Listening assistance is a two-fold market that is a must-have product in venues nationwide. Whether you are providing solutions for the hearing impaired or in a location that is legally required to provide assisted listening devices to your patrons, the hardware and technology are vastly important for a good experience.
In years past, infrared systems were the way to go and proved to be a successful path for most venues. The downfall of this technology was the receiver and headphone system for the patron was more of a pain than a help. The patron would need to checkout a system from the venue and wear their bulky headphones during the performance. These units are typically bulky, have a light on them and embarrassing for people to use. They are also uncomfortable when placed on top of a hearing aid and can cause painful and irritable sounds. Patrons stopped checking them out and attempted to attend events without the device and without being able to hear the show.
Sennheiser, a pro audio and wireless technology company, came out with a new system that allows the sound that is sent to the venue’s speakers to be sent directly to your smartphone. This allows event goers to listen comfortably with their own headphones or hearing aids.
Tech talk? Okay!
The way this works is the audio engineer sends a signal of the main mix out of the mixing console to the Sennheiser MobileConnect Rack Unit (that typically lives in the Amp Room). That signal is then sent out via Ethernet cable to an Access Point (aka Router) allowing the audio to be broadcasted over WiFi. Anyone can download the MobileConnect app via a smartphone/tablet and connect directly to the audio signal. Plug in your own headphones and you’re now listening to the house sound with less than 1 millisecond delay. In addition, today’s hearing aids typically can already connect to smart devices via Bluetooth so no cables, bulky headphones or any extra accessories are necessary.
The Sennheiser MobileConnect App allows you to connect your phone to the audio signal with a simple interface allowing you the power to adjust the sound characteristics and volume without knowing anything about sound. Just move the curser around until you like what you hear and enjoy the show. Venue’s that are required to have listening assistance will still need to provide their patrons with a certain amount of smart devices, but the cost of inexpensive smart devices are significantly less than most infrared systems.
From a venue perspective, you’re not only getting a cost effective option, but you’re also creating a much better user experience for your facility. After doing our first installation of the MobileConnect system, we invited 2 of our hearing impaired friends to an event and they were blown away. The clarity and ease of use makes going to the theatre or concert a non issue for them. They stated they are significantly more inclined to go to more events and are able to enjoy all aspects of the show.
Posted on Wed, October 10, 2018
by Drew McMullian