Can't Hear The TV? 5 Tips For Hearing Your Favourite Programs

Man with hearing loss watching the television


Is hearing loss causing you to miss the punchline on your favourite sitcom or the crux of your daily news broadcast? 

Are family or friends telling you to turn down the volume?  

These 5 tips will help make TV watching enjoyable again

Difficulty hearing the television is a complaint our Audiologists hear over and over again. The good news is that new technologies exist to make TV time more enjoyable - and easier to hear - whether you’re watching alone or with others.

From the basics of closed captioning to exciting new options for direct streaming to your hearing aids, here are our top 5 recommendations to help make sure you catch every word of your favourite programs.

Tip 1: Turn on closed captions

Closed captions on TV

Closed captioning example: Arrow - courtesy the CW

Closed captions display the audio from your television program as text on your TV screen.

By displaying text for all audio - including dialogue, sound effects and even musical tones - closed captions go much further than regular subtitles, which only translate dialogue from the language of origin into a language the viewer understands.

Here in Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) requires broadcasters to closed caption 100 percent of programs between 6 a.m. and midnight. This applies to all advertisements, sponsorship messages and promotional content as well.

While different televisions, cable service and streaming services have different ways to turn on closed captioning, most of them are very straightforward.  Sometimes it’s as easy as locating the cc button on your remote control. 

If you don’t find it on your remote, check your settings menu or use your favourite search engine online to find the instructions for your particular model(s).

Tip 2: Connect a sound bar or speaker system to your TV

As flatscreens have gotten flatter, the internal speakers have gotten smaller to fit. Unfortunately, that means reduced sound quality. This can be especially noticeable for people dealing with hearing loss.

You may wish to consider investing in a sound bar or external speakers to help you find that loud, clear TV sound you’re looking for.

Sound bar

An example of a Sound Bar - the Bose TV Speaker

Example image: Bose TV Speaker

While both speakers and sound bars function by amplifying the sound of your TV, a sound bar is usually a more affordable option. 

A single, stand-alone sound bar can help provide that boost of sound without the fuss of an entire system, but it may not be enough if you’re watching TV in a large room.

While the sound bar is often placed front and centre underneath your television, a wireless version can be placed anywhere in the room.

Strategically positioning your wireless sound bar behind a preferred seat may be just what you need to better hear the play-by-play on your favourite sportscast or the clues to your nightly quiz show.

Speaker system

Multiple speakers that make up a sound system

Example: Cyber Acoustics 2.1 Subwoofer speaker system

If you’re looking for that theatre experience, with integrated surround sound, a speaker system is the way to go. 

Perfect for larger rooms, a speaker system provides not only a clearer sound, but a richer, fuller audio experience that you just can’t get from a single sound bar.

A speaker system can be a higher-ticket investment, but the good news is components can be added and adjusted over time. 

Having surround sound can enhance a TV watching experience.

Tip 3: Tune in with digital headphones

TV Ears, an example of wireless headphones

Example: TV Ears

For those who prefer a more personalized listening experience, digital headphones may be a good option. 

Digital headphones allow you to sit or move around unencumbered while listening, and provide clear sound and dialogue.

Digital headphones are a great option for those who watch TV with others, as it allows you to control the volume for your own specific needs.  

They are also simple to use - you simply plug the transmitter into the headphone jack on your TV.  A receiver in the headphones picks up the signal wirelessly.

Tip 4: Stream wirelessly direct to your hearing aids

Example of a wireless TV connector

Example: Phonak TV Connector

Yes, this is possible!

Using a dedicated adaptor, you can now stream audio straight from your television directly to certain models of hearing aids, like Phonak, Oticon or Starkey.

This has been a game changer for clients in terms of convenience and ease-of-use, with no external speakers to arrange or headsets to store.

Simply turn on your favourite show and tune in. Your hearing aids deliver a clear listening experience - directly for your enjoyment.

Learn more here about pairing your specific hearing aids to your TV adaptor. Many hearing aids come with a TV adaptor as an accessory. If you're interested in a TV adaptor we can order one for you.

Tip #5: Connect to a loop system - at home or in public venues

Drawing of the parts of a Hearing Loop system

Image from the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association

An induction loop system (also known as a 'hearing loop') is a type of audio system designed specifically for people who use hearing aids. The system relies on a wire (called an induction loop or Telecoil) placed around the perimeter of a room, or around your neck, that sends a signal directly to your hearing aids.

The beauty of this system is that anyone with a Telecoil (T-Coil) setting on their hearing aids can benefit from the same loop system at the same time.

While a hearing loop system could be installed in the home for personal use, it’s often used in public spaces to help filter out crowd noise and amplify the important audio.

Many sports arenas, concert halls, theatres, government buildings and other public places are equipped with this technology.

When you’re out and about, watch for this symbol, and switch to the Telecoil (T-Coil) setting on your hearing aids to connect.

Hearing Loop system symbol

Get ready to enjoy watching TV again

TV helps us connect to the world around us, entertaining us, and also keeping us informed. To get the most out of our TV experience, we must be able to hear it.

If you’re ready to welcome back the joy of television into your life, speak with an Audiologist.

Call us or request an appointment online: Broadmead Hearing Clinic: 250-479-2969 or Oak Bay Hearing Clinic: 250-479-2921.