FM Hearing Systems & Assisted Listening Devices

For those who need a little extra help hearing clearly in the workplace or in a busy environment, you can’t find better than FM hearing systems.

Designed with hearing assistive technology, these products can seriously enhance your hearing aids. This next generation assisted listening device will transform the way you interact with the world forever.

What is an FM hearing system?

An FM hearing system is a type of assisted listening devices that a hearing aid wearer can use to improve their hearing experience, especially in challenging listening environments. FM hearing systems allow for speech to be picked up closer to its source, meaning that less unwanted noise is collected.

We know that a greater signal-to-noise ratio makes for improved discrimination of speech, which is why FM systems decrease listening effort in background noise. FM systems can also connect directly to a sound source e.g. a television, to transmit a clear signal to the hearing aids.

What types of assisted listening devices are available?

Personal FM amplification: This is a body-worn hearing assisted device that picks up the user’s voice with the aid of an FM wireless microphone. It is then converted into an electromagnetic wave and sent to the receiver worn by the listener. The sound is then amplified and made crisper before the hearing aids play the sound for the user.

Sound-field FM amplification: This device is not worn on the body, but rather placed nearby a sound source you wish to focus on. The listening device is then placed on a table and identifies which sounds the user wishes to concentrate on. The microphone in the device sends the information to the listener. This is done via an electromagnetic wave and is converted/made sharper by the listener’s receiver.

How do FM hearing systems work?

These systems employ the use of the same frequency modulation (FM) used by traditional radios. FM systems consist of two parts; a transmitter which detects changes in frequency and a receiver which emits sound associated with the voltage received from the transmitter.

Types of receivers – The type of receiver is dictated by the hearing device. Some hearing devices will require the use of a neck loop, but others can make use of a smaller device known as a “shoe”, providing they have a direct audio input.

Types of transmitters – The transmitter will have slightly different functions depending on the manufacturer. Most will have a microphone and an external audio input. This allows for direct connection to television, radio, MP3 and mobile phones.

Some will also support Bluetooth for wireless connection to mobile phones.

Why are FM systems relevant to those with a hearing loss?

It is generally accepted that even with hearing aids of the highest technology level, listening within background noise can still be challenging. This is simply because even with the use of the most advanced directional microphones, a pair of hearing aids cannot produce a signal-to-noise ratio to rival any additional remote microphone.

The highest level of hearing aid technology can produce an improvement of around 5db SNR, whereas a remote microphone can give the user a more generous 15db SNR improvement.

Advantages over standard hearing aid technology:

– Differentiation: Can differentiate other peoples voices compared to standard hearing aids.
– Cost effective: The worlds most inexpensive device for improving speech perception in a busy environment.
– Support: Comprehensive support for the device.
– Industry recognised: Experienced audiologists’ approve of this device throughout the world.
– Device enhancement: Can enhance other pieces of equipment for listening including TVs, radios and computers.
– Integration: Improved integration with everyday society.

Widex FM+DEX

Who would benefit from an FM system and why?

Experts from the British Society of Audiology and other renowned hearing institutions have determined that everyone that suffers from hearing loss, to any degree, could benefit from a FM hearing system. Be it a Personal FM Amplification system or a Sound-Field Amplification system.

Even a person who rarely leaves the house can utilise an FM device to stream sound directly to their hearing aids. 

The greatest benefit is of course the dramatic improvement in the understanding of speech, especially in complex listening environments. Meaning the wearer can participate in social or business conversations with more confidence.

There are many table microphone options available for working environments, like busy meetings. Anyone who wishes to extend the function of their current hearing aids, or enhance their listening experience, should consider an FM system.