Are you growing increasingly frustrated with not being able to hear the TV due to your hearing impairment?
If so, you aren’t alone - more than 30 million adults in the US have some sort of hearing loss.
Watching TV can be an experience that ranges from frustrating to impossible for both you and your family.
Luckily, there are many cases where a high-quality soundbar can make all the difference. In this guide, you’ll learn more about the best soundbars for the hearing impaired and see some of the top models available!
What are Soundbars for the Hearing Impaired?
Soundbars are a type of home speaker system that integrate multiple speakers into one rectangular device.
Soundbars are typically placed in front of the TV and can rest on top of your entertainment center or be mounted to the wall. These speakers are a cost-effective and space-saving alternative to expensive and bulky surround sound systems.
A good soundbar projects audio in specific directions, rather than blasting sound all over the room. That makes them a naturally beneficial but imperfect sound upgrade for people who have hearing impairments.
While soundbars are a better option for people with hearing loss than the built-in speakers on TVs, they need to have specific features in order to be able to be well-suited to people who have hearing impairments. More on that in the section below:
How Do Soundbars for the Hearing Impaired Work?
Soundbars designed for people with hearing loss or impairments should have extra features and design choices that help them hear the TV more clearly without having to resort to max volume. Sure, the simplest thing for someone with hearing loss to do is to simply crank the volume to full strength, but that can be a nuisance to others in the home and even to neighbors.
A good soundbar will project sound directly to your ears, improving the clarity of the audio without requiring you to boost the volume. The most important feature in a soundbar for the hearing impaired is equalization. Equalization goes by many different names but refers to a speaker’s ability to change the way an audio signal sounds before it exits the speaker. In your car, you are able to adjust the bass and treble (high and low-pitched sounds)- this is called “equalizing”.
If you have a hearing impairment and are looking for a soundbar, you need to find a model that has good equalization, especially in the frequencies that correspond to the human voice. All of this is pretty technical and not necessary knowledge, which is why many companies will simply give their voice equalization a fancy-sounding name. For instance, ZVOX calls theirs “Accuvoice”, which is a word that is much easier to say than “equalization that is optimized for the human voice”.
Best Soundbars for the Hearing Impaired
1. Best Soundbar for Hearing Impaired (Overall): ZVOX Accuvoice AV257 Soundbar TV Speaker With Hearing Aid Technology
ZVOX is one of the best online-only brands for audio devices and speakers. Their trademark Accuvoice technology makes this powerful, sleek soundbar perfect for people living with hearing impairments.
The Accuvoice emphasizes the sounds of the human voice over other sounds, an essential feature for understanding dialogue and quiet scenes on TV without cranking the volume. The AV257 has 12 different levels of Accuvoice boost, letting you have complete control over how much the vocals are emphasized.
Beyond Accuvoice, this soundbar also includes a convenient remote and a 30-day trial window. If you aren’t happy with the product after a month, it’s easy to return it for a full refund. If you’re looking for a high-quality soundbar that lets you hear the TV more clearly than ever before, despite your hearing impairment, the AV257 is for you.
2. Best Soundbar for Hearing Dialogue: TV Ears Voice Clarifying TV Soundbar
TV Ears is the maker of one of the most popular TV earbuds for people who have hearing impairments, and they have a reputation for making products that truly have hearing loss in mind. Their soundbar is no different; it’s sleek, clear, and does an excellent job of isolating the sounds of the human voice and making them easy to understand.
One of the best features of the TV Ears Voice Clarifying TV Soundbar is that it is relatively low-tech. This means that it’s very easy for anyone, regardless of their technical expertise, to set up and use the soundbar. It doesn’t use any sort of wireless or Bluetooth technology; rather, a simple plug into the back of your TV is all it takes! This soundbar is perfect for senior citizens who need an uncomplicated but effective way to deal with TVs that are too quiet and hard to hear.
3. Best Sound Quality: Sonos Playbar Soundbar Hearing Impaired
Sonos is one of the most respected names in home audio, whether you’re talking bout hearing impaired technology or not. Their products are known for providing sound quality that is second-to-none, accurately replicating all sorts of sounds. The Playbar Soundbar uses 9 different speakers to deliver incredible performance across the board.
This soundbar is wifi-enabled and can be connected to your Alexa devices or controlled by a smartphone app. If you’re a tech-savvy person, this is the best soundbar for you. You can control the equalization with the smartphone app, customizing the way it sounds to be perfect for your ears. The Playbar was also specially engineered to emphasize the sound of the human voice, which helps people with hearing impairments even though it isn’t as intense as ZVOX’s Accuvoice technology.
The only downside of the Sonos Playbar is that it doesn’t have any specific features that are truly focused on people with hearing impairments. So, while it should work very well, if you have moderate-severe hearing loss it may disappoint. For people with light hearing impairments who want to have a lot of control over their sound, though, the Sonos Playbar is ideal.
Best Soundbars for Hearing Impaired (Runners-up)
4. Best Budget Soundbar: ZVOX Accuvoice AV100
The AV100 offers many of the same benefits as the larger ZVOX speaker we looked at earlier, but it costs far less. It’s designed for smaller rooms and has less power, so don’t expect it to blow your mind compared to more expensive models. But, the same Accuvoice technology that makes the ZVOX soundbars so great for hearing impaired persons is still included, making this the best soundbar for the hearing impaired that costs less than $100!
5. Best for Small TVs: Bose TV Speaker
If you have a smaller TV (less than 37 inches) getting a large, bulky soundbar may mean that the soundbar doesn’t physically fit. This soundbar is perfect for small TVs and comes from Bose, one of the most advanced audio companies in the world. While it may not have the same voice clarifying technology as the ZVOX Accuvoice or TV Ears soundbars, you will still get exceptional clarity in a small package!
Buying Guide: How to Choose a Soundbar
Where to Buy Soundbars for the Hearing Impaired
Amazon has thousands of options for soundbars, TV speakers, and other audio devices that can help you hear the TV more clearly despite hearing loss. It’s also very helpful to compare the personal reviews people leave, especially when it comes to hearing loss. You’re able to see how other people with hearing impairments have experienced that particular soundbar, which is the next best thing to trying it out yourself.
Beyond that, Amazon has shipping speeds that are very tough to beat and an easy, low-hassle return process. If you’re having a hard time deciding or committing to a soundbar, Amazon is a great place to do your shopping- the number of options and simplicity of returns/exchanges matter a lot in an important purchase like this!
In-Store: Best Buy
There are many other stores that sell soundbars, but no other chain offers the same level of expertise or number of options as Best Buy. The staff at Best Buy are usually very knowledgeable and can answer all of your tech questions. You can even have your soundbar professionally installed by the Best Buy staff, taking all the stress of setting it up and troubleshooting off of your shoulders!
Tips for Buying the Best Soundbar for Your Needs
Consider Additional Devices
Though soundbars can be very effective for overcoming the frustration of watching TV with hearing loss, they aren’t always the best option. Personal Sound Amplifier Products (PSAPs) are often just as effective as doctor-prescribed hearing aids, something that cannot be said about soundbars.
So, while getting a soundbar is certainly a good idea, you should consider getting another device to help you hear the TV. Other TV-specific items like TV Ears or the Chair Speaker can be used together with a soundbar to give you more complete sound coverage. If you have moderate to severe hearing impairments, it is a good idea to consider not how one device can help, but how multiple devices can work together for your benefit.
Consider Living Room Size
Soundbars are most effective for people with hearing loss if the room they’re placed in is on the smaller side. The closer you are to the speaker, the more effective it will be. Since soundbars are placed directly beneath the TV, they work best when you are less than 12 feet away. If your couch or recliner is situated far away from the TV, a different sound amplifier might be a better option for you.
Hearing Loss Levels
If you have light hearing loss, a soundbar might be all that you need to watch TV without missing dialogue or having to crank the volume. People with moderate-severe hearing loss, however, will be better served by PSAPs or hearing aids (a good PSAP can work well even in people with 95% hearing loss).
So, while a soundbar can work great for some people, that same soundbar might be a disappointment for others. If you can, consult with a doctor or specialist to get advice on what type of device is right for your specific situation!
If you’re tired of not being able to hear the TV or your family is tired of you turning the volume up, a good soundbar for hearing impairments is a must-have. The best models are those that deliver loud, clear sounds that emphasize the sound of the human voice. Which soundbar on our list intrigued you the most? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!