As you lose your full audio range, whether from age or accident, sounds become muted or muddy – voice becomes less distinguishable. The typical solution is to turn up the volume and ramp up treble but that can affect other listeners – especially for a shared TV.
Or you connect a set of wired headphones to the 3.5mm audio jack (but that stops all other sound), or perhaps on later TVs, use Bluetooth headphones. Both alternatives suffer from a lack of control (equalisation) over the sound quality – you need more vocal clarity and less background noise, not just volume.
Irene Strüber, head of Portfolio Management Audiology at Sennheiser, said, “Flex 5000 is aimed at people who are too experienced to accept bad sound and want a personalised solution that ensures their continued full enjoyment of the TV experience. Truly a smart listening product, Flex 5000 offers an innovative and refreshing solution that combines outstanding sound performance, durable, high-quality design and timeless style.”
The Flex 5000 has three components. The base transmitter unit connects via the optical cable output found on most older and newer TVs so that the sound does not cut out as it does when using the 3.5mm audio jack (alternatively you can also use this jack if you want to). It also is the recharging dock for the second part.
The second part is a small, clip-on, wireless, rechargeable “candy bar” receiver that you can plug any set of headphones into. It has volume control, three configurable sound profiles, and a unique Speech Intelligibility function that makes speech easier to understand at the push of a button. It dynamically reduces background noise, which is part of the TV audio but may interfere with the spoken word.
You can have up to four receivers each with personal preference settings, for other users. You can also compensate for each ear with different volumes or balance.
And the third part is the headset – this can be anything from a set of “buds” to high quality over-the-head/over-ear headphones. As a starter, the package provides a set of MX 475 ultralight “buds”.
How does it sound?
The profiles boost or attenuate low-frequency or high-frequency tones for music, movies or voice and intelligently boost the volume for quite passages. In short, it can sound almost however you need it to sound. Use it with buds, use it with over-ear, or even noise cancelling headphones – all will make a huge difference to the sound you normally hear from the TV.
It is aimed at hearing-impaIred users who have been putting up with muted and muddy TV sound, although you can use it with any other audio output. The use of the optical sound cable means that another user can still listen to the TV.
What is best about this solution is that it wireless enables any wired headset and its software is designed to help the hearing-impaired to hear TV as they used to.
What's in the box?
- Clip-on 2.4GHz receiver with built-in, 12-hour, 350mAh, Li-Pol rechargeable battery.
- Docking station – up to 50-metre range.
- MX 475 Earphones.
- 5V/1A power supply unit with country adapters for EU, UK, US and Aus.
- TV Connection cable for 3,5mm headphone audio out.
- TV Optical cable for digital audio out PCM, 16 - 96 kHz/16 - 24 bit.
- Instruction manual.
Price $349.95 and available from April at any Sennheiser retailer or online.