Hearing issues and signal attenuation

In other forums I've discussed my age related hearing issues and how I might compensate using mechanical controls. Since those posts I've tried hearing aids but, because of the discomfort caused by them, I gave them up. My problem in a nutshell is that, although my hearing lost is bilateral starting at about 1500 Hz, the left ear hearing is somewhat more compromised. This, of course, results in my perception that center stage is off center to the right side especially at higher frequencies. I just installed new speakers (Martin Logan Ethos replacing Odysseys) which seems to have worsened this problem.

The last time I brought this up the suggestions included installation of a high quality active or passive equalizer, changing my listening position and using hearing aids. The EQ approach makes the most sense but in reviewing the several equalizers suggested I found them to be a little out of my price range. I have been considering using a good L pad to attenuate the signal to the right speaker but because the problem seems mostly related to the higher frequencies, I'm afraid that simply reducing volume to the right side will result in more heavily weighting lower frequencies to the left.

Anyway, it might be time to bite the bullet and start looking again into purchasing an equalizer. Based on the following setup I would appreciate all suggestions:

Shanling CD100, Nova Audio Nova preamp and Nova 220 amp.
Can you adjust the angle of the speakers to have a more direct angle on the bad side?
One other thought- how about putting an adjustable l-pad just on the high side of the crossover on the "good" side and then when you determine the right value, replace it w a v. high quality resistor.
It seems that you would want to accentuate the tweeter level, on the weaker hearing side, to compensate for your loss, rather than the opposite. BUT: L-pads are designed to present a constant impedance to the
crossover, so as not to change the crossover point. One
resistor, installed either in parallel or series with a
driver, will change the roll-off point. Here's something that
presents the correct method, should you choose to pursue such
a course:
If you are having hearing problems you need to be bold, get hearing aids. They will put 'balance' into your entire life, not just your audio life. I've been a wearer of aids for seventy years. Believe me you are missing so much more enjoyment of life. I've been at this 'audio' thing for sixty of those years. Find a good, patient audiologist, one who has many musicians as clients. Programed aids will solve all your problems.
Those are good thoughts and much appreciated. I tried the speaker angle approach even to the point of exaggerated positioning but the issue of right side upper level detail remained. I tried installing a 2 ohm 100W resistor in series on the right speaker and wasn't able to hear the difference in right weighted upper level frequencies either. I'll try the method discussed in the ditaudio article and still use the L pad to find a resistance value that might work. BTW, my amplification equipment is Peachtree Audio. I don't know what I was thinking when I said it was Nova. .??
Nova is a Peachtree model, right?
Yes, there is some discomfort (mine often itch), but you need to find a way to wear hearing aids. You seem to need the kind that go behind your ear; they just shouldn't be that uncomfortable.
Can you move the left speaker forward enough to a point where the two channels sound almost equal in frequency? It may help in balancing out the sound some.
Thanks, Lloyd. Both sets of hearing aids I've tried were BTE with in canal receivers. My problem seems related, at least to some degree, on the abnormally small diameter canals. We even worked with the manufacturer re tip size and material. Nothing worked so I gave up trying and sold both pairs on eBay.
"12-05-14: Aolmrd1241
Can you move the left speaker forward enough to a point where the two channels sound almost equal in frequency? It may help in balancing out the sound some."

I was going to say the same thing. Also, you may want to try putting something that has a reflecting surface behind your right ear.
Have you tried Mono?
Broadstone, I've read many of your threads (I have hyperacusis) and I think you need to go the EQ route. With a parametric equalizer you can find the specific range of frequncies that trouble you in each ear.

But you already know this. Just a shout out to show some support in your situation.
Take it from someone who has spent untold hours searching for a solution. Do this: Buy a Beringher Ultracurve Pro DEQ 2496. It is very affordable, dead quiet, and will achieve precisely what you want. It allows you to adjust in .5dB increments and save your settings. I suffer from hearing loss, and this is the only thing that has worked for me. I now can achieve a center image on vocals, and though the overall stereo image/ambient information will never be as perfect as it was pre-hearing loss, at least the center image is restored.
Broadstone, I've worn hearing aids for just over a dozen years, nothing like Buconero, but long enough to offer some comments.

First off, I agree with him that properly fitted and adjusted aids will enhance your life, not just music listening. And I suspect the two pair you tried were not quality devices. I say that since you consider equalizers out of your price range and then you sold both pair on eBay!

Proper hearing aids must be custom fitted, both physically to your ears and sonically to correct for your specific hearing loss. The size of your canals should not be a problem. And the itching can be cured by prescription medication or Cortisone cream.

In addition, do you always listen alone or do family or friends ever join you? All the well-intentioned advice for speaker set up, equalizers, etc. may result in changes that any other listeners might not be happy with.

Quality hearing aids are not cheap and they must be fitted professionally by an audiologist. The type sold on line or at Sears for a couple of hundred bucks will hardly ever be satisfactory. Some medical insurance may cover part of the costs but unfortunately too many will not.

So forget the suggestions from those who have not experienced this themselves and go for properly fitted devices. They you should be free to pick whatever speakers are most musically pleasing, not those that attempt to fulfill an inappropriate task. Your life will be brighter.

Good luck.
Ok and thanks for these observations and suggestions. I'll address the hearing aids once again first. In the last two years I've tried two different aids manufacturers and 3 different audiologists. These were high end aids costing over $9000 between the 2 of them. No matter what we tried I could not wear them for more than an hour before itching turned into a significant earache which would last into the next day or two. We even counseled with the manufacturers in an attempt to find some modification that might alleviate my issues. Thank goodness that I received a refund after one of the providers gave up but I sold the other pair on eBay for a major loss. So, then, I totally agree your observations and opinions but I simply can't wear them and will no longer try.

On top of simple age related hearing loss I also have a case of hyperacussis and tinnitus. I have an appointment with a tinnitus specialist next week; he sounds knowledgeable but, based on my general knowledge of cure failures for that issue I'm not getting my hopes up.

To summarize my hearing issue as I understand it I offer the following. Using a test cd, sitting in my normal (centered) listening position, using a gradually increasing frequency from about 25Hz to 2KHz the sound seems centered to around 4KHz where it begins increasing right weighting through to my loss of hearing somewhere between 7500 and 8000Hz. I also feel discomfort in the area of 1400 to 1500Hz

With these amateur findings in mind, coupled with my inability to use hearing aids I think the only logical choice may be an equalizer so today I bought an inexpensive graphic equalizer just to experiment. If it looks like it may be my answer I'll come back to seek more advice on types and brands that would be best for more permanent use.
Correction.....I should have stated that the range of frequencies tested was to 20K, not to 2KHz
Obviously you need to do what you are most comfortable with, so I'll just offer this.

The first audiologist I visited seemed intent on selling me the most expensive aids possible. That was over $6K more than a dozen years ago. I think when I tried to explain my needs for best musical accuracy he thought he could over sell me. I really felt like I was visiting a shyster car dealer!

Then a friend suggested I try a local university that has a speech and hearing department. Because they are non-profit they could advise on what best suited my condition rather than highest cost. Now speech perception was improved immediately but it took a few visits and adjustments to fine tune my music setting (with my aids up to 4 EQs are possible) so that brass and strings sounded natural and not edgy and harsh. Patience paid off.
Thanks Pryso. I have no doubt that aids are in my future at some point and for more than just listening to music but, as I mentioned, I purchased a graphic EQ today and finished installing it about 2 hours ago. There's no doubt that an equalizer will be a permanent addition for at least until that time that I find a way to use hearing aids.

The frequency control is impressive and the ability to bring the stage to the center where it belongs brings even more enjoyment back into listening than I had anticipated. The only drawback so far is that I think it degraded the overall sound quality which may only be a matter of adjusting to this new balance.

The EQ I bought is an older Soundcraftsmen 12 band per channel unit with sliders that are a bit rough so I'm going to be looking for advice in my search for its replacement that won't break my bank.
"The only drawback so far is that I think it degraded the overall sound quality which may only be a matter of adjusting to this new balance."

If you get a digital EQ you can output to a DAC. Most people feel that you'll get better sound if you EQ a digital signal before it gets converted to analogue.
You might consider some pro audio gear for your EQ.
"with my aids up to 4 EQs are possible"

I just read Broadstone's reply and realized someone might misinterpret what I meant to say just prior to that. My devices have four unique memory settings. Any combination of frequency gain or reduction, noise filtering, and directionality can be programmed (by the audiologist) for each of those four. The range of frequency adjustments is from 500 to 8K Hz.

Many hearing aid manufacturers offer a recommended response for music but I found a custom setting was needed for the most natural musical tones.
Maybe I should start a separate thread for this question but I'll try it here in regard to adjusting the EQ. Now that I have the experimental equalizer in place I've been attempting to achieve the R/L balance not just for volume balance but for frequency balance as well. This activity is not as straightforward as I, without much thought, anticipated because changes especially in the mid to upper frequencies affect the directionality and, therefore, perception of where the sound source is strongest.

So, this is the approach I've been trying. Starting with right and left channels set at neutral volume and flat frequency settings I used an audio test CD and stepped through frequencies listening to how closely centered the signal seems. As I come to a frequency that appears weighted to the right side I adjust the dB on the left side of that approximate frequency upward until the tone centers. I do this through to 8 KHz where my ability to hear pretty much ends.

Here's where it stops being simple. It seems that increasing the dB of those frequencies resulted in my overall perception of balance change when listening to music, migrating now to the left side. Using music to adjust balance, though, has other issues, mostly I think, based on how the music was recorded in the first place. For example, I listen to some small jazz groups which seem to record in a way that represents poisoning of various instruments accentuating, for example, that drums are located at stage right. This seems especially to be the case with the older recordings when there seems to have been more effort given to demonstrating stereo effect.

I don't claim to know what I'm doing here but, regardless of that, I'm very much satisfied, so far, with the listening improvement resulting from the addition of this equalizer.
Since your initial results are positive, I think you should get a better EQ. 12 bands are not enough for the level of precision that you probably need. Also, you are taking a big hit in sound quality putting that old, analogue EQ in the chain. In one of the other quotes, someone mentioned the Behringer digital EQ. That would be a good place to start. I have one myself. It has tons of features that you may find of use besides just a graphic EQ. Also, it should sound a lot better than what you currently have, especially since you can use the DAC in your Peachtree. If you have a Guitar Center nearby, you can get it from them and return it if it doesn't work out. GC has a very good return policy.
A good start Broadstone. Now that you've experienced what EQ can do and learned the basics, you can move up to a better EQ.
Lowrider, I will do as you suggest and have started looking into the pro EQ's and how to incorporate one into my system. I guess, though, that my hope for a simple solution is dashed. I was thinking that an EQ would have simple RCA in and out connections like in the old days but it appears that's not going to happen. In reading a couple of articles on how to use a pro audio EQ with a home stereo setup, it isn't a very straightforward operation. I don't mind expending some effort but having to solder resistors across connections and add an an external DAC, etc. seems a bit more involved than it should be. Don't get me wrong, I'll do whatever it takes but is there something out there that will help me do this that is a little less demanding?
Ok, I spoke too soon re the problem using the pro audio EQ and the difficulty using it with RCA interconnects. I called Guitar Center and it turns out that they have adapter cables that allow connection to and from XLR and RCA. I'm living so far in the past.... Those 2 articles that I read that described the need to modify the inputs by soldering resistors into the circuit must be for some other application.
You are correct, Sir. Look for a 1/3-octave EQ. Since you are staying in the analogue domain, you may not even hear any noise being introduced due to your hearing issues.

This is an example of the type of EQ I am referring to... DBX

"RAIN" also makes nice analogue gear.
I'm looking into the various pro EQ's like the DBX 321 but my experimentation just suffered a temporary hit; there will be a Christmas tree partly in front of my right speaker for awhile. I do have another question, though. In setting this up is there any reason to consider using an "unbalanced" connection from the EQ?
"In setting this up is there any reason to consider using an "unbalanced" connection from the EQ?"

It depends. If your other components are balanced, then use a balanced connection. Same thing with SE. Also, what EQ were you talking about when you said that resistors need to be soldered into the inputs? I have the Behringer and I don't need to do any of that. I can just switch back and forth with no problems.
Zd, the articles I referred to re the soldering in of resistors was as a result of my having googled a general inquiry of something like "how to connect RCA cables to pro equalizer". This was before I learned that there were pre manufactured adapters for this purpose. I wasn't referring to a specific manufacturer, though, and maybe I asked the question in a way that the articles that I read were about something a little more specialized than what I meant to ask.

That's where I also learned about the options of modifying these connections to accommodate balanced or unbalanced operation. Based on this info and your advice, I assume that the adapter cables also come in balanced and unbalanced versions.