an optical out then yes you can.

You can use the audio headphone jack however then no sound will come out of the surround sound speakers of course

Good luck with the Denon receiver! I’ve got one in my theater and I got it working one time and it hasn’t worked since. I’ve tried a lot of different things, but need to take a few hours and start going through all of the settings until I get it figured out. My Denon has a ton of outputs, but only optical in. Getting the outputs to work requires a lot of setup and varies if you’re also sending audio over the HDMI output for that selected source. It works quick and easy plugged into the back of a TV, but I’m using a projector, so that’s not an option for this room.

If you are sending audio down the HDMI to the tv, you could split that HDMI.

Does the Denon have two sets of output, like for a second room? If it does and that has rca jacks you might be able to route sound to room 1 and room 2 and intercept/convert room 2 output.

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So my Denon does have the multiple room capability. It is a 2017 model near the top of the range. I’m on vacation right now so can’t tell you the model number. I do know we have the LG TV (also 2017 model) connected to the receiver via HDMI. I’m pretty sure there is an Optical output on the back of the TV but I was hoping to avoid pulling out the TV as it is the largest size and is in a built in custom setup. I’m not using the second room outputs from the receiver so how would you suggest I connect the TV Connector to make use of this option?

I think the multi-room is the key, but I am using the other rooms, so I’m having to re-arrange things to make this work for me. The Denon’s also have a pre-amp so technically the audio should be going out those as well. I just need to take the time to sit down and try it out and get it working. I’m sure it can be done, but it’s a lot more than just plugging into the back of the TV for the optical connection.

Well you are far beyond my capabilities so I look forward to hearing what you come up with as a workable (and hopefully simple) solution. I’m picking up the TV Connector next Thursday when I get back from vacation so maybe you will have figured it out by then?? Anyway, since I’m not using the second room output, is that a simple solution for me?

Forget streaming for a moment. Think about how you listen to your TV before streaming.

  1. Do you listen to the TV speakers?
  2. Do you listen to the output of the Denon on speakers that are not the TV speakers?
  3. Maybe even both?

I suspect from the Denon. If yes, run an optical from the Denon to the TV connector.