By Bob MacPherson
Editor: I'm always surprised when I meet someone with considerable
hearing loss who knows nothing about assistive technology and how it can
make things easier. One important component is the neckloop, about which
people seem to be especially unaware. Here's bhNEWs' Bob MacPherson with
his neckloops primer. And a special added bonus is the discussion by
Richard Uzuanis of ClearSound /HiTec of the new and improved CLA7v2 and
the all new CLA7-BT neckloops.
Bob's bhNEWS group is the place to keep up with hearing loss news in
near real time. Point your browser to http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/bhNEWS
After writing for years and fielding emails daily on connectivity
issues and ALD issues with hearing instruments, it is clear to me that
there exists a great deal of misunderstanding and misinformation on the
very basic ALD accessory - the neckloop.
Today, I will attempt to correct all of that, once and for all. ( I
also still believe in the tooth-fairy.<G> )
1; A neckloop is a coil of many tiny copper wires covered in a plastic
jacket designed to loop about the neck, with an audio connector ,
typically a 3,5 mm plug, usually mono, but sometimes stereo.
2: How does it work? Connected to a source of audio signal, such as and
ALD, personal stereo, computer or whatever, that signal creates an
electromagnetic field corresponding to the applied signal. The telecoil (
in hearing instruments so equipped) receives this electromagnetic field
and converts it back into an audio signal to be processed the same as the
signal from the mic in the instrument.
1:: ALL neckloops, despite misleading advertising to the contrary, are
monaural devices and CANNOT deliver a stereo signal.
Those advertised as "Stereo" ,supplied with a stereo 3.5 mm plug to fit
music players, computers, etc,. simply combine the L & R stereo signals,
resulting in , yes, mono.
Many bilateral HA/CI users trusted the claims and truly believed they
were hearing in true stereo, when, in fact, it was nothing more than
2: One popular amplified neckloop, the CLA7 from Clear Sounds, is sold
for cell phone use but includes a 3.5 mm adapter , for use with "your
audio device or iPod" ( from the website) http://www.clearsounds.com/store/dept-315360.htm.
What is NOT mentioned is that the 3.5 mm adapter provides a MONO plug
to plug into the STEREO jack of your audio source device.
Which means that firstly, the neckloop will only receive the left
channel of the stereo signal! Secondly, the signal from the right channel
will be short-circuited to ground, with the "possibility" of damage to the
source device ( music player, etc.)
1: Presently, there are only three ways for bilateral hearing
instrument users to experience true stereo.
a: Stereo headphones, via audio coupling.
b: Stereo silhouettes, such as the Music Links, via telecoil coupling.
c: DAI, or Direct Audio Input, via direct wired stereo input to the H.
instruments. ( CAVEAT: a simple Y-splitter ( One 3.5 mm plug to 2 3.5 mm
jacks) WILL NOT provide true stereo - only bilateral mono. My design for a
fix, using Radio Shack parts, has been posted previously on all of these
lists, WILL provide that true stereo!)
2: For any neckloops supplied with a mono 3.5 mm plug, including the
ClearSounds CLA7, the fix is an inexpensive mono to stereo adapter, such
as the Radio Shack 274-0374 http://tinyurl.com/4sckpn This will then
deliver the signal from both channels and protect the source device as
In an extended and most productive conversation with Richard Uzuanis of
ClearSounds / HiTec , where we discussed these issues and more, I learned
a bit about the new and improved CLA7v2 and the all new CLA7-BT. Here's
the sneak preview, in it's first appearance on the internet, from Mr.
Uzuanis just today:
The New CLA7v2 Amplified Neckloop
Besides an updated look for the product to reflect the "boomers" and
nearly everyone else's desire for more stylish assistive products, we made
the following upgrades to improve the CLA7 with the CLA7v2. With the
restyling and the performance improvements, we have maintained the price
of the CLA7v2 at a suggested retail of $119.00.
1. User Interface;
a. Replaced the center on/off button that facilitated the CLA7 being
turned on unexpectedly with a positive slide switch on the side of the
unit. Major improvement to save battery life.
b. Moved the volume control from the bottom of the unit to the side of the
unit to make it easier to manage the volume control.
2. Performance and Reliability
a. Redesigned the circuit board with improved components and a reduced
b. Improved the clarity of the device with enhanced circuit design and
c. Maintained the 30dB of signal gain to accommodate devices that have low
output and hearing aids that have weak t-coils.
The breakaway connector in the loop is maintained to provide a safe
release should the user catch the loop on a foreign object. We have also
improved safety by adding another breakaway point at the connection cable
point so that catching the cable between the device and the base of the
loop will not cause a hardwired cable to be damaged at the base of the
loop by being ripped out of the base. This same feature provides excellent
4. Device Connectivity
An ongoing problem with connecting Neckloops to cell phones and other
devices is the lack of standards and plug/connector compatibility between
devices. While the CLA7v2 can be used with a wide variety of devices
including cell phones, cordless phones, landline phones, TV Listening
Systems, personal amplifiers (ie Sound Wizard and Pocketalker), radios,
and a variety of audio devices, the connections to each of these devices
can be and usually is different. To facilitate connections to the widest
variety of devices, we have removed the hard wired connection cable and
replaced it with a 3.5mm jack. In addition to making the neckloop safer to
wear, using the jack instead of a hard wired connector opens up the
ability to provide direct and clean connectivity to a wide variety of
devices. With the initial release of the CLA7v2 we will provide 4
connectivity cords with the unit.
a. 3.5mm to 2.5mm mono handsfree - this cord will be the cord used for
hands free connections with cordless phones and cellphone with a mono
2.5mm jack or that has a 2.5mm mono adapter. Certain corded phones that
have 2.5mm hands free jacks like the new ClearSounds CSC600 will be able
to use the neckloop with this cord.
b. 3.5mm to 2.5mm stereo handsfree - this cord will be the cord used with
newer cellphone that have stereo 2.5mm jacks or adapters
c. 3.5mm to 3.5mm mono audio - this cord will be used with cordedphones
that use a 3.5mm mono jack for connection to neckloops and headsets. This
is also the cable the would be used with most personal listening systems
like the SoundWizard or the Pocketalker.
d. 3.5mm to 3.5mm stereo audio - this cord will be used with most audio
devices that use stereo connectors for their headsets such as iPods,
The CLA7v2 continues to use 2 AAA batteries for power. The improved
circuit design provides up a to 30% increase in battery life. Users can
use rechargable batteries as long as they use an external recharger.
If there is a question about connections to a cellphone, ask the
cellphone provider for a phone or the adapter used to connect a TTY to the
phone. All TTY adapters or connection points have to be 2.5mm mono
handsfree connectors. A good example is the Apple iPhone. They use a
proprietary 3.5mm stereo handsfree connector for their headsets but if you
get their TTY adapter it provides connection for a cord that is 2.5mm mono
handsfree. With this adapter the iPhone works great with the old CLA7 as
well as the new CLA7v2.
The New CLA7-BT Neckloop
We are really excited about the new CLA7-BT Amplifed Bluetooth Neckloop.
The New CLA7-BT Amplified Bluetooth Headset will use the nearly same
tooling and form factor as the CLA7v2. It will however, provide wireless
connections between Bluetooth capable cellphones and other Bluetooth
devices such as audio systems, MP3 Players, PCs and any other BT
The CLA7-BT will be the only amplified Bluetooth device on the market.
There have been numerous recent releases of Bluetooth neckloops or BT
devices using earhooks. Most often these devices do not provide enough
signal output or require the frustration of an earhook with a wire hanging
from the ear which can get caught or becomes uncomfortable. Most earhook
devices do not provide binaural listening. The signal amplification
concept was proven to be highly effective compared to non-amplified
neckloops with the CLA7. Customers were extremely happy with the
additional signal gain when their device was not able to put out enough
signal at the headset jack to drive the neckloop or their hearing aids had
weak or improperly aligned t-coils.
The CLA7-BT continues to offer the amplification and binaural listening
option without having to have cords linked to the cellphone or other
Bluetooth capable devices. It provides superior signal delivery and
binaural listening options. Large capacity rechargable lithium batteries
will be provided along with USB plug and car chargers. Usage time is still
being measured but we expect the batteries to provide 6-7 hours of talk
time and 150 hours of standby time.
We will get you more details and complete product information and
images as soon as they are available. We are extremely excited about the
improvements and the benefits that both the CLA7v2 and the CLA7-BT offer
to the consumer.