Whether you can hear well over 50 depends on many things, there is no bright line rule to that effect. Typically sensorineural hearing loss occurs either due to acoustic trauma or aging (presbycusis). Whether and when you suffer from hearing loss due to either cause depends a lot on your own makeup. The best way to find out if you do indeed suffer from hearing loss is to see an audiologist and get your hearing tested. The idea that if you are past 50 you can no longer hear well enough to care about sound quality is not only an overgeneralizatiom but is inaccurate.
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I am not yet 50 but recently went to an audiologist to get my hearing tested, I recommend that to everyone. I confirmed what I had already suspected, I lost the ability to hear high frequencies, I top out at about 16khz. Now I pay little attention to equipment that does not hit 20khz of has "rolled off" highs, I can't hear them anyway. He did say my hearing was very sharp though, able to hear as quiet as 5db.
Either you are pulling our leg or Jim pulled yours! He has been asked this question and has a good answer in his book "Get Better Sound". He tells of a conductor in his 70's (musicians are exposed to very loud sound levels on stage) who could "hear" better than a bunch of audiophiles. His point being you become "experienced" and can "hear" things that others miss. More than likely this conductor would have failed his audiology test!
Actually, After taking just a couple of moments to peruse Jim Smith's site I found that the hearing loss at age 50 comment was one of the myths he claims are often accepted as "ACK" (Audiophile Common Knowledge). He is saying that it is not true that past 50 you can no longer hear well enough to really care about your sound quality. I am sure that virtually all of us experience some hearing loss throughout our lives, but there is no reason not to enjoy this hobby in spite of that fact.
Obviously, different people hear differently at any age.
of course as you get older , your hearing does change. Normally, the ability to hear very high frequencies deteriorates normally to some extent as you age. What happens from there I think is highly variable depending on the wear and tear on your ears, genes, etc.
Jim's statement is obviously not true. Most audiophiles, the ones who care the most, are old or aging geezers, including myself (age: 50).
I have tested my system and my hearing using the same test record since I was a teenager. My ability to hear the highest frequencies audible to humans is gone at this age, as is the norm. However, I hear the rest, including the middle ranges where most sound occurs and the lower ranges on my system just fine!
So yes, in terms of frequency response, your ears lose that over time, but normally, you can still hear most all that matters assuming you are still interested to do so and not chasing other hobbies as you get older.
I think if you can hear , you can hear. There is no text book guideline. I have a dealer freind that has a customer with hearing aids. I mentioned that the hearing aid would limit the bandwidth and the dealer told me he felt the same way. But the customer will describe differences in equipment setup with a suprisingly accuracy. So each of us must be individual in our senses. Now at age 40 it seems that eyesight gets weaker...in some of us. And there must be a reason 18-25 yr. olds don't use viagra. But hearing
will be dependant on how you used your ears in the previous 50 yrs.
I have not read his book, but in fairness to Jim Smith, he appears to have very good audio credentials, it sounds like he did not in fact say what the OP indicated, and his book appears to be quite practical based on the descriptive info available, so I would not hold anything against him.
Has anybody read his book? Any impressions?
"Any truth that a viagra tab on top of KT 88's improves the sound?"
Wouldn't surprise me, though I have no personal experience. Viagra dilates blood vessels I think, which should have the effect of stimulating ALL the senses I would think.
COuld be the ultimate tweak?
Audiophile quality Viagra cost 10X as much as normal grade though mind you!
If you really want to be depressed, give the new thing "all the kids are doing" these days a try: "mosquito ring tones" (shakes fist, you darn kids...!). So, anyway, apparently the trick is to put a high-frequency ring tone on your phone that adults can't hear. Phone calls in class, no problem, teacher can't hear it. Supposed to be doing homework...you get the idea. As it says on one of the websites:
What is the Mosquito Ringtone?
The short version, A tone outside the audible range of hearing for most people over the age of 30. This means that you can get phone calls and receive text messages in class or school without teachers hearing it. For more in-depth information on how the mosquito ringtone works, please see the Mosquito RingTone FAQ. For information on how to get the ringtone on to your phone, see our Mosquito Ringtone how-to Guide.
And so, you can check them out, for example, here, where there are samples that you can listen to. There are tones from 8 to 22khz, together with supposed age ranges that are unable to hear each frequency.
At the ripe old age of 37, I officially couldn't hear anything above 12khz -- which according to their estimates, puts my ears at age 50+. Oh joy. Interesting, but not happy-making. Interested to see what others think. All that said, I really don't feel like I'm missing anything, even 12khz is not something I'm really ever interested in listening to again, not exactly pleasant....
That's pretty cool. Hadn't considered how much a function of volume it is, with more volume, I can hear the tones up to 17.4khz (which would make my ears younger than I). As four the loudness/frequency test, came out almost flat, with significant drops in sensitivity starting below 250hz and above 8khz. How about that.
The ironic thing is that by the time you are 50, you know what to listen for, but can you still hear over 50? My answer at over 50 is that I can hear better now than ever. The Green ears are no guarantee of a good interpretation. Really, how much occurs over 12K anyhow. According to the last test I took, I was still alive at 15K plus...not bad for the grey-audiophile ears. I have a 70+ chain smoking friend with enough hair in his ears to form a pillow, and he can still hear with a great deal of accuracy. I have changed tubes and or cables and he readily noticed the difference. He got no clues from me about the change. Let the old ears live on...........
This thread should act as an example of an honest misreading and misinterpretation of a quote/statement of an industry expert. The ensuing confusion and effrontery is also a good reminder to all that we can benefit from fact checking, ask reasonable questions to affirm statements, and be quick to correct ourselves, as the OP has.
I thought the assertion sounded "off". Having read Jim's book and found many insightful things in it I did not think he would be of a mind to make such a statement. In fact the website does indicate the idea that one's ears are no good after 50 to be spurious.
Quick to question, slow to condemn is good policy that I myself break occasionally and need to relearn. The irony here is that Jim questions the worthiness of info gleaned online. Here we see mistakes, objections, counter-information, etc. Just looking at the discussion one would not know what to make of it, who's right and who's wrong.
The nature of the Forum beast, and an authentic example of Jim's very point in his "ACK" article! :)
Sheesh! The OPPOSITE of what I said.
I was trying to make the point that, just because you may be over 50, don't accept the notion that you are somehow disqualified to be able to hear and appreciate higher quality sound and music.
In Get Better Sound, I used a true account of an older man (probably 70) who had been in front of high spls for decades (he was a conductor of a state symphony orchestra). Even thought he obviously couldn't pass an audiologist's test with flying colors, he could stop a rehearsal and tell a musician that he or she was late entering in a section, or even sometimes call for a retuning.
As a free-lance recording engineer, I worked with this group weekly as the recordings were for broadcast on a NPR affiliate. So I saw him in action over and over.
Furthermore, I've recounted setting up and voicing systems for much younger audiophiles than myself. It's not that they couldn't hear. Most often it's just that they don't have a reliable reference for what to listen for.
It's not their fault. They may be basing their reference on systems they've heard that fall short of their true potential - such as at any show and in nearly every dealer showroom.
To punctuate this point, I must say that many of the most sophisticated and discerning listeners that I know are over 50.
Finally, this thread is evidence of what I call ACK on my website.
ACK-Audiophile Common Knowledge
I hope you don't mind Jim I copied this from your website to illustrate your point and people can see the context of the mistake,
(pay special attention to the part that says: myths!).
In my experience, ACK may be responsible for doing more harm than good. Here – in no particular order – are some ACK favorites – myths that have developed into Audiophile Common Knowledge:
•Rooms with non-parallel walls sound better.
•The “rule of thirds” is a great set-up guide.
•Cathedral ceilings provide great sound.
•A wide sweet spot is best for great sound.
•Bass is non-directional, so exact woofer placement and orientation isn’t critical.
•Bass is non-directional, so only one sub-woofer is required.
•The best speaker drivers must be low-mass.
•A “fast” bass driver is superior to others.
•The best sounding systems are dead quiet.
•Granite makes a great isolation material.
•Cones & spikes provide isolation.
•Wide dispersion is a must for consumer audio loudspeakers.
•An equilateral triangle (speakers and listening seat) set-up yields great sound.
•The best bi-amplification is done with transistors on bass, tubes on top.
•Achieving the tightest bass should be your goal.
•Speaker set-up diagrams/guides from various manufacturers will provide the best sound.
•There are several known “good” listening room sizes/dimensions.
•Building a new listening room from a spread-sheet program will enhance your sound.
•If you’re past 50, you can no longer hear well enough to really care about your sound quality.
•And others, equally as revered, and equally as questionable (once you know the facts).
I am more worried about my metabolism slowing down by 20% at fifty, rather than a slight (hopefully)only hearing loss.Will be awful to look at a snicker bar and put on 5lbs around all my vital organs.
Its far worse if one is a woman, after they have gone past the safe child birth giving age, everything goes south.
Fact of life.
I got MORE sensitive to bad sound at 50. I could not tolerate piercing highs, uncontrolled bass (especially midbass) and shouty, punchy midranges. Thus I needed to upgrade a lot. I can hear the differences between interconnects and power cables loud and clear, more than ever (maybe from experience, but it sure seems like my ears hear it). I really need those Stealth Indras now, unfortunately. So there.
I'm also over 50 and had my ears checked last year. I was told I still have surprisingly good hearing for the most part BUT some higher fequencies were issues if the volume is lower 50db. Not a problem I listen at higher volumes than that.
Considering I work on large commercial HVAC equipment I think I am very lucky.
"Its almost as if losing ability to hear the higher frequencies one can when younger facilitates an improved focus on what you can still hear."
I love the stories I hear occasionally about those who lose one sense and gain sensitivity in others to compensate.
"I consider myself fortunate that my ability to appreciate good sounding music has perhaps waxed and not waned with age.."
I resemble that remark. Thanks for sharing.