Most of the TV listening systems are designed with the same basic idea. You have a transmitter that you plug into the back of your TV, and a receiver that the person who is hard of hearing places near them. The receiver can be a speaker, a headset, or a neckloop. The transmitter sends the sound from the TV to the receiver and then the receiver sends the sound directly to your ears. For people who are hard of hearing, this type of system can help tremendously improve the TV watching experience. Not only will you be able to hear the TV clearly, you won’t have constant arguments with other members of your household over the level of the volume of the TV.
The design of the receiver of the Sennheiser SET840 is a lightweight stethoset style (basically a drop down headset). Sometimes with this particular style of headset the stem can be slightly weak and break easily, the 840 doesn’t have that problem because it is metal re-enforced. The headset is wireless, so you aren’t attached to anything and can move around your house freely while still hearing the TV, hi-fi system or radio. The volume control is a large dial that rests below your chin, kind of on your chest. This particular model is only available in blue.
Audiophiles may argue that RF sound isn’t as good as infrared(IR) sound, but honestly this device isn’t made for an audiophile, it is made for someone who is hard of hearing to make it easier to hear speech on TV and to cut down on the background noise. Having said that, the sound quality of the 840 is clear and very good quality. You can leave the room where the TV and transmitter are located and still hear the audio, which is a great feature of RF devices.
The headset is designed to be lightweight and comfortable, with flexible ear pads. . The style is Stethoset (sort of like a stethoscope) that hangs down from your ears. They are pretty comfortable as far as headphones goes. If you watch TV for long periods or you wear a hearing aid, you may not want to go with a headset style listening system. There are other devices that like the TV Soundbox that has a portable speaker that you place beside you, or the Audio Fox Wireless speakers that attach to your chair, sofa or bed that might be a better option.
The Sennheiser 840 runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery (BA 300). The battery is in the receiver and you recharge it by placing it back onto the base. The charging time is 3 hours and the receiver can run for approximately 9 hours on one charge. Some people purchase an extra battery so they don’t end up not being able to watch TV because of a dead battery. It is probably not necessary to buy an extra battery if you can remember to place the headset back on the base when you are finished using it.
The 840 has a strong metal-reinforced headband that will be durable and help it last for years. With some of the competitor’s products, the stems tend to break quite easily. You should not have that problem with this device. It has a large volume control dial that is easy to see and to adjust and a balance control for setting the right and left ear volume. It also has an audible alert when the battery is getting low and needs to be recharged.
In terms of performance, the 840 tends to outperform the other major product in this category, which is the TV Ears Headset. There isn’t much to compare here, Sennheiser is much better designed and more durable than TV Ears. The sound quality is also far clearer than TV Ears and it has a range of up to 100 m. You also don’t need line of site for these to work, which is a huge plus if you get up and move around a lot, and want to keep track of what is happening on the TV.
Priced between $200 to $300 a set, these aren’t cheap. However, if you compare them to the cost of a hearing aid or having to buy multiple versions of a cheaper product that is more likely to break down, they are actually pretty good value for what you are getting. If you think of the cost as an investment toward your or a family members improvement in quality of life, they really do start to look like a good deal. They are high quality and will least for years. If they do stop working, the company offers a 2 year warranty.
Set up and ease of use
This system is extremely easy to install. You basically just connect the base to the back of your TV and also to the wall. The system comes with all the wires that you need to attach it to your TV including: 1 main power supply, a TV RCA adapter, a TV SCART adapter and a TV connection cable with two 3.5 mm stereo jack plugs and one adapter to 1/4″ (6.3 mm) jack socket. To turn it on, you just put the device on. To mute the 840, you turn the volume all the way down. You can turn down background music from the show you are watching so the speech is clarified.
Warranty and Product Support
Sennheiser Set 840 has a two year warranty. Sennheiser is a large company and has a good customer service reputation. If you run into trouble with the product you can go to the Sennheiser website for more information on customer service and technical help.