Any time a hearing aid user tries to listen to a speaker in a crowded place, the amount of background noise can easily become overwhelming. Large, open areas such as places of worship, auditoriums, concert halls and movie theaters can be especially troublesome. The good news is, hearing loops systems provide a solution to this problem, allowing hearing aid users to readily distinguish the sounds they wish to focus on.
Hearing loops are a relatively simple bit of technology that works in conjunction with the telecoils that are installed in many modern hearing aids. Telecoils were originally designed to pick up on the magnetic fields created by coils within telephones. This allowed the wearer to easily listen to telephone conversations without distraction from background noise. Hearing loop systems take this concept a few steps further by creating a larger magnetic field for telecoils to 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. If the technicians who install the hearing loop system do their jobs correctly, anyone wearing a telecoil-equipped hearing aid will be able to hear the transmitted sounds clearly wherever they are in the room, without any “drop-out” or “dead spots”.
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.