You Wouldn’t Think It Would Be So Complicated….

Jennifer Groth, ReSoundBy Jennifer Groth

The cartoon character from the future, George Jetson, was transported to work in a flying vehicle with all kinds of navigational aids and traffic alerts. The family home was managed with the help of a housecleaning robot, and meals were automatically dispensed at the push of a button. Their lives depicted the promise of technology to make our lives easier and more convenient, at least until something went wrong with one of the labor-saving gadgets. So what does this have to do with ReSound hearing instruments? Well, nothing directly, but it’s likely everyone fitting hearing instruments these days feels like they are in an episode of The Jetson’s once in awhile when advanced technologies seem not to cooperate. We field many technology related questions in Global Audiology, and sometimes we are surprised at the complexity in things that appear to be “push-of-a-button” simple. One example is the Unite TV Streamer. This product appeals to a vast number of hearing instrument wearers as virtually all of them either watch television, listen to the radio or some other electronic source. The benefit of having these sound sources streamed directly to one’s hearing instruments in high quality stereo is self-evident to these consumers. And, the setup of the system is more straightforward than so many other consumer electronic products. What could be easier than attaching a cable from your TV to a small streamer box, and plugging the streamer into a wall outlet?

In addition to sleek screens with various picture technologies, televisions today also have different types of audio output formats, features that support Bluetooth, web-browsing, and apps, and more. Television features are usually configured in menus that are accessed via a remote control, and these may include audio outputs, such as which connector(s) the sound signal will be directed to and whether built-in speakers also are active. The main challenge that ReSound users with a modern television may face when they come home with their Unite TV Streamer is how to route the sound signal through it. The following are some tips that apply in general to televisions and that hopefully can make setting up the Unite TV Streamer as easily as it is designed to be.

  • If the Unite TV Streamer is used with a TV that has analog outputs – meaning that it has the RCA or Phone plug connectors – there will always be a signal, no matter what the program material is. The television itself contains a decoder system that will convert whatever sound signal format the program is broadcasted in to an analog signal.
  • If the Unite TV Streamer is used with a TV that has only digital outputs it is necessary to use an additional converter as recommended by ReSound. One type of digital output is the digital Coax. It has an RCA socket on the TV, like this:

image1The other type of digital output you might see is the optical Toslink. An example of this kind of socket is shown on the right. In fact, the device shown here also has a coax output on the left, but most often the Coax output will be orange rather than black:


  • The recommended converter for digital outputs is the Gefen GTV-DD-2-AA . This device will convert both electrical Coax digital signals as well as optical Toslink signals, and will be able to handle Dolby Digital 5.1 format signals. If the digital converter does not have the Dolby logo printed on the front as circled in red in the picture here – don’t buy it, as it will not work for all signals coming from a modern TV.


  • When the Unite streamer is connected to a television via the recommended digital converter, it will stream any sound signal no matter what the format is. If the Dolby Digital capability is not available, program material with 5.1 content will have no sound. This is what is happening when users experience that the sound does not transmit to their hearing aids for certain channels, for example. Some TV sets can be set up via their menus to overcome this scenario by always outputting a PCM-stereo digital signal, but most televisions do not allow this. Cable providers or other signal providers (Netflix, TV stations) cannot fix this problem, so it is crucial to have the appropriate converter.

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1 thought on “You Wouldn’t Think It Would Be So Complicated….”

  1. There is a third way to grab audio when using the first generation Unite TV transmitter without using an A/D converter; but with a caveat: Plug the transmitter directly into the cable or sat converter!

    However, there is a caveat: You’ll get echo complaints if these two conditions are met:
    1) The TV is not muted;
    2) The hearing aid environmental mics are switched on while streaming.

    Here in our home, my girlfriend wears the Verso 977 while I wear the Verso 988-HP, so we simply mute the TV and stream the audio directly to our broken ears. This has an additional advantage of improved synchrony to lipreading cues, as the Unite TV transmitter has about 10 mSec of propagation (or “group”) delay, while the audio path in a TV set is several times that amount. Worse, if an external “sound bar” or other amplified speaker system is used, the group delay can run into the hundreds of milliseconds.

    Dan Schwartz,
    Editor, The Hearing Blog
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