What You Need To Know About Companion Microphones

What You Need To Know About Companion Microphones

If you're looking for a hearing aid to help make your conversations smoother and less frustrating, especially in background noise, then a companion microphone is the ideal choice. 

Today we're going to talk about how a companion microphone will help you with your listening and improve the quality of your conversations with friends and family. 

Companion Microphones are a type of ALD (assistive listening hearing aid).

What are ALDs (Assistive Listening hearing aids)?

An ALD is an assistive listening hearing aid or assistive listening system. These are designed to transmit sound directly to an individual wearing a sound receiver. They're also known as hearing assistance technologies or HATs. 

This includes:

  • Hearing aid
  • Headphone
  • Neck loop
  • Etc. 

What is a remote microphone?

A remote or companion microphone is a small, wireless accessory designed to work alongside your hearing aid. The primary purpose of a remote microphone is to bring desired sounds, like a person's voice, directly to your ears.

How does a remote microphone help assistive listening hearing aids?

Remote microphones are accessories that work wirelessly with your hearing aids via Bluetooth. They work wonders to enhance speech recognition in a large crowd or noisy environment. 

A remote microphone is only a small hearing aid clipped onto the speaker's shirt and is used to pick up the speaker's voice and send it directly to the listener's ears. 

Those with hearing loss struggle to hear background noise even with the best hearing aids. This becomes extremely difficult when the person they're listening to is just as loud as the noise around them. 

The purpose of remote microphones is to increase the signal-to-noise ratio. 

What is signal-to-noise ratio?

Signal-to-noise ratio is the difference between the volume of sounds you don't want to hear (noise) and the volume of sounds you want to hear (signal).

The larger the signal-to-noise ratio, the better you hear what your speaker is saying.

How does a companion microphone help people with a hearing impairment?

The goal of a companion microphone is to help you increase the volume of the person you're talking to, making it easier to understand them. 

Have you ever experienced struggling with background noise to the point where it's impossible to understand the person you are talking to? 

Imagine if this person was talking directly into your ear or, even better, both of your ears. Think about how effortless it would be to hear them! 

With a companion microphone and ALDs or HATs, you'll be able to have a meaningful conversation without all the difficulties and frustration. Your conversation can turn into a relaxing, enjoyable interaction. 

When should you use a remote microphone with your ALD?

Overall, remote microphones are great for:

  • Assisting your listening in reverberant, or echoey rooms 
  • Helping you listen to a speaker that's further away from you 
  • Hearing your communication partner is a noisy environment

Remote microphones work best in noisy or reverberant, echoey environments. They also work well if the speaker is more than 3 or 4 feet away from you. 

People with asymmetric hearing loss, or one good ear and one bad ear, have extra difficulty with background noise. The brain needs sound coming equally from both sides to be able to tell where sounds are coming from. This is necessary for the brain to filter out the noise behind you. 

Your brain will become more distracted with background noise, making it extremely difficult to hear the person you're trying to listen to. 

Remote microphones are perfect for fixing situations like this. 

What are the downsides of a remote microphone?

Like with everything in the world, there are downsides to remote microphones. Here are three disadvantages of a remote microphone. 

1. You must ensure it’s charged

If your remote microphone isn't charged, it won't work. Forgetting to charge it and heading out for the day can be a huge inconvenience, so it's best to set reminders to ensure you always have an adequate charge.

2. You have to carry it with you 

You will have to carry it on your person before handing it to the speaker. This can be annoying if you don't have space for it in your pockets or have to bring a bag to keep it safe. 

This is inconvenient but not the worst thing to deal with if it means being able to have a clear conversation with a friend. 

3. The microphone works best in a one-on-one conversation

The microphone doesn't work well if you're talking in a group instead of one-to-one. If you're in a small group, you'd have to pass the microphone to each person, which is usually unrealistic.

Other microphones have gyroscopes that allow them to move when lying down on a table to hear many people. This works by placing the hearing aid in the middle of a table to pick up everyone. However, the sound quality isn't as good because the microphone isn't next to the speaker's mouth.  

Some microphones look like a pen (Phonak Roger pen) where you can point the microphone at the person you're talking to. This is the better option for group conversations.

We have many patients who can't live without their microphones. The microphones work exceptionally well for speakers with soft voices, conversations while driving in the car, or one-on-one conversations in a noisy restaurant environment. 

Many remote microphones have multi-function uses too. They have an auxiliary input to plug the hearing aid into any audio output source, so you can use it to listen to other audio like the TV or laptop. 

Some are equipped to connect to T-coil loop systems, and others have Bluetooth functionality to pair to your phone for complete hands-free calling. 

Most remote microphones range in price from $150 to $350.

Our office has many of these microphones in stock that you can borrow and test drive to see if it makes a difference with your hearing. 

Call us today if you’d like to schedule a demo with one of our accessory specialists.

Interested in learning more? Attend one of our regular hearing solution events to learn more about our unique approach to hearing loss or give us a call at 916-646-2471.

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