Struggling to hear what people are saying on TV? Who isn’t these days. Aside from slight tinnitus, my hearing is pretty good. Yet, there are so many films and TV shows where the sound department has somehow decided that the audio soundtrack and sound effects are more important than what is being said between the characters. So, for those with hearing loss or issues that impact being able to listen to speech, this must get very, very annoying.
What’s the most common solution? Turn it up!
However effective this may be for many viewers, others in the room may not be as open to this tactic. And making everything louder can only make things worse in the long run. There are plenty of ways to improve the overall sound quality coming out of your TV such as soundbars, home theatre systems and TV headphones (wired or wireless).
With the way most of these shows are mixed, the speech can still get lost very easily…
What about soundbars?
Soundbars will certainly improve the sound quality of your TV, the problem here is that they improve the sound as a whole. Soundtracks and effects included. Now most of these soundbars and AV setups will improve overall clarity, which will in effect make dialogue clearer. Yet, with the way most of these shows are mixed, the speech can still get lost very easily, and for those with hearing loss, the extra clarity more than likely will not be enough.
Will TV headphones come to the rescue?
For a lot of situations – yes. TV headphones do a great job of improving sound quality for the user, not only improving the sound as a whole, plenty of TV headphone models out there will have features and settings that focus on speech, making it a lot easier to understand dialogue. So, what’s the issue here then? Headphones are great for solitary TV sessions. They are not as well suited for watching TV with others – and many of us like to watch TV with our family, friends and even pets. Don’t tell me you have never had a little chat with your furry friend in front of the TV.
Not great when others want to watch the TV too.
The problem with wires
Another issue with headphones, is that wired headphones require a headphone socket to be used. Not all TV’s have a headphone socket and for the ones that do, using that socket tends to cut the sound from the speakers entirely. Not great when others want to watch the TV too. Wireless TV headphones on the other hand manage to get around this problem by using an optical connection which does not cut the speakers off.
What if you struggle with hearing TV dialogue, enjoy watching TV with others and have been told that if you turn the TV volume up again, you’re out!
Well, there is another option
There are a handful of brands releasing TV speakers catered to those with hearing loss and designed to enhance TV speech. One of those brands comes out of Germany and is called Faller, who has just released the OSKAR TV speech enhancing speaker here in the UK. This is not a soundbar, and unlike typical soundbars, the faller OSKAR is much smaller, and sits on top of a docking station that charges the speaker and also acts as a wireless transmitter. This allows you to use the speaker up to 30 meters away from the TV or any other audio source you choose such as a radio, computer or even a smartphone. The beauty of this is that you can place the OSKAR close to where you sit, bringing the speech enhancing technology directly to you. This type of speaker ticks all of the boxes:
- Improve speech clarity and enhance dialogue
- Watch TV with others without affecting their viewing
- Sit in comfort with no need for headphones or straining to hear the TV
Making TV a lot more enjoyable
In testing the Faller OSKAR myself – full review here – I realised that I was using this speaker a lot more than I thought I would. The OSKAR makes watching sports on TV a lot more enjoyable. I have always found that the commentary can easily get lost to the background crowd noise. Using the OSKAR meant that the commentary was crystal clear, while my TV still brought the stadium sounds to the room. Then, when I needed to go into the kitchen, I could bring the speaker with me so I didn’t miss anything.
Whether you watch TV on your own or with others, the flexibility, comfort and ease of using the Faller OSKAR makes it the ideal TV viewing companion…
I found that it also works great for late night viewing, especially when you don’t want to wake up the kids! I could keep the TV volume low while using the OSKAR to deliver its enhanced audio without sound leaking into the other room.
So what am I trying to say here?
If you suffer from hearing loss, are annoyed with not being able to hear dialogue on TV and want to enjoy watching your favourite shows with friends or family (or pets), then there are options out there. Just make sure you know what you are buying, and that more volume and better sound quality does not always mean easier to understand speech. Whether you watch TV on your own or with others, the flexibility, comfort and ease of using the Faller OSKAR makes it the ideal TV viewing companion for those who have had enough of resorting to subtitles.
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