Millions of Americans suffer from hearing loss. Rather than relying on the increased volume or closed captioning, soundbar manufacturers are now going above and beyond to cater to the millions of Americans (and people worldwide), so that they can fully enjoy TV and media.
Can a soundbar help someone with hearing issues? Yes, there are now soundbars available with built-in technology that provides extra dialogue and voice clarity for people who are hearing impaired. Plus, soundbars have extra speakers built-in to provide a high-quality, room-filling sound.
Certain manufacturers of soundbars focus on creating soundbars specifically for people with hearing loss, which is why I’ve said they’re great for helping with dialogue. And while all soundbars have multiple built-in speakers, some soundbars come with external, wireless speakers that can be placed wherever you need for the highest quality sound. There are many features that soundbars have to help those with hearing issues.
How Soundbars Help Those Who Are Hearing Impaired
With advanced voice enhancement technology, soundbars are now helping people with hearing issues put down their hearing aids and enjoy clear, understandable TV sound all on its own, and they look great when placed in cabinets too (our guide) which is an added bonus. Soundbar manufacturers are now adding in voice and sound clarity technology, and additional speakers can provide even better sound for those with hearing issues.
Sound Clarity Technology
Each soundbar manufacturer has their own voice and sound clarity technology that helps make sounds crisp and clear.
Sometimes, soundbar manufacturers create high-quality sound with hearing-impaired people in mind, and other times, soundbar manufacturers simply create a high-quality sound that happens to meet the needs of people with hearing issues.
More and more, we are seeing clear voice technology being implemented into soundbars to make media fully enjoyable for people with and without hearing loss. ZVOX is a leading manufacturer of soundbars for people with hearing loss.
While some soundbar manufacturers do meet the needs of people with hearing loss, ZVOX designs soundbars with hearing loss in mind.
All of the ZVOX sound systems are created with AccuVoice, which implements hearing aid technology for extra clear voices at any volume. It uses advanced algorithms that many manufacturers do not, which allow voices to be separate and more prominent than background sounds.
Additionally, soundbars do come with a number of built-in speakers to provide a more immersive sound that can aid people with hearing issues. Most soundbars are created to serve as at least a 2.0 sound system, which means there are two front speakers (left and right).
A lot of soundbars are created as a 3.1 sound system, which includes two front speakers, a center speaker, and a subwoofer. Sometimes, the subwoofer is built-in, and sometimes, it is external, which allows you to place it wherever you want.
When you move up to 5.1, 7.1 and beyond soundbar systems, you are likely having at least two external speakers, which really creates a high-quality, cinematic sound — especially in small rooms. This can be super helpful for those who are hard of hearing.
What Features to Look for in a Soundbar to Help with Hearing Issues
When you’re searching for a great soundbar to provide the best sound for those with hearing issues, it’s important to know what qualities to look for. To find the best choice for hearing issues, make sure to look for soundbars that have a dedicated center channel speaker, enhanced dialogue technology, and external speakers.
Center Channel Speakers
Having a center channel speaker is critical to hearing voices clearly. It truly enhances the dialogue on your TV, and once you’ve had a center channel speaker, you will never go back. A center channel speaker helps dialogue come forward and lets the left and right speakers take care of the background music, sound effects, etc.
A center channel speaker is the main speaker for most movie dialogue when enjoying surround sound. Without a center channel speaker, the dialogue in your entertainment can sound strange and sometimes drowned out.
It is also especially important if you are wanting a true surround sound setup, which can be a great asset for those hard of hearing. You’ll be able to hear dialogue more clearly, as well as be immersed in your media.
Enhanced Dialogue Technology
Many soundbar manufacturers are now offering enhanced dialogue technology as a standard component to their soundbars or soundbar packages. Sometimes, you’ll see it on higher-end soundbars or larger soundbar packages, and sometimes, it will be included with standard soundbars.
These manufacturers call their enhanced dialogue technology by different names, but they all serve the purpose of making dialogue clearer by separating voices from the rest of the soundtrack on your media.
While technology varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, the best ones will make voices sharp and more clear, which is critical for those hard of hearing. It’s important to read reviews and get recommendations based on people who also have hearing issues.
External speakers can be very helpful for enhancing the sound and dialogue. Whether it be rear speakers, side speakers, ceiling-mounted speakers, or upward-firing speakers, external speakers help spread your sound out throughout the room and help you target sound to a designated area.
Those hard of hearing can enjoy a great surround sound experience with the help of external speakers for extra clarity.
Best Soundbar Options for Hearing Loss
The best soundbar options for hearing loss come in a wide range of prices and have many different features. The best one for you or your loved one with hearing loss depends on your budget, your room, your current technology, and your individual preferences.
While there are a large number of soundbars that have integrated technology to help with voice and dialogue clarity, the results vary as to whether they are good for people with hearing issues. Here are a few of the top soundbar options that are the best bets for people with hearing issues.
ZVOX Dialogue AccuVoice AV157
While not exactly a soundbar, the ZVOX Dialogue AccuVoice AV157 (on Amazon) functions similar to a soundbar. It is a horizontal TV speaker that sits below your TV and connects to your TV with a single cord. It includes three 3″x2″ full-range speakers, and it is built with ZVOX’s patented AccuVoice technology for top-of-the-line voice clarity at any volume.
It does have a standard optical digital input, as well as an output for a headphone or subwoofer, so you are able to add on to it for an even more enhanced sound. It comes at a low price of under $200.
The ZVOX SB380 (on Amazon) is a soundbar that provides room-filling sound with the help of a built-in subwoofer and ZVOX’s PhaseCue virtual surround sound technology. It includes ZVOX’s premium AccuVoice hearing aid technology, and it has three 2″ full-range speakers, in addition to the 4″ subwoofer. It has 45 total watts of power.
It is 35.5″ long and looks best with TVs between 27″ and 40″. It can be mounted or sit on your entertainment stand. It sits at a fairly low price of just under $250.
The ZVOX SB500 (on Amazon) is an upgraded version of the SB400, which includes all of the same technology features: AccuVoice, Bluetooth, and PhaseCue.
However, the ZVOX SB500 includes three 2″ full-range speakers and two 4″ subwoofers – all built-in. The ZVOX SB500 also has more power with 140 total watts, and it fits best with TVs between 50″ and 80″.
This soundbar has been one of ZVOX’s best selling soundbars for many years and has made CNET’s list of Best Soundbars of the Year for 3 years in a row. So needless to say, this is an outstanding unit and you won’t be disappointed.
ZVOX SoundBase 440
The ZVOX SoundBase 440 (on Amazon) is not a traditional soundbar but functions like one. It actually serves as a stand for your TV, but it cannot be mounted. The ZVOX SoundBase 440 is a mid-range priced sound base that is best suited for TVs up to 55″.
It is equipped with AccuVoice technology and PhaseCue technology. It has three 2″ full-range speakers, one 5.25″ subwoofer, and 45 watts of power.
As you can see, there are so many great soundbar options for people with hearing issues. While your safest bet is to go with one by a brand like ZVOX who focuses solely on manufacturing soundbars and speakers for people with hearing issues, there are a lot of great soundbars out there that are equipped with amazing technology that can help people with hearing issues.
Make sure to look for a soundbar, preferably with specific technology implemented for dialogue clarity, and add external speakers when possible. Happy hunting!