Good morning gsusser,
This is going to be long, so grab a cup of coffee!!
After scouring the planet for a workable TV Listening device, I decided that tens of thousands of churches couldn’t be wrong, so I upped the budget to cover a small Williams Sound FM system. I wasn’t even sure if it would work on a TV as I have never seen them used anywhere but churches, so it was a bit of a gamble, but it paid off big time and I couldn’t be happier!
I’ll link you to the best price you’re going to find on a small WS system, but let’s talk some more about the pros and cons so you can better weigh the expense (currently $749) against practicality for YOU. http://www.assistedaudio.com/store/p/820-Large-Area-Value-FM-ADA-KIT.aspx#.VBWVmGwo618
The link above takes you to a “package” deal, which may seem more than you need, but it’s the best price no matter what. It comes with enough parts for two people, but if you were to purchase just the transmitter and ONE receiver separately, it would cost you the same anyway, so at least this way you have spare parts, or could accommodate another listener.
Now, if you have not done any research on Assisted listening devices, you should know that there are much lower priced options out there, and probably the closest runner up in quality and function would be the Sennheiser system through Amazon at $250. Like WS, Sennheiser allows the use of different types of head gear, so you have the flexibility of using earbuds, small headphones or full coverage headphones, whichever you prefer, but aside from that, they are vastly different systems. The Sennheiser is an RF frequency system with far less useable range, and is more susceptible to interference than the FM platform of the WS system. The SH is also a rechargeable system, so it requires nightly replacement into it’s base and if it goes out while you’re watching a movie, you’re done watching the movie. The WS uses two AA batteries that will last for weeks, so there’s no need to get up and put the receiver in a special holder or charger. Just turn it off and lay in on the coffee table or nightstand.
I also don’t care for the large dial around your neck setup at all. The WS receiver is about the size of a pack of cigarettes, and if you’re sitting on the couch or laying in bed watching TV, its extremely handy to just lay a finger on the volume wheel so you can instantly adjust TV volume as desired.
The WS receiver is built as a monaural receiver and typically uses only a single ear bud. However, dual buds are available and cheap mono-to-stereo adapters can be used to adapt any headphone or headset to the mono output of the receiver and you can’t tell the difference. Personally, my hearing is much worse in one ear than it is in the other, so without single ear adjustability, my preference is to just wear the single earbud that comes with the WS in my good ear. If I’m listening to a music type show or concert, I will sometimes use my double headset just for a bit richer sound to both ears.
There are a couple of issues that you will need to consider:
1.) Regardless of what type of system you use for TV listening, you will be limited to use at only one TV, so if you have more than one TV in your house that you use (den and bedroom), you will need a complete system for each TV. We have two TV in our house, so there’s a separate WS system hooked up to each one. I considered buying the cheaper SH system for the bedroom, but after some thought, decided to stick with the top dog for all the reasons I’ve already stated. If you travel, or must use one system for multiple TVs, consider buying a WS PPA T46 Personal PA Body Pack Transmitter, which is portable and can be either placed in front of the TV for use with it’s mic or coneected to the Audio out port from the TV for direct input (I have one of these and use it for traveling or visiting friends for TV watching.)
2.) Your TV, or satellite receiver, or cable box must have unmetered or “Line Out” RCA type audio out jacks for optimum use. Here’s a link to a component that has RCA jacks, so you will know what they look like. Unmetered or “Line out” means they are not tied to the volume or mute control of the TV. Using a headphone jack on a TV is possible, but will mute the TV to other listeners and you would have to use the TV volume control.
3.) Your ears may be too small to comfortably accommodate your hearing aids AND ear buds at the same time. If that is the case, you should consider one of two options:
a.) Slip the tip out of your best ear so you can wear the single earbud of the WS system while watching TV and still hear ambient sound through the other ear and it’s hearing aid. or
b.) Buy a set of flat headphones that sit just on the outside of your ears (with a mono-to stereo adapter) and enjoy the best of both worlds, You can wear your hearing aids as normal, and use the headphones, allowing you to hear TV through both ears AND hear ambient room sounds through your hearing aids. This works amazingly well with behind the ear/open dome type hearing aids like the ones you are trialing right now.
Most high end hearing aids today come with some kind of optional streaming system so the hearing aids themselves can tap into those audio out jacks of your TV or Sat/cable box. This lets the TV sound play directly from your hearing aids as if THEY were earbuds themselves. This all sounds great, but in reality, it’s a huge, frustrating, and sometimes painful compromise. Here’s the thing,
a.) the streamer setups work just fine, but you have no practical volume/mute control, so when the action gets loud (or the stupid commercials come on) you can’t turn your remote control down fast enough! (remotes are all touch screen or digital push button and don’t have volume wheels for instant control). (painful)
b.) the remote must be worn around your neck because distance from the remote to your hearing aids is critical and very short, although range from the TV to the remote is usually more than adequate.
c.) While the TV to the remote signal is bluetooth, the signal from the remote to your hearing aids is a proprietary signal and is very weak and finicky so just turning your head can cause one hearing aid to momentarily cut out. (frustrating)
d.) You will have to have a program setup for your hearing aids so they can deliver something close to what you might hear through a set of headphones. This is VERY difficult to achieve for users that have tone loss hearing rather than overall volume loss hearing. When your Pures are setup for hearing people and sounds, they are programmed to amplify or change the tones that you can’t hear, and leave the ones you can hear alone. If you’re using them to stream TV or other audio, the sounds you can normally hear won’t be there because they are ignored by the program. So they have to completely set them up differently for streaming, THEN , when someone begins to speak to you while you are streaming, they not only sound really weird, but they blend in with the audio from the TV!! Life is sooo much better if you just spend some money on a top quality listening system and learn to use it along WITH your hearing aids so you have normal conversations and watch TV at the same time.
I’ve learned the hard way that hearing is part of your health, just like eyesight, dental work, diabetes, and anything else. The best way to approach the issue is to find out what you need, figure out what you want, add up what it’s going to cost, then work out how you’re going to pay for it. Setting limits to your budget first is cheating yourself out of the best solution. You wouldn’t choose a doctor because he was cheaper than all the rest, so don’t treat your hearing any differently!