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Williams Sound PKT D1 EH Pocketalker Ultra Duo Pack Amplifier with Single Mini Earbud and Folding Headphone
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- 1 PockeTalker Ultra w/ microphone, 12 ft TV listening cord, One listening Headset and single mini earbud, Users Guide, 5 year manufacturer warranty
- 20-40 dB acoustic gain, 2 ft. TV listening cord Up to 100-hours of battery life
- External volume & tone controls, Removable microphone with extension cord, Removable integrated belt clip
- Operates on two AAA batteries 5 year manufacturer warranty
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Pocketalker Ultra System amplifies sounds closest to the listener while reducing background noise. Ideal for one-on-one conversation, small-group and television listening, or conversing in the car. Use with or without hearing aids. Simply plug in your earpiece, position the microphone near the preferred sound, adjust volume to your comfort – and start listening.
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Most older people suffer from presbycusis or age-related high frequency hearing loss. This hearing aid, the Ultra is designed to address this common problem. My hearing loss is rated as severe, without a hearing aid I hear little and understand nothing so I have to wear a hearing aid 16 hours a day.
The Ultra has a very effective Tone Control. This control actually controls the frequency response of the amplifier which is very important and you will use it often to compensate for your surroundings. For example in an automobile if you select the low frequencies all you will hear is low frequency road noise. But if you select the higher frequency response the road noise will disappear and you will hear others talking. The Ultra also has AGC or Automatic Gain Control. The way it works is that with any high noise the volume is automatically reduced.
But there are two things you should change right away and that is the headphone and the microphone.
The most important item to change is the headphone. What they send is dreadful. What I have used for years is the Panasonic RP-HJE120S In-Ear Headphone (earbuds) ($6.23). These are very rugged, have good frequency response and will fit tightly and comfortably in the ears. With these earbuds and the supplied microphone I can listen to a TV 20 ft distant with the TV volume set at normal level. So you do not need a 12 ft cord to hear TV just some good earbuds. The earbuds are stereo so you will also need a mono to stereo adapter such as the C2G / Cables to Go 03174 ($4.99). All of these items are available from Amazon. I do not wear the earbuds with the wires hanging down my face. I get T-shirts with a pocket to carry my hearing aid. The earbud wire is hidden by my shirt and I feed my left ear by bringing the wire up the right side of my neck around to the back of my neck and into my left ear and then the same procedure for my right ear.
Then there is the microphone. Others have noted how you pick up noise when the microphone rubs against a shirt or other garment. The microphone is a good one its just the style that is bad. What is needed is a microphone much like the TV news anchors use (a lavalier microphone with alligator clip). This type of microphone comes with about a three foot cord and is supplied with a alligator clip that can be attached to to the front of your shirt/blouse and in the winter to the outside of your coat. When I am in a restaurant I often place it in the center of the table. There are many to choose from and I have several. I like the Olympus ME-15 Microphone ($22.99) but I prefer the Olympus ME-52W Noise Canceling Microphone ($16.60). These will directly plug into the Pocketalker and replace the one that comes with the Pocketalker. On the ME-52W the cord has a plug on the end so you can exchange microphones if you wish. That is, you can unplug the Olympus microphone and plug in the Pocketalker microphone still using the alligator clip.
The bottom line is that I have a draw full of in-the-ear and behind-the-ear hearing aids that I spent thousands for and none are as good as the Ultra.
1. The PT has more gain than the Mino. i.e., it will amplify sounds to a REALLY loud level. But it has one drawback, the reason I only gave it 4 stars: it also has quite a bit of noise (hiss) when turned up very loud. I don't know why Williams didn't spend a few dollars more in their design and use a lower-noise preamp -- I'd have gladly paid an extra few dollars to have less noise. The Mino's circuitry is much quieter, but doesn't have as much gain (volume boost) as the PT. That said, you'll rarely if ever need more amplification than the Mino provides.
2. The PT is stable when amplifying sound in a loud room. In a room where music was being played, the Mino was totally unusable due to a lot of squealing and obnoxious noises that seemed to be due to instability in the circuitry, not due to acoustic feedback. However, in a situation with normal conversational levels, the Mino didn't have that problem. The PT didn't exhibit any strange behavior like the Mino, no matter what the noise level in the room was.
3. The Mino seems to do more processing of the sound for clarity than the PT. Voices in the Mino seem slightly less natural-sounding than in the PT, but this may make it a little easier to discern individual words for some who have extreme hearing loss (mine is moderate, and the PT is easier for me to understand.) Although they have a lot more volume, neither of these units is as natural-sounding as a set of good hearing aids. Which aren't as natural-sounding as a set of good ears...
4. The PT has replaceable batteries where the Mino has a rechargeable battery that is not user replaceable. I much prefer the former, but that's a personal choice. The batteries of the Mino lasted about 4 or 5 hours before needing a recharge. I've used the PT for about 4 hours and the two AAA alkaline batteries still test at 100% on a ZTS tester.
5. If you use either of these units with long cables, where the microphone and the earphones are quite a distance apart, you can ignore this paragraph; if you use them like I do, with the unit clipped to the front of your shirt and the mic in the unit, then I highly recommend using a good set of in-ear buds that seal well in the ear canal to avoid problems with acoustic feedback (squealing). I tried them with a quality set of open-air headphones and could not get much volume at all without feedback. Even over-the-ear closed headphones didn't work very well, nor did the little foam-covered earbuds like what comes with the PT. The best I've found are some Shure earbuds (model unknown, sorry) that cost about $50, because the sound is crisp and clear, with fairly light, tight bass response (you don't need a lot of bass when the goal is clarity of speech.)
6. Warning: if you use this unit clipped to the front of your shirt, that loud siren you just heard, that nobody else seems to have heard, was your stomach growling... don't ask how I know.
Overall, even with the hiss problem in the Williams PT, I prefer it to the Bellman Mino, and it's about half the price.
I hope this helps.