Loss of hearing but not bad enough to be proper hearing loss?

Yesterday I had a hearing test. I booked it after noticing that I am not hearing stuff I know should be there (eg The Roland drums at the beginning of Duchess on Duke by Genesis are way too quiet). I had wondered about hearing aids after reading inspiring contributions from the likes of @Canaryfan and @davidhendon. Perhaps these could bring back or at least help boost the missing music?

The conclusion was that I do indeed have a drop starting around 3-4kHz but that it doesn’t constitute “hearing loss” in that most of my hearing isn’t bad enough to meet the accepted definition and so the audiologist didn’t recommend hearing aids. I wonder if others here have had similar or different experiences.

When I mentioned how cymbals sound quiet and flat (and Roland drums too quiet) he suggested that pop music, especially remasters, are often filtered to cut off high frequencies so they don’t compete with lower frequencies. This might explain why I can hear cymbals but not always hear them properly in the musical mix.

He also suggested that having a decent hi-fi is a good thing in my situation and that playing with the EQ to boost high frequencies might help. Obviously, this isn’t possible with Naim, but it does leave me wondering about Roon DSP and Parametric EQ. Again, have others had any success with this? I’m thinking of @Sloop_John_B

Keith

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This is a very sad example of hearing loss that haunts me as I get older.

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Yes, I remember watching that at the time. He described the uh-oh moment when he watched the sound meters moving but couldn’t hear anything.

I can confirm that the I can still hear The Lark Ascending and I can still hear larks, or could early this year :slightly_smiling_face:

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You might consider using the service from Home Audio Fidelity, who can analyse your room and develop filters to compensate.
They have a plugin that can be used to compensate for hearing loss. I believe these can be used with JRiver or Audirvana, but not Roon. Thierry, who runs HAF, is a helpful guy, maybe worth asking his advice.

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Did the audiologist give you a copy of your audiogram? Or if not did you find out (or can you find out) how many dB loss you have at 3 kHz, 4 kHz and say 6 or 8 kHz?

Without knowing the answer it’s very hard to say whether you might be able to recover your missing music by playing with equalisation of the audio signal.

Obviously one issue is that if you change it in the audio domain then everyone will hear it like that (too much treble for them?!) That might not be a problem for you if you mostly listen alone, but also more to the point if your treble loss is anything more than mild, you simply couldn’t drive enough power to compensate for the loss without risking damage to your tweeters.

Another thought is to go and ask another audiologist (they pretty well all offer free hearing tests) and be explicit that it’s not normal life you are trying to recover, but specific musical enjoyment.

Anyway good luck and please do come back and tell us how it all goes, whatever you try. There are undoubtedly lots of people here who will be interested even if they are lucky enough to mostly not have to do anything about hearing loss yet.

Incidentally I reckon one could certainly think in terms of hearing aids just for listening to music even if you don’t need them all the time. I use reading glasses, but I don’t need glasses for anything more than a couple of feet away from me! The optician is still very happy to sell me prescription reading glasses!

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I’ve heard so much about the latest development in dsp-based hearing devices, how they can be adjusted to compensate small changes. Or just be used in a certain situations. I am sure there is something out there to help you. Maybe you could get a second opinion from another audiologist?

I have a friend using modern hearing aid and she says it does wonders. They are very discrete and she can change the setup live on her phone from, say, music listening to conversation with a person in a noisy area. Or try to block most external audio.

If you just want to twiddle hw knobs and test the waters I come to think of Lokius, a box with parametric EQ at a decent price from Schiit. But be careful with the tweeters. Do a google on ‘Lokius Schiit’. Perhaps connected in the tape-loop of a preamp.

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He also suggested musicians’ ear defenders for gigs, which have to be individually fitted so I will look into that

Thanks David,

I photographed his screen. It’s flat at 10 but dips to 30 at 4kHz and 35 at 6kHz, after which it recovers a bit (I’m a little reluctant to post the photo here). He refined you need most of it below 20 before aids become needed. He was concerned that aids would sound mp3 and felt I would be disappointed.

I do have a second test booked for late September so I’ll report back.

You’re right that mucking about with EQ wasn’t well received by others. I’m not sure I was that keen either. I ended up bumping the high frequencies by 5 and I’ll see how I go with that.

That’s not too bad at all. But remember that 10dB is 10 times the power. So to compensate for a 10dB loss, you are going to need to put ten times the power into your speakers. To compensate for a 20dB loss, you need 100 times the power!

Hearing aids use compression to get round this. But modern hearing aids don’t sound MP3 at all. I suspect your audiologist didn’t really know much about using modern hearing aids set up for music.
Anyway let’s see what others suggest. It’s not just a case of listening more carefully. I’m afraid that is a quite naive and insensitive suggestion from one of our colleagues.

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Thanks David,

Good to hear it’s not too bad but that hearing aids may help.

Music still sounds great, as long as it’s not loud, but it’s sad to think I’m not hearing everything on the recordings.

The audiologist seemed to be a music fan (When I mentioned I will be seeing Porcupine Tree later this year he said he preferred Meshuggah!) but not an audiophile.

Also, I had been wondering how hearing aids can amplify signals enough to help so your explanation makes sense and is very ecouaging :slightly_smiling_face:

I have a curve I use in Roon for when I don’t have my hearing aids on. Makes music and radio in the bedroom acceptable.

You could use similar to mirror your audiogram.

( for whatever reason I find much lower dB values are needed to compensate via Roon than my audiogram suggests so I don’t know if they are equivalent or if something else might be at play).

.sjb

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I Am actually in the process to which you are describing.
My journey begins with my good wife repeating conversations to me and I was thinking my ( long suffering of )tinnitus was to blame. Things came to a head when we went a brass band concert in our parish church and had to leave after a few minutes as it became extremely uncomfortable to listen.
A home visit by an audiologist was arranged and was diagnosed with high frequency hearing loss which meant hearing aids.
After a few trials with different types and manufacturers I settled for a pair of “receiver in ear “ aids with a very small battery and microphone module just behind the ear which nowadays are so small they are virtually unnoticeable.
Suffice to say they have already been a revelation even though I am only at the start of the process of setting up and customising the various programs by my audiologist, ( I am even able to wear my Sennheiser 800s whilst wearing them).
Even now after only a few weeks wearing them the clarity they afford me I did not realise I had lost until now.
As I progress I hope to be able to fine tune them myself via the app on my iPhone to make small changes as needed with regard to music . I will update after “burn in “ !!!

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Thanks SJB :blush:

Here’s my attempt. It doesn’t bring back the quiet stuff, I guess for the reasons Dave has explained, but does brighten things up a bit. Much more than this sounds nasty.

I notice you haven’t reduced yours back so it peaks at zero or switched on Headroom Management.

I’m now thinking the real solution is to find another audiologist after Davies comments.

Cheers, Keith

I have to say I’m very surprised to find this thread in the Lounge. Hopefully, Richard will it it back in Hi-Fi Corner.

Keith

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Thanks Vertanna,

I too have tinnitus in the form of a hiss that I can ignore but is there when I think about it. I don’t think my loss is as bad as yours (yet!) as I’m ok in normal domestic situations and only really struggle in parties and sometimes at work if there is a lot of background noise.

I take a lot of hope and encouragement from you and others who have posted their positive comments. It seems I now have to find myself a sympathetic audiologist.

I do use Headroom management, this was just a quick screenshot.

.sjb

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Thanks John,

A couple of things;

I have dropped my test down so it peaks at zero to avoid distortion. This makes it a lot quieter and so more difficult to compare to no DSP.

The high frequency boost in my test is far less than my hearing loss and not enough to bring back the quiet stuff I’m missing (I guess for the reasons described by @davidhendon) yet does very noticeably brighten the sound and make S consonants (which apparently sit around 6kHz) much clearer. Whether I prefer it is another question :confused:

I see you have enabled Convolution. Does that mean you have loaded a program based on your hearing test results?

Keith

I recently developed tinnitus - shortly after Covid+ve, unsure if connected or coincidence…
It does come and go and has lessened a lot after having my ears vacuumed, I am hoping it is a slowly healing thing rather than permanent.
I hear it most when I concentrate on listening or in quiet places, such as walking in the hills or forests. It does not seem to stop me hearing other things.

I discovered last year that I can test my hearing on my phone with headphones.
I use the dragonfly cobalt DAC and was surprised how different the headphone sets came out - when I put on my beyrdynamic T5s I could hear every tone - might be worth playing around to see if you can hear the difference if you have a similar app.

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No that’s my HAF filters for the room.

Have you changed anything in your hifi setup?
Perhaps this could be a bit of a tweeter issue also?

Worth trying your equalisation with headphones at least to see of the missing bits are more obvious.

Just creat another flat filter with the same reduction to compare

.sjb

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How do you define Proper Hearing Loss?
A bit of background info my wife’s story may be helpful.
She is totally deaf in one ear and only has 25% in the other. We have been through probably at least half a dozen and the watchwords are “they are all a compromise in one way or another”.
Her current one is last generation so does not have a rechargeable battery, but replacable.
Replaceable batteries are a fiddle to fit. Modern ones can be blutoothed to TV/audio and controlled by a smartphone. So the latest ones are a good step up.
As ear loss is probably in the HF region the aid can be programmed to compensate for this. Also a second slave aid can be fitted to the other inactive ear giving 360 degree pickup.
I am no audioligist but if you think you need a hearing aid you probably do. You can hear speech but miss detail. Turn it up and its too loud.
Incidently those with hearing loss are more likely to be less tolerant to loud music: no less than Beethoven.
Hope that helps.

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