Does Hearing Loss Disqualify Me from Audiophiledom?

For one thing, it makes it really challenging to take advice from the experts with good ears.  As a result of loss in the higher register, tinitits and unbalanced hearing, I tend to go for dynamics and soundstage as opposed to accuracy and subtleties.  How do others who suffer from hearing issues "offset" their challenges?  Can we still be in the club?

Current Rig - Bluesound Node 2i > Danafrips Ares II > Freya + > Krell Duo 300 XD > Forte IVs / SVS PB 4000.  In case you have suggestions...

And yes, the Forte's can be a bit bright and fatiguing with certain music.  


Pretty sure most of us are old enough to have hearing issues.

As long as you can enjoy your music is all that matters.

You're still in the club!

Listening to music is a two step process: what you hear and what you feel. If you can still "receive" the content and quality, it will make you feel what it always did, and that's all that matters. You will discover something new every day, still, in the music you've know for decades.

As long as you can enjoy your music is all that matters.

You're still in the club!

I'm deaf but still enjoy music...that is all that matters.

Go to costco and get a pair of the current Phillips hearing aids fitted to you.  they will flatten out the frequency response and levelize your ears.  

Second, this model has a "hifi Music" setting you slect on your phone only when listening to music or in a quiet place.  This setting does no processing of the sound, just delivers everything to you that is in the room.

Game changer.


I listen to Ludwig V's 9th and Zeppelin with RAGING tinnitus along with hearing that drops @ 7 Khz with no loss of enjoyment.

The good news is my deficit is about equal in both ears, so my deafness is balanced! 


I was at a audio dealer when a customer in his 80’s with hearing aids wanted to audition 2 pair of speakers in an A-B set up. I stuck around thinking it would be interesting to see his reaction. He’s was a kind man and very engaging in music discussion while we all listened. I was amazed at his assessment as we listened and he asked the dealer to switch between the pairs of speakers. I consider myself a good listener and being able to point out differences between gear. But this gentleman was a total surprise at his description of the differences he was hearing. Too bright, mids seem shadowed, bass tighter or muddy etc. I was in agreement with most of his comments. It taught me that even with hearing aids, music can be enjoyed beyond just sound. As I age I hope I will maintain the ability to fully appreciate this passion.

You need to get your ears cleaned by a pro, another member @erik_squires has a thread about this.

                              What IS an, 'audiophile'?

                             Go with the societal* flow!

                           *As long as you identify as...

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My mother had to take a drug to maintain pregnancy and both her and I had/have prominent tinnitus. I have never had good hearing, but I do like music and do have a sense of what is musical..etc. I don’t know to what degree what I hear corresponds to what you hear and like others my hearing has diminished over time. I have questioned if it is reasonable to spend large amounts of money when my hearing is impaired, but I do hear differences and do have preferences.

I have recently ventured into the world of KPop. I don’t speak Korean, but due to watching KDramas I do catch a few phrases. BTW.. the KDrama “The Glory” recently became the top TV series on Netflix worldwide and third in US. Worth watching for sure. Part of my hearing loss with age is an inability to understand speech in a noisy environment, but this has allowed me to enjoy music without understanding the lyrics.

Let’s hope that all of us age well with normal decline.

I believe we are too deep into this so the chances of not getting satisfaction will be minimal.

@carlsbad - thanks for the advice.  And thanks to everyone for telling their story.  

It would be interesting to try and match your measured hearing abilities to a speakers measurements.  Understand where your limits of hearing and often exaggerated frequency distortions can be matched relative to a response of a speaker.  More like fitting a shoe to a foot rather than one size fits all approach.   This is what we all try and accomplish but in a very un-scientific manner.  It could help focus the search for the optimal sound.

And I wonder if those of us with hearing loss and other issues gravitate towards a certain type of speaker (horn loaded, soft dome, planar) or amp (Tube, Class A, AB, D)?


you may not fully audibly appreciate your system, but surely you will enjoy at least looks.

I wear above-the-ear hearing aids when listening to 2-channel, and in-ear hearing aids for headphones... I may not hear it as well as some, but I can certainly tell the difference in sound quality.... 

IMHO, hearing is to audio what eye sight is to fine art. Yes, you need to be able to hear or see for both, but better sight or hearing ability doesn’t necessarily make you better at identifying and recognizing the finer points....experience and exposure to better sound help us develop a more advanced point of reference.

My vision is still fine, but I know nothing about fine art....never had any exposure or interest. My hearing was better when I first started in audio 1981, but I was far less experienced at recognizing good sound. Exposure to great sounding gear can help us to learn to recognize it when we hear it. I’m sure the same is true of art.

Had my hearing tested for my recent 70th Birthday (70 is the new 50).

Tell you what, the frequencies were presented (via headphones) SO LOW (25 db?) they were barely discernable. From my own experience, I’d say the test was invalid. I can hear triangles at the back of the stage, musicians turning their music pages, audience members sniffing and coughing (when listening at normal levels), etc.. I can hold my arm straight out, rub my fingers lightly together and hear it plainly. The technician said I had a 6khz cutoff. At normal levels, I disagree.

BTW, this testing center also sold hearing aids. Couldn’t have anything to do with it, right?

@gruvjet My speakers are very flat and hearing aids generally try to get your flat. they only go up to 10k hz, alas above 10k hz isn't the realm of people much beyond 50.  Hearing aids in my experience have to be programmed by the professional, you can't play with it at home with your stereo.

I read a post by someone hear lately that programmed his equalizer to fill in for his hearing issues creating a flat response, thus simulating hearing aids. 

Regarding "loss in the higher register, tinitits and unbalanced hearing" The first and third are problematic, but certainly don't disqualify you from being an audiophile. The second symptom, however, is another matter entirely. 

A personal question.  If you still enjoy listening that's great.

My father who lived to be 102 had an interest in listening that went back to the 1920s, before commercial broadcasting.  In later life he became quite deaf and had hearing aids.  He wanted to continue listening to his analogue LP rig and so bought state of the art in ear amplifiers.  However he said it simply wasn't the same and I don't think he used his system at all during the last five or six years, despite my encouragement.

At over 70 my hearing isn't what it was.  I certainly still enjoy listening to my fairly high-end system but it is true I don't spend so much time on it.  I'm not hearing he frequencies about about 8kHz, so I hear all the notes but lose a lot of the high frequency ambience.  Has anyone else found that if you hold your nose and breath out a lot of the highs come back?  Short term and uncomfortable but brings back memories.  I have wondered it my hearing loss can therefore be remedied by some means,


Your hearing may be off, but your mind reading abilities are exceptional. I have the exact same response when I pressurize my ears. It’s almost too bright!  It makes me wonder if the hearing “loss” we experience is not from the inability to hear those frequencies, but rather like a clogged passage that can be opened up through an invasive procedure? 

Does everyone else have the same experience?

When they say things like we lose our ability to hear past a certain freq it refers to at a certain dB. We are able to hear them at higher SPL. Can you still hear a mosquito when it’s buzzing around your ear? Look at that frequency. My answer? Turn it up!  @gruvejet I do think you have a point. The pharyngotympanic tube can become clogged or at least restricted. I've been dealing with this to a degree. Two months of Fluticosone and ear drops have helped, and I'm stunned by the amount of wax removed and the improvement since.


Can you still hear a mosquito when it’s buzzing around your ear?   Look at that frequency.

                          Could you be a bit more nebulous?


                    The pharyngotympanic tube and EAR WAX?       


                                AudioPHILE = audio LOVER (literally)

     iow: If you love AUDIO, you qualify (irrespective of anything else, including hearing).

      'Music' differs from 'audio' in definition, but many conflate them (semantics).

      I'm quite certain: Beethoven was still a MUSICPHILE, though he had gone deaf between his twenties and forties.

      *There wasn't much in the way of 'audio', back in Ludwig's day, for him to,"love". 

                              Would he have, "loved" it? 

       *TOTALLY: non sequitur to the initial thread topic, but: semantic gymnastics are fun!


Thank you for that insight.  I will be consulting an audiologist for a cleaning and have them check my pharyngotympanic tube.  And I agree with your “turn it up” approach. I would have to invest in an EQ. Any recommendations?

Was the treatment you are undergoing prescribed by a doctor?

This is exactly why I started the thread. Hopefully it will allow me the ability to hear the affect on such crazy things as speaker cable risers!

@gruvejet     Thank you.  The amount of pressure seems to determne the HF volume and the HF response can go above what I recall used to be flat.  Regulating the pressure can enable the right response to be obtained.

This is very interesting and as we both postulate may lead to a solution to our problems.  I have quite serious sinusitis that varies in intensity from time to time.  I find that having wax cleared make a bit of an improvement but nowhere near as much as pressurising.  I am wondering if a medical procedure might exist or be developed that could make permanent the pressurised effect?   Anyone here an ENT specialist who can comment with a degree of authority?

@dadork    I didn't think a mosquito sounds very HF so I looked at the paper cited.  The frequency varies by species between 340 and 750 Hz.  So not HF at all.

Great subject! I started noticing tinnitus several years ago. I went to have my hearing evaluated, and found that I struggled to hear high frequency tones above 8 kHz. I was bummed. But then I sort of “self-evaluated” my music listening, by listening to familiar music from the past that I used as demo material 30-40 years ago, to try to identify what might be different/missing. I can absolutely still pick out areas of the songs that were points I’d evaluate for sound quality, but I also noticed certain high frequency notes in some songs were “missing”, or just lower in level relative to the rest of the sounds. Last year I upgraded from Magnepan 1.7i to 3.7 speakers, which I had been putting off, thinking that the addition of the ribbon tweeter would be lost on me. That turned out to be false. I can hear and appreciate the improvement that ribbon makes in the sound presentation. How? I have no idea, but I’m glad I went for it! I’ve also been evaluating some amplifiers, to choose the best fit for my speakers/room/preferences. I can CLEARLY hear the differences between these amplifiers in my system. I’ve done phono cartridge comparisons in the last few years, and I had no problem sorting out the sounds of those. I’m in the process of working to improve what I use for streaming, and I can hear differences in quality between the music services I’m trying. I just started a Qobuz subscription to try that as well. My point is that even with the knowledge that my hearing is in decline, I can still evaluate differences in quality, and I still enjoy good sound from my system. 


Can I guess what brand of amps you have pushing those Magi's?  I would like to try to LRS plus.  I'm thinking my Krell Duo 300 XD will be able to push them properly.  3.7s are out of reach financially.  I think the Magi's would be a good contrast to my Klipsch Forte's.  The Klipsch should pair better with the Decware tube amp I'm in line patiently awaiting.

@gruvjet : I doubt there is a Krell amp ever made that would be uncomfortable driving Maggies (how they may sound is a different matter)… I haven’t heard them all, of course, but I have heard many. One of my favorites was a KSA 250. I had auditioned newer models during the time that I owned it, but that one was best, overall, in my opinion. The amp I’m using now that sounds the best (so far) in my room, in my system, with my music, at the volume level at which I listen, is a Music Reference RM 10. I even preferred it to Music Reference’s own RM 200, which I purchased new from Music Reference. 

I don’t believe hearing loss disqualifies someone one bit.  
I suppose providing this info when conversing with others on the finer points of audio quality may be a fair self-qualification to one’s assessment of stuff. Perhaps, “I found the high frequency response lacking, but I also have hearing issues, so…”

Something like that may be fair, but these issues really don’t render a person’s assessment “inadmissible,” or whatever, in my opinion.

There is commonly seen, a mixed thought on what is Audiophile.

There is the Camp that lean toward the idea, it is the enjoyment of music and enthusiasm to maintain musical encounters as a replay of recorded music.

There is the Camp that lean toward the pursuit of High Fidelity (HiFi) as a result of the equipment in use, it does seem the more you have owned and the more one has spent on equipment, gives qualification to be a member of this camp.

The purchasing and moving through equipment Type/Designs does seem fitting, as High Fidelity (HiFi) was born in the 50's, and was first seen as a Sales Spiel by a certain Brand. As a term, it has been quite successful and endlessly plagiarised since. 

I am leaning toward the idea, a Audiophile enjoys Music and has the enthusiasm to create musical encounters, through the use of recorded music. Within this enthusiasm there is the need to have a concern about the equipment/tools required to enable it to happen. Experiences had, that expose an individual to an increased variety of types of equipment/tools, will show that some are more attractive in use that others.

The equipment is a means to an end, where the user decides where they are most contented with the assembly in use. It is their own level of satisfaction that is the most important, certainly not what others Purport through a forum.         


"Go to costco and get a pair of the current Phillips hearing aids fitted to you. they will flatten out the frequency response and levelize your ears. "

Thanks for the tip. I’ll try to remember this the next time I go to Costco for an $8 bag of chips and walk out after spending $300.

I have had tinnitus at a pretty high level for years. I have worn hearing aids or about 15 years. My current ones can be adjusted through my iPhone is needed. Listening to a great album pretty much makes me forget about the tinnitus.