I read a good article today by Geoffrey A. Fowler on the Wall Street Journal. He was talking about modern TVs and their rubbish audio. In essence he said that if you can't hear the TV, the fault may not be your ears, it could be a combination of bad speakers and bad sound balancing on TV shows. He also made some suggestions for making the Audio better which included some after market add ons. It got me thinking though, sometimes even if your hearing is at fault, it might not be time for hearing aids, let me explain.
I regularly meet people in my clinic that talk about the TV being a major bone of contention. Everyone complains I have it too loud! This really is a big sign of hearing loss, however, the audio on TVs seems to have got that bad that it seems you don't need a huge amount of hearing loss to have problems.
Watching the TV really should be a pleasure, it is one of the few things that people still do as a family. So when it is difficult, it is just one more event, one more activity in the life of somebody with hearing loss that is diminished. What I have noticed though is that more and more people who come and see me have very mild hearing loss issues. This is a good thing as far as I am concerned, it means that people are aware of their hearing and at the early signs of trouble they are finding out what is going on. But, it leads me to this:
Yes, You Have Hearing Loss, Nope, You Don't Need Hearing Aids
I often say to people yes you have a hearing loss, explain it to them and why it is causing some issues with the TV and elsewhere and then tell them no, I don't think you need hearing aids. Why? Because their hearing loss is at the very high frequencies only or it is in the high frequencies but very mild.
Surprised? You think we rub our hands together with glee anytime we see a hearing loss don't you? Well, we don't, not even when it is a hearing loss that needs hearing aids! But why Geoff? I hear you asking. Well it is simple, yes you have a loss, but it is either too mild or to frequency related to aid. It is as simple as that. It doesn't mean that the loss may well give you some problems, it might.
A hearing aid might not be for you, but there still may be some help with that TV
And, if you are someone with one of the latest ultra thin TVs, it will probably affect your TV listening. But a hearing aid is not the answer for you. That doesn't mean there isn't something that can help. That is where we come back to the article by Mr Fowler. He had some really excellent suggestions for after market add ons that may well help you with that irritating problem.
Mr Fowler spoke about using speakers to help, in fact he spoke about soundbars in particular. One he mentioned caught my attention, the $250 Zvox AccuVoice AV200 is a basic soundbar that incorporates sound-processing technology similar to hearing aids. He said "In my tests, the speaker made voices louder and clearer than my TV speakers alone". He also remarked that purchasing one from Amazon comes with a 60-day return policy that should allow trialling with confidence.
I think this is something I will look into in the future in a deeper way myself. Like I said, I am seeing this regularly and I can't really offer a solution, I usually just explain the situation and talk about getting some decent speakers. I would like to be able to offer them myself, I mean, I am the hearing guy right?
I found another interesting solution for this problem from Sennheiser, meet the RS 5000 digital wireless TV headphones on Can't Hear The TV, When Hearing Aids Aren't The Answer