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TV Sound

TV TOO LOUD?

Do you live with someone who has to have the TV sound blasting? If so there are some solutions to this problem. Hard of hearing senior citizens often turn the volume way up on the TV. This creates a problem for people with normal hearing. The sound is just too loud. Rather than fight over the volume level, why not have the TV volume level adjustable for each hearing requirement. 

SOLUTIONS

The solutions involve the following:

1) You can buy a wireless system which uses infrared (invisible light) transmissions from the TV base unit to a receiver headphone. Costs start at about $100.00 for these types of setups.

2) You can buy a FM transmitter which will allow you to receive the TV sound on a standard AM/FM radio using the earphone jack and headphones or earbuds to listen without disturbing others. Costs for a FM transmitter go from $12 to over $100 depending on the quality and the distance it can cover.

3) You can setup a wired solution using audio cables, a headphone and PC speakers. Cost is about $40.00 for the parts.

Wireless Infrared

With a wireless infrared system you have a headset which you wear in your ears and a base unit connected to your TV set. The headset has the receiver and the base unit has the transmitter. This system uses infrared (invisible light) signals to send the TV sound out into the room so that anyone with the proper headset receiver can pickup the TV sound. The key here is that the sound level on the TV can remain at a normal level for normal hearing persons in the room while the hard of hearing person wearing the headset gets an amplified sound level thru the headset. This way both people get the sound level which works best for them. See http://tvears.com/ for information about this system or to buy one. The base unit can accommodate two headsets.

Wired

A somewhat less elegant, but also less costly solution involves using a few components, some of which you may already have, to setup a wired system. By using audio cables, a standard headphone and PC speakers with volume control, you can have a system which functions like the wireless system, giving the headphone wearer individual sound level control.



In the case of the wireless system or the wired setup, you must connect audio cables to the audio output jacks in the back of the TV set. Most modern TV sets sold after 1998 have AUDIO OUT jacks in the back. Do not use the audio jacks in the front of the TV as these are almost always INPUT jacks and will not work to send the TV sound out. These audio OUT jacks on the rear TV panel send out the TV audio to a left and right (white and red) cable pair independent of the sound coming out of the TV speakers. What this means is that you can control the regular TV sound with the TV remote control as normal, but the secondary sound output thru the jacks on the back of the TV remain independent and can be controlled independently. This is how you achieve two different volume levels, one for normal and one for the hard of hearing.

Since the wireless system is explained and available thru http://tvears.com/ further explanations are not required here and the focus will therefore be on the wired solution. Granted, the wired solution is less elegant but for the do-it-yourself people, it can be a fun and less costly alternative. 



Your TV viewing room. This picture shows how a wired system might be configured.
The TV audio out jacks are connected to the PC speakers with a cable. The headphones
are connected to the earphone jack on the speaker and you control the volume
with the volume control knob on the PC speaker. The speakers are silenced when you
connect the headphones. Turn the volume all the way down to silence the commercials.
Use a 1/8 in. mini plug extension cable available at Radio Shack to extend the distance
from the speaker to the headphones if you sit far away or want more freedom from
wire length restrictions.




The parts


Cable to deliver TV sound to PC speakers.

This cable connects to the two audio OUT jacks in back of the TV and the other end to the PC speakers. Available at Radio Shack or online from various electronics retailers. Radio Shack part number is 42-2551. The red and white connectors are called RCA audio connectors.

See Audio Video Connections



Audio cable connects to TV output jacks usually in the back of the TV.
RCA connectors on one end and 1/8 in. mini plug on the other end.


Cable used to extend the distance from TV to PC speakers. Can also be used as a headphone extension to extend the distance from the PC speaker to the preferred listening position.
1/8 in. mini plug at one end and 1/8 in. mini jack at the other end.
Available at Radio Shack in 16 ft and 20 ft cable lengths.
Radio Shack part number is 42-2562.

PC speakers


Anyone who has purchased a personal computer (PC) should be already familiar with the speakers which can connect to the sound card in the computer. If you do not already have some speakers you can buy them for as little as $10 at Best Buy, Circuit City, Radio Shack or a number of other stores or online. Just make sure to get speakers with a volume control knob and also a earphone out jack. This is required for the setup to work.

Typical Specifications for PC Speakers
  
  • Compatible with all PC sound cards and portable music devices
  • Magnetically shielded 
  • 2" - 3.5" full range speakers
  • Output Power: 0.5 Watts x 2 RMS
  • Signal/Noise: 50dB
  • Input Sensitivity: 600mV
  • Music Power: 40 Watt
  • Frequency Response: 70Hz-20kHz
  • Headphone jack built-in
  • AC power Adapter included
  • Power On/Off switch
  • Volume Control
  • Weight: 1.4kg
  • Dimensions: 210mm x 90mm x 94mm


PC Speaker with earphone jack and volume control


The PC speakers are stereo, left and right channels. One of the speakers is the so-called master and the other is the slave. The master speaker will have the connections for the AC power (or it may just use batteries) and the plug for the (input) audio signals. The plug should be a 1/8 in. mini stereo plug to match the cable coming from the TV. These are standard sizes and all should be compatible.

Connect the cable coming from the TV to a stereo 1/8 in. mini coupler.

Available at Radio Shack. This little coupler allows you to connect the mini plug coming from the cable attached to the TV, to the mini plug on the cable attached to the PC speakers. By connecting the two cables together using this coupler, you have now connected the TV audio OUT to the PC speakers. Turn on the TV, power on the PC speakers, turn the volume up and you should hear the TV sound coming thru the PC speakers.



Now connect the headphones. This will silence the PC speakers. You may already have these headphones but if not, you can purchase them at any electronics store or online for as little as $8 or if you prefer, you can use earbuds.

Stereo headphones. Make sure they have a 1/8 in. stereo mini plug connection at the end of the cord. Older stereo headphones can be used also if you buy a 1/4 in. to 1/8 in. adapter.


Headphone connection to speaker.



Earbuds with 1/8 in. mini plug. These are lighter weight than headphones.

Conclusion

You now have a TV listening environment which will satisfy both the young and the old, the sensitive ear and the hard of hearing all in one room. Give it a try, it really does work.

Exceptions

For those people with older TV sets or TV sets without audio OUT jacks, there are alternatives. Some TV sets have a headphone output jack on the front which could be used but if your TV does not, one option is to use a VCR or other device which does have audio output jacks available. Just connect the two RCA connectors to the red and white audio output jacks, usually on the rear panel of the device, instead of the TV and then tune the TV channel using the VCR (or other device). You should hear the sound coming thru the headphones. Cable TV boxes usually have audio output jacks as well.

Another alternative (also used with the wireless system) is to velcro a microphone to the TV speaker. This is not ideal but may be the only way for some people. The mic is connected to an amplifier and the RCA connectors are connected to the red and white audio outputs on the amp.

Final alternative: You can purchase a new TV with audio output jacks for as little as $100 which may be a good investment considering your peace of mind is just as valuable or more.

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