Brookings

FM Systems

What is an FM system used for?

An FM system is used in difficult listening situations. It is most often used to help improve listening in restaurants, churches, classrooms, and/or conference rooms.

How does an FM system work?

An FM system is similar to a radio tower and a car radio. A microphone picks up the talker's voice, and the talker's voice is sent to a receiving device using radio waves.

How is an FM system beneficial?

An FM system is helpful because you only hear what the microphone picks up. This means the talker sounds louder and background noise is less bothersome.

What are some advantages to using an FM system?

  • An FM system is fairly portable.  You can use it indoors or outdoors.
  • You can still hear the talker clearly when you:
    • Sit a distance away from the speaker
    • Sit behind a wall
    • Get up and walk around
    • Go to a nearby room
  • You can wear the receiving device in many different ways.
    • If you wear hearing aids, you can use:
      • A neckloop receiver
      • A body receiver
      • A small receiving device that snaps onto your hearing aids
    • If you do not wear hearing aids, you can also use a loudspeaker or headphones as a receiving device.

What are some disadvantages of using an FM system?

  • You need to ask the talker to wear or hold a microphone.
  • When you use an FM system, your receiver must be on the same channel as the microphone. If your receiver is on the wrong channel, you might hear a different talker or nothing at all.
  • FM systems can sometimes pick up other signals that use the same radio waves.  For example:
    • You might hear a conversation among construction workers using walkie talkies if they are using the same radio waves.
    • On rare occasions, a nearby person with an FM system might accidentally hear what you are listening to if he/she has the same FM system and is on the same channel.

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