Picture the scene: you’re watching Dune (in preparation for Dune 2) and you have a ball. Then bam – it happens again. The scene turns serious, the voices drop to whispers and one of your group can’t hear what’s being said amid the cheering of the sand worms. Cue a dash for the remote, the spilling of chips and a broken mood.
That is why the new wireless speaker OSKAR was created – the faller (the company that makes it) is a new brand from the respected German audio specialist sonoro, and its start from this growing issue in the real world – the difficulty of hearing.
Founder Marcell Faller decided he would find a way to help his father enjoy watching TV again with his family, so he started working on the OSKAR wireless TV speech amplifier.
OSKAR was created and designed in Germany and is available now for £259/€269 in the UK and Europe direct from faller as well as Amazon and selected TV and audio retailers. That works out to around $325 or AU$480, although official availability and pricing for these regions is not yet known.
Analysis: hearing loss, and in particular hearing during the movies, is a problem faller is right to try to alleviate
Why is this particular wireless speaker different from one of the best soundbars or the best TVs for sound, say? OSKAR focuses on two things: ease of use and dialogue meaning – and because the National Institute of Health claims that about a third of the elderly have hearing loss (Opens in a new tab)this is a good place to get to know.
The maker of OSKAR told us that there is nothing complicated here, just a large control wheel above the speaker for power ON / OFF and volume, plus a ‘Speech Filter’ button on the side, which can be active to scroll through the three OSKAR speech. settings.
The OSKAR TV voice amplifier boasts an “innovative voice optimization technology”, which, once connected to the TV (options include Bluetooth with LC3, 3.5mm aux-In, Toslink Optical Audio Input or USB-C) actively emphasizes sounds and key frequency bands for speech, while dynamically filtering and reducing distracting background noise.
Two full-range 35mm speakers and a passive bass driver do the heavy lifting here, and the supplied docking station provides an easy way to charge the voice amplifier when not in use – the faller says you’ll get 16 hours of wireless playtime from OSKAR, and it charges fully from flat in four hours.
With a distance of up to 30 meters, OSKAR also allows you to take the sound of the TV with you, when walking a little from the source.
Could other solutions be better, such as the Sonos Beam 2nd Gen soundbar at the low end, or the five-star JBL Bar 1300X soundbar at the high end – both with speech enhancement options? Nor does OSKAR have the advantage that you can keep it next to you. It’s hard to say before we try it ourselves, although it’s important to emphasize that I haven’t experienced any hearing problems (not yet, anyway).
That said, it’s a relatively cheap and simple solution, aimed at older users, and one I can’t wait to try. Watch this space…