Loudspeaker array.

Loudspeaker array.

According to the University of Southampton in England, one of its researchers has developed a TV sound system with special loudspeakers to help hard of hearing people listen to television without affecting the sound for other viewers.

Marcos Simón, a post-graduate research student in the University’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, has devised a highly-directional system of acoustical radiators, commonly known as loudspeaker arrays, which produce a sound ‘hot spot’ by boosting the audio signal in the area of a room where a hearing impaired person is sitting but maintaining the same audio levels elsewhere.

“It’s estimated that disputes over TV volume affect one in 10 households, and these are often caused by some family members having age-related hearing loss,” said Simón. “Because only about 20 percent of such people wear hearing aids, the only way to resolve this problem is to improve the level of sound for them without annoying other viewers in the household with normal hearing who don’t want to be subjected to a loud volume.”

Simón, who won the 2013 Institute of Acoustics (IOA) Young Person’s Award for Innovation in Acoustical Engineering for his array design, says the loudspeaker design comprises eight phase-shift sources in a line, and aims to compensate for a hearing loss of about 15 dB at 3 kHz. The acoustical radiators send a boosted version of the TV audio towards one location, where a hearing impaired TV listener is present. Other listeners with healthy hearing are placed at positions where they do not listen to the amplification provided by the array.

According to the University of Southampton’s report, the operation of the array has been tested via behavioral experiments in a normal room, and shows that with this device it is possible to obtain about a 30% speech intelligibility improvement for hearing-impaired listeners, while maintaining a good audio quality for viewers with normal hearing.


Source: University of Southampton