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Your Audio System is Terrific. How good are your ears?

Some time back I received a remarkable piece of test software, and as best I can tell it may be the most important audio-related check disc in history. I did a review of this disc for "The Sensible Sound" years ago and I am installing an updated version of the review here for interested audio enthusiasts.

It is called the “Audio-CD” (stock number 25172-02001) and is available from an outfit called Digital Recordings, in Canada.

The company has a web site at: www.digital-recordings.com.

It basically contains a hearing-threshold test that many of you will find much more interesting than any other audio-related test you could possibly think of, including even the most arcane ABX tests of amps and wires, or computer programs designed to analyze the blazes out of speaker systems.

Most audiology exams are designed to evaluate an individual’s ability to function in a world where conversation is important. As such, the upper frequency limit of an “audiogram” printout created by such a test is usually 8 kHz – which is rather low in frequency by high-fidelity sound-reproduction standards. The lower frequency limit is usually in the neighborhood of 250 Hz. There is a reason for these general limits. If you can hear that high up and that low with reasonable effectiveness it is likely that you will be able to hear what people say without having to lace your assorted responses and comments with the words “What did you say?” or “Huh?” And out there in the real world the most important thing for most people is the ability to clearly hear what other people are saying.

The Audio-CD hearing test, on the other hand, is a whole different ball game. Rather than just test for conversation-related hearing acuity, it tests for high-fidelity sound reproduction hearing acuity. The disc allows a careful participant to evaluate their threshold hearing ability over an 80-dB range, and do so at 24 frequency points from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. It does this with a degree of precision that should be able to separate the golden ears from the tin ears in a very serious hurry.

OK, let’s be realistic. This is a very dangerous test disc. First, because if the person using it is not careful they will produce erroneous results. Second, because the disc has the potential to pull the psychological rug out from under just about any golden eared enthusiast who cares to fool with it. There is no baloney with this disc if it is used properly: you either have the ability to hear well or you do not.

Note that I said “hear well” and not listen well. There is a difference. There are people out there with superb hearing who would be indifferent to the nuances delivered by a good audio system. On the other hand, there are also individuals out there who might not have the hearing acuity of an 18 year old, but who have worked hard over the years to recognize what is and what is not important in high-fidelity sound reproduction. And while in the best of all worlds a true audio connoisseur would combine both abilities into one ear/brain combination, I think that those with decent hearing and seriously good experience can still survive pretty well in the world of high fidelity.

Still, there is no denying the value of a disc like this as a test tool, provided the individual who obtains it and uses it properly is able to live with what it reveals. This is a dynamite piece of software and only the most intrepid designer, audiophile, audio salesman, or product reviewer will be courageous enough to play around with it.

The disc comes with a good introductory fact sheet and set of instructions, and basically it is easy to set up the procedure. First, however, you do need a good pair of headphones. Junk versions will not do the trick.

The fact sheet mentions three models that should work satisfactorily: the AKG-K270, Sony MDR-7506, and Sony MDR-484. I used a pair of Sony MDR-V6 models, and I feel good about them, because a Sony representative told me that they are pretty much identical to the 7506 model. One on-line reviewer who evaluated the disc used Grado SR325 models with good results, and a very knowledgeable engineering friend has told me that the Sennheiser HD-280 phones are a good choice. Another, possibly best of all choice would be ear-insert headphones, such as those made by Etymotic Research. If you use a pair of headphones that do not have the ability to deliver uniform frequency response, or use a good pair improperly, the results you get with this disc may be compromised.

The company offers an audio-calibration device, the DR1-R acoustical coupler, that allows you to check the linearity of a set of phones with a Radio Shack SPL meter. You can check the web site for information on that tool. It will help the really serious enthusiast insure the best overall accuracy with the disc.

Initially, you have to test the performance of your CD or DVD player, to make sure that it handles the test procedure without any glitches. The disc has tracks on it to do that evaluation, and that is the first thing you should do before getting on with the test of your hearing.

After certifying that the player is OK, you go on to calibrate the volume-level setting of your headphones. This involves listening to a basic pair of test tones that will determine just how far down in level you should set the gain control on your amplifier. You have to be careful doing this set-up procedure, and I advise you to find a VERY quiet part of your house to do the work. Probably, this will be your regular music-listening room, with all the doors closed and the wife and kids temporarily shunted outdoors. You might be tempted to use the CD-ROM drive of your computer, but it is likely that the cooling fan in the computer’s CPU will generate too much noise. It is ESSENTIAL that there be near-zero background noise while doing the tests.

Incidentally, one way to help achieve this low background noise level is to use over-the-ear headphones, which can attenuate outside noise by as much as 30 dB. The Etymotic phones mentioned above also attenuate, because they insert directly into the ear canal.

The calibration test consists of a series of test tones on track number 2 that are repeated over and over. (Track number one has an announcer giving some procedural instructions.) They are at easy-to-hear frequencies, and the idea is to set your amplifier volume control at a point where you can just barely (and I mean JUST BARELY) hear the set-up tones.

If you want, you can find someone else in your family who may have better hearing than you do to do this part of the test. Use several different people if necessary, and get that amp-gain setting as low as possible. For this part of the test it is very helpful to have a preamp, processor, or receiver that has a digital dB readout indicator. That way, it will be easy to see who obtains lowest gain setting and it will also then be easy to do the test again later on by just resetting the level to the same point. Note that if you change headphones from session to session all bets are off, since different phones will have different sensitivities. (Ditto if you decided to some of the tests again with speakers, just for kicks, although headphones are your best bet, for sure.)

Once the reference gain setting is discovered, leave it be. It should not be changed during the rest of the test.

The remaining tracks, from 3 to 26, consists of pulsing tones that start out at very low levels in the left channel and get progressively louder at one-second intervals, with the level increasing by one dB each second. You listen until you can hear the tone in your left ear, and then make a note of the time-elapse number on your CD or DVD player’s digital readout. That number shows how many decibels up from the set-up reference level the signal has to increase to make it audible. You do this with each of the 24 different test frequencies between 20 Hz and 20 kHz, and then plot out the results on a graph that is supplied with the disc.

The graph contains a pre-printed curve that basically outlines just what someone with near-perfect human hearing would be able to do. You compare your results with it and see just how golden your ears happen to be. Then, you turn the headphones around and do the test all over again with the right ear.

Because there is only one graph in the kit, I suggest you go to a copy center and make quite a few duplicates to use, leaving the one that came with the disc as a master.

Now, here are some observations.

First, do not just do each test-tone sequence once. It is usually difficult to recognize the signal as it first rises towards audibility and so you will want to use your player’s back-scanning feature to scroll back a ways and then move forward again. Do this over and over as you begin to recognize the character of the threshold-determining signal at that specific frequency. You will discover that you can work your ways backwards quite a few seconds once you know what to listen for. This is important. You are testing for threshold hearing acuity, and to do this you have to be familiar with the tonal character of each of the test signals.

Second, your honesty notwithstanding, it is good measuring practice to have someone else administer the test to you, and with you facing away from the administrator so that no non-verbal cues can be given. The person taking the test can signal the administrator with hand clues as the test progresses. You can do the test solo, by watching the elapse-time readout yourself, but you have to be honest with what you think you are hearing.

Third, as I noted before, do the test in a quiet space. When I did my series, I noticed that even the slightest bit of extraneous noise made it difficult to detect some of those threshold signals.

My wife discovered the same thing when I had her take the test. She became very aware of even very slight low-level interference noises, even with the Sony MDR-V6 phones. If your air conditioner is on that can have an effect. If you shift the phones on your head that can have an effect. If a car drives by your house during a particular sequence that can have an effect. Even your own breathing can mask some thresholds, as can any degree of tinnitus you might have, particularly at the higher test frequencies. Believe me, this test can frustrate even those who are maddeningly calm most of the time. The trick is to go at it carefully and methodically.

Fourth, make sure that your phones are working OK. Even the ones I mentioned above can have problems. In addition, the first test on the disc is at 20 Hz, and some phones (the Sony model I used, for sure) simply cannot reproduce that signal with adequate force. As a consequence, I used my phones only from 40 Hz on up and used my F1800RII subwoofer for the 20-Hz trial. (This required re-calibrating the set-up tone for my speaker systems, of course.) I also did the full test a second time with the speakers, but found that except for the bass frequencies they made task much less workable than what I got with the headphones. Stick with the phones.

Fifth, test someone in addition to yourself – particularly someone who is younger and possibly female. This can be important, because if you both do poorly at higher frequencies the problem may be with your headphones and not with your ears. Women (particularly younger women) nearly always have better hearing acuity than men at higher frequencies, so do not be afraid to drag your wife into the room and test her, too. My wife was very much not interested in doing the test, but once we got going she really got into it, and did considerably better than I did from 8 kHz on up.

Sixth, be aware of the effects of the temporary threshold shift that can occur if the participant has been exposed to any loud sounds for several hours prior to doing the test. This can temporarily lower one’s hearing sensitivity. In other words, do not test anyone who has just hopped off a motorcycle, just run a leaf blower, or just finished up vacuuming the carpet.

Seventh, and this is important, be aware that there is the potential to damage your hearing if you let the levels run up too far at very high frequencies in a vain attempt to hear something that you cannot hear. If you have trouble hearing any tones at a frequency just above one that you only had slight trouble with, do not attempt to go higher still and then let the levels rise to a maximum. If you cannot hear a given high frequency, going still higher up at still higher levels is not going to you any good at all. I would imagine that there are desperate people out there who would persist in running up the gain with the amplifier volume control to the point where their dog is running out of the room. Don’t be one of those people.

Also, be aware that you may be in a position to fry a tweeter or headphone element just as much as you might fry your ears if you persist in trying to hear signals that you are no longer able to detect. Do not persist in doing something that might deliver high average levels to your driver elements.

The disc costs $49.95. For more information go to the web site I listed near the beginning of this article. The site has buckets of information about hearing loss issues, as well as other interesting products, including a disc that can determine just how well your CD or DVD player can handle disc defects.

One final note. I believe it would be a good idea if EVERY audio product tester obtained a copy of this disc, uses it, and reports his findings to his readers. I can think of no better way to objectively separate the real golden eared wire, amp, and CD player testers from those who are kidding everybody – including themselves. It would also be a good idea if every high-end audio salesman also took the test and made a copy of his chart available to his customers.

Relax, sales guys, I am just kidding.

Howard Ferstler

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Your Audio System is Terrific. How good are your ears?

Some time back I received a remarkable piece of test software, and as best I can tell it may be the most important audio-related check disc in history. I did a review of this disc for "The Sensible Sound" years ago and I am installing an updated version of the review here for interested audio enthusiasts.

It is called the “Audio-CD” (stock number 25172-02001) and is available from an outfit called Digital Recordings, in Canada.

The company has a web site at: www.digital-recordings.com.

One final note. I believe it would be a good idea if EVERY audio product tester obtained a copy of this disc, uses it, and reports his findings to his readers. I can think of no better way to objectively separate the real golden eared wire, amp, and CD player testers from those who are kidding everybody – including themselves. It would also be a good idea if every high-end audio salesman also took the test and made a copy of his chart available to his customers.

Relax, sales guys, I am just kidding.

Howard Ferstler

Howard,

That is a great review! This disc would be a great addition for every audiophile were it not for the relatively high cost and (additional) shipping and handling charge of $15, bringing the total to approximately $65 for one test disc. For reviewers, as you note, this should be a "must-have" CD. John Atkinson, editor of Stereophile magazine would do well to make it mandatory for all of his (now dwindling) audio-staff writers to take this test and print the results. Even though Atkinson plays around with objective-test measurements and so forth, it is the "golden-eared" subjective comments that guide that magazine.

--Tom Tyson

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Your Audio System is Terrific. How good are your ears?

Some time back I received a remarkable piece of test software, and as best I can tell it may be the most important audio-related check disc in history. I did a review of this disc for "The Sensible Sound" years ago and I am installing an updated version of the review here for interested audio enthusiasts.

It is called the “Audio-CD” (stock number 25172-02001) and is available from an outfit called Digital Recordings, in Canada.

The company has a web site at: www.digital-recordings.com.

It basically contains a hearing-threshold test that many of you will find much more interesting than any other audio-related test you could possibly think of, including even the most arcane ABX tests of amps and wires, or computer programs designed to analyze the blazes out of speaker systems.

Most audiology exams are designed to evaluate an individual’s ability to function in a world where conversation is important. As such, the upper frequency limit of an “audiogram” printout created by such a test is usually 8 kHz – which is rather low in frequency by high-fidelity sound-reproduction standards. The lower frequency limit is usually in the neighborhood of 250 Hz. There is a reason for these general limits. If you can hear that high up and that low with reasonable effectiveness it is likely that you will be able to hear what people say without having to lace your assorted responses and comments with the words “What did you say?” or “Huh?” And out there in the real world the most important thing for most people is the ability to clearly hear what other people are saying.

The Audio-CD hearing test, on the other hand, is a whole different ball game. Rather than just test for conversation-related hearing acuity, it tests for high-fidelity sound reproduction hearing acuity. The disc allows a careful participant to evaluate their threshold hearing ability over an 80-dB range, and do so at 24 frequency points from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. It does this with a degree of precision that should be able to separate the golden ears from the tin ears in a very serious hurry.

OK, let’s be realistic. This is a very dangerous test disc. First, because if the person using it is not careful they will produce erroneous results. Second, because the disc has the potential to pull the psychological rug out from under just about any golden eared enthusiast who cares to fool with it. There is no baloney with this disc if it is used properly: you either have the ability to hear well or you do not.

Note that I said “hear well” and not listen well. There is a difference. There are people out there with superb hearing who would be indifferent to the nuances delivered by a good audio system. On the other hand, there are also individuals out there who might not have the hearing acuity of an 18 year old, but who have worked hard over the years to recognize what is and what is not important in high-fidelity sound reproduction. And while in the best of all worlds a true audio connoisseur would combine both abilities into one ear/brain combination, I think that those with decent hearing and seriously good experience can still survive pretty well in the world of high fidelity.

Still, there is no denying the value of a disc like this as a test tool, provided the individual who obtains it and uses it properly is able to live with what it reveals. This is a dynamite piece of software and only the most intrepid designer, audiophile, audio salesman, or product reviewer will be courageous enough to play around with it.

The disc comes with a good introductory fact sheet and set of instructions, and basically it is easy to set up the procedure. First, however, you do need a good pair of headphones. Junk versions will not do the trick.

The fact sheet mentions three models that should work satisfactorily: the AKG-K270, Sony MDR-7506, and Sony MDR-484. I used a pair of Sony MDR-V6 models, and I feel good about them, because a Sony representative told me that they are pretty much identical to the 7506 model. One on-line reviewer who evaluated the disc used Grado SR325 models with good results, and a very knowledgeable engineering friend has told me that the Sennheiser HD-280 phones are a good choice. Another, possibly best of all choice would be ear-insert headphones, such as those made by Etymotic Research. If you use a pair of headphones that do not have the ability to deliver uniform frequency response, or use a good pair improperly, the results you get with this disc may be compromised.

The company offers an audio-calibration device, the DR1-R acoustical coupler, that allows you to check the linearity of a set of phones with a Radio Shack SPL meter. You can check the web site for information on that tool. It will help the really serious enthusiast insure the best overall accuracy with the disc.

Initially, you have to test the performance of your CD or DVD player, to make sure that it handles the test procedure without any glitches. The disc has tracks on it to do that evaluation, and that is the first thing you should do before getting on with the test of your hearing.

After certifying that the player is OK, you go on to calibrate the volume-level setting of your headphones. This involves listening to a basic pair of test tones that will determine just how far down in level you should set the gain control on your amplifier. You have to be careful doing this set-up procedure, and I advise you to find a VERY quiet part of your house to do the work. Probably, this will be your regular music-listening room, with all the doors closed and the wife and kids temporarily shunted outdoors. You might be tempted to use the CD-ROM drive of your computer, but it is likely that the cooling fan in the computer’s CPU will generate too much noise. It is ESSENTIAL that there be near-zero background noise while doing the tests.

Incidentally, one way to help achieve this low background noise level is to use over-the-ear headphones, which can attenuate outside noise by as much as 30 dB. The Etymotic phones mentioned above also attenuate, because they insert directly into the ear canal.

The calibration test consists of a series of test tones on track number 2 that are repeated over and over. (Track number one has an announcer giving some procedural instructions.) They are at easy-to-hear frequencies, and the idea is to set your amplifier volume control at a point where you can just barely (and I mean JUST BARELY) hear the set-up tones.

If you want, you can find someone else in your family who may have better hearing than you do to do this part of the test. Use several different people if necessary, and get that amp-gain setting as low as possible. For this part of the test it is very helpful to have a preamp, processor, or receiver that has a digital dB readout indicator. That way, it will be easy to see who obtains lowest gain setting and it will also then be easy to do the test again later on by just resetting the level to the same point. Note that if you change headphones from session to session all bets are off, since different phones will have different sensitivities. (Ditto if you decided to some of the tests again with speakers, just for kicks, although headphones are your best bet, for sure.)

Once the reference gain setting is discovered, leave it be. It should not be changed during the rest of the test.

The remaining tracks, from 3 to 26, consists of pulsing tones that start out at very low levels in the left channel and get progressively louder at one-second intervals, with the level increasing by one dB each second. You listen until you can hear the tone in your left ear, and then make a note of the time-elapse number on your CD or DVD player’s digital readout. That number shows how many decibels up from the set-up reference level the signal has to increase to make it audible. You do this with each of the 24 different test frequencies between 20 Hz and 20 kHz, and then plot out the results on a graph that is supplied with the disc.

The graph contains a pre-printed curve that basically outlines just what someone with near-perfect human hearing would be able to do. You compare your results with it and see just how golden your ears happen to be. Then, you turn the headphones around and do the test all over again with the right ear.

Because there is only one graph in the kit, I suggest you go to a copy center and make quite a few duplicates to use, leaving the one that came with the disc as a master.

Now, here are some observations.

First, do not just do each test-tone sequence once. It is usually difficult to recognize the signal as it first rises towards audibility and so you will want to use your player’s back-scanning feature to scroll back a ways and then move forward again. Do this over and over as you begin to recognize the character of the threshold-determining signal at that specific frequency. You will discover that you can work your ways backwards quite a few seconds once you know what to listen for. This is important. You are testing for threshold hearing acuity, and to do this you have to be familiar with the tonal character of each of the test signals.

Second, your honesty notwithstanding, it is good measuring practice to have someone else administer the test to you, and with you facing away from the administrator so that no non-verbal cues can be given. The person taking the test can signal the administrator with hand clues as the test progresses. You can do the test solo, by watching the elapse-time readout yourself, but you have to be honest with what you think you are hearing.

Third, as I noted before, do the test in a quiet space. When I did my series, I noticed that even the slightest bit of extraneous noise made it difficult to detect some of those threshold signals.

My wife discovered the same thing when I had her take the test. She became very aware of even very slight low-level interference noises, even with the Sony MDR-V6 phones. If your air conditioner is on that can have an effect. If you shift the phones on your head that can have an effect. If a car drives by your house during a particular sequence that can have an effect. Even your own breathing can mask some thresholds, as can any degree of tinnitus you might have, particularly at the higher test frequencies. Believe me, this test can frustrate even those who are maddeningly calm most of the time. The trick is to go at it carefully and methodically.

Fourth, make sure that your phones are working OK. Even the ones I mentioned above can have problems. In addition, the first test on the disc is at 20 Hz, and some phones (the Sony model I used, for sure) simply cannot reproduce that signal with adequate force. As a consequence, I used my phones only from 40 Hz on up and used my F1800RII subwoofer for the 20-Hz trial. (This required re-calibrating the set-up tone for my speaker systems, of course.) I also did the full test a second time with the speakers, but found that except for the bass frequencies they made task much less workable than what I got with the headphones. Stick with the phones.

Fifth, test someone in addition to yourself – particularly someone who is younger and possibly female. This can be important, because if you both do poorly at higher frequencies the problem may be with your headphones and not with your ears. Women (particularly younger women) nearly always have better hearing acuity than men at higher frequencies, so do not be afraid to drag your wife into the room and test her, too. My wife was very much not interested in doing the test, but once we got going she really got into it, and did considerably better than I did from 8 kHz on up.

Sixth, be aware of the effects of the temporary threshold shift that can occur if the participant has been exposed to any loud sounds for several hours prior to doing the test. This can temporarily lower one’s hearing sensitivity. In other words, do not test anyone who has just hopped off a motorcycle, just run a leaf blower, or just finished up vacuuming the carpet.

Seventh, and this is important, be aware that there is the potential to damage your hearing if you let the levels run up too far at very high frequencies in a vain attempt to hear something that you cannot hear. If you have trouble hearing any tones at a frequency just above one that you only had slight trouble with, do not attempt to go higher still and then let the levels rise to a maximum. If you cannot hear a given high frequency, going still higher up at still higher levels is not going to you any good at all. I would imagine that there are desperate people out there who would persist in running up the gain with the amplifier volume control to the point where their dog is running out of the room. Don’t be one of those people.

Also, be aware that you may be in a position to fry a tweeter or headphone element just as much as you might fry your ears if you persist in trying to hear signals that you are no longer able to detect. Do not persist in doing something that might deliver high average levels to your driver elements.

The disc costs $49.95. For more information go to the web site I listed near the beginning of this article. The site has buckets of information about hearing loss issues, as well as other interesting products, including a disc that can determine just how well your CD or DVD player can handle disc defects.

One final note. I believe it would be a good idea if EVERY audio product tester obtained a copy of this disc, uses it, and reports his findings to his readers. I can think of no better way to objectively separate the real golden eared wire, amp, and CD player testers from those who are kidding everybody – including themselves. It would also be a good idea if every high-end audio salesman also took the test and made a copy of his chart available to his customers.

Relax, sales guys, I am just kidding.

Howard Ferstler

I don't know how much information they give you with this disc but if it's incomplete and you use the disc, even if you have performed the test properly, when you look at the results don't go into cardiac arrest immediately. At least not until you get to understand equal loudness curves as first explained and graphed by Fletcher and Munson so that you can interpret the results.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fletcher%E2%80%93Munson_curves

http://emusician.com/tutorials/square-one-...ou-hear-me-now/

Those even with good hearing will not have nearly the sensitivity near the frequency extremes as in the middle range. Hearing seems to be most accute at around 3500 hz, octaves above the human voice's fundimental frequency. At the extremes, the threshold of hearing and the threshold of pain curves should nearly cross. There isn't even agreement on what the right curves are but Fletcher and Munson seem more in agreement with their 1937 measurements to ISO 226 than much later measurements by Robinson and Davidson in 1956. These curves are the basis for frequency weighting when discussing noise levels and other loudness related issues. These also suggest that sensitivity to differences in loudness, that is volume resolution also varies with frequency and is not linear. What is probably not tested is frequency or pitch resolution. Mine was tested only once when I was 12 years old. My hearing I think is good to between about a quarter to an eighth of a half tone which is about a 1% frequency shift. At some frequencies over an octave or two bandwidth I might be able to detect a difference of 1/2 db...maybe. At other frequencies and for other bandwidths, maybe not so sensitive. BTW, the volume resolution of a Redbook cd is about 100 to 200 times the resolution of human hearing and its slew rate is about 10% faster than the fastest change a human can hear. Those who argue otherwise should run the calculations in light of the data.

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This disc would be a great addition for every audiophile were it not for the relatively high cost and (additional) shipping and handling charge of $15, bringing the total to approximately $65 for one test disc.

--Tom Tyson

There appears to be a free (for a "limited time only") "Professional" version of the test (same as the Audio-CD), available online, which offers:

• 24 test frequencies ranging from 20 to 20,000 Hz

• 81 SPL (volume) levels ranging from 0 to 80 dB in 1 dB steps

It may be accessed from the following page (select "More Info" on the "WWW Hearing Test - Professional" product):

http://www.digital-recordings.com/hearing-...t-products.html

My own hearing presently extends to 14 kHz, with an overall slight loss of sensitivity, not bad for a 49 year old male!

Robert_S

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My last hearing test was two years ago, and according to the audiologist I can still hear frequencies in the 18-19hHz range, down from 21-22kHz at my first-ever hearing test when I was 25 (I turn 56 in two weeks).

I've spent a large portion of my working life in industries where high noise levels are occupational hazards, and was taught very early on to make hearing protection a high priority. I avoid high noise level environments as much as possible, and even though I no longer work in them, I still pack sets of silicone and foam earplugs "just in case."

Where my hearing has definitely deteriorated with age is in frequency discrimination rather than frequency range. IOW, while I can still hear isolated 18-19kHz tones, picking them out from a mix with other frequencies is much harder at 55 than it was at 25.

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My last hearing test was two years ago, and according to the audiologist I can still hear frequencies in the 18-19hHz range, down from 21-22kHz at my first-ever hearing test when I was 25 (I turn 56 in two weeks).

I've spent a large portion of my working life in industries where high noise levels are occupational hazards, and was taught very early on to make hearing protection a high priority. I avoid high noise level environments as much as possible, and even though I no longer work in them, I still pack sets of silicone and foam earplugs "just in case."

Where my hearing has definitely deteriorated with age is in frequency discrimination rather than frequency range. IOW, while I can still hear isolated 18-19kHz tones, picking them out from a mix with other frequencies is much harder at 55 than it was at 25.

-------------------------------------------------------

Many years ago (and it does not seem that long ago) I could hear all the high frequencies that mattered. My usual check was to check to hear the high frequency whistle from the TV set (from the flyback circuit at 15750 Hz). No longer but now I am 73. After a lot of nagging from 'She Who Must Be Obeyed' I did go to a hearing aid place. I did it with the expectation that I would buy the hardware. Yes, I did. With no regret (but for the loss of some of that green stuff). These things do work. My problem was typical. A roll-off of the high frequency response which could be compensated by a boost of the response of the amplifiers now by my ears (think equalizers). My only problem is how do I rationalize using all analogue equipment (LPs through preamps through 6SN7s and KT88s to my Dyna A-50s) with digital processed hearing devices.

My ear gadgetry can be programmed for 1) Automatic (sort of a plain vanilla setting), 2) voice in quiet, 3) voice in loud, 4) music, and 5)Bluetooth (still working on that). My wife immediatley noted that I don't say What did you say? very often and I do hear voices much better in conference room settings. The music setting needs toning down (that can be done).

Recommended if you need the help.

John

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My usual check was to check to hear the high frequency whistle from the TV set (from the flyback circuit at 15750 Hz).

As far as I'm concerned, the money we dropped on our new LCD TVs was well spent just to rid myself of that experience. ;)

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