Hearing loops are a simple, effective way to get cleaner sound into the hearing aids of everyone in a room, as long as their hearing aids are equipped with a telecoil (or T-coil). Without getting too technical, the T-coil was originally developed to better-transmit the energy from a telephone speaker to a set of hearing aids by picking up the electromagnetic quality of the speaker rather than the sound that it produces. An induction loop takes advantage of this property to create an electromagnetic field inside the entirety of a room, such that a sound source can be transmitted to a set of T-coil equipped hearing aids anywhere in that room.
This all may sound complicated, but basically, the “loop” is created by simply plugging a multiturn loop of wire with 8 ohms of resistance into a stereo output. Just as one would plug in a speaker to the power amp of a stereo, one can plug in an induction loop instead. While professionally manufactured loop systems are available, people have been known to create them on their own.
Where Do You Find Loop Systems?
Because loop systems are an inexpensive way to provide much better access to audio for those who wear hearing aids, you’ll find them in countless public spaces. Museums, lecture halls, theaters, movie theaters, houses of worship and meeting rooms are just a few places you’ll typically find a loop system. Rooms that are equipped with a loop will usually indicate this with a symbol that looks like an ear, with a “T” next to it.
Some people have been known to install loop systems in their homes. A loop around, say, your TV room would allow your hearing aids to easily pick up the sound of the TV. In another room, it might be beneficial for listening to the radio. There’s no limit to the possibilities, and in most cases a loop can be laid out around the perimeter of an attic space, making it invisible inside the room!
Why Should I Purchase Hearing Aids With T-Coils?
While hearing aids are incredibly powerful on their own, distance will frequently pose an issue with intelligibility, even with a good set of hearing aids. In situations where there is some background noise in addition to a main sound source, T-coils help to solve this problem by transmitting the sound from a microphone or soundtrack directly to your hearing aids, rather than into a room, and then to the microphones in your hearing aids.
It may sound like a subtle difference, but the absence of room reflections, long reverberations and background noise will help you understand what’s going on much more clearly, and potentially give you the ability to better control the volume of the sound using the controls available for your hearing aids. You can decide for yourself exactly how much amplification you need!
Is There Any Reason NOT to Get a Telecoil?
Most people find a way to benefit at some point from T-coils. If you know you won’t be attending museum lectures, theater performances or worship services, maybe you don’t need them. While they can also be a benefit on the phone, you may have a phone with a low T rating (indicating that the phone will not project very well to your T-coil).
Bluetooth is becoming more standard with hearing aids as time passes, and increasingly serves to eliminate the need for T-coils. However, some people may have issues with Bluetooth pairing, where walking from one room in the house to another will have their hearing aids switching from device to device and interrupting whatever else may be going on. Bluetooth also tends to drain hearing aid batteries much faster, whereas the use of a telecoil does not impact battery usage.
It may be worth investigating the options in some of the places you frequently attend. If you have a museum or house of worship you visit regularly, see if they have options for either Bluetooth hearing aid integration, T-coils, or both. As with most aspects of hearing aids, it’s important to get the options that make the most sense for you and your needs.
Get a Hearing Test
Regular hearing tests are an important part of maintaining our overall health and well-being throughout our lives. If you’re having issues hearing and haven’t yet had a hearing test, make an appointment with us. Our team of hearing professionals will determine if you can benefit from the use of hearing aids and help you with the many hearing aid options. Contact us today!