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Pros and Cons of Three FM Systems

In my previous post, The Magic of Personal FM Systems, I discussed personal FM systems. Here I want to describe three of these systems in more detail:

Williams Sound Motiva PFM 360
Comfort Audio Comfort Contego
Conversor Pro

All three of these devices are very good, but my favorite is the Williams Sound Motiva PFM 360. I will describe this one in detail and briefly compare the other two to the Motiva.


ADVANTAGES of the Motiva PFM 360

1. It has a microphone on both the transmitter and the receiver. This means you can listen to a speaker up to 150 ft. away, then turn down that microphone and turn up the microphone on the receiver. That allows you to amplify the voices close to you for small group discussion or to talk to the person next to you. You can also have both microphones on at the same time which is helpful in group discussions.

2. It is easy to use. The receiver has two knobs – one is the on/off switch and controls the volume on the transmitter. The other knob controls the volume of the microphone on the receiver.  Simple!

3. The transmitter comes with a removable lapel microphone. With any FM system, the closer the microphone is to the speaker, the better the sound.   Clipping the lapel microphone on the speaker’s shirt reduces background noise and clarifies speech. The speaker can hook the transmitter on his belt or put it in a pocket. He is hands free and doesn’t need to do anything. You control the device from the receiver.

You can also remove the lapel mic and add a headset microphone which will bring the microphone even closer to the speaker’s mouth. Or you can use a conference microphone and set it on a table to pick up voices around the table.

4. The receiver has a 3.5mm stereo jack so you can use headphones, earbuds or a neckloop.

5. The transmitter has a 2.5mm auxiliary input jack so you could connect it to another sound source such as an iPod, television, or the sound board of your church PA system.

6. It can be purchased with a charger and rechargeable batteries or purchased without the charger to be used with regular batteries. The same device can work with either rechargeable batteries or regular alkaline (non-rechargeable) batteries, so if you are traveling and don’t want to bring the charger, you can change the battery selection switch.

7. The sound quality is excellent!

8. The receiver can be used alone, without the transmitter, as a personal listening device, similar to a Pocketalker.

9. It has a 5-year warranty.

DISADVANTAGES of the Motiva PFM 360

1. It is bigger than the other two systems.

2. It doesn’t come with a cable to connect to the TV (but a cable can be purchased).

3. The lapel microphone wire is an antenna. You can’t use a plug microphone in the transmitter as it has no wire. You can, however, use a conference microphone.

4. It is slightly less convenient than the other devices for setting on a table (unless you are using a conference mic).  In a restaurant, I usually find a glass or small menu to clip the lapel microphone to.


The Comfort Audio Comfort Contego is also an excellent system.


ADVANTAGES of the Comfort Contego

1.  The biggest advantage of this system is that it is small and light-weight (smaller than the Motiva).

2.  Another plus is that it has both an omni-directional microphone and a directional microphone.

3.  It works well on a table with the transmitter in “omni-directional” mode to pick up voices around the table.

4.  It has a built-in microphone on both the transmitter and the receiver.

5.  it is rechargeable and the charger is small and easy to pack.

6.  The sound quality is excellent!

7.  It comes with a sound kit to connect to the TV.

DISADVANTAGES of the Comfort Contego

1. The main disadvantage of this system is it is rather complicated. The controls are all digital. There is one button to control the volume of the transmitter and another to control the volume of the receiver (and I always forget which is which). There is a menu button with options (that I’ve never used) and an LED screen with a variety of display symbols (that could be confusing). I would not recommend this to someone that is not comfortable with technology or someone with mild cognitive impairment.

2. It doesn’t have a removable microphone so you can’t use a lapel or conference microphone.

3. When the battery is depleted (in about 5 years) you have to send it back to the Comfort Audio service center. Cost is $75 to refurbish the device and replace the battery.

4. It has a 2-year warranty. (Motiva has a 5 year warranty.)


And last, but not least, the Conversor Pro, which has one very nice advantage.


ADVANTAGES of the Conversor Pro

1. The Conversor Pro is the only FM system I’ve seen that has a “pendant receiver” – the receiver is part of the neckloop, so it is very small, light weight and convenient. With other systems you have to plug a neckloop into the receiver. With the Conversor, the receiver and neckloop are all-in-one. If you don’t have t-coils in your hearing aids, you would need to attach a headphone or earbuds.

2. The small size and pendant receiver make it more convenient to use when “on the go.”

3. The transmitter has a directional and an omni-directional mode. It also has a “boost” button.

4. It works well on a table with the transmitter in “omni-directional” mode to pick up voices around the table.

5. It can be purchased with the Conversor TV Amplifier to be used for watching TV.

6. The transmitter is small and light enough to hang around someone’s neck without being cumbersome.

DISADVANTAGES of the Conversor Pro

1. It is not as powerful as the other two systems. Although the user’s manual says it will work up to 150ft away, I found it the distance it works without static is shorter and the volume is not as strong.

2. The controls for “zoom” and “boost” are on the transmitter, not the receiver. So if you leave it on a podium, you can’t really adjust them during the talk. I never use them as it seems to distort the sound.

3. It doesn’t have a removable microphone so you can’t use a lapel or conference microphone.

4.  The sound quality is inferior to the other two systems.

5.  It has a 2-year warranty. (Motiva has a 5 year warranty.)


In sum, I like all three of these devices. The sound quality is better with the Motiva and the Comfort Contego, but I sometimes use the Conversor Pro as it is so easy to take with me. For lectures, classes, or meetings, I prefer the Motiva.

Do you use an FM device? If so, please let us know what you use and how you like it.

The Magic of Personal FM Systems

Do you ever go to a lecture and it sounds like “mumble-jumble”?  Do you get frustrated when you attend a workshop and there is no microphone?  When there is a microphone, does it make you crazy when the presenter’s voice gets louder and softer as he turns away from the microphone?  Do you try to get a front-row seat in a classroom and still strain to hear?

These are all problems experienced by people with hearing loss.  Even with the best hearing aids, it is difficult to hear in noisy environments, large auditoriums and any time you are far from the speaker. That is when personal FM assisted listening systems work their magic.

What is a Personal FM Assisted Listening System?
An FM system is an assisted listening device that consists of two parts: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter can be worn by the speaker with a lapel microphone, headset microphone, hung around the neck, or placed on a podium. It can be also used with a conference microphone and placed on a table. The receiver is worn by the listener with headphones, a neckloop, or an FM boot on the hearing aid. When the speaker talks it sounds like he is sitting right next to you!  You can be sitting in the back of the room (up to 100 feet away) and it you will hear everything loud and clear!  FM systems can also be used for one-on-one conversations, small group meetings, family get-togethers, and more.

Listen to this simulation of using an FM system in a classroom.

This video is very effective in demonstrating the advantage of using an FM system; however, the speaker’s voice would have been much clearer in noise if he were wearing a headset microphone such as this:  William Sound Heavy Duty Headset Microphone.  The closer the microphone is to the speaker’s voice, the louder and clearer the sound.  A headset microphone also solves the problem of speakers walking away from the podium microphone or turning their backs to the audience.

There are several good FM systems on the market, each with its advantages and disadvantages. I will discuss my 3 favorites in my next post.
Williams Sound Motiva PFM 360
Comfort Audio Comfort Contego
Conversor Pro

Stay tuned! 



FAQ about TV Listening Systems


Do you have trouble hearing the TV? Does your family tell you to “turn it down!”? Do you want to get a TV listening system, but you are overwhelmed with all the choices? This information will help you select the best system for your needs.

  1. What is a TV listening system?
    A TV listening system (or TV amplifying system) connects to the back of the TV and wirelessly sends sound to some type of receiver, such as headphones, earbuds, or a neckloop. The most common two types are radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR).  Click here to see more details about the different types of devices.
  1. If my husband wears the TV listening system headphones, how will I hear the TV?
    The beauty of a TV listening system is that the person using it can adjust the volume to his liking, while the other person can use the remote control to adjust the volume to her liking. The remote control will not affect the volume of the TV listening device. The TV can even be put on “mute” and the person using the TV listening device will still hear it! That is why it is often called the “marriage saver”! Imagine reading peacefully on the couch while your husband watches the football game. Ahhh!  Life is good!
  1. I have a new TV. What type of TV listening system should I buy?
    It is very important to look at the back of your TV before selecting a TV listening system. Most new TV’s only have a digital audio-out jack. Many TV listening systems only connect to analog audio-out jacks. So, with a new TV, it is best to purchase a TV listening system that can connect to a digital audio-out jack.
    Click here to read more about how different devices connect to the TV.
  1. I wear hearing aids with t-coils. What system would work with my t-coils?
    If you have a manual t-coil (which means you can turn it on and off) then you can use a neckloop receiver.  Simply turn on your t-coils and the neckloop will send the TV sound directly into your hearing aids – no need for a headphone or earbuds!
    Click here to see an example.
    You could also install a home hearing loop which will also send the sound directly into your hearing aids and no neckloop is needed.
  1. I wear hearing aids but do not have t-coils. What do you recommend?
    This is really a matter of personal preference. Some people can wear the padded headphones over their hearing aids with no problem, but some people will get feedback or find them uncomfortable with behind-the-ear hearing aids. Depending on the level of hearing loss you have, you may be able to take your hearing aids out to watch TV. Another choice is described below in #6.
  1. I hate putting things in my ears and don’t want to wear those big “ear muff” type of headphones. Is there another choice?
    Yes! You can get a wireless speaker such as the Serene Innovations TV SoundBox. You can place the speaker near where you are sitting and since it is so close, you don’t need the volume very high. It also has a headphone jack if you decide you would like to use it with headphones. You can even carry into the kitchen to get a snack and hear every word!
  1. I already have a TV listening system. I just bought a new TV and it only has a digital audio-out jack. Do I need to buy another TV listening system?
    No! You can buy a digital to analog (DAC) converter.

I hope this information was helpful. Once you decide to purchase a TV listening system, you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!  If you still are not sure, we would be glad to help you.  Contact us



Made for iPhone Hearing Aids

The “Made for iPhone” (MFi) trend is growing!  Hearing aid companies are making hearing aids that connect to the iPhone via an app.  With these hearing aids, you can stream phone calls, music, videos, FaceTime, and Skype directly into your hearing aids without needing a neckloop, phone clip or other intermediary device.  They connect easily to your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.  The app allows you to use the phone to change programs and volume.  It can also save a setting you like in a certain environment so when you return, you can go directly to that setting.  In fact, your GPS will know when you return and automatically adjust the sound to your preferred settings!  It even includes a program to help you find your hearing aids. 
TruLink 1
However, I think the best feature is that they can turn your iPhone into an assisted listening device by using the microphone to pick up someone’s voice and stream it directly into your hearing aids!  The “Live Microphone” (Starkey) or “Live Listen” (ReSound) turns the iPhone mic into a wireless, remote microphone.  The big question, though, is how well does it work?  As with similar devices, I imagine you must hold the phone very close to the speaker’s mouth to get good sound quality.
The LiNX hearing aid by GN ReSound was the first MFi hearing aid, released in February.  This was followed quickly in March by the Halo hearing aid by Starkey.  The Apple website lists 7 hearing aids that are MFi, but on closer examination, they are all owned by either GN ReSound or Starkey.
Audibel with TruLink App (Starkey)
888 771-8606
Audigy AGX with TruLink App (Starkey)
800 432-7464
Beltone First with HearPlus App (GN ReSound)
800 235-8663
MicroTech Kinnect  with TruLink App  (Starkey)
800 745-4327
NuEar iSDS with TruLink App (Starkey)
800 626-8327
ReSound LiNX with ReSound Smart App (GN ReSound)
952 769-8000
Starkey Halo with TruLink App (Starkey)
888 481-5512
joined Apple’s Made for iPhone (MFi) program
joined Apple’s Made for iPhone (MFi) programjoin
joined Apple’s Made for iPhone (MFi) program

Oticon claims to have joined Apple’s Made for iPhone program……but not really.  It does not stream directly into the hearing aids, but has just come out with an updated Streamer,  the Streamer Pro 1.2, that can be paired with the iPhone via the ConnectLine App.  It seems to me that the ConnectLine App is nothing more than a remote control, as it lacks the features of the truly Made for iPhone hearing aids.  It does allow you to save settings for different environments, but the real advantage of the MFi hearing aids is that you no longer need a neckloop/streamer!

If you have tried any of these MFi hearing aids, please leave a comment.  I would love to hear how you like them!

Why didn’t you answer the door!?!?

One morning I woke up, put on my hearing aids, shut the bedroom door so I wouldn’t disturb my husband, and began doing yoga in front of the TV while watching the news.  About 15 minutes later my cell phone rang and my husband shouted, “Why didn’t you answer the door!?!?”   He had accidentally locked himself out without his phone or keys.  He knocked (“pounded”) on the door, rang the doorbell many times and finally walked to a nearby business to use their phone!  This is when I realized I needed an alerting device for my doorbell!

Well, since I sell alerting devices, this should be no problem.  But…….there are so many choices!  Sonic Alert, Clarity, Silent Call, Bellman & Symfon, Serene Innovations, and more!   Well, I decided to try the Serene Innovations CentralAlert Signaling System.  I chose Serene Innovations (SI) partly because the price is equal to or less than the other systems, partly because I have used other SI products and like them, and partly because I like the way it looks!


I am very happy with the CA-360 Clock/Receiver.  It comes with a doorbell, bed shaker, and can also be used for phone notification.  The clock/receiver is small (6.5″ x 4.5″ x 2.25″), sturdy, and it is easy to set the time and alarm.  When the doorbell rings it flashes a VERY bright light,  and can be set to ring at a low setting or high setting.  It also has an off switch so only the light and bed shaker will alert you.  This is a nice feature if you like to wake up a bit more gently.

As with all alerting systems, SI makes various transmitters such as a baby monitor, a door knock/chime transmitter, a motion detector, an SOS Button to get someone’s attention in the house, and an audio alarm for smoke/fire or carbon monoxide.  You can also purchase a portable remote receiver.  I plan to get the portable CA-RX remote receiver (below) to keep in my office which is too far from my bedroom to hear the alert.  The remote receivers are handy to have in any room that is far from the clock/receiver and will operate up to 200ft. from the transmitters.


There are several ways to purchase the SI products depending on what you need.  Some of the transmitters are packaged with the receivers and others are sold separately.  To make it easier to find, I created a separate link on my website to see all the Serene Innovations CentralAlert products.   I know it can be confusing when using these systems for the first time.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  And hopefully, my poor husband will no longer have to worry about getting locked out when I am home!



Benign Paroxymal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

I recently experienced severe vertigo and diagnosed myself as having Benign Paraoxymal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) because my symptoms were just like my brother’s and that was his diagnosis.  Don’t worry!  I also went to a doctor and received a tentative (pending more testing) diagnosis of BPPV.  For you San Diego folks, I highly recommend Dr. Ian Purcell, an otoneurologist, (or his associates) at the Senta Medical Clinic at Alvarado Hospital.  He and Dr. Michael O’Leary were featured on The Doctor’s television show.

Dr. Purcell’s office has one of only 6 treatment chairs in the country.  Here I am all strapped in!  The chair is used for diagnosis and for treatment.  They rolled me this way and that and a camera in the goggles recorded my eye movements, looking for nystagmus.  Such fun!

BPPV Testing

What does this have to do with hearing loss?  Maybe nothing.  Most of the articles I read said there was no connection between hearing loss and BPPV but a few said it could be caused by Meniere’s Disease.  The symptoms and causes of dizziness in Meniere’s Disease are different than the vertigo caused by BPPV.  Vertigo caused by BPPV is “positional” and the treatment involves exercises such as the Epley Maneuver.   However, it’s all in the inner ear, so I thought this would be important information to share.  If you have been diagnosed with BPPV, I’d love to hear from you!


Cochlear Nucleus Hybrid Implant System – NEW!

This is a totally new hearing loss solution and I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about it in the media!  The Cochlear Nucleus Hybrid Implant System received FDA approval on March 20, 2014.  Previously, cochlear implants (CI’s) were ONLY for people with a profound hearing loss.  The insertion of the CI damaged any residual hearing in the implanted ear, and the patient would become completely deaf in that ear when not wearing the CI processor.  Now Cochlear Americas has developed an implant that preserves hearing in the low frequencies!

The Nucleus Hybrid Implant System has 3 components – the Hybrid L24 Implant, the sound processor, and the built-in acoustic component that amplifies the lower frequency sounds.

Microsoft Word - P130016_Nucleus Hybrid™ L24 (approved).doc

The Hybrid L24 Implant is designed for people with high-frequency hearing loss who may have good low-frequency hearing. It incorporates a specialized electrode, which is shorter and thinner than a standard cochlear implant and is designed to stimulate the high frequencies while preserving your existing low-frequency hearing.

The Nucleus Hybrid Implant System is covered by most insurance plans, Medicare and typically Medicaid.

For more information, see this Fact Sheet and the Cochlear Americas website.


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