Why should I care? Whatever I can hear, I hear. And I choose components based on what they sound like to me, not what they would sound like to me if I had better hearing.
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I know my hearing isn't perfect. I have a moderate hearing impairment which I have discussed with audiologists and medical specialists.
As you say, a sizable proportion of the population have some hearing loss. And by all reports from those with specialised knowledge, the popularity of iPods and other portable digital music devices is going to cause serious problems for many young adults as they grow older.
My response to the thread is what Pabelson stated. I hear what I hear, I enjoy my music, and I choose a system based on what it sounds like to me. Since no system is exactly like live music, it ultimately doesn't really matter. A person with perfect hearing isn't going to be hearing the real thing through their system either. They too are going to choose a compromised system with characteristics that appeals to them.
Just because your hearing is less than perfect doesn't mean that you can't discern superior performance. A number of years ago, J. Gordon Holt wrote an article in Stereophile about the effect his hearing deterioration had on his ability to evaluate components. He explained, with reference to physics and physiology, why he could still do a good job in evaluation of components. Sorry, but I can't remember the details of the article.
Having good hearing is important, but it's also important to be able to recognize what acoustic instruments sound like. For that, you need points of reference and perhaps some training. Being able to hear well isn't much good when evaluating an audio system if you have no idea what live unamplified music sounds like.
Pabelson, while I do agree with your point, the only reason I can see it mattering is if you are describing then sonics of a component to others on these forums, I guess, so it can have some relevance in that context.
I myself have lost a bit of high frequency hearing in my left ear from a bout with some infection a few years ago, so I am not bothered by a lack of air that others might hear in my Lamm amps, for example. Howerver, there is a brightness range between 1 and 5Khz that I am sensitive to and do not like.
By the way, when I was at the ear doctor for that infection, the tones did not go beyond 8khz. We did some test tones in the NJ Audio Society at a meeting a few years ago, and while I couldn't hear the 10khz tone, I'm surprised at the number who did.
This subject shouldn't be controversial at all if you approach it with logic. Every time you hear anything, you hear it with your own ears, warts and all (this is why the idea that seems to surface every few years about "ear equalization" is a crock. Such a sound would be the least natural thing anybody ever heard). A perfect reproduction of an event (if we could achieve it) will sound perfect to EVERYBODY so long as they listen to live music on a regular basis (so that they can adapt to the fact that their hearing has changed).
This also applies to unequal sensitivity of one's ears: one gets used to the fact that a sound directly in front of you is louder in one ear (I don't think there's one "normal" person in the universe whose ears are equal, yet we have no difficulty identifying that a sound is originating directly in front of us).
Equally obvious is the fact that people with no ability to hear certain ranges of frequencies cannot evaluate performance in those frequency ranges.
There's no controversy at all to this issue.
If I can extend the joy of listening to music more time by checking SPL levels and if required (which is not now )adjust my listening environment to my listening condition I think it's worth checking.
The experience of been in the booth for the tests is interesting because you can really check how noisy our normal listening environment and world is. IT kind of remind me of a time I went snorkeling in a quiet river pond after some seconds going underwater I started to realize how out of my normal environment I was and was surprised when I started listening to my heart......
Tvad I liked the Clever clock use!!!
Danlib1 interesting, my says I suffer from your same listening condition......
The original post not so subtly implies that the differences of opinion on Audiogon are related to varying degrees of hearing loss in its members. If that is what you meant to say, Nudaddy, you are obviously wrong. People with equally good hearing are by no means going to agree on what equipment sounds good to them. You don't have to be around the audio world more that a few weeks to clearly recognize this. It is the classically arrogant position of the worst sort of audiophile to say, "if you don't agree with me, it is because you can't hear."
There is more to hearing at the level of hi-fidelity audio than simple frequency detection, though that is of course where it all starts. Considerable processing by higher brain functions is required before sounds are even registered in consciousness. How they are then fully experienced is influenced by a huge number of factors that I suppose can loosely be thought of to ultimately produce a person's taste in audio. For differences in perceptions about hi-fi equipment, you would be much better off looking to these higher functions than the most rudimentary.
If you are posting on this forum, without knowing your handicap, then are you doing a disservice to others?
Sure, what you hear is only important to yourself. That is, until you decide to contribute an opinion on system matching or component evaluations. How many hifi mag reviewers have had their hearing tested?
To hear the absolute sound of live instruments for the hearing impaired individual is quite different from the non-impaired listener, no?
Perhaps the disparity in magazine reviews between measurements and listener notes is attributable to this fact.
The same hold true for late night listening. Most say it is because lower load leads to cleaner power. How about the following explanation: your blood pressure is lower and the blood flow to the inner ears less noticeable? (just an exaggeration to make a point)
I am not implying that perfect hearing is required for a self-evaluation of a component. But truthfully, it is ridiculous to argue that a person with selective hearing loss is the best person to contribute an opinion on a public forum without knowingly revealing this loss. What is the difference if a component has a suckout of 2 db at 3,000 hz or their hearing does? The net heard result is the same, right?
The importance is identifying the reason for such a result. How else to choose a starting point for system building? Personal preferences? Etc.? Without the merry-go-round syndrome.
Appreciating music (the Kind of Blue comment) and recognizing sound characteristics of a component are two different things. Each component has individual characteristics, not necessarily GOOD or BAD (as mentioned in another post)
I am not saying one cannot enjoy hifi if they have a moderate or partial hearing loss. Not at all. What I am saying, is that a self referential analysis of a component is essential, but what is printed may not be so useful. (Not if you the reviewer has hearing deficiencies which are unknown or undocumented.)
Ultimately, I ask this question because in the Absolute Sound, Harry Pearson recently stated that rather than achieving THE absolute sound, the future of hi-end audio would lead us to AN absolute sound. It got me to thinking...
I am just talking hear. :)
Keep it light....the wife comment was great.
I, for one, know that I have a substantial decrease in hearing acuity at frequencies above 12kHz, but that doesn't mean that I enjoy music any the less. I think everyone should have one or more hearing tests as they get older (particularly after age 50), but that's just good preventive medicine.
What I'd like to make mandatory, however, is hearing tests for the "golden ear" equipment reviewers that write for the high-end mags. It would be fascinating to see which ones actually have hearing deficiencies, and which audio equipment they rate highly...
For all us middle aged audiofiles, how about this:
Schedule to undergo a hearing test at the same time we're getting our colonoscopy. They could do the hearing test while waiting for you to lose conciousness, then slide the scope in. When you come back a week later- 2 sets of results! No additional time wasted at doctor's offices!
It will make the woman in your life happy as well...proof that you're deaf and the consolation of knowing you had a 4 foot tube shoved up your butt will please any vengeful wife.
Based on my own experience I believe that ability to hear a pure sine wave tone is not a comprehensive test of aural acuity. I believe that the ear responds to steepness of the pressure wavefront. I can hear the effect of HF roll off at a frequency well above that corresponding to the highest sine wave I can hear. For a person with 12KHz hearing, a 12KHz square wave will sound different from a 12KHz sine wave, yet the only difference is harmonics higher than 12 KHz. (Of course finding a tweeter that can do a decent square wave at 12 KHz will be a problem, but any distortion of the pure sine wave will suffice for this test).