Hearing Aid Loops
in Public Places

A non-technical article to highlight some of the horrendous practices still being encountered in the world of sound engineering.

Sound Engineering: The art of using any or a combination of equipment to pick up, record, and/or reproduce sound for the benefit of the listener.

I have recently been to three concerts, two indoor and one outdoor. At one of the indoor concerts I just had to make my way to the sound desk and congratulate the guy in charge on a superb job, it was truly excellent (and he was a final year student!). As for the other indoor, well, I could hear there was music and could follow the tune but I could not really make out the words. The outdoor one left me a little cold as there was no effort made to use distributed sound at all!

Now these guys call themselves "sound engineers". The only guy worthy of some recognition is the first, but even he made a drastic mistake. There was one part of his system still malfunctioning (I know, because I asked him and he said it should be working but was proved not), as for the other two, it was not even installed!

Remember our definition, "...to the benefit of the listener"? But what if the listener is hearing impaired? Is he still not a listener? Yet, in all three the above concerts my hearing impaired friend could not switch to the 'T' setting on his hearing aid and enjoy clearer, crisper sound. In other words, our so-called experts have failed in reproducing the sound to the benefit of the listener - the one who paid good money giving the 'engineer' an opportunity to be employed.

With the ratio of hearing impaired or deaf running as high as 1 in 7, this would put the possible ratio of people requiring a facility to hear better at over 10%. This is a staggering figure. What is even more astounding is that it can be done so simply it is almost criminal when not (actually, soon it will be criminal to not provide a loop!).

Not only have these pages ideas on how to produce deaf aid loops, scouring the Internet has proved there is no shortage of ideas (including 'quick fixes' from sound guys who have found themselves in a tight spot and have had to pretty smartly provide one). This means there is no excuse.

Maybe it's time to have "installing a deaf-aid loop" as a module in all sound engineering courses. If nothing else, it will raise the level of engineering practices - world wide!

Marc Dekenah

© 31.12.01