TV sound system for the hard of hearing

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A University of Southampton researcher has developed a loudspeaker system to help people with hearing problems listen to television without affecting the sound for other viewers.

Marcos Simón, a PhD researcher from the university’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, has devised the system. Working around sound ‘hot spots’ created in a room, the sytem boosts the audio signal in the area where a hearing impaired person is sitting but maintains the same audio levels elsewhere.

The university writes:

Marcos’s loudspeaker design, which comprises eight phase-shift sources in a line, aims to compensate for the hearing loss of a 70-year-old adult, which is of about 15 dB at 3 kHz.
The acoustical radiators send a boosted version of the TV audio towards one location, where a hearing impaired TV listener is present. Other listeners with healthy hearing are placed at positions where they do not listen to the amplification provided by the array.

Marcos, who won the 2013 Institute of Acoustics (IOA) Young Person’s Award for Innovation in Acoustical Engineering for his array design, says: “Although line arrays have been studied for many years, the approach previously used to reduce the radiation to the rear of the array – and hence reduce reverberant levels for other listeners – has been to position a second set of loudspeakers at the back of the array to cancel the sound in that direction.

“My array uses individual loudspeaker elements that are specially designed first-order acoustic radiators, or phase shift sources, thus saving cost and improving the robustness of the array to variations in the sensitivity of the elements and in the reproduction environment,” says Marcos.

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One comment

  1. An interesting prospect, but hearing loss is not just about level, but frequencies too. As we age, top end frequency loss occurs so an EQ to boost the high frequencies becomes “equally” important.

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