FM Hearing Systems are wireless hearing apparatus that improve the effectiveness of hearing aids and cochlear implants. They are also useful for hearing impaired people who do not use hearing aids. They are particularly effective for use in loud places. FM Systems improve sound quality and they facilitate the transmission of sound, especially when close to a speaker or when directly plugged into a sound source. In this comprehensive guide, we will answer the question, “What are fm hearing systems?” How do they work? What are the advantages of using fm systems? Also, what are some of the disadvantages of using fm hearing systems?
FM Hearing Systems: Simple Breakdown
- FM systems are also known as radio hearing aids
- FM stands for Frequency Modulation- this is a wire free way of transmitting sound
- They reduce background noise significantly
- MHz is short for MegaHertz
Advantages of Using an FM Hearing System
Here are some of the advantages of using an FM hearing system to improve clarity and enhance hearing.
- Excellent sound quality for speech and music- can be used to watch television
- Uses infrared receivers which are readily available globally
- Isolated signal for concentrated sound
- No interruption from external transmitters
- Wireless reception
- Lightweight and easy to use
Disadvantages of Using FM Hearing Devices
Here are some of the disadvantages of using FM hearing devices:
- AC adapter power source restricts portability and mobility
- Infrared cannot be used outdoors
- Infrared signals only work effectively in an obstruction-free environment
How Do FM Hearing Devices Work?
Frequency Modulation hearing systems are usually made up of two primary components- a radio transmitter and radio receiver. The transmitter works by capturing sound using a microphone or a sound point. The sound is then transmitted to the receiver.
Transmission devices often have manual controls with small display screens to facilitate user experience. The menu display usually allows the user to control the frequency and volume, it also displays battery strength and microphone direction.
There are different types of receivers on the market, some receivers are specifically designed to be used alongside hearing aids or cochlear implants, others have integrated microphones which can be used without transmitters in some situations.
The most popular type of receiver is the neckloop receiver, this type of receiver is equipped with a special neckloop. The receiver passes the transmission into the neckloop, which is like a portable induction loop.
There is a component in the hearing aid called a telecoil, this connects with the magnetic field created by the neckloop, and the electrical components in the hearing aid transforms the magnetic field to sound. The sound can be adjusted by the receiver and the hearing aid.
Direct Audio Input FM Receiver
When the hearing aid or cochlear implant processor is fitted with a Direct Audio Input, a small receiver can be fitted using an audio adaptor. The mini receiver is fueled by the hearing aid battery and the sound is also controlled by the hearing aid device controls.
Direct Audio Input Lead
When the hearing aid or cochlear implant processor have a Direct Audio Input, it is possible to connect the receiver to a lead that plugs into the hearing aid using an audio adapter instead of a neckloop. You can adjust the sound controls by utilizing the hearing aid volume settings.
Inductive Ear Hooks
Inductive ear hooks can be utilised as a replacement for neckloops however, they can often cause discomfort when worn with hearing aids or spectacles. The sound can be reduced or increased by using the receiver or the hearing aid settings.
Neckloop receivers can be used in conjunction with headphones, especially useful for those who do not wear hearing aids. Some receivers come equipped with volume adjustment controls that attach to the ear. A tiny speaker is placed at the back of the ear or within the ear canal, thus enhancing the sound and improving overall user experience.
Transmitters usually have an in-built microphone, sound input and frequency settings. With the evolution of FM hearing systems, digital transmission has allowed for customised user experience. The microphones and sound components have improved allowing them to pick up sound from further away. The overall functionality of FM hearing systems has improved over the years with more settings that allow the user to have more choice and flexibility when it comes to the clarity, pitch and quality of the sound. Some systems are fitted with Bluetooth capability and other beneficial features.
Bluetooth allows the FM hearing system to be connected to a mobile phone that has Bluetooth functionality.
The sound is passed from the mobile phone to the FM transmitter and the transmitter then transmits the sound to the receiver. The microphone picks up the sound and it is transmitted to the phone.
The microphones have various pick up points:
Omnidirectional- the sound is picked up from all directions.
Directional- the sound is picked up from a particular direction
Frequently Asked Questions
What power source is used to power FM Hearing Systems?
Most FM hearing systems are powered with rechargeable batteries. The batteries last for 12-20 hours.
How much do FM hearing systems weigh?
They weigh between 60g and 64g.
Can you use multiple receivers with one transmitter?
It depends on the system you choose. Some work with a singular receiver and some work with multiple.
What is the average transmission distance ?
15m to 50m approximately
Can conversations be intercepted?
Most systems are encrypted and totally secure however, it could be possible with the less secure models on the market.
Where can I get FM hearing systems ?
You can purchase them from hearing device companies. For those that are currently finding it difficult to remain in employment without an assistive hearing device, applications can be made to Access to Work via your local Jobcentre. Also, anyone currently in full time education can get in touch with Hearing Link to find out how to acquire assistive hearing devices.
How much are FM hearing systems?
Used or old style systems can be purchased for about £250 to £700. The high tech, modern hearing systems can range from £800 to £4000.