Hearing aids are remarkably effective at enhancing a person’s hearing, but when used in a crowded atmosphere they can quickly overwhelm the wearer with unnecessary noise. Large, open spaces such as audotoriums, places of worship, concert halls and movie theaters can be especially troublesome. Fortunately hearing loop systems permit individuals wearing hearing aids to easily focus on the sounds they want to hear – sermons, presentations, music and movie dailogue – without any unwanted distractions.
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. People who had a telecoil could enjoy a clear phone conversation without having to worry about 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. 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.
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.