When a hearing aid wearer tries to tune in to a speaker in a crowded place, the levels of background noise can easily become overwhelming. Large, open areas such as places of worship, auditoriums, movie theaters and concert halls can be particularly difficult. The good news is, hearing loops systems offer a solution to this disadvantage, permitting hearing aid users to readily distinguish the sounds they wish to enjoy.
Hearing loop systems take advantages of the telecoil feature that is included in most hearing aids. The original purpose of these telecoils was to work with the magnetic fields created by telephone hardware. By isolating these fields, telecoils allowed people wearing hearing aids to have clear phone conversations without being annoyed by 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 input is routed to a hearing loop amplifier, which then feeds a current along a cable or series of cables that have been installed around the room. If the loop is set up correctly there will be no dead zones or dropouts, allowing everyone in the loop with a telecoil to clearly hear the transmitted sound.
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. Their convenience alone makes them a popular choice among venues and patrons alike. They also provide a simpler, more discreet listening experience, since they don’t require the user to wear any additional equipment.
Despite their initial set-up cost, hearing aid loops are an efficient and effective way to make sure all visitors to a venue are able to enjoy their experience.