HyperSound

June 10, 2016  
Filed under Home & Garden, Mature Matters

hypersound 3

A Sound Revolution for Your TV

By Gary M. Kaye
Chief Content Officer,
Tech50+ (www.tech50plus.com)

I’ve been covering technology long enough that I don’t use the phrase “revolutionary” lightly. But the technology from the HyperSound division of Turtle Beach truly is revolutionary, with broad implications for sound reproduction. Frankly, it’s gonna take some ‘splaining, so please read on.

One of the first things you notice when you start losing your hearing is that conversations on your television programs start sounding muffled and you often need to turn up the volume, making television viewing a less than comfortable experience for anyone else in the room trying to watch at the same time. Here’s a pretty good analogy. Imagine trying to read a book, but every third or fourth word was erased? That’s what it’s like trying to listen to some television conversations. You’re constantly saying, “What did he say?”. It’s annoying and frustrating. And it turns out to be all too common.

According to Rodney Schutt, SVP and General Manager for the HyperSound, “With nearly 50 million people in the U.S. and 360 million people around the world with hearing loss, and approximately 80 percent of patients specifically telling their hearing healthcare providers they’re having trouble hearing and understanding the TV, we know there’s a significant audience of people who can benefit from adding HyperSound Clear into their home entertainment setup.”

hyperound 2HyperSound Clear 500P has only one purpose, and that is to enable someone who has lost hearing in the upper ranges to hear what’s on television without disturbing anyone else. To enable this, the system uses two major components, a digital processor and two emitters.

The digital processor does some technological magic to separate out the high end of the audio coming out of the television. It is then beamed out of the emitters. They are not speakers in the traditional sense. Instead of sending out a cone of dispersed sound, each emitter sends out a very narrow beam. Think of it as a flashlight beam or laser beam for sound. At the point where the beams from the two emitters converge, the high end of the audio spectrum is reproduced. But the effect, which is more like 3D immersion in headphones rather than point source from speakers, only works in that one focused space.

Lining up the emitters in just the right manner to only reach the targeted listener is not that tough. The emitters look like reflectors. If you, as the target, sit in the right position, you can see your own reflection in the front of each emitter. That tells you that you’re in exactly the right spot — even a foot or so away from that sweet spot and you lose the immersive effect.

While you get the highs from HyperSound Clear, you’ll still get the rest of the audio spectrum from the television’s speakers or whatever home theater system you might use. The system does not detract from the listening pleasure of anyone else in the room, since it’s barely audible to anyone outside of the “sweet spot.”

I found the system really easy to set up. It comes with both RCA plugs and an optical cable. The RCA plugs come with “Y” splitters, so you can still cable up other headphones or an analog sound system. If your television or set top box has an optical (digital) output, you’re likely to get better sound quality. The emitters can sit on your entertainment center console, though they also come with extension poles to make them into floor standing units.

HyperSound Clear is also making an add-on which helps people with tinnitus, that annoying sometimes constant ringing in the ears. And the technology has broader applications for eventually beaming full range audio. One near-term challenge is how to deal with couples who both suffer hearing loss, as is the case in my household. For now, you’d need two sets of emitters, though Turtle Beach says it is working on a solution. I have been using the system for a few days and have found that it significantly improves my television listening experience.

According to Dr. Ritvik Mehta, founder of the California Hearing and Balance Center, and a paid consultant for Turtle Beach:

“This is a significant step not only for individuals with hearing loss, but for our industry as a whole because one of the biggest obstacles we face is the approximate 10-year gap between when someone first notices a problem with their hearing and when they obtain hearing aids. Unfortunately, although difficulty hearing and understanding the TV is an early sign of hearing loss, most people simply choose to turn up the volume as opposed to seeking help. When you add HyperSound Clear as an all-new, gateway product that directly addresses the issue of hearing and understanding the TV as an alternative option for those who choose not to purchase hearing aids, it certainly has the potential to shorten the aforementioned 10 year gap. This is because people will sooner realize the significant improvement in speech intelligibility can also be achieved in everyday listening environments by adopting hearing aids. That’s why HyperSound Clear is such a refreshing, technological breakthrough for hearing healthcare as a whole.”

According to a recent study by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association,hearing loss is a growing, widespread issue that impacts people of all ages and often carries with it serious implications for one’s health, relationships and overall well-being. Researchers estimate that one in five Americans, and one in three people over age 65, suffer from hearing loss. Impacting over 48 million Americans, hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the United States. An estimated 360 million people worldwide suffer from some form of hearing loss.

For now, the product is only available through hearing care providers, including some big-name companies. It carries a suggested retail price of $1,675.

The bottom line. Yes, it works. And it works astonishingly well. In a few short days, it has dramatically improved my television experience. All technology should work this well. 

 

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