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TV Listening – Wireless Infrared Receivers & Infrared Transmitters

Infrared TV Listening Systems - Comparing Williams Sound to Sennheiser

Sennheiser & Williams Sound IR systems


TV listening systems by Williams Sound & Sennheiser are ADA compliant IR sound systems using infrared transmitters & infrared receivers.

Listening to TV without a hearing aid is now possible for many people with hearing loss.

Many people with hearing loss are finding that listening to their favorite TV program has become a solitary experience. Turning up the volume on the remote not only causes discomfort to friends and family in the same room, but also can alienate neighbors. What was once a friendly social experience has become, for some, a source of frustration.

Infrared TV listening systems go a long way toward solving this problem by allowing the volume to be set at a comfortable level for all.

How do wireless infrared TV listening systems work?

Just like FM listening systems, the infrared listening systems require both a transmitter and a receiver.

At one time, however, infrared digital listening systems (unlike their FM analog counterparts) were limited to large venues such as theaters, museums and conference centers. This is because they required special fixed transmitters with complex radiator systems to properly disperse IR signals. Recently, however, infrared systems are now made for small home environments as well.

In the case of infrared TV listening systems, the fixed IR transmitter connects directly to your TV (or radio, VCR, DVD) through the output jacks of the TV. The Williams or Sennheiser IR transmitters are placed physically next to the TV. Alternatively, if your TV has no audio outputs, an external microphone is included with the IR systems which can be placed near the loudspeaker. This is especially useful if you are going to adapt your TV listening IR system to other media centers such as radios, VCRs and DVDs which may not have convenient audio outputs.

Because most living rooms (or TV rooms) are small, the IR signal from the fixed transmitter easily covers the viewing or listening area. In general, IR signals travel clearly up to 30 feet away (line-of-sight) using infrared electromagnetic waves.

The IR signal is picked up by the specially designed receiver and converted to sound heard through a personal stetho-headset (shown above).

The volume on your personal IR receiver can be adjusted to a level which is comfortable for you the wearer, even if that comfort level would be too loud for others in the room (or next-door).

TV listening can again be a group activity pleasurable for all.

TV listening can be adapted for persons wearing hearing aids.

The Williams and Sennheiser TV listening systems are not limited to one receiver. More than one IR receiver can work with a single IR transmitter so you adjust volume separately for each audience member.

In addition, the new Infrared TV listening systems are designed to work with hearing aids. This is accomplished in different ways for Williams and Sennheiser, but both rely on a compatible IR receiver which uses an induction loop to accommodate your hearing aid. Check the product outlines below to make sure that the IR transmitter works with the IR receiver for your hearing aid.

What are the advantages (and disadvantages) of an IR TV listening system compared to an FM TV listening system such as the Williams Sound PockeTalker?

The biggest advantage of an infrared TV listening system compared to an FM TV listening system is the lack of interference from surrounding electromagnetic sources like radios, wireless phones and washing machines (really anything with an engine is a potential problem). What this means is that your receiver will not be overwhelmed by background noise and, also, that your TV transmitter will not bleed into neighboring rooms or apartments. As Robert Frost wrote, “good walls make good neighbors.”

Also, while both IR TV listening and FM TV listening systems have receivers compatible with hearing aids there is more choice in this area among the IR systems.

All the IR TV listening systems feature a compression driver for volume attenuation of louder passages, such as commercials. What this means is that the system automatically adjusts volume when the TV commercials come on. What a great idea!

The major disadvantage of an infrared TV listening system compared to an FM TV listening system is price. Typically a Williams Sound PockeTalker costs around 30%-40% less for comparable room coverage.


How do the major Sennheiser and Williams Sound TV listening systems compare to each other?

Williams Sound WIR 237 infrared TV listening system

Williams Sound WIR 237 infrared TV listening system
The Williams Sound WIR 237 infrared TV listening system consists of the WIR TX238 IR transmitter, the WIR RX237 IR receiver and a MIC 084 television microphone. This is the least expensive of the current models TV listening systems. (Please note that the Williams Sound WIR 952 SoundPlus infrared TV listening system is less expensive but has recently been discontinued and will be sold out once existing inventory is exhausted.) Although the RX237 infrared receiver is not compatible with hearing aids, it does have other flexible features. In particular, the built-in 3.5mm jack allows users to plug into a variety of stereo or mono earphones and/or headphones. The RX237 receiver which comes with this TV listening system is an under-the-chin, stethoheadset receiver with an IR detector lens in the face of the unit. The RX237 delivers high quality stereo sound and features adjustable tone and balance controls. It has an automatic shut-off sensor if the headphone is unplugged, virtually eliminating unintentional battery drain. And, when you place it back on the cradle-base it automatically recharges the NIMH long-life battery which comes at no additional cost.
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Sennheiser Set 100 infrared TV listening system

Sennheiser Set 100 infrared TV listening system The Sennheiser Set 100 TV listening system uses a small infrared transmitter and headset with a built in receiver for private television listening, without the tangle of cables to get in the way. Like the Williams Sound WIR 237 IR system, the Set 100 is not compatible with hearing aids. While more expensive than the comparable Williams Sound WIR 237, this Sennheiser TV listening system offers a volume control, left-right balance control and tone controls right on the headset. This helps if your hearing is not the same in both ears. This Sennheiser Set 100 does not, however, offer a stereo option; you have to upgrade to a more expensive system to gain this feature which comes with the Williams Sound WIR 237. That said the mono output of this infrared TV listening system is superior. With the audio output of the TV or VCR connected directly to the TI100 IR transmitter, the Set 100 delivers a high quality mono signal via a 95 kHz carrier frequency to the system’s Stethophone RI100 IR receiver unit. A Sennheiser BA90 rechargeable battery is included for the RI100 infrared TV listening receiver, with the TI100 infrared transmitter acting as a built-in charger.

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The Sennheiser Set 100J infrared TV listening system (works with hearing aids)

The Sennheiser Set 100J infrared TV listening system (works with hearing aids)

The Sennheiser Set 100J infrared TV listening system has all of the functions of the Sennheiser Set 100. However, the 100-J also has a 2.5 mm output jack to accommodate additional assistive listening devices, such as induction neck loops that work with hearing aids. Please note, if you intend to use the Sennheiser Set 100J infrared TV listening system with a telecoil (“T“) switch hearing aid, you must purchase the optional Sennheiser EZT100 induction neck loop.

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Williams Sound WIR 238 infrared TV listening system

Williams Sound WIR 238 infrared TV listening system

The WIR 238 infrared TV listening system consists of the WIR TX238 IR transmitter, the WIR RX238 IR receiver and the MIC084 television microphone, and is essentially the same as the Williams Sound WIR 237 infrared TV listening system, except that it has a feature for selecting either 2.3MHz or 2.8MHz IR bandwidth. This means that you can avoid heat source interference, as well as interference from conflicting IR transmitters if you’re in a room with more than one TV. The WIR 238 is not compatible with telecoil-equipped hearing aids. To meet the needs of individuals who require telecoil-equipped hearing aid compatibility, Williams Sound offers The WIR 239 infrared TV listening system with a neckloop receiver. A nice feature of both of these systems (the WIR 238 and the WIR 239) is an automatic shut-off utility which eliminates accidental battery drainage.
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Williams Sound WIR 239 infrared TV listening system with neckloop receiver (works with hearing aids)

Williams Sound WIR 239 infrared TV listening system with neckloop receiver (works with hearing aids)

Best BuysDesigned specifically for listeners with hearing aids, the WIR 239 infrared TV listening system consists of the WIR TX238 IR transmitter, the WIR RX239 neckloop IR receiver and the MIC 084 television microphone. Like the WIR 238 you can easily select between 2.3MHz or 2.8MHz bandwidths. The main feature of this TV listening is the neckloop IR receiver for use with hearing aids. The WIR RX239 delivers high quality stereo sound and offers adjustable volume, tone and balance controls. The included NiMH battery begins recharging automatically when the headset receiver is placed on the transmitter cradle. There is a definite price advantage for the WIR 239 compared to the Sennheiser 100J.

The Williams Sound WIR 239 infrared TV listening system is an AudioLink Best Buy.   INFOMore Information on this Product BUYBuy This Product Now


The Sennheiser Set 250 infrared TV listening system

The Sennheiser Set 250 infrared TV listening system

The Sennheiser Set 250 infrared TV listening system The Sennheiser DirectEar Set 250 infrared TV listening system is comprised of a small but powerful TI250 IR transmitter and a RI250 Stethophone IR receiver headset. The main feature of this infrared TV listening system is the power of the transmitter which can cover a much larger space (up to 645 square feet) compared to less expensive systems. The Sennheiser Set 250 operates on the 2.3 MHz infrared carrier frequency, providing excellent sound quality while reducing interference from energy efficient lighting, radio frequencies and cordless or mobile phones. Another nice feature is that the system includes volume, left-right balance and tone controls located directly on the receiver headset. Last, but not least, we at AudioLink particularly like the fact that the system includes two built-in rechargeable BA151 batteries each with a 6 hour service period prior to recharging. That will give you more time to watch and listen to your favorite programs. This system is not compatible with hearing aids. To get this feature you need to upgrade to the Sennheiser Set 250J.
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Sennheiser Set 250J expandable infrared TV listening system (works with hearing aids)

Sennheiser Set 250J expandable infrared TV listening system (works with hearing aids)

Like the Set 250 system, the Set 250J infrared TV listening system operates on the 2.3 MHz infrared carrier frequency, but also features a 3.5 mm audio output jack compatible with additional assistive listening devices, like headphones, induction neckloops or direct audio input cables. The included, environmentally sensitive, NiMH battery is easily recharged by the TI 250 system transmitter. Please note, if you intend to use the Sennheiser Set 100J infrared TV listening system with a telecoil (“T“) switch hearing aid, you must purchase the optional Sennheiser EZT1011 induction neck loop.
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Sennheiser Set 810 infrared TV listening system

Sennheiser Set 810 infrared TV listening system

What makes the Set 810 infrared TV listening system different from other Sennheiser models is that it employs a large, easy-to-use volume control which hangs from the stethophone IR receiver (not the IR transmitter). The seemingly awkward and unfamiliar design turns out to be quite comfortable for longer listening sessions. Another feature which we like is its power management capability. In a clever move to conserve battery power, the headset automatically turns itself on when you wear it and turns itself off when you remove it from your ears. The base also acts as a charger for the built-in nickel-metal-hydride rechargeable battery. However, considering the Sennheiser reputation for audio quality, it was a little surprising how flat the signal sounded. A couple of tone controls would be welcome. This system does not accommodate hearing aids.
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Sennheiser Set 810S infrared TV listening system (works with hearing aids)

Sennheiser Set 810S infrared TV listening system (works with hearing aids)
Top of the Line
The Set 810S combines a TI810 stereo/mono IR transmitter with a RI810S body pack IR receiver for high quality, interference free wireless TV or sound device audio. It is a major advance over other infrared TV listening systems. The Sennheiser Set 810S infrared TVlistening system includes the hearing aid compatible induction loop receiver as part of the system at no extra cost. Like the IR receiver used in the Set 810, the RI810S IR receiver features a large, easy to use volume control. However, the Set 810S also allows an audio output for direct connection to a behind-the-ear hearing aid, an induction loop, or headphones. The MKE800-TV external microphone for televisions and other devices not equipped with audio outputs allows you to use this system with a wide variety of home electronic systems without special interfaces. The Set 810S also comes with a BA151 rechargeable battery good up to six hours. This is not as good as the two battery system in the Set 250, but you can always buy the extra battery for a few dollars more. The Set 810S system also incorporates an adjustable frequency control for switching between 2.3MHz or 2.8MHz bandwidths to minimize IR interference like the Williams Sound WIR 238.

The Sennheiser Set 810S TV listening system is an AudioLink Top of the Line selection.   INFOMore Information on this Product BUYBuy This Product Now

Comparison Summary Table:

FEATURE
WILLIAMS SOUND
SENNHEISER
Model #

WIR 237

WIR 238

WIR 239

SET 100
SET 100-J
SET 250
SET 250-J
SET 810
SET 810-S
Hearing Aid Compatible?
NO
NO
YES
NO
YES
NO
YES
NO
YES
Volume Controls
Transmitter

Head Set

Head Set
Head Set
Head Set
Head Set
Head Set
Head Set
Head Set
Tone Control Knob
NO
NO
NO
YES
YES
NO
NO
NO
NO
Frequency
2.3/2.8 MHz switchable

2.3/2.8 MHz or both
2.3/ 2.8 MHz or both
95 kHz
95 kHz
2.3 MHz
2.3 MHz
2.3/ 2.8 MHz or both
2.3/ 2.8 MHz or both
Spare Battery Included
YES
NO
YES
NO
NO
YES
NO
NO
NO
Battery Life
6 Hrs
6 Hrs
6 Hrs
10 Hrs
10 Hrs
6 Hrs
6 Hrs
4 Hrs
4 Hrs
Stereo/Mono
Mono
Stereo
Stereo
Mono
Mono
Mono
Mono
Stereo
Stereo
Warranty*
5 Yrs
5 Yrs
5 Yrs
2 Yrs
2 Yrs
2 Yrs
2 Yrs
2 Yrs
2 Yrs

*Ask about our AudioLink extended warranty.

Call or email us if you have any questions about which infrared TV listening systems are right for you.

You may also wish to read our other product reviews on assistive listening devices.

ADA Compliant – ADA Compliant Systems
ADA Compliant –
ADA Compliant Personal Systems
ADA Compliant –
ADA Compliant Personal Systems for TV Listening
ALDs –
Assistive Listening Devices
ALDs –
Infrared Assistive Listening Devices


TV Listening –
TV Listening Systems – ALDs