Your ears?

Has anyone here actually gotten a hearing test? I ask because 2 years ago I had my ears checked and came out all aces - above average. At 41 (at the time) I was hearing past 17K no problem. Now for some reason at around 13.5K my left ear is starting to loose hearing. It’s freaking me out.

I guess my real question is: when we talk about hi fi and the Nth degree of system performance, is anyone actually taking into account their ability to hear? If for example you can’t hear past 12K, is there even a point in talking about the sound of an amplifier, DAC, preamp, whatever? Speakers are obviously different because differences between them are much less subtle.

Considering our hearing is most sensitive to midrange frequencies, as long as you can hear good between say 20 Hz to 8 kHz, you’re still good to go, and good quality equipment and speakers are still important.

Paul actually covered this very subject a few months back in his “Ask Paul” videos.

Whatever you hear the world with is what you hear your system with. You can still tell if something is realistic or not. Even with more high frequency loss than I’d like by far I can still feel jitter up there (if it’s there) and cymbals still sound just the same to me (on a good system.) If a component isn’t up to par I doubt that it’s great below some magic frequency and sucks above it.


I need to go find that video…

That makes sense. I can definitely hear minor differences between DACs for example, I just freaked out that that would go away.

If it goes away you can save some money :slight_smile:

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Honestly I’d rather sit around trying to figure how I’m going to pay for a Stellar stack lol

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This might be the one:

This one might also be of interest:

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To go off with what Ted said a bit, I have a good friend that was in a helicopter accident and lost the majority of hearing in one ear. He says it’s about 10% that of his good ear. He’s been living with it for a long time and said it really doesn’t bug him anymore. If people are talking at his bad ear, he tends to turn around and show them the good one.

I asked him if all stereo systems lean far to the right and he said not anymore. The computer (brain) in his head is able to readjust and make the system sound believable and realistic. I thought this was fascinating.

Of course, the less transparent and believable the system, the harder time that computer will have to calculate it and make it correct.

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Just play some frequency sweeps or tones… you will know where it cuts off for you. Of course, your system must produce a flat, extended tone, but you can compare speaker output with headphones too.

Warning: always play a pure tone or sweep with the volume down, then slowly turn it up. Be careful.

I have a few test CDs with cool stuff… Stereophile, Hi Fi News, Focal… lotsa good test discs out there, or you can use a tone generator on you computer or smartphone. Or try this web tool after my sig.

NOTE: I noticed an odd phenomenan at some really high frequencies… I forget the number… under and near 20K hertz… where I can’t hear it but can feel it. My imagination? Maybe… your thoughts?

Bruce in Philly

Tho my higher frequency hearing isn’t great I can still feel well into the ultrasonic region. If it’s too loud it feels uncomfortable and at times like someone trying to push my head sideways. Be careful both with your hearing and with your tweeters. I wadded up my inverted metal domes with too much 80kHz - that was expensive.

I remember reading … a long time ago… a J Gordon Holt article, or maybe an answer to a letter, where he addressed his age and hearing loss in high frequencies… I believe he mentioned something about feeling a system’s harshness or something or other.

While I have no evidence that my hearing loss at high frequencies “ruins” my ability to understand sound, I don’t believe it has at all. Why? Because crappy digital still sounds bright to me, and bright systems are not appealing. Always has been that way for 35 years. If I had loss, and it had an impact, I suspect systems would sound more dull and or I would start to prefer brighter systems to compensate. Actually the opposite appears to be happening (if anything).

I think @jamesh example nailed it, the brain is amazingly capable.

I’ve done damage to my right ear so that certain frequencies hurt if emphasized and find low level pink noise to be quite helpful in retraining my ear/brain to equalize.

I don’t like digital bright either but do enjoy extended highs. Perhaps related, I don’t like bright lights either. Though I’ve never heard a terribly significant difference between copper and silver cables.

Now I’m thinking about a convolution that would give me the opposite of my trouble frequencies…hmm.

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Sorry… taking this thread off… I too have a sensitivity to light… and almost all types of sensory input… I also get migraines… who knows if anything is related. However, I do believe my fascination with audio is partly due to my very sensitive hearing. Back playing with my friends in college trying to pick tunes off of records… I amazed everyone by my ability to understand lyrics and pick out fancy chords. Who knows…

Bruce in Philly

I relate; I dislike noise, bright lights, other sensory distractions. Thus, I wish all LEDs and other lights could be turned off on all audio equipment.

I bet your sensitivity is a blessing and a curse when it comes to music and audio reproduction.

turn off lights!!! Ha!!! I purchased an RD 2000 keyboard about 6 months ago… first question I sent to Roland support was “how do I turn off all the lights!”… true story!

Yes and blessing and curse… you get it… I am sure many here do. But when you get a system correct, boy is it nice.

Manytime the darn air handling system in my home screams! I padded the bottom of both of my furnaces with old automobile mats and other carpet remnants … to muffle the motor/fan and air rush noise. Helped some. Ok… here is where I confirm I am nuts… I can actually hear when the filters on my furnaces need to be changed out… the pitch… or something changes as the fan/motor labors.

Bruce in Philly

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@Jedi - to address your initial questions - I got tested a few years ago, and was good to 15-16k. Subsequently I was teaching a class on listening where we drilled with octave pink noise, and I could still do 15k. However, I know some people whose ability to hear a pure sine tone stops at 3k or 6k. I think that sine tones are a woefully inadequate test of “hearing”. These folks still hear everything I hear in terms of being able to sort out what is going on in a piece of music or in a system. So don’t fret. As James mentioned, our brains adjust over time, and you don’t unlearn what you learn about hearing and sound. And I think you hear with more than your ears anyway.

When I was your age, I had a similar thing happen - my hearing “balance” was off to one side. I eventually went to a doctor who removed a big cork of dried wax that had slowly formed over time. So that’s worth having somebody look at. Earwax removal aids don’t always do it, and you don’t always notice that it is happening.


Good point about the wax and anything else that has built up over the years

I had a hearing test Wed, first a tympanic membrane measurements followed by ability to resolve low level information, mostly in the form of soft female voice.

The audiologist knew the equipment and would bring it just out of the noise floor and record spot on when I heard it and responded as instructed.

I’ll have the data in a week or so, nothing ear shattering and doesn’t explain my condition, suspect right hyperacusis (and mild pain) and mild tinnitus in both, annoying more than anything.

I may have worn earplugs too much to compensate over the years, sleeping and motorcycle riding.

Thanks all. Lot’s of good points made. Just did some DAC A/B tests playing Diana Krall on my NAD CD player. The “A” being digital out and using preamp’s DAC, the “B” is using NAD’s DAC going analog to preamp. Interestingly, I can’t tell the difference on my headphones (Sennheiser HD600) but I can on my much less resolving stereo system. Eh, whatever…

Please tell us more. I wear earplugs and noise blocking headphones a great deal of the time.