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!

 

AM Reception Tips – Part 2 – How to Improve AM Reception and Boost the Signal, By: Dan Van Hoy K7DAN

Whether you are a casual AM radio listener or a radio hobbyist trying to hear distant or low-powered stations, there are many steps you can take to improve AM reception. Before we focus on a few of those steps, let’s take a look at a few myths and misconceptions.

AM RADIO MISCONCEPTIONS

Misconception: The retractable antenna of a radio works for AM. The whip antenna attached to AM/FM or AM/FM/Shortwave radios is not connected to the AM circuit and has virtually no effect on AM reception.

tca from radio

Ferrite Bar AM Antenna found inside a radio

Misconception: You should receive the same AM reception in your home that you receive in your car. Most cars have reasonably good antennas and receivers for AM.  Your car radio will sometimes outperform your portable radio in the house because the car body and antenna together form a very efficient aerial which is outside with no physical objects in the way and is far from noise sources found at home and around buildings. On the other hand, depending on the situation, a high-performance AM radio might equal or outperform a car radio.

TIPS FOR BETTER AM RECEPTION

One of the best ways of improving AM reception is experimenting with different placement and orientation of the radio inside or outside the house.  A little extra effort can lead to improved signals by reducing noise and increasing signal levels.

Almost all AM radios have a built-in antenna.  The antenna i s made of a ferrite bar or rod with one or more coils of very fine insulated wire wrapped around it.  The combination of the ferrite bar and coils of wire make the antenna tunable at the low frequencies used for AM broadcasting. These AM radio antennas are highly directional.  Depending upon how the radio is oriented, you can reduce noise, boost signals or both by just moving the radio around.  So, if the station you want is weak, just move the radio around in a half or full circle to see where it gets stronger and then leave it there.  Moving the radio near a window, especially if you are in a brick, concrete or stucco building may help as well. Also, to help improve the AM reception you can couple your radio with  a good AM antenna signal booster. An antenna is ideal for boosting most AM radio reception problems.

If you know the direction the station is broadcasting from, then your location can make this process a little easier by aiming the front or back of the radio towards that signal. If you don’t know where the transmitter site of a particular radio station is located, call the station and ask. Often the studio is downtown and the transmitter many miles outside the city. If you try some or all of these techniques and still can’t receive the station you want, do your best to reduce interference from noise sources and static and consider buying or making an external antenna that will boost the signal for you.

SOLUTIONS TO A FEW COMMON PROBLEMS

PROBLEM: Good AM signal in the daytime, poor signal at night, or vice versa.

Possible Solution(s): Some AM stations operate daytime hours only or go to lower power levels at night. Others actually change the direction of their signals after dark. A good source for station information, listening distance or range is radiolocator.com. If you don’t have access to the internet you could call the station to confirm their operating hours and ask about night time power reduction. If you live outside the prime coverage area of an AM station you may also hear other stations on the same channel at nighttime that are stronger. Try adjusting the orientation of your radio for possible improvement. This will help to block out those offending signals that override yours.

Stations that have poor signals in the daytime (at your location) but good signals at night are generally because they are far away. They benefit from nighttime conditions on the AM band that often favor distant stations that operate on high power and can reach you easier at night. For a solution to this problem, give the tips we mentioned earlier a try or add an external antenna.

PROBLEM: I can receive the station at work, but cannot at home, which is only five miles away. What’s up?

Possible Solution(s):  Again, some AM stations have very directional signals that cover a very specific area. It’s possible your home is in a weak signal area for that particular station. Mountains and forests between you and the station transmitter can also reduce signal levels, even if the difference is only a few miles.

PROBLEM: The station I want to receive is in Georgia and I am in California.

Possible Solution(s) : This one is easy. Check the stations website to see if the station streams on the Internet. If it does you could try a WiFi radio and listen 24/7 with no static or interference.

Let us know if we can be of any assistance with your radio questions. Happy listening!