Struggling to hear the TV? You’re not alone. Many seniors have difficulty hearing dialogue and details when watching television.
I’ve been reviewing tech products for seniors for over seven years, and I’m here to share the good news that there are easy solutions.
- Portable wireless TV speakers that boost vocals are the top options for seniors with hearing loss. Models from AudioRange, BenQ, and Avantree are great choices that start under $100.
- Soundbars like the Zvox AccuVoice also clarify speech by separating voice audio.
- And if you wear hearing aids, specialty transmitters send sound directly to your devices.
This guide covers the pros and cons of various TV listening devices to help you find the right one.
Keep reading for reviews of the best TV speakers for seniors, along with setup tips and advice.
Best Wireless TV Speakers for Seniors & the Elderly
Here are my recommended TV speakers for seniors who are hearing impaired.
This TV speaker for seniors is extremely easy to set up with no pairing required. It is easy to use, too, with a familiar radio-like feel. It works with nearly all TVs and even plays FM radio with easy toggling between them.
Not every senior or elderly person wants to wear a pair of bulky TV headphones when watching. That’s where easy-to-use devices like this wireless TV speaker come in.
To set it up, you simply plug it into the back of the TV using the supplied audio cables. It works with optical, RCA jack (red/white plugs) and 3.5 mm aux/headphone connections. Then plug the base into the wall outlet, and you’ll be ready to go.
The base and the speaker automatically connect with no complicated pairing procedure to go through.
The speaker sits on the base for charging and can also be used while sitting on the base. The batteries last about 10 hours between charging and take about 6 hours to recharge fully.
It if isn’t close enough when sitting on the base, move it closer to you and be sure to put it back on the base when going to bed so that it can charge overnight.
I love that this speaker is so easily portable. It is small, lightweight, and still receives signals up to 100 feet away. It even plays FM radio and switches between the two at the flip of a switch.
This device is easy to set up and use, and many older adults can set it up independently. How do I know? The folks at AudioRange sent me one to try out myself!
If they have trouble, someone can help set it up initially, and it will work independently from there. AudioRange also has a very helpful customer service line that can walk seniors and the elderly on how to set it up.
The BenQ treVolo U Dialogue Speaker is an excellent choice for seniors seeking a speaker to improve TV audio comprehension due to mild hearing impairment. Its Bluetooth connectivity allows quick and easy pairing with smart TVs to amplify volume to comfortable hearing levels.
The specialized microphone and proprietary voice engine optimize vocal frequencies to make dialogue crisp and discernible.
Unlike many TV speakers, the treVolo U is a multi-use device that enhances audio from various media. It can pair with smartphones, tablets, and computers via Bluetooth to boost clarity for phone calls, YouTube videos, music, audiobooks, and more.
The personalized sound profile customized via the treVolo app tailors audio to match individual hearing needs and preferences for people who are particularly hard of hearing.
With its angled design that projects sound directly to the listener, the treVolo U reduces distracting echo and ambient noise.
This allows seniors to increase the volume for clarity without disturbing others in the room. The Acoustic Echo Cancellation feature also minimizes echo, specifically from TV audio.
The treVolo U’s portability and Bluetooth connectivity make it easy for seniors to carry from room to room. If you don’t have a Bluetooth TV, it can be connected via a wired 3.5 mm audio connection.
Its versatile functionality facilitates an improved entertainment experience, whether watching TV, listening to music, making calls, or enjoying audiobooks.
This multi-purpose use makes the treVolo U a worthwhile investment. Seniors can rely on a single device to enhance vocal comprehension across media platforms. With its quick set-up and hassle-free operation, this speaker optimizes clarity while minimizing complexity.
The Soundbyte is a pocket-sized, multi-purpose radio that can also serve as a TV speaker, a Bluetooth speaker, and an MP3 player. The player interface is pretty basic, easy to see, and easy to understand.
No need to purchase batteries either because it uses a rechargeable battery that is also replaceable if needed.
Who doesn’t like products that can serve many different uses for one affordable price, right? This handy little gadget can be a portable FM radio, a Bluetooth speaker for cell phones or tablets, an MP3 player via an SD card, and even a TV speaker!
To use it as a TV speaker for seniors, you’ll need either a Bluetooth-enabled TV or you can also use a wired headphone cable connection.
To use a Bluetooth connection, pair the device with your TV set and press the Bluetooth button on the front to hear the TV. You can then place the speaker anywhere you’d like.
For a wired connection, you would need a 3.5mm audio cable, aka a mini headphone cable. (Note that Avantree includes one in the box, but it is only 3 ft long – you will probably want a longer one.)
Just plug one end into the TV mini-headphone out jack and the other into the Soundbyte. Finally, press the mode button to switch inputs.
The folks at Avantree sent me a free unit to try out for myself, and I was impressed with the sound this little device put out. It has two built-in speakers that get very loud – especially for a device that only weighs about 9-1/2 ounces. And there is only minimal distortion too.
Be realistic about the sound overall, though. It is a small device and isn’t going to have a booming bass or make you feel like you are at the movies. But, it is an extremely capable little speaker that has multiple uses, from listening to FM radio and downloaded/streamed music too.
This is a great choice for a wireless TV speaker when you are looking for simplicity. This model is about as plug-and-play as you can get. It has several connectors that will work with the headphone jack or the RCA outputs on the TV.
Simply, plug the connector of your choice into the TV, then adjust the volume with the large knob on the side.
This reminds me of my grandfather’s old radio in his garage. Just a basic black box with two speakers. Nothing is intimidating about it because it has a familiar look to most seniors.
It is also one of the smaller units. The box is 8.5” wide by 8” high, less than 3” thick, and weighs about a pound. This size makes it easy to move from room to room throughout the house and small enough to pack in a suitcase or overnight bag.
The Pyle Portable TV Soundbox uses radio frequency (2.4GHz) to transmit the signal to the speaker. This gives it an extra-long range (up to 100 feet) similar to wireless wifi routers.
So, it can be carried from room to room to continue your favorite TV shows or keep listening to the news while going to the kitchen.
The transmitter plugs into an AC wall outlet and doubles as a speaker charger. Simply, place the speaker on the base and it automatically begins charging.
Users have reported long battery life of this product (up to 12 hours). But, the speaker itself does not come with a power adaptor. If someone wants to keep it plugged in all the time, there is a place for one, and you can order one separately if needed.
If not, the user should habitually place it on the charger when finished using it. If mobility makes this difficult, grab the extra adaptor.
Finally, if others in the home may be disturbed by the louder volume, there is a headphone jack on the speaker for private listening.
While the unit by Pyle above is good, I like this one from Simolio a little better. Mainly, because it is a complete set and includes all the accessories you may need.
Like the model above, it comes with the necessary connection cords. But, a bit of a warning. You need to know the connection type before ordering.
The analog model works with RCA jacks, and a digital model connects to the Optical audio port. Most TVs have the RCA connectors, FYI.
Once the transmitter is connected to the TV, it also doubles as the charger for the speaker. The manufacturer reports a battery life of up to 6 hours.
But, it also comes with a separate power adapter for the speaker. That way, it will always have power, and you’ll never have to wait for the batteries to charge.
This one is simple too. There is a large, well-placed knob on the front. Simply turn the knob to adjust the volume. The same knob turns the unit on and off.
The Simolio TV listening device has a headphone jack on the speaker and even comes with a set of “stethoscope” style headphones for the user.
No more disturbing others in the home with a super loud TV volume. This is a great option for people who have trouble sleeping and watch TV late at night.
This unit is also highly portable, with a handle on the top. It uses the same transmission frequency as the Pyle (2.4 GHz) and the same range of about 100 feet.
But, it is heavier than the Pyle, coming in at over 2 pounds and larger overall. It measures 11” wide by 9.6” high and almost 5” deep.
Simolio uses several different technologies to boost the clarity of dialog. This makes the dialog stand out from background music and sound effects. There is a small switch on the back of the unit to customize this by selecting a low, mid, or high setting.
TV Listening Devices Reviews and Options
The good news (and bad news) is that you have many device choices for improving sound quality and volume while watching TV or movies at home.
There are a few major classifications to learn about that will help you decide. Here is a rundown of the options out there, with a few product recommendations for each one.
Choosing TV Speakers for The Hard of Hearing
The first option we should talk about is the amplified TV speakers. This includes amplified speakers that plug into the TV, including sound bars. The speakers may be near the TV but usually near the user’s ears.
There are several positives to choosing a speaker system.
- Portability. These devices are easy to move around for the best TV listening experience. They are small, lightweight, and easily follow you if you sit in a different chair. Traveling? Take them with you wherever you go. Most are small enough to fit in a suitcase.
- Compatibility. Portable TV speakers will generally connect to nearly any TV audio output: headphone jacks, RCA jacks, and optical outputs included. If you have an old TV and are concerned about connections, I have a separate guide to the best wireless headphones for older TVs you should read to.
- Wireless. Many of these models have no wires between the transmitter and the receiver. So, no wires to manage or trip over.
- Easy to Set-up and Use. Just plug the cables into the outputs of your TV, make sure the battery is charged, then use a simple knob to adjust the volume. That’s really all you have to do to use a system like this.
- Hearing Aids. Because they are external, these TV listening aids can be used with hearing aids and less expensive hearing aid alternatives like PSAPs.
Potential drawbacks include:
- If the speaker is turned up loud enough, it could disturb others in the room or elsewhere in the house. Several models come with headphone jacks because of this.
- Because they are wireless, most are battery-powered. So, it is important to make sure the batteries stay charged or have a power adapter for the speaker part also. That way, the speakers will always have power when the senior wants to use them.
External TV speaker systems like these may be best for seniors with hearing aids, people who live alone, and those who need a simple setup that is easy to use.
Best TV Soundbar for Hearing Impaired
Soundbars are those long, rectangular speakers you see under some TVs. TV audiophiles use them to boost the sound that comes from a regular television set.
These have some use for seniors with hearing difficulties too. The major drawback is that even the best soundbars are not portable and typically sit under, on, or beside the TV.
The Zvox AccuVoice soundbar looks like normal, standard audio equipment. So, it may be a great choice for anyone sensitive to using special devices out of pride or embarrassment.
It is easy to set up and use too. Simply connect the power cord and the audio cable between the TV and the soundbox. Note, however, that you must have an Optical audio out on your TV for this to work.
The volume can be adjusted with the included remote control, or most cable and satellite remotes can be programmed to control it.
The biggest plus for Zvox is its exclusive technology that makes voices stand out so they can be heard better. It does this by separating the voice track from the background music and boosting the voices to be clear and easier to understand.
It is not portable, though. It has to stay plugged into the TV. Most people sit these on their TV stand under the TV. It measures 17” wide by about 3” high and 3” deep. Weight isn’t really a factor, but it weighs about 3 lbs.
One other cool feature is the Output Leveling technology. Have you ever been jolted by the blaring volume of a loud commercial? This feature levels the sound out so that the volume is consistent.
Another class of devices is specially made to improve TV listening for hearing aid users. These transmitters send the sound right to the user’s hearing aids. Some examples are loop transmitters that work with T-coil hearing aids.
Other devices made by hearing aid manufacturers work with their brand of hearing aid only. Contact your hearing aid company for more information.
Sometimes, the TV itself must be replaced because it is not loud enough or not adaptable to these newer technologies. It might not have the right audio ports or be able to be upgraded to work with your favorite device.
If you decide to upgrade your television, look for one that has equalizer functions in the settings or special audio modes that boost conversation and dialog. It would also be advisable to get one with multiple audio out ports.
The minimum ones should be RCA jacks (red, white, and yellow circle connectors), a headphone jack, and Optical audio out. These should give you plenty of options for adding additional TV listening devices later if you need them.
General Buying Guide
There are several considerations to find the best TV listening device for you or a loved one. Here are some important factors to consider.
How will the Device be Powered?
One of the most important things to consider is how the device will be powered. Will it plug into the wall outlet or use a battery?
AC-powered (plug-in) models will require a plug near the location where the user will watch TV. The benefit of this style is that the unit will always have power. But, a drawback could be the wires. It is important to make sure any wires are out of the way to prevent tripping over them.
Battery-powered devices are sometimes more convenient but require either battery changes or the batteries must be recharged frequently. Make sure you know the battery life of the listening aid you choose.
If it is being used by an elderly person or senior who isn’t up with the latest technology, they will need to be shown how to change or charge the batteries. They also need to know when it is time to charge the batteries by understanding the warning or charging indicator.
Will it be Compatible with Your TV?
Most TV listening aids will plug into the audio outputs of the TV. Check what types of outputs you have and where they are located. The most common types are RCA plugs and Optical outputs. RCA jacks are round plugs with red or white insets in them.
One plug represents the left channel, and one represents the right on a stereo setup. The plugs that fit into these connections have a single prong with a metal ring on the outside.
Optical outputs are on newer TVs and use fiber optics to send audio signals to the device. The plug has a small square end on it.
The location is important too. The best location for access is on the front or side of a TV sitting on a cabinet. Wall-mounted TVs may be challenging because the ports cannot be reached. Or, there may be no place to set the transmitter once it is plugged into the TV.
The newest TV sets may have built-in Bluetooth and not require cables. Although, Bluetooth has its challenges that we will discuss in more detail later.
For older TVs with no audio outputs, some listening devices have mics you can set in front of the TV speakers.
How will the Device Transmit the Signal?
As I mentioned above, most TV listening devices require a transmitter plugging into the audio-out ports. This box transmits or sends the audio signal to a receiver that plays the sound. This transmission can be sent via a wire, an infrared signal, a radio frequency, or Bluetooth.
A wired connection may produce the best quality sound but will be far from convenient. You would need a wire from the TV to the speakers or headphones. This could cause someone to trip over the wire. So, most devices today have wireless connections.
Radio frequency (RF) has a longer range, so you can use it farther from the TV. Sometimes even in a different room. This style uses radio waves to send the sound signal. These signals work anywhere within the room and even penetrate walls depending on how powerful they are.
Most of the devices today are RF. However, most manufacturers don’t recommend you use radio frequency headphones if you have a pacemaker. People with pacemakers should use Infrared (IR) or Bluetooth.
Infrared (IR) is what your TV remote uses to change the channel or volume of your current TV. The range (how far away you can get) is usually somewhat limited.
The receiver must also be in the “line of sight” of the transmitter. This means you must be able to draw an invisible line between the two for it to work. Think about your remote control. If you point it behind you, it will not work. You have to point it right at the TV.
Finally, Bluetooth connections are becoming more and more popular. The advantage of Bluetooth is that it can connect with no wires. The Bluetooth transmitter is built into the TV itself.
A huge drawback, though, is that Bluetooth signals have a very short range. Therefore, the user must stay close to the TV to receive the signal.
How is the Sound Quality?
Of course, sound quality is extremely important. I mean, that is the whole reason you are doing this, right? The good news is most of these devices have good sound quality out of the box.
Many have special built-in processors that separate speech and amplify it over other sounds. This is important because the frequencies of human speech are the ones that need the most amplification.
How Important is the Unit’s Design?
Do you care how the device looks in your home or when wearing it? Some of these devices use speakers that sit on the back of a chair or near the user’s ears. Many headphone styles are worn over top of the ears, like Princess Leia buns.
Others look like a stethoscope hanging around the neck. Some people are bothered by things like this. Consider that, especially if buying a system for someone else.
Is Portability Important?
Do you need to move the device from room to room in the home? How about travel? Do you want to take it with you when vacationing or visiting family? If so, choose a device with a simple plug connection and plug-and-play setup. The smaller the overall size, the better too.
Will Others Use the TV at the Same Time?
This may be a bigger deal than you think. And, here’s why. Many TVs only play the sound through the “active” output, usually built-in speakers. So, when you plug anything into the audio out ports, it may shut off the speakers and only play through the added device. That means no one else can hear the TV.
How Easy Is it to Set Up?
Is the device plug-and-play, meaning all you have to do is plug it in and maybe adjust the volume controls? Or, does it require syncing with another device or a complicated setup process?
These are important considerations, especially for non-techy seniors. Is someone in the family available to help set it up? Can someone assist with troubleshooting if necessary?
Many devices have quick start guides and customer service phone numbers, but a base level of tech know-how may be needed.
Is the TV Listening Device Easy to Use?
Is the device easy to use? Make sure any buttons or controls are clearly labeled. You should be able to understand how to use the device without reading a manual. The optimal choice is probably one with a simple volume adjustment wheel or switch.
Is Your Choice Hearing Aid Compatible?
Does the user wear hearing aids? This may eliminate some choices from consideration. For example, wireless earbuds will not fit in the ear with hearing aids.
On the other hand, many hearing aid manufacturers make TV listening aids that work with their hearing aids. That way, the sound from the TV will play right through the hearing aids.
These are often brand specific, and you must buy the one that works with your brand.
What is the Return Policy and the Warranty?
Whether you buy your TV listening device at a retail store or online, know the return policy before buying it. It is also important to know the warranty in case of a problem. Can you return the device during the warranty period, or will it need to be sent in for service?
Three Tips for Hearing TV Better
There are a few tweaks you can try first before buying any new gadgets. These are especially helpful for those in the early stages of hearing loss.
- Closed Captioning. Turn on the closed caption capabilities of your television. Almost every TV out there has this capability built-in. You can find it in the TV settings menu. Sometimes, this is enough to supplement the dialog if you miss a few words.
- Adjust EQ Settings. Some TV’s have equalizer settings that allow you to tweak the levels of the TV sound. To improve the quality of dialog, turn down the bass level and turn up the mid and treble levels. You’ll probably have to play with these settings to find the best levels.
- Put Your TV in a Corner. Move the TV to the corner of the room. This will allow the TV to use the walls as amplifiers to bounce the sound toward the watcher. It’s similar to putting your hand behind your cell phone speakers to boost the sound. This is especially helpful when the speakers are on the backside of the TV.
Summary and Final Recommendations
So, here is a quick review of all this information. There are many devices to choose from that will help you hear your TV better. Most are easy to set up and usually plug right into the TV. Many of them are also easy to use, although some are easier than others.
Separate TV speakers, including sound bars are best for seniors with hearing aids who usually watch TV alone. These are available as wireless speakers that can sit right next to the user.
Another version is soundbars that sit next to the TV set. Some come with headphone jacks that can be used when others simultaneously listen to the TV.
The other option is headphones the user can wear to improve the sound. These are best when multiple users watch TV or for more profound hearing loss.
Three headphone styles are to consider: over the ear, on the ear, and “stethoscope” style. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. These styles are not usually hearing aid compatible.
Whew. Who knew there was so much to say about tv listening devices? I hope this guide has helped you decide which is the best for you and your situation. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below. Also, please share any tips you have for hearing the TV better!