Monday, October 10, 2011

Fix HDTV Sound for Senior Ears

HDTV televisions have technology built into them to deliver stunning sound.  Unfortunately most of them have cheap speakers, which produce bad sound.    There is no room to include good speakers, so that cheap 3” speakers are usually what you get, no better than one of the early radios in the 20s and 30s, in other words, awful.

With more and more concert productions coming over Internet and devices like TIVO, I wanted to hear the good sound.    There are two main approaches: obtain a remote headset, or add external speakers.

Here are some headsets.

Click for the Sennheiser RS120 926 MHz Wireless RF Headphones with Charging Cradle, which are are well-rated.    I like them, but if you do not like the large ear pads, there are stethoscope types, such as these Click for TV Ears Headsets.   Or you could go for wired earbud earbuds like those for the MP3 and iPod players.   Some of these have a volume control on them.

Click for Philips-SHE2850-37-Earbuds-Control/dp/B000G33V6G with volume control. You just plug them in to the earphone jack.

You could go out and buy a theater sound system for hundreds of dollars but those systems often take up a lot of space.

A few of the newest hearing aids have bluetooth technology which delivers sound directly into the ear and not out thru a speaker and back in through the hearing aids microphone, eliminating ambient sounds which interfere.  Click for Bluetooth Hearing Aids.   Normal hearing aids will just give you the bad sound from the set's internal speakers.

For seniors who may not have the space or want big speakers, this is a problem.   The average senior also has hearing loss.   Half of men have a 40% hearing loss, concentrated mostly in  the upper registers (see my earlier post on hearing aids).

Yet with some hearing loss, I still love music and and good sound.

One option was to plug in computer speakers into the headphone jack.   Dell has some good such speakers.

I realized that all I needed was an amplifier and good speakers.  I had an old set ot KLH speakers, 20 years old.   They were designed by the legendary Henry Kloss.   Could they still be available?

These speakers are used with a ancient amplifier and my PC to deliver sound from Spotify which are stunningly beautiful, even to my old ears.  Spotify provides sound using better technology than most computer sound.   I boost the weak upper frequencies with the computer’s equalizer.

The old speakers deliver as good sound as I have ever heard.   They are small, well made, and cheap.

I wrote the KLH company in Santa Inez California, a beautiful coastal town in California.   Sure enough, they still had a pair of 970as, shipped for $30.  Click here for KLH.   In BestBuy I saw what looked like the same speakers for about the same price, but under a different brand name, maybe a knock-off

Looking thru Amazon for a cheap amplifier, I found a well-rated one for $30 with lots of good comments on it from those who bought one.   The amplifier was from Pyle, a PCA1. Click here for the Pyle amplifier.

Like most HDTVs, ours has the ability to provide great sounds thru the amp and speakers.    The HDTVs usually have equalizers which adjust the sound to your hearing.   Add to that the wonderful technical sound cspabilities of the HDTV, and you have a concert home theater system for almost a  pittance (less than $65 as opposed to hundreds of dollars.

Note that the first set of speakers from KLH included one bad speaker, which was replaced at no cost by KLH.

Other well-commented bookshelf speakers from Amazon include a Sony pair, Sony SS-B1000 5 1/8-Inch Bookshelf Speakers, Click here for the Sonys, plus speakers from the amplifier people, Pyle Home PDWR50B 6.5-Inch Indoor/Outdoor Click here for the Pyles.   Dual and BIC also offer very inexpensive well-rated bookshelf speakers.

I also got  a switch to switch between headset and speakers, a RCA DT902AV 2-Way A/V Switcher   Click here for the switch.

It  is a good idea to check that the speaker “impedance” specs in ohms match those of the amplifier.   Also, read the many comments of Amazon buyers, including the bad comments.   If the bad comments are over-fussy, you are on to a good buy.

There is no reason for seniors to deny themselves good TV sound, if only to use earbuds with a long earbud extension.   Click for earbud extension cords