Who is it for? This simple, innovative and effective speaker meets the needs of persons with impaired hearing in the mid-ranges. Not a good fit for someone with profound hearing loss.
What is it for? If you, a friend or loved one struggles to hear and understand TV dialogue in the middle ranges of the sound spectrum, this could be just the ticket to a more satisfying TV viewing experience and more.
For more than just TV. The MIRAI speaker can be used to hear TV, Radio, Computer or Video Call dialogue more clearly. Universal compatibility comes from the digital audio Toslink output in addition to the 3.5mm headphone jack audio output.
It’s not fancy. It is not surround sound. It is not a sound bar. It is not wireless. There is no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Connection is simple, wired and straightforward. Perfect for seniors and the technologically challenged.
It is ONE speaker with a unique curved design that delivers sound throughout the room without directionality. The following online video is the best way to demonstrate MIRAI’s effectiveness:
It is quite effective and takes up little space, yet it is capable of delivering bountiful, crisp and clean dialogue.
Directions are in Japanese. The pictures in the instructions are easy to follow, in my view.
The included Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) allows connection to just about any modern flat TV. It is at its best when connected with the included Optical Audio cable. If you have a modern flat TV, look for the optical cable connection. Connected this way, whatever is on the TV, from whatever source, all the sound is sent through the MIRAI. The rotary control knob can be manually set for a maximum volume while the remote control allows adjustment from low to the maximum setting. Play with it a while to find what is best for the user. And again, note its universal compatibility with other devices and sound sources as stated above.
For computer use, MIRAI can be connected using the computer’s headphone jack with the supplied 3.5mm cable wired directly to the headphone port on the MIRAI speaker. For radios, this same setup using the 3.5mm cable should do the trick.
**WHAT’S IN THE BOX**
- MIRAI speaker
- Double 3.5mm cable
- Optical cable
- DAC (Digital to Analog Converter)
- Power supply for speaker and for DAC
- Necessary cables
Unbox, place the speaker where it will be needed. Try the TV first. Unfurl the Toslink/Digital optical cable. Fit one end to the Toslink INPUT on the DAC and the other to the TV. Use the included double 3.5mm cable with one end to the AUX OUTUT on the DAC and the other end to the headphone port on the MIRAI.
Place the DAC in a convenient location where the MIRAI remote control’s aim will hit the IR sensor. Read the DAC instructions. Easy!
Connect both power supplies, one to the MIRAI, the other to the DAC. Insert the included batteries into the wireless remote control.
Press the manual ON button on the MIRAI. Press the Power button on the remote. Press the Toslink button on remote to tell the DAC where the sound is coming from. Aim the infrared remote at the IR sensor on the front of the DAC to do this. A little light will show that Toslink is the active input.
Go into TV settings to select Optical output for sound. Now the TV know to bypass its internal speakers and send sound to the MIRAI.
Choose something to watch on TV, preferably a recording on the DVR or from a streaming service that is known to present a challenge to hear and understand dialogue.
And now, it’s time to . . .
**PUT IT TO THE TEST**
There is a perceptible difference! The first impression is of room-filling sound. Music and background sounds including special effect sounds are diminished in favor of dialogue. It is not necessary to ramp up the volume in order to understand dialogue. Fortunately, I have a couple of friends who wear hearing aids and fight the constant battle to understand dialogue. They usually turn on closed captioning to help.
Both of them cooperated in this evaluation.
Both of them said the dialogue was much more easily heard AND understood. I turned off the captions to see if they could comfortably do without them. This is difficult for individuals who are accustomed to watching TV with captions on. It is an adjustment to watch without them.
I placed the remote control in their hands. Each of my friends has different hearing deficits. One of them found that MIRAI was less effective than did my other friend, the one whose hearing loss is not so severe. This was good information.
Many newer TVs are equipped with dialogue enhancement settings. The industry is getting the message that the aging population needs help with sound. Unfortunately, film makers still have not accepted that the need is real. They continue to mix the sound into a muddy cacophony of overlapping dialogue that makes it difficult to follow and understand for even the best ears.
Where MIRAI shines is in its simplicity. On the other hand, there are other products that may be better suited for users with greater hearing deficits. For these individuals, check out my review of another device that is more adjustable – ZVOX AV157.
Sound is personal. Each listener has different needs and different likes. As such, the individual is in charge. Some users care less than others and some are fanatical. Fortunately, there are buttons and knobs and settings to personalize the experience.
Is this a copout? Hardly. It is simply recognition that each consumer has the power and prerogative to set sound parameters to their liking, within available boundaries. Too often we are told what is right or wrong in these settings. While “experts” with trained ears set standards, it is the end user who ultimately decides what is pleasing and what is not. Think “the emperor has no clothes.”
For those individuals with hearing deficits, matters are complicated. Here is where technology assists in providing sanity to the settings, giving back what otherwise would be lost.
I hope that readers are more aware of options than before reading this article.
Your thoughts and comments are appreciated. Reach out to me – MrGadget at MrGadget dot com.
18 month warranty against manufacturing defects.