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A Comparison Of Hearing Assistance Systems

As far as hearing impaired systems are concerned, there are basically four types of systems for this application. The pros and cons are as follows.

  1. One approach is a wired system. This consists of permanently installed hearing stations mounted on pew backs. This method is obsolete and would need to be custom built. When you consider that the units would be costly to build, and a considerable amount of labour is required to install it, this is an expensive approach. Combine this with the fact that people can only sit where there is a station, and it is easy to see why this is not a practical choice

  2. Another old type of system is the "loop". This is a wire which surrounds the room. It acts as an antenna, transmitting to hearing aids. Although it is still used with some success, it is now obsolete. This method requires each listener to have a hearing aid with a "telephone" switch, it is only useful in the room which it is installed in, and is prone to electrical noise interference. Installation of this system is also quite expensive, critical and often unreliable.

  3. A system which is quite popular in theaters and lecture hall translation applications is the infrared system. We do handle these, however we don't recommend them to churches. The system consists of a power unit which is usually located near the amplifier. It is wired to an emitter installed on the ceiling or wall. The emitter transmits to any number of "under chin" receivers in the room. This is fine for most theater applications but presents problems in churches. Since the system requires line of sight, the receivers must always "see" the emitter. The signal is blocked if people stand up or turn around. Although the users can sit anywhere they can see the emitter, the system is usable only in the one room. The receivers are also very conspicuous. The cost of the infrared system is also higher than the Radio systems.

  4. The type of hearing assistance and translation we always use in Churches is a Radio Frequency system. This consists of a transmitter which connects directly to your mixer (or microphone for translation) and pocket receivers for the people who need them. The sound from all your microphones is transmitted to the pocket receivers so that everyone can hear everything through earphones. The system offers many earphone and neck loop options. Everyone has their own receiver with volume control. Because the system is Radio, it does not require line of sight. Therefore people can sit anywhere they like. Even in other parts of the building.

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