Telecoil loop systems haven’t been popular in the U.S. for long. But they’re quickly gaining prominence, so are more popular than ever. Venues are getting rid of their outdated FM loop systems and replacing them. But what’s the difference between the two, and how do they work? Let’s find out.
What Is a Telecoil Loop?
A telecoil loop is like WiFi, but for hearing. Telecoil systems have been popular across Europe for years now, but were only recently introduced to the United States. The basic idea is to help hearing impaired people hear better, without any background noise.
Here’s how it works. First, you’ll need a hearing aid that can pick up the telecoil signal. Without one, the system won’t work for you. These hearing aids aren’t significantly expensive, and aren’t any more difficult to use than regular hearing aids.
The system works through an electromagnetic signal. Sound is picked up by a microphone. The sound is passed through to an amplifier, which also transmits the signal around a loop. This physical wire loop runs around the whole room, and the audience sit inside it.
The wire transmits a weak signal which only those nearby can pick up. Your telecoil hearing aid has a special little copper loop inside it, which can pick up on this signal. Because the signal is from a microphone, the sound is crisp and clear, with almost no background noise.
To operate a telecoil hearing aid, you need to switch it on. There are tiny switches on the side of these hearing aids, which you flip to make them work. You can turn them on and off whenever you want, and the hearing aid will work as a normal hearing aid the rest of the time.
What Is an FM Loop?
Until recently, telecoil systems weren’t widely adopted in the U.S. Today, you can find them in banks, auditoriums, churches and more places besides. One reason why they didn’t catch on sooner is that many American venues use FM systems instead.
FM systems are simple and work with technology that’s widely adopted and understood. Half of the system is the same: a microphone picks up noise, which is transferred to a transmitter. The only difference is that the noise is transmitted as an FM radio signal rather than as an electromagnetic signal.
To pick up these signals, the people in the auditorium will wear a headset with a receiver. They don’t use a hearing aid to pick these signals up. This is another major difference.
These receivers and headsets work on roughly the same principles as telecoil loops. They pick up on a signal and play it back to you, which reduces background noise, because the sound picked up comes directly from a microphone. But that doesn’t mean the two systems are equal.
Why Are Telecoil Loops Better?
Telecoil loops are fantastic pieces of technology. But why are they better than FM loops? Why should an auditorium consider getting rid of FM loops, and why should you think about getting a telecoil hearing aid?
Better Sound Quality
The first reason is that telecoil hearing aids offer excellent sound quality. When a signal is transmitted as radio, all sorts of interference can butt in. But with a magnetic signal, that doesn’t happen.
This means that the sound your hearing aid picks up from a telecoil loop is crystal clear. It’s even better than if you didn’t need hearing aids, because the sound is delivered straight to you. And whatever the case, the sound is better than an FM signal.
Because the system picks up sound directly from the microphone, there’s less background noise like clapping, cheering, coughing and sneezing, and anything else that might get in the way of your hearing experience.
You Can Use Your Own Hearing Aid
The second reason why telecoil loops are better is that you can rely on your own hearing device, your own hearing aid. With FM loops, you’re given a headset that the auditorium will reuse. There are obvious hygiene concerns that don’t apply to telecoil loops, because with telecoil, you don’t have to share!
The only reason that telecoil loops aren’t more popular yet is that they require installation, and an initial cost where the venue buys the needed equipment. But they’re becoming more and more popular, which is why you should consider getting a telecoil hearing aid.
Another reason why it’s better to use your own hearing aid is that it isn’t obvious you’re using one. Some people are embarrassed by needing a hearing aid, and while an FM receiver/headset is big and obvious, a hearing aid isn’t.
Where Can You Buy a Telecoil Hearing Aid?
If you’re interested in buying a new hearing aid of any kind, you should visit KingSandia. We’re Colorado Springs’ premier hearing assistance group, and we’ve been helping locals improve their hearing and quality of life for years.
Here’s how it works. It all starts with you. Call or send us an email to arrange an appointment. We can work to your schedule, whatever it might be. Then, drop in to one of our centers and talk to one of our friendly staff members.
There’s a minimum of paperwork to fill out, because we like to keep the process simple for people getting a hearing aid for the first time. The first thing we’ll help you with is a hearing test, through which we’ll find out whether you have a hearing problem, or just something like compacted earwax.
There’s no big, complicated machinery involved. All you have to do is sit in a room with some headphones on. Your audiologist will play sounds through the headphones, and you’ll have to indicate whether you can or can’t hear the noise each time. It’s as simple as that.
Then, if you like, we can assist you in picking a hearing aid. There are lots to choose from, not just telecoil ones. Talk with your audiologist so that they can help you make the best decision for you. You’ll be able to choose between different brands, different models, and hearing aids with different capabilities e.g. telecoil vs. non-telecoil hearing aids.
So, what are you waiting for? Contact Sandia Hearing Aid Center today, and reclaim your hearing!