How to improve audio for senior parents

Discussion in 'Home Theater Audio' started by mtk67, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. mtk67

    mtk67 Mentor

    Dec 16, 2006
    Looking for recommendations from the group.

    My parents (in their 70s) have a 46" Samsung HDTV. It sits in a built-in wall cabinet and is in their great room (high ceiling, very open room). So they have to crank the sound to hear dialogue. My Mom has a hearing aid. But I've noticed that even when you crank the volume, it's not that easy to hear voice/dialogue. I was thinking about getting them an external speaker (something like a Sonos PlayBar, for example). But I don't know if this is the right move. They don't really need/want a home theater surround sound type of experience. They watch the news and sitcoms/dramas. They just want to hear what the actors are saying.

    They always have CC on the TV. But I'd like to help them hear the tv better. Any tips?

  2. kaminar

    kaminar Mentor

    Mar 25, 2012
    You'll want a sound bar with a good center channel. Most speakers will outclass the built-ins. The Sonos has great to check a pro review as well, to ensure proper setup and compatibility.

    With such a nice setup, it's a shame NOT to have great sound. They are missing half of the experience. Until they got the HDTV, good old tvs were the same happens once the sound improves just as dramatically.

    Good luck!

  3. gov

    gov Legend

    Jan 11, 2013
    Hope things work out well for them.

    Some years ago I had a client complain about not being able to hear his TV. His wife (deceased for many years at that time) had yelled at him so many times to not turn it up too loud, that even years after she was gone it didn't even occur to him to turn it up higher.

    I took the remote, run it up till he could hear it, and told him it was just fine that way.

    He lives on a farm, he's not going to disturb anybody.

    If only he would let me upgrade the system to HD !!
  4. inkahauts

    inkahauts Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2006
    Can always also get them some wireless headphones rf style form senhiser. Got some for a aunt that has hearing troubles and she loves them.

    Sent from my iPad using DBSTalk mobile app
    1 person likes this.
  5. jimmie57

    jimmie57 Hall Of Fame

    Jun 26, 2010
    Texas City, TX
    People with hearing problems usually have more trouble with the deep sounds. I would try adjusting the Bass / Treble for them to see if that makes a difference first.
  6. yatsco

    yatsco Mentor

    Aug 30, 2007
    I have the Sennheiser 840-TV RF (radio frequency) wireless. I like the RF because I can walk to the kitchen or bedroom and continue to hear the TV dialogue. The typical set is IR (infra-red). The sets are available from Amazon. They are MUCH more expenside than TV Ears but worth the extra cost for sound quality. The set comes with a typical RF sound receiver headphone. You can also order on the internet a receiver that is specific for individuals that also will be using hearing aids. Each individual adjusts the volume to meet their needs.
  7. mtk67

    mtk67 Mentor

    Dec 16, 2006
    Thanks yatsco. I was looking at those and ones like it. They seem like they might be the ticket, especially the RF part. My question would be how comfortable are they? Can you wear them for a few hours at a time? My Mom has also expressed a desire to have some type of wireless headphones in the bedroom to be able to watch a show when my Dad is sleeping. This looks like it would solve that for her.
  8. yatsco

    yatsco Mentor

    Aug 30, 2007
    I find the Senneheiser 840RF comfortable and I probably ware them for 4 hours a night but there is one major problem. I previously owned the Sennheiser 820 (no longer made) and the receiver weighted less. With the 840, the receiver weights more and because the headphones seen to have less tension to hold the headphones against the ear canal, they kind of slip down from the ear canal, this results in me having to push them up or increase the volume. This does become a little irritating but a small price to pay for being able to fully understand the TV dialogue. I also can't explain why but the headphone seem to stay in place better if I ware they backwards. In other case, I have the metal antenna facing out and the volume control against my chest, You can adjust L/R volume separately.

    I also have a soundbar, I use the headphone jack on the TV which in many TVs automatically turns off the TV speakers and only you can listen to the sound. With a sound bar not using the TV speakers, I can listen through the TV headphone jack and my wife listens to the TV through the soundbar. We each adjust the volume to meet our needs. Since your parents don't have a soundbar you need to make sure that if only one parent is using the 840, the other can hear the sound if they both are not using headphones. Some older TVs have a L/R audio out in back that can be used to connect the headphones. My new TV does not have this and only has a optical digital audio out through which you can not attach the 840.
  9. mtk67

    mtk67 Mentor

    Dec 16, 2006
    good points to consider about the headphone jack on the TV. Is that what the Sennheiser headphones would connect to? I obviously can't have two people watching tv if only one of them can hear the TV. I guess I need to check the manual or the TV itself to see what happens when I plug something in to the headphone jack. My Dad would not be able to watch TV if my Mom is using the headphones.

  10. yatsco

    yatsco Mentor

    Aug 30, 2007
    The Sennheiser will connect to either the headphone jack which will most likely shut off the TV speakers or the L/R analog audio out on the back of the TV which would not shut off the TV speakers. If you can connect to the L/R analog audio out, the speakers will not be shut off and the headphones will also work. There is also another way around this problem if you only have a optical digital audio out on the back of the TV. You can buy a small device that need to be plugged in and will convert optical digital audio out to L/R analog audio out. If this is used the TV speakers works and you connect the Sennheiser to this device which is connected to the optical digital audio out on the back of the TV. Good Luck
  11. Cholly

    Cholly Old Guys Rule! DBSTalk Club

    Mar 22, 2004
    Being a senior citizen in his 80's I certainly would prefer a soundbar over headphones.Your parents might not find headphones to be comfortable, particularly if they watch TV for long periods at a time. There are many brands of soundbars on the market, some being offered by almost every TV set maker and others from firms like Pioneer and Yamaha. They all sound better than the speakers on most of today's TV's and give a better spatial effect than can be had from headphones. I have three pairs of high quality headphones and seldom use them.
  12. GregLee

    GregLee Hall Of Fame

    Dec 28, 2005
    Some hearing aids allow the use of an auxiliary device that attaches to an audio source and pipes a wireless signal right to the hearing aids. I've only read about this, and it was several years ago. Supposedly, an advantage is that you can turn the signal up as much as you need to without changing the over-air sound level.
  13. mtk67

    mtk67 Mentor

    Dec 16, 2006
    Thanks to all for your helpful tips and suggestions. I ended up getting the Sonos PlayBar. Pretty happy with the results. And my Mom was glad I did not go the headphone route because she would not have wanted to wear them watching TV.

    While I have other Sonos gear, I had not previously tried the PB. It impressed me in it's easy setup and process to learn the remote control. It seemlessly works, so the volume up/down/mute control the PB audio. Connected via TOSlink, the TVs speakers are disabled. Using the iPhone app (needed to setup the device) also gives you access to adjust bass/treble to your liking. The improvement in hearing dialogue was immediately apparent.

    Simplicity was a top priority, so I feel this hit a home run. There are other perks to it (use the iPhone to play Pandora or other music through it without having to turn the TV on) are features my parents won't tap into. While it was a little more expensive than I would have liked, it got the job done for us.

    I may give this serious consideration to add to my home down the road.

    Anyway, that's how the story ends. They all lived happily ever after. :)

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