The holidays are the time to spend with family and friends sharing in laughter and creating memories. For individuals with hearing loss those gatherings can be noisy, which may impact the quality of their interactions. Sophisticated hearing devices with noise reduction technology help improve the clarity of speech in complex listening situations, but sometimes the devices may need help in environments with higher levels of background noise.
Companion microphones, otherwise known as lapel microphones, can be used to improve the signal to noise ratio in group situations. In other words, the accessory works with the hearing devices to increase the speaker’s voice and reduce the sound of unwanted noise in the background. Companion microphones can be used in several ways to help an individual hear speech more clearly.
The most common way to use the accessory is to clip it to the speaker’s shirt or loop the microphone around the neck. The accessory connects to the individual’s devices to allow streaming of the signal (i.e. the speaker’s voice). The voice is streamed clearly to the listener above the other noise in the room, which makes it much easier for the individual with hearing loss to hear the people around them.
An example of a companion microphone is the Phonak Roger Pen (see below). The Roger Pen is a slim device that has many different functions. In the picture the Roger Pen is being worn around the speaker’s neck to allow for superior sound quality even within the noisy environment.
The microphone can also be held by the listener and pointed at the specific person they want to listen to. This is especially helpful if the person is having a conversation with several people at a time. Lastly, the microphone can be placed in the middle of the table to optimize the signal to noise ratio. The Roger Pen, for example will actively scan the environment when it is on the table and search for the dominant speaker. Once the dominant speaker is found, the microphone will automatically adjust and focus on that person. It will continue to shift focus to whoever is talking as long as it is on the table. This is the most hands free way to use the device.
Michigan Hearing Experts works with the six largest manufacturers of hearing devices. Each manufacturer has their own version of a companion microphone that can be used at family gatherings over the holidays, work meetings, restaurants, etc. The best way to learn more about how a companion microphone or other accessories can help enhance the quality of speech, is to set up an appointment with one of our audiologists