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How your living room is making it difficult to hear TV

Noisy restaurants and venues is a topic we’ve discussed before. 

Modern restaurants with their minimalist lines and easy-to-clean hard flooring and surfaces causes sound to bounce around, making conversations impossible - even for those with perfect hearing.

But did you know your living room design might be impeding your enjoyment of television?

Interior Design

Sleek modernism is the hallmark of many of today’s architecture. 

Tiled and timber flooring make areas look larger and are easy to keep clean, while large floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of fresh air and light - it makes modern living easy, but it can also make watching television difficult.

Sound from the television will bounce off hard and reflective surfaces which forces you to work harder to listen to what is happening on the screen.

Television Technology

Once upon a time, televisions were substantial furniture items. 

The large cathode ray tube was housed in an attractive timber cabinet which did more than just hide the inner workings - it helped control and resonate the sound and send it out through equally substantial speakers.

As technology changed from plasma to LED formats reduced the depth of television until many of them can be hung on the wall as conveniently as a painting. Unfortunately that meant speakers became smaller as well. And while sound quality has improved over the years, built-in speakers is not going to give you the depth of clarity that larger speakers give you.

What you can do?

If you’re finding watching your favourite TV shows difficult - even with hearing aids, there are some things you can do to help improve your television viewing experience.

The best way is to take a leaf from the book of your favourite cinema. Many new-build family houses are now include a ‘media room’ for the television instead of the living room. 

These special rooms don’t have a window, are carpeted and feature large couches or cinema-style chairs. Some include sound baffles and other specialist design elements to recreate theatre experience at home.

At the heart of this is a large television screen and a sound system that has been chosen to maximise the sound experience for that specific room.

The good news is, you don’t have to go to the expense of building a new house around your television!

A few affordable changes to your living room will make your favourite film or television show much more enjoyable.

Some sound advice

Introduce some soft furnishings

    • Curtains - introduce some heavier weight sunblock curtains to your television room. Heavier weight curtains - and particularly sunblock curtains are an excellent start. Give yourself a cinema experience by closing the curtains - which will also take the glare from the screen
    • Cushions - this is probably the easiest and least expensive way to absorb sound and make watching television more comfortable. If you have the grandchildren around regularly, you might want to consider getting large floor cushions for addition seating.
  • Comfy Couch - a large comfortable couch with a probably one of the biggest pieces of furniture you can use. Three to four metres away from the screen is the ideal placement for the sofa
  • Carpeting (or rugs) - carpets are great absorbing sound, but if that’s not an option, then rugs are a good alternative

Improve the sound from the TV

  • Sound systems, speakers and sound bars - unless you’re a serious audiophile, you may not need an expensive, multi-speaker set-up. A single sound bar that sits below your screen might be exactly what you need. Prices start at about $400. Choice magazine has an excellent article on what sound bars are and how to use them.

Hearing aids and watching TV

  • Talk to your audiologist about any difficulties you're having watching television since modern hearing aids have program settings you can choose to maximise your ability to hear television at comfortable volumes. Sometimes you might need an intermediary device such as a TV connector. Hearing aids with Bluetooth streaming capabilities may completely revolutionise your television watching.