By Audiologist Jane Auriemmo
Jane Auriemmo, AuD, CCC-A, Senior Audiologist
Hi, my name is Dr. Jane Auriemmo and I am a member of CHC’s audiology team. Today, we want to offer some tips from our audiology team for improving the audio quality of video conferencing calls as many organizations shift their meetings, events and training to virtual platforms.
Please note there isn’t often a “one size fits all” solution. Each person’s hearing ability, technology and hearing devices vary. Hence, if you’d like assistance with your specific set up, reach out to us.
A Step-by-Step Guide
Controlling audio quality of videoconferencing calls is challenging. The sound signal is influenced by the quality of each participant’s microphone, the strength of the internet connection, clarity of each speakers’ voice, accents and speaking styles. This explains why many people with normal hearing sometimes have trouble on videoconferencing calls, not just those with hearing loss.
Here are some of our tips for everyone’s benefit, not just those with hearing difficulty.
Ensure a good internet connection by moving the computer, tablet or phone used to conduct the videoconferencing call to the location where your signal is strongest. A wired connection is typically better than a Wi-Fi network. Depending on the size of your home and the distance between your router and your computer/tablet, a Wi-Fi extender will cost between $20 and $100 and will strengthen and stabilize your Wi-Fi signal.
Reduce background noise and shut off any background music or media (such as inadvertently running YouTube or news videos). Also, keep all mics on mute except when speaking to reduce extraneous noise.
Use a high quality microphone or headset and speakers. For people who have hearing aids, some individuals wear a headset over their hearing aids while others prefer to remove them for the duration of the call. Overall, communicating through a headset and microphone will transmit clearer speech.
Hearing Aid Accessories for Improving Audio Quality
The more direct the connection between the computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet and the hearing devices, the better the audio signal will be. There are several ways to get that direct connection, including: streamer, Bluetooth, direct wiring.
For hearing aid or cochlear implant wearers, we highly recommend using a streaming device to receive a cleaner and crisper audio signal. Streaming devices, for those who are not aware, is a device that connects wirelessly to your hearing aids or cochlear implant and streams audio from a smart device for phone calls, music and TV shows. This can also be used for streaming the audio of videoconferencing calls to your hearing aids or cochlear implants. Ask your audiologist for more information about this type of accessory or how to set it up, if you haven’t gotten around to using yours yet. In addition, instructions are available on most product websites.
Here are examples of three different streaming devices:
Bluetooth is a standard for short-range wireless interconnection of mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices. Some hearing aids and some computers or smart devices can be “paired” or connected directly and others need an intermediary device. A popular style of hearing aids has the capability to connect wirelessly to a smartphone automatically and are called Made-for-iPhone or Made-for-Android. For those of you who have these hearing aids already, if you haven’t already, consider pairing with a tablet for a wider screen on videoconferencing. If you need assistance with trying this out, let us know.
Sometimes to in order to connect a hearing aid or streaming device to the audio of a computer or laptop, a dongle is needed. A dongle is a small adapter device that plugs into the computer or laptop’s USB port. This makes it possible to transmit audio over Bluetooth. Once the dongle is “paired” with the streaming device, audio can be transmitted from your computer using Bluetooth. If you have questions about this, reach out to your CHC audiologist to discuss.
The standard and simplest way to connect the computer audio to a hearing aid is with a wired connection that is plugged into the speaker on one end and the hearing aid or cochlear implant streaming device on the other end. If you want to try this approach, search you hearing aid or cochlear implant box for a cable for this purpose.
Remember, each person’s hearing ability, hearing technology and computer or screen devices are different. CHC audiologists are knowledgeable and can help you navigate hear and connect better in a range of situations throughout your life, especially now when staying connected is critical.
More Videoconferencing Tips for Zoom and Other Platforms
This post is just one in a series from CHC to help you Hear and Connect better through communication strategies and technology solutions that you can use at home. Click below to check out these related posts:
Interested in learning more about assistive listening technology that can improve your ability to hear and communicate at home? Contact your audiologist at CHC in New York or Fort Lauderdale. Or, if you prefer, you can call our main number in New York at 917-305-7700 or in Ft. Lauderdale at 954-601-1930. Click here if you prefer to email us and we’ll direct your message to the appropriate clinician.