A telecoil is a function built into some models hearing amplifier, but more often seen in hearing aids. With the telecoil function on these devices, the wearer picks up a special signal that offered in some public places, such as theaters, places of worship, and court rooms. This signal sends the sound (usually from a microphone) in those places directly to the hearing device. Instead of picking up all the sound that is normally amplified (coming from speakers) in those places, a telecoil gives you a direct connection to the source of the sound.
How the telecoil works
The telecoil is a system with two components: the receiver (your hearing aid) and the sender. The original design for the telecoil worked with the copper wire that landline phones have by default. These days, public places sometimes offer a loop system that plugs right into the sound set-up in that space. This loop system sends the electronic sound signal through a copper wire, which allows all telecoil receivers within range to pick up the sound directly. In theory, the telecoil loop system brings the copper wire idea from old-fashioned phone to a whole room.
In practice, using this system in a public place that offers the loop system tunes you in to what’s being ‘broadcasted’. It’s like tuning the car radio to a radio frequency at a drive-in theater, but with crisper sound. Because your hearing amplifiers don’t have to filter background noise but bring the sound directly into your ear, you can fully focus on what people say.
Where are telecoils most used?
The telecoil function on hearing aids is most useful in places with a loop system. If you regularly attend a church that offers a loop system, using the telecoil setting drastically improves your listening experience. The same is true for theaters, museums, concert halls, and conference centers. Although the loop system hasn’t been as popular in the United States, technological developments made hearing amplifiers with a telecoil much cheaper. The cost of setting up a loop system has also decreased.
You can also set up a small-scale loop system in your living room and hook it up to your TV and/or sound system. This way, you can listen to music, the radio, or your favorite TV shows as if you’re wearing headphones. This simple setup is for sale on Amazon.com.
Whether or not the telecoil in your hearing aids works with your phone will depend on the phone you have. Not all phones work with this function, but some phones are made specifically for this purpose.
Is a telecoil worth the money?
Having a hearing aid or amplifier with a telecoil can be really useful. It allows you to have a much better listening experience in places that offer a loop system. By installing loop systems in your home and buying a phone with this function, you can also truly optimize your personal environment. A telecoil is absolutely worth the extra cost if you can pick between two otherwise equal hearing amplifiers.
The question remains how much money this special function is worth. There is no universal answer here. It simply depends on your needs. If you regularly visit a church that offers a loop system, it’s a much better investment than if you find yourself looking for places you might one day use your telecoil setting. Optimizing your environment for the telecoil in your hearing amplifier also increases the cost.
This website focuses on non-prescription hearing aids. Unlike their prescription counterparts, telecoils aren’t widespread in these aids. The Otofonix Encore is one of the lower-cost models that offers this function. It’s an allround great device, but a pair of amplifiers from its main competitor (without telecoil) is hundreds of dollars cheaper than a pair of Encore hearing amplifiers. It can absolutely be worth the investment, but not for everyone.
Do I need a telecoil?
As I just mentioned above, telecoils can be a great asset. They offer a premium listening experience in certain places. At the same time, they’re not essential to your hearing. A good hearing amplifier will still allow you to hear everything that’s going on. As the telecoil function will likely increase the price of a certain model hearing amplifier, whether or not that extra cost is worth it to you depends mainly on your personal preferences.
Would you like to make better-informed buying decisions? Sign up to our newsletter below and get personalized buying advice, information about life with hearing loss, and the latest information directly to your email.