Hearing aids are remarkably good at improving a person’s ability to hear, but when worn in a crowded atmosphere they can quickly overwhelm the wearer with unnecessary noise. Large, open spaces such as places of worship, auditoriums, movie theaters and concert halls can be especially troublesome. Hearing loop systems provide a simple solution to this problem, making it very easy for people with hearing aids to experience sermons, movies, live shows, and other presentations without distraction.
Hearing loop systems take advantages of the telecoil feature that is included in most 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.
The first part of a hearing loop system is an audio input, often from a PA system or a dedicated microphone feed. 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. 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.
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.