The trouble with hearing dialogue on TV

Very often, my patients complain that they just can’t seem to understand the dialogue of television programs.  This can be due to several reasons.  First and foremost, it could be due to hearing loss.  If your hearing sensitivity is down, it makes it difficult to distinguish the different sounds of speech.  Consonant sounds tend to be more soft in volume and can often be washed out if a person has some high frequency hearing loss.  This can cause the dialogue to sound muffled making it difficult to clearly understand what is being said.

In addition to hearing loss, another issue could be the speakers of the TV.  The newer flat screen TVs often have speakers that are smaller and located near the back of the TV.  This makes the sound quality of these newer TVs poorer than our older TVs.  In these cases, getting additional speakers to hook up to your TV can help.  I’ve had patients try just a small set of speakers, better surround sound types of speakers, or some of the newer options in sound bars.  These speaker options can greatly improve the overall sound quality of the dialogue, making it much easier for people to clearly understand what is being said.

At times the main issue isn’t you or the TV at all, but rather the programming itself.  There are many programs that I have difficulty clearly understanding even though I have normal hearing and good quality speakers on my TV.  Some programs just have very low-level fast-paced dialogue that often gets washed out by all the dramatic music or background noise they use to “enhance” the program.  Many of my patients tell me they can hear the news type of programs just fine, it’s the dramas that are more difficult to understand.  This is a harder issue to deal with.  Again, better speakers can help, but you can also try to adjust the audio settings on the television itself.  If you reduce the bass and increase the treble it may help.  Much of the background noise has more of a bass emphasis and speech sounds are more in the treble area.

We have some very exciting new hearing aid technology that can also greatly improve our patient’s enjoyment of television.  There is an accessory called a Surflink Media which can work with the newer wireless hearing aids.  The Surflink Media is a small box that can be plugged into the back of your TV and will wirelessly stream the audio content of the program right into your hearing aids.  The hearing aids will adjust the sound quality of the program to your exact hearing needs.  It is like having surround sound quality speakers right in your ears.  Your loved one can listen to the television at a volume that they prefer and you can enjoy it at a level that is appropriate for your hearing deficit.  It even balances the volume of the program and the commercials so those darned commercials aren’t so loud.

I hope this helped to give you some insight in improving the quality of your television listening.  If you would like to learn more about the new wireless digital hearing aid options, give our office a call and we can fill you in on all the exciting new options available!