FM Systems

AV booth showing equipment and FM transmitter attached
FM transmitter hooked up to the AV equipment in the back of a large conference room
A national Park Service small group tour with a ranger and 4 people circled around him, all wearing a FM receiver and ear loops
A National Park Service small group tour with a ranger and 4 people circled around him, all wearing a FM receiver and ear loops

FM Systems, or Radio Frequency Assistive Listening Systems, transmit wireless, low power FM frequency radio transmission from a sound system to FM receivers.

Please also see FAQ for assistive listening systems (FM, IR, hearing loops)

Loaned Equipment

All users need to borrow a receiver from the site/facility and

  1. If the person doesn’t have hearing aids or hearing aids without a telecoilHeadphones or earbuds
  2. If the person has hearing aids with a telecoil A neckloop

See “how to use” for a video and more information.

Neckloops

Neckloops must be compatible with receivers and preferably ordered from the same manufacturer that makes the receiver. If neckloops are ordered retroactively – or of a different make as the receiver, there may be a mismatch causing the neckloops to be underpowered and thus not provide a strong enough magnetic signal for the telecoil to pick up, and when the user increases the volume setting on the receiver, it can cause distortion.

Advantages (Users)

  • Ability to hear more clearly in indoor and outdoor settings
  • Ability to hear more clearly during tours, outdoors or indoors

Limitations (Users)

  • Users lose dignity by “outing” their disability
  • Users have inconveniences of borrowing and returning equipment
  • Users can experience borrowed equipment failure
  • Neckloops sometime have a weak signal
  • Users may not use the system, for reasons above. 
  • If they can’t understand how to use the system or the availability of the system, they may choose to stay home

Operators

Advantages (Operators)

  • Relatively simple installation
  • Flexible listening locations
  • Can be used outdoors
  • Has a range of approximately 500 feet / 153 meters
  • Some systems offer secured signal
  • Multi-channel audio available

Limitations (Operators)

  • Can conflict with other RF devices in narrow license free frequency bands
  • Borrowed receivers required for all users
  • Receivers require battery replacement or recharging after use
  • Facility owner time required to provide, explain, retrieve, and maintain receivers (hygiene concerns)
  • Frequency range can vary in different locations
  • Some systems require license for FM/radio
  • Privacy concerns if not encrypted

Resources