decline of hearing - how do you deal with it?

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Chizmata
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Post 03 Jun 2024

over the past years ive been noticing some decline of high frequency hearing in my right ear. i got back on music making after a break this week and it feels like it made another jump. i know its normal when aging, but how do you handle it, especially when its asymmetric?

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selig
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Post 03 Jun 2024

I can think of two things to do with asymmetric hearing.
One is to do lots of work in mono. Added benefit: it may 're-calibrate' your hearing after a bit, 'training' your brain what the new 'center' is. The brain can compensate in many cases from what I've learned, but I'm not 100% sure how much it can accommodate in this case – worth a try. I DO know that's why we play mix references when working in a new room or switching monitors, because the brain can learn to translate between those two worlds as long as you give it a solid and familiar reference.
Another is to swap the L/R channels every so often while mixing to make sure everything is as you expect.
That's all I got, but I'm entering that period of my life where I'll likely be experiencing the same thing as you so maybe I'll come up with more ideas!
Selig Audio, LLC

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DaveyG
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Post 03 Jun 2024

But the first thing you should do is go and get a hearing test. I don't know where you are but in the UK there are various high street places that offer free tests. Obviously, after the test they want to sell you something that will correct the hearing but they also give you frequency response graphs for each ear. That will give you a good starting point for adapting to it.

WarStar
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Post 03 Jun 2024

selig wrote:
03 Jun 2024
I can think of two things to do with asymmetric hearing.
One is to do lots of work in mono. Added benefit: it may 're-calibrate' your hearing after a bit, 'training' your brain what the new 'center' is.

Another is to swap the L/R channels every so often while mixing to make sure everything is as you expect.
That's all I got, but I'm entering that period of my life where I'll likely be experiencing the same thing as you so maybe I'll come up with more ideas!
Great ideas selig.. never thought about switching L/R before.. clever idea.. I feel that my right side is a little quite so having to keep this in mind too..

robussc
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Post 03 Jun 2024

Got tinnitus in my left ear in the fall of last year. Was quite depressed about it at first, but now I'm learning to live with it, as it comes and goes depending on the environment. Second the mono and switching L-R. Supposedly there might be some treatment in the pipeline which would be amazing:

https://apple.news/ALM9IRIrGTcqEnUBz_bjVBQ
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Chizmata
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Post 03 Jun 2024

thank all of you folks for your input. i took a random internet test the other day and my overall high frequency hearing is actually slightly better than the age average (im 43), but the asymmetry is definitely real. i simply cant hear some high passed noise on the right ear which i do hear on the left and its not a headphone issue.
i do work in mono a lot anyway, so thats a good thing. i will try the side swapping and probably see a doctor at some point. :thumbup:

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DaveyG
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Post 04 Jun 2024

I can't stress how important it is to get a proper hearing test. They will be able to tell you whether the problem is in your inner ear or outer ear and they may also be able to tell you whether it is correctible. Sometimes medication or surgery can correct these things. Sometimes hearing aids will work by boosting certain frequencies. And sometimes the problem is beyond correction because your ear(s) just can't process certain frequencies regardless of how loud they are.

43 is quite young to be having noticeable problems unless you've been over zealous with the volume knob or working in noisy environments. Get it checked out, it may be fixable. :thumbup:

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motuscott
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Post 04 Jun 2024

Agreed. See an otolaryngologist as soon as possible. Hearing is precious. You have no idea how isolating hearing impairment can be and timeliness is crucial.
Who’s using the royal plural now baby? 🧂

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mcatalao
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Post 04 Jun 2024

I test my hearing very often to know their tests are from 100 hz to 8khz. Its an odd option in 2024, but i think the reason is that they're testing functional hearing (vocals and allround urban noises). Usually i complement their tests with my own beyound 8 khz.

Imho, if one has a hearing impairment you should get help and rely on the aids. The new generation of dsp enhanced aids can help equalize sound a lot. So I wouldn't rely on street stores for free tests and go to a otorhinolaryngologist, and explain you're a musician... He/she will help you understand the real extent of the damage, if it is a deteriorating thing (more than only aging) and if /when you have to do something.

But you wanto to take care of that because if it progresses to disable functional hearing its really nasty for yourself and your family.

Anyway, if Beethoven wrote the ninth almost without any hearing, and most f alf his work was done without conductive hearing, a minor drop in the highs must not dispair you. You might rely on help of others when mixing or outsource mixing but other than that, keep making music!!!

Take care!

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rgdaniel
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Post 05 Jun 2024

I've lost quite a bit of the high end in my hearing. My informal playing around suggests that anything over about 6k is not audible to me. My concern is that my mixes will have annoying high end stuff going on that I wouldn't even be aware of, so I tend to gently roll off more of the highs than others might. Rather risk a mix that lacks crispness up there, than a mix that sounds offensive and shrieky and I can't even hear that.

RobC
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Post 07 Jun 2024

robussc wrote:
03 Jun 2024
Got tinnitus in my left ear in the fall of last year. Was quite depressed about it at first, but now I'm learning to live with it, as it comes and goes depending on the environment. Second the mono and switching L-R. Supposedly there might be some treatment in the pipeline which would be amazing:

https://apple.news/ALM9IRIrGTcqEnUBz_bjVBQ
I was born with beepings and ringings. I have booming, etc, too by now. It's rather a nervous thing than hearing damage.

They say, gingko-biloba can help. As well as doing exercise, and avoiding anything damaging to your health. Caffeine, alcohol, smoke, and worse stuff.

The interesting thing: make a hiss, and the noises are gone. : ) It's shit to live with, but it shouldn't affect your musical proffession in any way.

RobC
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Post 07 Jun 2024

selig wrote:
03 Jun 2024
I can think of two things to do with asymmetric hearing.
One is to do lots of work in mono. Added benefit: it may 're-calibrate' your hearing after a bit, 'training' your brain what the new 'center' is. The brain can compensate in many cases from what I've learned, but I'm not 100% sure how much it can accommodate in this case – worth a try. I DO know that's why we play mix references when working in a new room or switching monitors, because the brain can learn to translate between those two worlds as long as you give it a solid and familiar reference.
Another is to swap the L/R channels every so often while mixing to make sure everything is as you expect.
That's all I got, but I'm entering that period of my life where I'll likely be experiencing the same thing as you so maybe I'll come up with more ideas!
I wouldn't necessarily do the L/R flipping thing. Most likely, everyone's hearing is different in each ear.
I think my right ear is definitely a bit tamed in the highs, yet I still could dead-accurately localize (well, rather pan) sounds, when mixing.
Of course, it might be a different thing if people's ears are completely shot in certain regions (I can't hear shit above 18k); but honestly? As long as they hear up to ~8k, they will be able to professionally mix. Maybe not perfectly master, but definitely mix.

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selig
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Post 07 Jun 2024

RobC wrote:
07 Jun 2024
I wouldn't necessarily do the L/R flipping thing. Most likely, everyone's hearing is different in each ear.
I think my right ear is definitely a bit tamed in the highs, yet I still could dead-accurately localize (well, rather pan) sounds, when mixing.
Of course, it might be a different thing if people's ears are completely shot in certain regions (I can't hear shit above 18k); but honestly? As long as they hear up to ~8k, they will be able to professionally mix. Maybe not perfectly master, but definitely mix.
What didn't work for you when you did that?
[it's really no different than doing a mono check, it can be quite useful for a 'sanity check' if you feel the mix is off balanced, etc...]
Selig Audio, LLC

RobC
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Post 10 Jun 2024

selig wrote:
07 Jun 2024
RobC wrote:
07 Jun 2024
I wouldn't necessarily do the L/R flipping thing. Most likely, everyone's hearing is different in each ear.
I think my right ear is definitely a bit tamed in the highs, yet I still could dead-accurately localize (well, rather pan) sounds, when mixing.
Of course, it might be a different thing if people's ears are completely shot in certain regions (I can't hear shit above 18k); but honestly? As long as they hear up to ~8k, they will be able to professionally mix. Maybe not perfectly master, but definitely mix.
What didn't work for you when you did that?
[it's really no different than doing a mono check, it can be quite useful for a 'sanity check' if you feel the mix is off balanced, etc...]
One problem is each ear's unique frequency response. Same with the speakers/headphones/IEMs.
When we get to work and warm up to the sound, our ears adapt. If we flip the channels, we may get false information. - A word of caution though: I research psychoacoustics, especially things like the HAAS effect, OOPS, then experiments with stereo positive and negative wave separation, etc. Things get evident there.
It may work for simple things, such as panning, reverb and echoes. But honestly, if one ear is partly shot, I don't see how it will help anything. Unless somebody hard pans a shaker, then does a channel swap to check it. But even then, the other ear will compensate for the hearing loss, and now will hear the shaker as too loud.
All in all, if there's a problem in one ear, I'd rather mix sounds with problematic frequencies in mono, and then try some stereo positioning - but the best bet would be to get some help from someone else in such case.
If you mean things like checking if we mixed too many sounds to one side, well, then I guess it can help some ~ but I'd only pay attention to if something sounds really off. It's still better to plan a good mix balance ahead.

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selig
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Post 10 Jun 2024

RobC wrote:
10 Jun 2024
One problem is each ear's unique frequency response. Same with the speakers/headphones/IEMs.
When we get to work and warm up to the sound, our ears adapt. If we flip the channels, we may get false information. - A word of caution though: I research psychoacoustics, especially things like the HAAS effect, OOPS, then experiments with stereo positive and negative wave separation, etc. Things get evident there.
It may work for simple things, such as panning, reverb and echoes. But honestly, if one ear is partly shot, I don't see how it will help anything. Unless somebody hard pans a shaker, then does a channel swap to check it. But even then, the other ear will compensate for the hearing loss, and now will hear the shaker as too loud.
All in all, if there's a problem in one ear, I'd rather mix sounds with problematic frequencies in mono, and then try some stereo positioning - but the best bet would be to get some help from someone else in such case.
If you mean things like checking if we mixed too many sounds to one side, well, then I guess it can help some ~ but I'd only pay attention to if something sounds really off. It's still better to plan a good mix balance ahead.
But isn’t that the same thing that happens anytime you change something, like switching to a different set of monitors, or checking a mix in mono? Any time you get accustomed to one sound it takes a few seconds to accommodate. Every engineer learns how to deal with this because it happens so frequently when mixing. Even hitting solo can be a little confusing at first!
I do this test any time I wonder what’s going on with the stereo image I’m creating, and it’s never caused any issues but has often helped. And sometimes that means it simply confirms everything is OK!

I’m not advocating for doing anything less than what is typically done during mixing, like having a good plan etc…
Selig Audio, LLC

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dvdrtldg
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Post 10 Jun 2024

robussc wrote:
03 Jun 2024
Got tinnitus in my left ear in the fall of last year. Was quite depressed about it at first, but now I'm learning to live with it, as it comes and goes depending on the environment. Second the mono and switching L-R. Supposedly there might be some treatment in the pipeline which would be amazing:

https://apple.news/ALM9IRIrGTcqEnUBz_bjVBQ
I don't know how much faith you put in "alternative" therapies but my partner is a Chinese herbalist/acupuncturist, and tinnitus is one of the things that Chinese medicine has a lot of success with. Might be worth checking out if you haven't already (and if you're interested in the first place)

RobC
Posts: 1896
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 12 Jun 2024

selig wrote:
10 Jun 2024
RobC wrote:
10 Jun 2024
One problem is each ear's unique frequency response. Same with the speakers/headphones/IEMs.
When we get to work and warm up to the sound, our ears adapt. If we flip the channels, we may get false information. - A word of caution though: I research psychoacoustics, especially things like the HAAS effect, OOPS, then experiments with stereo positive and negative wave separation, etc. Things get evident there.
It may work for simple things, such as panning, reverb and echoes. But honestly, if one ear is partly shot, I don't see how it will help anything. Unless somebody hard pans a shaker, then does a channel swap to check it. But even then, the other ear will compensate for the hearing loss, and now will hear the shaker as too loud.
All in all, if there's a problem in one ear, I'd rather mix sounds with problematic frequencies in mono, and then try some stereo positioning - but the best bet would be to get some help from someone else in such case.
If you mean things like checking if we mixed too many sounds to one side, well, then I guess it can help some ~ but I'd only pay attention to if something sounds really off. It's still better to plan a good mix balance ahead.
But isn’t that the same thing that happens anytime you change something, like switching to a different set of monitors, or checking a mix in mono? Any time you get accustomed to one sound it takes a few seconds to accommodate. Every engineer learns how to deal with this because it happens so frequently when mixing. Even hitting solo can be a little confusing at first!
I do this test any time I wonder what’s going on with the stereo image I’m creating, and it’s never caused any issues but has often helped. And sometimes that means it simply confirms everything is OK!

I’m not advocating for doing anything less than what is typically done during mixing, like having a good plan etc…
If both ears are mostly fine, then a stereo balance-check can't hurt I guess. I think it 'might' be tricky if one ear has a problem.
Several years ago, when I had one ear partly clogged, then a swapping L/R didn't help much. But in the end, perhaps it's more than nothing, if I think about it.

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