TV sound

bus_driverNovember 30, 2011

My hearing has always been poor due to childhood illnesses. And now age is really in the picture. My regular TV is a Vizio 42" LCD flatscreen purchased new a couple of years ago. Maximum available audio volume from this set is quite limited. The room is not at all suited to accommodate surround sound equipment and this room is hopefully only temporary for this TV. TV ads for "My Zone" headphone from Telebrands prompted me to check the reviews and they are terrible. Poor product and poorer business practices.

Similar items are also not well reported. And some offered items are priced up to $250.00. Have you a knowledgeable suggestion to make for solving my problem?

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If you don't have one, I would suggest picking up an inexpensive stereo receiver (try Craigslist). Doesn't need to any anything fancy. Use either the audio output from your cable/satellite/telco provider's box or the TV itself to input to the receiver. Buy a "extension" cable from Radio Shack and use a set of decent headphones or ear buds.

I lived near busy railroad tracks and used just such a setup. I was amazed at all the things I didn't hear in the audio track and I have good hearing.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 11:02PM
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With all due respect to the fact you have limited hearing, are you sure you'd describe it as a volume issue, or maybe more unintelligible dialog?

The reason I ask is because I've worked with a number of people who have had difficulty hearing the dialog in home theater systems - either from the television and/or surround speakers. The dialog channel exists in either a "virtual center speaker" created by the stereo speakers, or in an actual center channel speaker.

Just like with the video signal, every product manufacturer wants to "enhance" the signal in a way they feel is best.

If you have just a terrestrial broadcast signal (antenna), try going into the the television menu audio settings. They often have pseudo-surround settings that can really make the dialog worse, or sometimes better. STBs (set top boxes) often can contain audio processing menus, as well as some DVD players. The cumulative effect can be really, really bad.

Of course, in home theater surround sound systems, speakers should never ever be placed in the ceiling, and while I understand this is not your set-up, I just thought I point it for others experiencing similar problems - it's often the cause.

While I don't have too much experience with the various wireless headphones out there, I be more than happy to look at the specs on any you may come across, and give you my opinion.

Of course, as Mike pointed out, wired is also a viable alternative.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 9:40PM
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I have antenna only. Often the set is used to playback VHS and DVD, not BluRay, and often the original material is old and sound quality not good. Dialogue comprehension is my problem, music works OK. Music notes are not misunderstood. I use captioning if available. The setup suggested earlier might not have remote available for it or if it does, it will add to my stack. I have 3 DVD players, one of them an upconverter, plus a DVD recorder/player and a VHS recorder/player using inputs to the TV and each with a remote.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 10:26PM
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VHS, especially in the linear audio (non-HiFi) EP/SLP 6 hour mode can get very muddy and frequency response goes down the toilet. Oxide build up on the audio head and wear and tear only adds to this.

But for over the air and DVD, double check the audio menu on the television just to make sure the television isn't contributing.

Not sure about your television, but quite a few had a switchable feature that allowed for either a fixed line level output (that you'd feed to your headphone transmitter/amplifier) or variable that tracked the television's volume setting. Thus, no additional remote issues.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 10:50PM
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I've noticed, especially in movies, that music and special effects sounds are so disproportionately loud compared to the voice level, that to hear voices clearly, the overall sound level needs, for me, to be uncomfortably loud. If one has a surround type system where the center, voice channel can be adjusted independently, the overall volume is much more comfortable.

Don't get me started on the absurd levels that advertisers need to use with commercials.

As for my suggestion for a wired system; while not elegant it's generally cheaper and works well.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 10:57PM
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"Don't get me started on the absurd levels that advertisers need to use with commercials."

Since my background is in television broadcast engineering, and despite claims otherwise, I can assure you, you ain't imagining anything!

Also, please don't get me wrong, I was not knocking a wired system, just suggesting a couple alternatives and things to look at first.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 11:26PM
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