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What are FM systems?

A man uses an FM system while working at a laptop computer (Courtesy of Phonak)

FM Systems are wireless assistive hearing devices that enhance the use of hearing aids, cochlear implants and also assist people who are hard of hearing but do not wear hearing aids, in particular over distance and in noisy environments.

They enable sound to be picked up closer to a speaker, sound source or connected directly to the sound source and transmitted to the individual providing greater clarity of speech/sound and a reduction in background noise.

  • FM System is the generic name or term that has been given to Radio Aids.
  • FM is the abbreviation for Frequency Modulation. (You will recognise it from Radio Stations)
  • Frequency Modulation is a wireless transmission method used to transmit the sound.
  • The main advantage for Hearing Aid wearers is that FM transmission is resilient to noise and interference helping to preserve the quality and clarity of the sound transmitted.
  • Some companies are also using digital transmission but the products are still “labelled” as FM Systems.
  • The main frequency transmission bands are 863MHz to 865MHz and 169MHz to 176MHz. They are free frequency bands that do not require a licence.
  • The abbreviation MHz means Mega Hertz (Mega = million, Hertz is the unit of frequency).

What is the advantage of a FM System?

A woman driving a car uses an FM system to hear her baby in the back seatA FM System empowers a hearing aid wearer with their own light weight, portable, flexible and discrete equipment that they can use in a great variety of daily situations where additional hearing assistance is required, as hearing aids alone, mainly due to background noise and distance, are not sufficient.

The legislation term “reasonable adjustments” has meant that there are businesses and organisations that have still not installed induction loops in strategic or customer facing areas and there are situations and places where there will probably never be induction loops. e.g. dining out, or sitting at a restaurant table.

While they should install induction loops a person with a FM System can almost go anywhere (they are not waterproof) with their equipment and therefore are less dependent on others.

FM systems can help the hearing impaired to hear in the car, in lectures, while watching TV, on holiday tours, while shopping or at the dinner table

Thanks to ihear for supplying the content on this page. Images are shown courtesy of Comfort Audio AB. Photos thanks to Phonak.


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