Why is Television so Hard to Hear?

This question came up during a recent tour at C. Crane with the Fortuna Senior Center. “My brand new television has terrible audio and I have to turn the volume way up and then next thing I know it’s blasting out my eardrums – do you have a fix for this?” There was a Wall Street Journal article on exactly this issue and we were able to share some ideas on possible solutions and some basic info on why this happens. While we’re usually known for radio, we do know a bit about audio as well.

Often it’s assumed that the sound issues are all related to hearing loss, but it turns out while that may be part of the problem, it’s not the whole story. With TVs getting thinner and thinner, speaker size, positioning and sound are often an after thought if even considered at all. This could be a big reason why personal sound systems are making a come back. We offer the AEGO Soundbar system to help combat poor audio. Not ready to make that kind of an investment? Here are a couple things you can try:

  1. Locate the speakers on your TV – depending on where they are (often pointing down on the bottom of the television), move your TV. Setting your TV on a wooden surface could do the trick because the sound needs something to bounce off of. Try out different combinations since even a table runner could muffle the sound by absorbing it.
  2. Play with the settings on your TV’s sound. Depending on the issue you are experiencing – illegible voice, too loud, too soft, etc. – you may be able to find a better audio setting on your television.

If none of those things, work you might want to consider our FM Transmitter that can bring the audio from your TV to your radio. Our CCRadio 2E has amazing sound quality and then the audio is right next to you. This is a pretty inexpensive way to improve the sound. Or if you don’t mind wearing earphones, there are many wireless and Bluetooth® options that might work with your new television.

Have you found this to be an issue for you? Share your solutions in the comments below!

 

Listening Fatigue: Are Your Ears Tired?

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We’ve often debated here at C. Crane what exactly listening fatigue is, but then Bob (yep, Bob Crane, founder of C. Crane) mentioned something that struck a chord. Bob has some hearing loss due to years of working around loud equipment and growing up in an era where the louder the music, the better (and Bob is REALLY excited we’re making a public announcement to everyone – yes that’s sarcasm). He said “Listening fatigue is real. It’s caused by your brain trying to piece together the missing parts of the audio. Having hearing loss does not help but if an audio source has poor bass response I find myself trying to fill in the missing low tones and make them whole. If an audio source has poor mid-range then voices are muffled and difficult to understand.”.

Wikipedia’s definition: Listener fatigue (also known as listening fatigue) is a phenomenon that occurs after prolonged exposure to an auditory stimulus. Symptoms include tiredness, discomfort, pain, and loss of sensitivity. Listener fatigue is not a clinically recognized state, but is a term used by many professionals.

C. Crane has always tried to tailor our audio for voice clarity. Meaning that we manipulate the bass and tone to accentuate consonants which can make voices more legible. Since it seems many of you are listening to talk a good percentage of the time, having clear words is a no brainer. We’ve also heard a lot of people say things like “I’m finally able to hear the words to my music” or “Your radio is the only one I can listen to all night” and “Your pillow speaker is a life saver; I can now fall asleep listening to my audiobooks”. In our research we found some great sites that give far more in depth explanations that we could, but these quotes from a site about hearing loss in relation to listening fatigue really stood out “…Processing and constructing meaning out of half-heard words and sentences. Making guesses and figuring out context…. ’s like doing jigsaws, Sudoku and Scrabble all at the same time. And “…with the addition of hearing loss, the brain has to work, think and concentrate harder than it would with normal hearing and this teamwork is disrupted, increasing the challenges of communication and leading to listening fatigue.”

We believe that comfort also plays a role in the fatigue. If something is irritating or doesn’t fit well, energy is expended to compensate or negotiate that factor. If it’s really uncomfortable whether due to poor audio quality (think harshness or distortion), additional noise (like noise in a line or hum or buzz) or poor fit, the timeline to listening fatigue can be shortened dramatically. This is where figuring out the correct tool for the job comes into play. Much like being a craftsman and knowing when to use which tool, the same can be said for listening. While some of it is subjective, some isn’t. If you’re listening at night, a pillow speaker might be a great choice. This allows you to keep the volume at an appropriate level, have the privacy you desire and eliminates the discomfort of wires in your ears and around your head. If you plan to sit and listen for an extended period, headphones might be a better choice for comfort of your ears. If you’re in an area without a lot of background or other noise, a radio may be better. If you walk or jog, finding a good pair of earbuds that don’t introduce noise in the cables is a big deal.

Last but not least, consider turning down the volume and/or taking a break. It seems counter-intuitive but your body is amazing and will do things to protect itself including shutting down. Keeping the volume at an appropriate level, especially when listening to earbuds, can make a huge difference.

Have you experienced listening fatigue? Enter your tips for preventing or reducing it in the comments below.

Work Around Hearing Loss

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Since hearing loss is the third most common condition in people over 65 years of age, it is likely that you or someone you know suffers from it.  The Digital FM Transmitter-2 by C. Crane has brought relief to many individuals with this affliction under a number of circumstances.

We have heard from customers that their church purchased our Digital FM Transmitter-2 so members of the congregation with a hearing loss wouldn’t miss the sermon.  The worshipers tune a pocket radio to match the open FM frequency on the transmitter and listen through headphones or earbuds at a volume that meets their needs.  Making the sermon accessible to everyone keeps those with a hearing loss engaged, while helping to retain attendance.

A customer shared with us that the television in the exercise center at the senior citizen facility where his mother resides was becoming a source of conflict.  Some residents needed very loud audio while others found high volumes and resulting speaker distortion disruptive to their workout.  The Digital FM Transmitter-2 with a pocket radio was the perfect solution in creating a harmonious environment.

Numerous customers have reported that the audio from their television was no longer adequate after they experienced hearing loss.  Straining to hear their favorite programs created listening fatigue, and background noise from the household or outside made the problem even worse.  Using the Digital FM Transmitter-2 to send the signal to a tabletop radio close by restored their ability to enjoy television again. A pocket radio with headphones would work well too.

At $49.99 plus shipping, the C. Crane Digital FM Transmitter-2 is a low cost solution that enables individuals with a hearing loss to avoid isolation and stay connected to their world.

What is your favorite way to use the FM Transmitter?

Most unique entry will win a brand new FM Transmitter 2. Winner will be chosen by April 6th, 2016. One entry person.