Hearing aids are incredibly good at improving a person’s hearing, but when used in a crowded environment they can quickly overwhelm the wearer with unnecessary noise. Sizeable, open areas such as audotoriums, places of worship, movie theaters and concert halls can be especially troublesome. Fortunately, hearing loops systems offer a solution to this problem, allowing hearing aid users to easily hear the sounds they wish to enjoy.
Hearing loop systems work together with the telecoil feature found in many 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 has several components, starting with some type of audio input (usually from a dedicated microphone feed or a public address 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. 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. Listeners also appreciate their more subtle nature, which allows them to enjoy a concert, presentation, or worship service without the self-consciousness that can accompany wearing a neck loop.
Though no hearing technology is perfect, hearing loop systems offer a huge service to many people, giving many listeners a much more enjoyable experience.