July 29, 2013

Ask the Audiologist – What is an FM system?

By Tara Hartman, Au.D., CCC-A
Audiology Consultants, P.C.

An FM system is a special wireless device that helps people hear better in noisy listening situations. FM stands for frequency modulation and uses radio waves to transmit audio signals to the listener. The device is typically used in conjunction with hearing aids but can also be used alone in cases of normal hearing.

The FM system can be used to pick up a single voice or placed in such a way to pick up multiple voices. This is done through a small microphone worn by the speaker. The microphone is connected to a transmitter, which sends a wireless audio signal to a receiver. The receiver is worn by the listener and is often attached to a hearing aid.

Anyone can benefit from an FM system, but it is especially helpful for people with hearing loss that have a lot of difficulty hearing in background noise. FM systems allow the listener to hear a speaker even if they are across the room, without amplifying all the background noise. This improves the speech signal, allowing the listener to hear better.

FM systems can transmit signals through objects such as walls, and it can often be used up to 30 meters away.

If you have a hearing loss, and you find that your hearing aids pick up too much background noise, you might want to consider an FM system. They are extremely useful hearing in restaurants, church settings, meetings, and social events. Talk to your audiologist if you are interested in finding out more about FM systems and whether it would be helpful for you.