Hearing: TV or Movies

Ever have trouble understanding what TV or movie characters are saying over the background music? Know anyone who turns the TV up so loud that it is annoying?

We are exploring gadgets that can help in situations like this. Ideally without being ugly, stigmatizing, or super expensive — if you don’t feel hearing aids are the answer.

Or, if you already wear hearing aids, we are exploring which features actually help with these “TV or Movie watching challenges?”


Share your views

Share your situation, and any gadgets you have tried that worked well (or poorly), and explain why. Add your opinions using the green comments link below.

18 thoughts on “Hearing: TV or Movies”

  1. I am very interested in this
    I am very interested in this topic. Also of interest if using ear buds, is what materials they are made of. I am going to be 69 and this would be great!

    • I found when I used my iPods
      I found when I used my iPods connected to my iPad, the sound was clear and distinct. I was hoping there was a way to use AirPods with something like a bluetooth device.

  2. re: TV sound tech – I’ve
    re: TV sound tech – I’ve always hoped that there’s an invention out there that somehow drowns out the sound of a laugh track on a comedy television show. I simply can’t watch a show like MASH, Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld, etc without being driven insane by the horrible laugh track. Does any know of such a gadget invention?

  3. My elderly mother was hard of

    My elderly mother was hard of hearing and for years, my parents have been watching TV with subtitles/closed captioning turned on. It always helped her to be able to read at the same time as listening, when she couldn't catch all voices. Depending on your TV, the subtitle settings allow you to adjust the size of the text, as well as the background color and the text color.

  4. — Do I know anyone who
    — Do I know anyone who annoyingly turns up the TV-‘ so she can hear it?? YES, ME!! i’m expecting a neighbor to call, or bang on my door, as I live in bldg.with others…!
    ‘older’ films: especially the British SERIES, BBC, et al, have accents, low ‘production values-‘, (PRE: /speakers,/surround sound ,NOT DIGITAL …ARE THE WORST OFFENDERS!! HAVE TRIED 3 DIFFERENT BRANDS OF HEARING AIDS, TO NO AVAIL!!… DON’T WORK FOR DIALOGUE ISSUES!!( not on my ‘twisty ear canals??) FRUSTRATING, SINCE WIRING FOR MY SPACE,DIMENSIONS ETC. ARE TOO CUMBERSOME!!! ANY SUGGESTIONS? THANX, SHEILA SIMON

  5. While I wear expensive, high
    While I wear expensive, high tech hearing aids, I still have trouble understanding all the dialogue on the TV, both live and canned. I depend on the subtitles that can be turned on.

  6. We have a surround sound

    We have a surround sound system. Typically audio/voice comes from the front speakers and peripheral sound from the back speakers. We had them reversed. So audio/voice now comes from the back speakers near where we sit. Soooo much better. Reduces sound level. Also Closed Caption is helpful except  for sporting events when banners run at the bottom forcing CC to the top. Too much info on the screen.

  7. I have signia hearing aids.
    I have signia hearing aids. They have a box to attach to the tv that sends the sound through bluetooth to the hearing aids. I don’t miss any dialog. But it us hard to carry on a conversation at the same time.

  8. My wife listens to TV with
    My wife listens to TV with the volume at a level too low for me to comfortably hear it. So, I have taken to using a regular set of earphones (that I use for Zoom) connected to the audio out port of the TV. It works very well. I think that some TVs cut off the speaker when the audio out is used, but fortunately our Sony Bravia allows both output sources to be used at the same time.

    • We have a soundbar on the tv,
      We have a soundbar on the tv, so that my wife hears the sound at a comfortable level and I get it through the hearing aids. I find that if I adjust my volume down I can hear the dialog and my wife’s comments too.

  9. If you already have hearing
    If you already have hearing aids but don’t wear them because background noise is too loud, there are newer technologies that handle background noise better. Costco has a 6 month trial period & great hearing aids. Captions always help.

  10. Career Navy, I have been
    Career Navy, I have been wearing hearing aids since Vietnam. Over the decades, I have worn every design of aid from Behind-The-Ear (BTE), Receiver-In-Canal (RIC), In-The-Ear (ITE), In-The-Canal (ITC), and Completely-In-Canal (CIC). Being able to amplify TV or other audio sources normally has required a plug-in transmitter attached to the TV or tuner that sends a signal to your hearing aids. The audio wasn’t great, but you could understand dialogue. Unfortunately, plugging in the transmitter typically muted the speaker audio so nobody else in the room could hear the TV.

    Then in 2017, mobile phones hit the market with Bluetooth 5, and that changed everything. The Phonak company and several others figured out a way to integrate their RIC hearing aids with the Bluetooth of Android mobile phones. While there is room for improvement (the hearing aids cannot always connect to entertainment system Bluetooth), I find that my 2019 Phonak Marvel hearing aids work fine for TV without relying on Bluetooth.

    Where the Phonak Marvels shine is on the mobile phone. When I get a call, my hearing aids take over. Because the speaker and microphone are both inside the ear, the hearing aid’s computer behind your ear adjusts the sound perfectly – AND – the hearing aid transmits your voice back to the phone as I talk – even if the phone is still in my pocket – which it often is. As a bonus, unlike the earbud crowd, I can still hear ambient sounds. Of course, sometimes people think I have Alzheimer’s because I seem to be walking down the sidewalk or sitting in the waiting room talking to somebody they cannot see or hear and you have no phone in your hand.

    Bluetooth hearing aids also enable you to stream music from your phone, and with a small special transmitter plugged in to your PC, you can use your hearing aids instead of the computer speakers. Another bonus is that I still hear ambient sounds and conversations around me while streaming or working on my computer (try doing that with earbuds). That little RIC feat of engineering also means that I can put the receiver of a conventional phone right next to my ear with zero squeal. In fact, I can put both hands over my ears and there is no squeal.

    Bluetooth does not come cheap, and Phonak is not the only manufacturer these days. You do need to get a hearing aids compatible with Android or iPhones as they use different technology and operating systems. Your audiologist can help with that. As for cost, expect to pay $5,000 to $8,000 for a pair. Luckily, the VA pays for mine. Check to see if your insurance can chip in on the cost.

  11. TV shows can be watched with
    TV shows can be watched with subtitles. They are not perfect, but they help a lot. If you watch movies on DVDs, they, too, have an option for subtitles. I don’t go to movies much anymore for just this reason. I do have adjustable hearing aids but they aren’t necessary with the subtitles.

  12. We have DISH network, and the
    We have DISH network, and the receiver/DVR has Bluetooth audio. After the Mrs. goes to bed, I often hook up my JVC SP-A10BT “wearable sound” device. It goes around your neck, resting on the bottom of your neck, and has speakers that face up. They have volume control. I shut off other audio and listen on this, which also allows me to hear other sounds. I also use it when biking, because my ears are not covered.

    • I have a Sennheiser digital

      I have a Sennheiser digital wireless headphone system.  It worked great when I used to get movies on DVD, but the sound tends to cut out periodically when I watch streamed content & sometimes OTA TV.  When it does work, the sound is much more clear than thru my stereo speakers.  It has options to maximize voices vs. music quality.  My headphones let me hear other sounds so I can hear the phone ring or any alarms, but if someone else is watching TV & using the stereo speakers, it creates an echo effect. 

  13. I highly recommend the TV

    I highly recommend the TV speakers from ZVOX.com.  Their new AccuVoive AV157 provides 12 levels of voice boost from a speaker that is only (17"w x 3 3/8"h x 2 7/8"h). On sale right now for $199.99 instead of $269.99.  Check out the additional information on their website. We have had the earlier version, with only 6 levels of voice boost, for 3 years and it makes a huge difference.

  14. My wife was turning up the

    My wife was turning up the volume of our large TV & the sound echoed through our apartment and probably through the walls to other units. After a few products that did not help, we bought a wear around the neck device that has speakers in it as well as retractable earbuds and now our place is quiet as she watches TV with the earbuds and she has a wireless range that covers our unit – see the Amazon site:

    These are Wear&Hear units. The one with the neck speakers and the retractable ear buds is the BeHear Proxy and the unit plugged into the TV for bluetooth connection to the TV sound is the HeartLink Plus. The TV volume is independent of these units so the TV can be muted, but the units carry the sound well.

    They are a bit tricky to hook up but the customer service has been responsive. The small Plus unit by the TV plugs into USB for power and has a few different wiring options to plug into the TV for sound connection. We are using the optical cable connection. Then the Proxy headphone is paired to the Plus.

    We are still learning about the system. The individual tones can be adjusted and it can be used for the cell phone, but so far we just use it for TV and mostly with the wireless unit and the earbuds. The rechargeable wireless neck unit seems to have long battery life and takes 3 hours to charge from scratch. Nice that she can walk around other rooms and still hear the TV. So far so good.

  15. Between my wife Geri and me,
    Between my wife Geri and me, I am the one with hearing issues. That meant, over time, that I wanted the TV louder and louder, so that I could hear it. Making it, in turn, too loud for her if she were watching with me.

    My first solution was to run a wire from the TV set, across the floor, to a wire-receiving headphone that I had bought. That helped a lot, as I’d hear clearly thru the headphones which amplified my sound, and Geri was able to hear via the regular TV speakers.

    It worked, but meant having wires running across the room, etc. Not neat, and a potential tripping hazard.

    I then purchased a “MEE” brand bluetooth splitter (at Best Buy), and a pair of bluetooth headphones, one for each of us, (on line). The splitter sends signals to both of our headphones wirelessly. We are thereby able to move the volume down to zero on the TV speakers, and to each hear the TV shows’ dialog at our own comfortable volume level via the headphones, which do each have their own volume controls.

    We do also have closed caption texting on, which is another bit of assistance.