FM and IR Hearing Augmentation – What and Why

What is Hearing Augmentation?

Hearing Augmentation is installed to allow someone with hearing impairment to hear as if they were less than one metre from the sound source. This is achieved by removing both noise and reverberation. This results in the user receiving the clearest possible sound to their ears, or via hearing aid(s) or cochlear implant processor(s).

These systems typically connect to the output of an existing PA/Sound system/sound Alternatively, wireless microphones, TVs or music sources can be connected directly the Hearing Augmentation System.

FM & IR Are Receiver Systems

Receiver Systems are like radio stations in that they require a transmitter, and every person wanting to listen requires a separate device to receive the signal. Their advantage is that they can be used by people with or without hearing aids. Their disadvantage is that the receiving devices must be distributed to the users and collected after their use. Also, different attachments are required for those with and without hearing aids.

People WITHOUT hearing aids or cochlear implants require earpiece attachments, such as headphones, earbuds, headsets or stethoclips. For public health reasons these require a sterilisation method after use.

People WITH hearing aids or cochlear implants require neck loop attachments. These allow coupling of the magnetic signal to the telecoil in the person’s hearing device, the same as a Hearing Loop system.

How FM Systems work

An FM System uses Frequency Modulation radio waves to transmit, similar to many radio stations. This means they can be used beyond line-of-sight and their range is only limited by the power of the transmitter. However, this also means they can be picked up by anyone who “tunes in” to the frequency.

How Infrared (IR) Systems work

Like your TV remote, an IR System uses Infrared for transmission. This means there must be of line-of-sight to the receiver and ambient light can interfere with the signal. Several line-of-sight emitters may be mounted around an area to overcome these limitations.

Which System do I use?

Hearing Loop System – Preferred by hearing impaired users and easier for venue owners to service, so in most cases.
FM System – Where Hearing Loop System cabling cannot be installed due to ceiling heights of more than 3.1m high, flooring is inaccessible or other building construction-related problem.
Infrared System – Where confidentiality is required for security reasons.