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*Example Brief FM Use Directions Amigo
Troubleshooting tips/links to instructional videos at bottom of page.
Classrooms are noisy! Whenever distance and reverberation are present, even the best hearing instruments need an extra FM boost. Whether it’s in a classroom, living room, sports practice or performance instruction, Amigo FM systems can bridge the distance between the speaker and the listener (child), improving the Speech- to- Noise ratio by bringing the signal directly to the child’s ears.
What is an FM System?
An FM System is made up of a Transmitter with a microphone, and Receivers. The transmitter is worn by the speaker (teacher in a classroom) and the child who needs to hear the teacher better, wears the receivers. FM systems are typically used with children who wear hearing instruments with one receiver attached to each hearing aid. However, there are other special populations with listening difficulties (e.g., children with minimal/mild and unilateral hearing loss; auditory processing disorders; attention deficits; non-native language listeners; speech/language difficulties) who may also benefit from attention to classroom acoustics, strategies to improve listening ease, and the use of FM devices.
Multiple Solutions for children with hearing loss
Oticon’s easiest and most convenient FM receiver is the Amigo R12 Dedicated Receiver. The R12 can be used on almost any Oticon standard behind-the-ear (BTE) or Receiver-in-the-ear/Receiver in the canal style hearing instruments (RITE). The R12 is a single small unit that slides onto the bottom of each Oticon hearing instrument, and takes the place of an audio shoe plus universal FM receiver. These dedicated receivers are available in colors to match the hearing instruments.
This style of dedicated receiver offers the benefits to the child of less bulk added to their existing hearing aid (compared to adding a universal receiver and audio shoe). It also includes a locking feature to keep the receiver very securely attached to the hearing aid (compared to a friction fit of the universal receivers to the audio shoes, see below) – especially desirable since the accidental loss of an FM receiver is not uncommon and can be an expensive item to replace. Other manufacturers may offer dedicated receivers – it is important to know which dedicated receiver works with a certain style or model of hearing instrument.
To make it easier for teachers and students using the Amigo R12, the hearing instrument will automatically detect the R12 when it is connected to the instrument and automatically add two extra FM-specific programs. The hearing instrument program will now default to FM + M (FM input plus hearing aid microphone). In certain high noise situations where the only desired signal is FM, the student can switch to the next program – FM only – on the hearing instrument by using the hearing aid’s program switch button. Further, R12 receivers are Smart Receivers that go into sleep mode after 7 seconds of no transmission from the teacher, however they will ‘wake up’ immediately when the teacher resumes talking. After 90 minutes of no FM transmission from the teacher they will turn off completely. This feature helps extend the hearing aid’s battery life. The child can turn the receiver back on via the small push-button on the bottom of the receiver.
Click here to open a PDF detailing the use of the Amigo R12.
Universal Receivers + Audio Shoe
A second Oticon option is the Amigo R2 Universal Receiver. Universal receivers require the use of an audio shoe which serves as the physical and electrical ‘link’ between the receiver and the hearing aid. Universal receivers can be readily identified by their 3 “pins” that plug into the bottom of the audio shoe. The benefit of the Universal Receiver solution is that it can be used with any manufacturers’ FM-compatible hearing instrument that has an audio shoe. This provides a lot of versatility and flexibility for the school to offer and change FM receivers for students using different hearing instruments year after year.
Oticon uses the audio shoe (sometimes also referred to as an audio boot) designated as FM 9 with the R2 Universal receiver for virtually all of our current hearing aid models. It should be noted that some manufacturers have from 2-5 different audio shoes match up to different models/styles of hearing aids they offer, thus it’s important to always match the correct shoe to the hearing aid. The Oticon FM 9 audio shoe slides on the bottom of our Standard BTE or RITE hearing instruments, and then the R2 receiver plugs into the port – 3 small holes – on the bottom of the audio shoe.
LED increases confidence
A unique feature of all Oticon FM receivers, regardless of style, is the presence of the LED (light emitting diode) on the receiver that has been designed to provide confidence to the teacher that the receiver and the transmitter are on the same channel. The receiver LED is on only when the FM signal is being received by the receiver. This assists in troubleshooting and can alert the teacher if a child has turned off their receiver or if the FM transmitter is not sending the signal on the proper channel. For older children the LED can be turned off. The LED has been designed for a negligible effect on the battery life of the hearing aid.
Oticon’s third receiver option is the Amigo Arc. The Amigo Arc is a lightweight, rechargeable neck-worn FM receiver, which transmits the signal from the teacher’s transmitter and delivers it to the telecoil in both hearing instruments. The hearing instruments must have telecoils in them to work with this option. When using the Arc neckloop, the child’s hearing instrument must be in a mic + telecoil (M-T) program to allow the child to hear the FM input as well as the environment around him.
One benefit of using the neckloop receiver is that it only requires one receiver to transmit to two hearing instruments. An additional benefit of using the Amigo Arc is that it can transmit to both a child’s hearing instrument as well as a cochlear implant processor (with a telecoil program enabled) for bi-modal fittings. The Amigo Arc also comes with a cable which can connect the Arc to a student’s computer.
The Arc has 2 LED’s, one to indicate battery status, and one for FM status. Because it is worn around the neck, it may not be the most appropriate solution for very young children. The Arc does come in 2 neckloop lengths and has an instant breakaway feature for safety.
Click here to read more about Amigo Arc (product brochure)
Solutions for children with normal hearing
Children with normal hearing sometimes have difficulty hearing in a classroom situation. Children with auditory processing deficits, ADD/ADHD or other listening difficulties can benefit from FM as well.
Amigo Star was developed for these children. Although it looks like a small behind-the-ear hearing aid, Amigo Star is an ear level receiver only. It receives transmission of the teacher’s voice and delivers it directly to the child’s ear to improve the speech-to-noise ratio. Amigo Star does not have a microphone and therefore does not amplify sounds in the child’s environment. The Amigo Star uses a 312 battery and a thin tube (called Corda) with an open dome fitting, so as to not block the child’s ear canal opening. Amigo Star is small and discreet and children find it very light and comfortable to wear. Amigo Star can be used with any Oticon FM transmitter. The manual Volume Control on the Star allows the child to set a comfortable volume; you can be confident that it cannot get too loud as we have limited the maximum volume setting to 14 dB. For younger children who are not reliable to manage the VC, it can be disabled using the T30 or T31 programming mode.
Click here to read the Amigo Star instructional booklet
FM for Ponto bone-anchored devices
The Amigo R2BA is the receiver that is used with bone anchored hearing devices such as the Oticon Medical Ponto and Ponto Pro. The New Ponto Plus uses Oticon Medical’s Streamer Pro and the Amigo R2 Receiver.
Click here to open the Amigo R2BA Product information
Each of the receiver options previously discussed must be used in conjunction with a transmitter that the teacher or speaker must wear. The teacher wears either a lapel or boom microphone which is plugged into the transmitter.
Amigo transmitters come with proprietary rechargeable AA (T30/T31 models) or AAA (T5 model) batteries and a battery charger cable. Other manufacturer rechargeable batteries may be used, but must then be charged in that manufacturers charging system. Standard disposable alkaline batteries can also be used.
The Amigo T30 and T31 transmitters are recommended for use by teachers and school age children because they are also programming transmitters. Programming transmitters give the user the ability to do things like: increase or decrease the gain in the Amigo FM receivers, disable the buttons on the receivers, turn on or off LED lights, and provide assistance for troubleshooting.
The Amigo T30/T31 comes with a high quality omni-directional lapel microphone. To fit the teacher’s style or individual situation, directional or boom microphones are also available – all with a built-in external antenna in the microphone cord.
The Amigo T31 transmitter is one of two transmitters essential for “Team Teaching” situations. It has all of the programming capabilities of the T30; in addition, T31 is a Transmitter and a Receiver in one unit. The T31 would be used by the primary teacher, in conjunction with the Amigo T30 which would be used by the secondary teacher. Both teachers’ voices are then available to be transmitted to the student simultaneously.
Click here for the Amigo T30/31 User Guide for Teachers
The Amigo T5 transmitter is an affordable transmitter that does not have programmability. All Amigo receivers have press buttons that enable them to be synched to the T5 or any other manufacturer’s transmitters.
Click here to read more about the T5 (Product Brochure)
Scenario – You turn on your T30 and sync to the Amigo R12 receivers on the child’s hearing aid. The LED light is not coming on the Receiver and no sound is heard from the Transmitter. What should you check?
Is the transmitter fully charged? Is there a solid red light on the top of the transmitter (indicating battery status)?
Do you need a fresh battery in the hearing instrument? Did you let the battery “air up” for a full minute before shutting the battery door?
Is the microphone attached to the transmitter (it also serves as an antenna)
If using the R2 Receiver is the toggle switch set to the double open circle?
If using the Arc or Streamer Pro are they fully charged?
Additional troubleshooting tips:
Give a quick press on the center button of the T30 to sync. If you see “Receiver out of Range”, you have pressed the button too long.
Check the contacts on the bottom of the hearing instruments or audio shoes. If they look dull or dirty, scrub them with a pencil eraser (not alcohol wipes) If the student perspires heavily, recommend the use of an electronic dry aid device.
If you hear screeching, you might be synching “off channel” Change the channel and re-synch. Make sure the channel you are trying to sync to has been enabled in both the receiver and the transmitter.
A crackling or static sound might indicate a bad microphone. If you have an extra microphone, switch it out and see if the static clears up.
Try switching out the FM 9 audio shoe for a different one and see if that solves the issue.
Troubleshooting the Amigo Star
Make sure that the volume wheel is set above volume level 1.
If the LED light is on, but no sound is heard from the Amigo Star, pull off the corda tubing and listen at the adapter site. If you can hear sound then clean out the corda tube or replace it.
Try re-synching the Amigo Star to the transmitter by giving a 2 second press on the button of the Amigo Star with the transmitter about 8 inches away. The LED should light up on the Amigo Star.
If a T30 transmitter is being used, go into the programming mode and make sure the channel you are synching to is enabled.
Try synching to a different channel.
Two transmitters are required and one must be the Amigo T31.
The T31 is always the primary transmitter and the one that communicates to the student (the T31’s channel and the child’s receiving channel must match).
Co-teacher uses an additional transmitter. It can be any other FM transmitter. If using a T30 select a “B” channel.
To program, press the “T” button on the face of the T31. Two numbers will appear.
The number on the left, the larger number is the primary channel. This is the channel that the student should be synched to.
The smaller number on the right is the channel for the co-teacher or the TT channel. To set this channel to a “B” channel, press the down arrow until the channel numbers blink, and then right arrow to get to the secondary channel. Select the same “B” channel that will be used on the T30 or second transmitter.
Oticon official website
Amigo instructional videos on YouTube
Amigo instructional videos on Oticon website
Streamer Pro Overview
Information provided by sponsor. Posted February 2015. Updated February 2016. *Many thanks to Krista Yukow, Educational Audiologist, for contributing the example brief hearing technology sheet.