FM Systems…when a hearing instrument is just not enough


Or should I call this post “Let’s get rid of the Freakin Noise 2: FM Systems”.

I talked about Directional Microphones and how they can reduce the noise but about 4-5 dB.  This technology is great for folks that have up to a moderate (50 dB HL) hearing loss.

But for people with moderate-severe (60 dB HL) losses or greater, you need more than directional microphones on your hearing aid.

Here’s why.  Many times we find ourselves in places where the signal to noise ratio (SNR) is 0 dB.  This means that the noise around you is the same loudness and the person you want to listen to.  Think about a restaurant or bar with all sorts of people blabbing away.  They are the same loudness as your spouse or buddy in front of you.

When you have a moderate-severe hearing loss, you need a SNR of 7 dB or greater to understand.  So if a directional microphone gives you a 4 dB improvement, that’s still not enough.

An FM system gives you a 15-25 dB improvement.  Now you can converse much easier in this noisy environment.

Here’s a link to a section on the Phonak Website that explains how FM systems work.  But the key to getting the most out of an FM System is knowing how and where to use them.  Here are the places that I personally use mine:

  1. Car
  2. Restaurant
  3. Coffee Shop (Tim Hortons…mmmmm)
  4. Meetings
  5. Skiing Lessons
  6. Kayak Lessons
  7. Parties
  8. Bars
  9. Listening to iPod
  10. GPS in car
  11. Bass Guitar Practicing
  12. Live shows
  13. Tour guides
  14. and more
Next blog entries will highlight how to use an FM system in this situations.
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11 thoughts on “FM Systems…when a hearing instrument is just not enough

  1. Interesting stuff. I’m also an amateur musician who plays in an orchestra. Will an FM system help out there (can hear music fairly well, but have problems hearing conductor). I also kayak – so how do you waterproof your electronics?

    • Hi Frank.

      For hearing the conductor, I definitely recommend getting an FM system. Your hearing aid should have an FM + M program which will allow you to hear both the conductor and the rest of the orchestra.

      For kayaking, I make sure I do not fall in the water! I have a sit-on-top kayak that I use for fishing. I have yet to fall into the water. But if I did, both my hearing aid (Phonak Naida) and cochlear implant (Cochlear Freedom) are water resistant. In addition the FM receivers I have are also water resistant. I once had a kayak lesson and gave the instructor the transmitter. It worked great.

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