Listening to television can be increasingly challenging as we age. Sometimes we cannot hear the dialog so we raise the volume to the point where it may be uncomfortable for others in the room. Sometimes a spouse wants to go to bed and complains about the sound from the living room. There are a number of solutions on the market. Among them The Clarity TL 1000. You can find a comprehensive article covering a number of solutions here. Turtle Bay’s Hypersound system uses two focused radiators to amplify selected sound ranges to make the dialog more comprehensible in a very narrow physical space. The Zvox Accuvoice also enhances that part of the audio spectrum that makes dialog more comprehensible.
The Sennheiser Flex 5000 takes a different approach. Like many others, including models from Sennheiser, it offers a wireless transmitter that sends the audio output from your television or cable box to headphones. While Sennheiser provides a set of relatively inexpensive earphones with the package, the real expectation here is that you’ll use your own phones, perhaps really good high-end phones from Sennheiser or in our case a set of Sony MDR-Z7’s. These truly made listening to television into a home cinema experience.
The Flex 5000 comes with a number of features so you can customize the system for your own listening style and your individual hearing needs. The system will allow you to set left and right balance. It also has settings for three different hearing profiles. In its normal state, the sound is uncompressed. Using the first profile setting, low-frequency tones are boosted for a warmer sound while higher end tones are reproduced to be less piercing. With the second profile setting the high-frequency tones are strongly boosted for a crystal-clear sound and to sharpen sibilants. With the third position, low-frequency tones are limited so they cannot mask higher frequencies.
In addition, the Flex 5000 has a “Speech Intelligibility” button that can work with or without the hearing profiles. This provides clarity for television dialog.
The Flex 5000 comes with both a 3.5mm audio jack and an optical cable input. You can get a device that will allow you to use RCA connectors. In addition, the Flex 5000 will work with hearing aids that use an inductive coil.
The receiver sits in a cradle to recharge. One full charge allows for twelve hours of playback. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack and its own volume controls (and the speech intelligibility button). The range of the transmitter is 200 feet.
If you really enjoy using your own headphones for the best possible sound, this is a great solution for watching television, especially for reproducing movies on TV. Price for the Flex 5000 is $200.