by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady explained,
While I was at my audiologist’s office, I mentioned how difficult it is for me to hear in the ‘cubicle farm’ where my desk is, and in some of the conference rooms where I work as a number of my co-workers speak softly. I mentioned how some people I know use FM systems and inquired about whether that would be something I should look into. The tech said they cost $2,100.00! How can anyone afford them on top of the high price of hearing aids?
First off, you were told a half truth. Yes, if you purchase the hearing aid manufacturer’s integrated proprietary FM system, you will pay a fortune. The transmitter units are small and the FM receivers are built into your hearing aids. But the downside is that because they are built-in and are proprietary, in 5 years when you get your next set of hearing aids, you either have to stay with the same brand of hearing aids, or lose all your investment in your FM system. This is smart marketing on the part of the hearing aid manufacturers, but is ripping off hard of hearing people.
In contrast, you can get a wonderful FM system that will work with any brand, make or style of hearing aids as long as the hearing aids have t-coils—and this system will only cost you about 25% of the cost of the proprietary system, yet work every bit as well.
Furthermore, the good news is that when you change your hearing aids in the future, you can still use this same FM system with your new hearing aids no matter what the brand, make or style. And even better news is that this FM system will work just fine for you even when you are not wearing your hearing aids—for example, if your hearing aids break and need to be sent back for repairs, you still have your FM system with which to hear.
Don’t listen to any hearing aid dealer’s hype without investigating what else is out there if you want to get the best deal for yourself. You can see a great FM system that will work with all t-coil equipped hearing aids for $797.97. This system comes with its own special neckloop.
If you get the above system, you will have a great FM system that will work as well as, or better than, the high-priced hearing aid manufacturer’s proprietary system, only costs 25% of the price, doubles as a PockeTalker (personal amplifier), works with any t-coil-equipped hearing aids (or without any hearing aids at all), and lasts forever (well, for a long time anyway). The only downside to this wonderful FM system is that it is somewhat bigger than the fancy integrated hearing aid’s FM system.
Another thing I like about the above stand-alone FM system is that the microphone is separate from the body of the FM transmitter—unlike the one from the hearing aid manufacturer. You gain two advantages from this. First, you can clip the microphone closer to the speaker’s mouth than you can with a system that hangs around their necks, or sits on the lectern. This gives you better quality sound and picks up less background noise.
Second, when a speaker wears the hearing aid manufacturer’s FM transmitter around her neck, it brushes against her clothes, jewelry, name tag, etc. as she moves and creates annoying noise. One lady explained that when the speaker wore her hearing aid’s FM transmitter, “The FM swished across his name tag making a whoosh whoosh noise as he walked”. You don’t have this problem when a lapel microphone is used with a stand-alone FM system.
You can get even cheaper FM systems than the one I mentioned above if you have a stationary application. For example, say you want to send the output of your TV to your hearing aids via FM. Then you could get a nice FM system for under $200.00—less than 10% of the hearing aid manufacturer’s fancy integrated FM system you were quoted.
If you are interested, you can see this transportable FM system here.