Tech Review: The TV Listener consists of two parts — a pretty nice pair of Bluetooth earphones and a Bluetooth transmitter that connects to your TV. It’s the right combination of easy to use and good-quality sound.
I’ve been testing a product called the Clarity TV Listener (TL100) that’s designed to pipe audio from your TV to a pair of Bluetooth headphones.
Clarity is a division of Plantronics, which is known for making good audio products, especially telephone headsets.
Before I hooked it up, I was quite sure I wasn’t the target market for such a product, since I still have pretty good hearing (despite what my wife might tell you). I’ve seen a few similar products, and I always associated them with older people who didn’t want to admit they needed hearing aids.
Those people would benefit from the TV Listener, but there are a few uses I really had not considered. I’m sure there are plenty of couples who go to sleep watching TV, and the TL100 is perfect for the spouse who likes to stay up later.
The killer use for me is to wear it while watching shows with hard-to-understand audio. The TV Listener really brings out all aspects of a show’s sound and makes it loud and clear.
The TV Listener consists of two parts — a pretty nice pair of Bluetooth earphones and a Bluetooth transmitter that connects to your TV.
Setup is fairly simple, depending on your TV. The transmitter needs to be connected to the TV’s Audio Out port.
The TL100 comes with two types of cable, one with a pair of red and white RCA plugs on each end, and one that can connect to a TV’s headphone jack, if your TV has one. The preferred connection is through the RCA jacks, which could either be on the side or in the back of your set. If your TV lacks these outputs, you might check the back of your set-top box, if you have one.
This output provides audio without volume control, meaning turning down the volume of your set won’t lower the audio coming through the Audio Out port. This is good because you can lower the TV volume all the way and use the headphones to watch TV. You use the volume buttons on the headphones to adjust the sound level.
If you have to use the TV’s headphone jack, plugging in the cable might disable the TVs internal speakers, so the headphone wearer will be able to hear the sound but others in the room will not.
The TL100 components come already paired, so all you have to do is turn on the transmitter and the headphones, and you’ll be up and running in about 15 seconds.
There is a red button on the headphones that enables a microphone so you can hear outside sounds along with the TV. This mode is handy if you want to watch TV but keep the noise down for a sleeping baby. If you enable the open-mic mode, you’ll be able to hear when the baby wakes up.
The transmitter uses a microUSB connection for power, and the headphones have a rechargeable battery that’s also charged by microUSB. All the power and charging cables and plugs are included. Charging the headphones takes 2 ½ hours, and you can listen for up to 18 hours on a charge.
The headphones can also pair to your cellphone via Bluetooth, so you won’t miss calls while you watch TV. You can also use the headphones to listen to music from your phone. There are buttons on the headphones for volume control, answering the phone and controlling music playback.
The TL100 was easy enough to set up, but I did have to get to the back of my TV for access to the Audio Out jacks. Once everything was connected, I was up and running in just a minute or so.
The headphones are light and comfortable, with the usual adjustments for fit.
There are a ton of similar products on Amazon, some cheaper and some more expensive.
I think the TL100 is the right combination of easy to use and good-quality sound. You could piece together a similar system for less money, but I’d opt for the TL100 because it just works well with little fuss.
The Clarity TV listener (TL100) is available from clarityproducts.com for $179.95, but I found it $20 cheaper from Amazon.