Telecoil vs. Bluetooth Hearing Aids. Which is Better?
It is true, as an audiologist, day in and day out I am asked about if a hearing aid has direct connectivity to a whole host of objects. Android, iPhone, computer, television, Alexa, Google Home… dare I say a toaster oven may be next? Yes, Bluetooth wireless technology is the new hotness. Couple that with a rechargeable cell and you have enabled someone to be almost worry free in the hearing aid realm. But the question remains, is this enough?
First of all, what does Bluetooth really do? Yes, it allows for wireless streaming from an enabled device into your aids (as long as the technology is compatible… Android users I am looking at you). Bluetooth is very good at allowing the hearing aid user to distinguish vocal sounds over the phone. It is an easy set up, and for someone in assisted living it can be a valuable tool for family members to be able to talk to their loved ones by utilizing the remote mic functionality on iPhone. But is it the cleanest signal for those with mild to severe and even profound loss. The answer is simply, no. That is where telecoil comes in.
What is Telecoil (T-Coil)?
A telecoil system, or “loop system” as it is called in the industry, is where a tiny coil of copper wire inside the hearing aid induces an electric current that when in range of a changing magnetic field (i.e. an environment that is “looped”) the signal from that system is delivered directly into your hearing aids. This is important to know if you visit churches, meetings, the symphony, museums, community centers, some school events, travel frequently or find that overall audio quality with Bluetooth is not enough. Most hearing aid manufacturers have hearing aid options with built in t-coils (they will have to be turned on by your audiologist) and remain discreet if that is your concern.
It is very important to communicate with your audiologist about what is important for you to be able to hear in your life. Believe it or not, they can’t read your mind. They also don’t follow you around on a daily basis, that would be creepy and you would have a restraining order. You would be surprised at what is looped and what is not.
How Do I Know if There is a Telecoil System?
Go to www.aldlocator.com , type in your zip code and a list of facilities in your area will be listed.
Anytime you see this image:
This indicates that a telecoil is present.
So should I get Telecoil and NOT Bluetooth?
No. I would highly recommend that you get a hearing aid with BOTH Bluetooth and Telecoil. I am a big fan of covering all of your bases. As a hearing aid user, I never know where I will be. I would rather be prepared than have to sit and smile because I have no idea about what is going on.