Wireless IR receivers and transmitters

Williams Sound & Sennheiser TV listening systems are ADA compliant IR sound systems that use infrared transmitters and receivers.

Many people with hearing loss can now listen to television without a hearing aid. Many people with hearing loss are finding that listening to their favorite TV show has become a lonely experience. Turning up the volume on the remote control not only disturbs friends and family in the same room, but can also alienate the neighbors. What was once a friendly social experience has become, for some, a source of frustration.

Infrared TV listening systems go a long way to solving this problem by allowing the volume to be adjusted to a comfortable level for everyone.

How do wireless infrared television listening systems work?

Like FM listening systems, infrared listening systems require both a transmitter and a receiver. At one time, however, digital infrared listening systems (unlike their analog FM counterparts) were limited to large venues such as theaters, museums, and conference centers. This is because they needed special fixed transmitters with complex radiator systems to properly disperse the IR signals. Recently, however, infrared systems are now also being made for small domestic environments.

In the case of infrared TV listening systems, the fixed IR transmitter connects directly to your TV (or radio, VCR, DVD) via the TV’s output jacks. Williams or Sennheiser IR transmitters are physically placed next to the TV. Alternatively, if your TV does not have audio outputs, an external microphone is included with the IR systems that can be placed near the speaker. This is especially useful if you want to adapt your TV listening infrared system to other media centers such as radios, VCRs and DVDs that may not have convenient audio outputs.

Since most living rooms (or TV rooms) are small, the IR signal from the fixed transmitter easily covers the viewing or listening area. In general, IR signals travel clearly up to 30 feet away (line of sight) using infrared electromagnetic waves.

The IR signal is picked up by the specially designed receiver and converted into sound that is heard through a personal stethoscope (shown above).

The volume of your personal IR receiver can be adjusted to a level that is comfortable for you as a user, even if that comfort level would be too loud for other people in the room (or next door).

Listening to TV can once again be an enjoyable group activity for all.

Television listening can be adapted for people who wear hearing aids.

Williams and Sennheiser TV listening systems are not limited to a single receiver. More than one IR receiver can work with a single IR transmitter, so adjust the volume separately for each audience member.

In addition, the new infrared TV listening systems are designed to work with hearing aids. This is achieved in different ways for Williams and Sennheiser, but both rely on a compatible IR receiver that uses an induction loop to match your hearing aid. Check the product schematics below to make sure the IR transmitter works with your hearing aid’s IR receiver.

What are the advantages (and disadvantages) of an IR TV listening system compared to an FM TV listening system like the Williams Sound PockeTalker?

The biggest advantage of an infrared TV listening system compared to an FM TV listening system is the lack of interference from surrounding electromagnetic sources such as radios, cordless phones and washing machines (actually anything with an engine is a potential problem). This means your receiver won’t be overwhelmed by background noise, and your TV transmitter won’t bleed into neighboring rooms or apartments. As Robert Frost wrote, “good walls make good neighbors.”

Also, while IR and FM TV listening systems have receivers compatible with hearing aids, there are more options in this area among IR systems.

All IR TV listening systems have a compression controller to reduce the volume of louder passages such as commercials. This means that the system automatically adjusts the volume when TV commercials come on. What a great idea!

The main disadvantage of an infrared TV listening system compared to an FM TV listening system is the price. A Williams Sound PockeTalker typically costs 30% to 40% less for comparable room coverage.

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