Beck: Good Morning Hank. Thanks for your time today.
Netherton: Hi Doug. Thank you for the invitation.
Beck: Hank, I understand you were vice president at the local United Way in Colorado Springs, and you earned your MBA from Vanderbilt back in the late1980s. How long have you been with Westone and what is your position please?
Netherton: Ive been with Westone a little over 6 years. As far as my title, that varies because we all pitch in to do what needs to be done! Nonetheless, I am the Customer Service Manager and I also take care of trade shows and international sales.
Beck: Very good. Hank, most of the readers are familiar with Westone as the leading earmold company in our industry. However, Id like to focus on a totally different topic today -- the FM system called Conversor, which is available through Westone. Lets start with a basic definitionwhat is the Conversor?
Netherton: The Conversor is a personal FM system. It works essentially through the hearing instruments telecoil (T-coil) system. The Conversor allows people wearing hearing instruments to have an advantage which makes an enormous difference in their perception of speech.
Beck: I agree. FM communication systems offer tremendous opportunities and possibilities for people in noisy and distracting classrooms, and of course they can be used in other situations too. I love the fact that FM systems maximize the signal-to-noise ratio. To me thats always been the most significant issue for people with hearing loss, and for those with other communication issues -- such as distractibility, auditory processing disorders, attention deficit disorder -- and the list goes on and on. Hank, what can you tell me about portability issues, such as wires and batteries?
Netherton: The Conversor is a wireless system. It has a rechargeable battery and it works with headsets and ear-buds too, not just hearing instruments. People using the Conversor system are not tethered to a physical location. They can move about and use the system without wires. In addition to schools, another popular place to use the Conversor is crowded restaurants. For example, when youre trying to converse with someone, but the background noise is overwhelming. In that situation, the Conversor allows you to hear as if the person was speaking directly into your ear. Other uses include conversations in the car, or as an assistive listening device in movies, at lectures, or with TV wirelessly via the microphone, or through a direct audio connection wire, too.
Beck: And we should point out that even the best directional hearing instruments cannot provide the same signal-to-noise ratio that an FM system can.
Netherton: Right. FM systems have the ability to provide the maximum signal-to-noise ratio. In fact, Conversor has a microphone option which allows all sounds - the omni-directional setting - or it can be used to pinpoint the sound source, for maximal directionality and the best possible signal-to-noise ratio.
Beck: So it can be used by one person speaking directly into the microphone or it can be placed in the middle of a conference table to allow sounds from all directions and participants?
Netherton: Yes, thats the idea. Conversor offers two great options. First, the microphone can be placed near the desired sound source. Depending on the situation, it could be left on an instructors podium, hung around a companions neck or placed near a TV or sound system speaker. The second option is to simply keep the microphone in hand. It works very well by just pointing it towards the sound source. It really is quite flexible and has outstanding sound gathering characteristics.
Beck: Hank, whats the maximum distance across which the system can operate?
Netherton: In normal operating situations, you can have 100 to 150 feet between the microphone and the receiver.
Beck: One thing that Ive noticed time and time again, is that it seems like so many patients and professionals overlook FM systems because they believe theyve got it all covered with an excellent pair of hearing instruments. What are your thoughts on that?
Netherton: I think youre right -- many people assume that because they have excellent hearing instruments -- thats as good as it gets. But once they try Conversor in their home, at the office or any social environment, they understand how much more there is to hear!
Beck: I have often spoken about FM systems as analogous to high quality headphones and insert earphones used with home-based or personal stereo systems. Theres a world of difference when I use noise reduction headphones, or my insert earphones with my stereo system. It is literally a day and night difference in the quality of the sounds. In other words, despite an excellent music and speaker system, the entire sound system is terrifically enhanced when I use high quality headphones or insert earphones, and in that same respect, the best hearing instruments are even better, when they are patched into an FM system.
Netherton: Thats a good analogy -- I agree. I think as soon as people try FM, they see the quality, the utility and the efficacy of the system.
Beck: Frankly, if I had to pick only one tool for hearing impaired children in the classroom, it would absolutely be an FM system.
Netherton: Ive heard that from other audiologists as well.
Beck: OK, thats plenty! Thanks so much for your time Hank. I appreciate your taking the time to explain the Conversor to me.
Netherton: Thank you too, Doug.
For more information about Conversor, visit www.conversorusa.com.
Beck: Good Morning Hank. Thanks for your time today.