Paying attention to someone speaking in a congested location with lots of background noise can be a challenge for even an experienced hearing aid user. Sizeable, open spaces such as places of worship, auditoriums, movie theaters and concert halls can be particularly troublesome. Fortunately, hearing loops systems provide a solution to this problem, allowing hearing aid wearers to readily distinguish the sounds they wish to focus on.
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.
The first part of a hearing loop system is an audio input, often from a PA system or a dedicated microphone feed. This audio signal is fed into a hearing loop amplifier, which drives a current through a cable (or series of cables) looped around the room. Properly installed loops do not have dead zones, which means that anyone with a telecoil who is inside the loop can pick up on the transmitted audio.
Despite the fact that several newer technologies like FM transmission neck loops are being installed in public and private venues, traditional audio loop systems continue to offer several unique benefits. Their convenience alone makes them a popular choice among venues and patrons alike. They are also a much more subtle solution than neck loops and other paraphernalia, allowing patrons to enjoy a movie, concert, or worship service without embarrassment.
Though no hearing technology is perfect, hearing loop systems offer a huge service to many people, giving many listeners a much more enjoyable experience.