I have decent hearing, but when I'm in a noisy environment like a bar, I can hear but can't understand what other people are saying. It's why I don't like going to bars/pubs with live performances or ambient music.
People think I'm bored or brooding because I'm not talking to anyone, but I just can't understand anything anyone says, so I can't participate in a conversation.
Have yourself tested! The quality of life improvement from a set of hearing aids is incredible!
edit: I was 31 when I was diagnosed, so don't think because you're young that you're immune. Generally hearing loss is very gradual so you don't really notice it. If you frequently have to ask people to repeat themselves though...
For me, the results were that I have hearing ability on-par with a ~5 year old, and they only see adults like me every 18 months or so. I've got a printoff of the chart around here somewhere, but it's well outside the normal, especially for my activities.
On the flipside, I'm very ADHD, which I think hurts my loud-space conversational abilities some. I always figure my ears are trying to listen to all of it at once.
(Most lightbulbs and televisions drive me up a wall, because I can hear them all the time)
As a kid I always used to take the batteries out of clocks when I would sleep at other peoples houses on a couch or something but since becoming an adult around 29 I gained a little more mental control so I can deal with that stuff a little better.
OTOH, unplugging those devices saves you energy.
I also frequently have to ask people to repeat themselves and can't hear what they're saying well in noisy environments. I think I have superhuman hearing loss.
I think they're meant to scare cats away, but they work well for teenagers and people like myself (26)
Closer to what I think you're describing: The TV didn't "whine" really (at least, I was never completely conscious of it), but I always knew when it was on.
My hearing isn't quite as good now, but there are still a few devices that I keep unplugged because they're loud and high-pitched.
"The operating frequency of an unloaded SMPS is sometimes in the audible human range, and may sound subjectively quite loud for people whose hearing is very sensitive to the relevant frequency range."
Even analog power supplies will generate a 50/60hz hum (depending on what the power-lines are providing)
Bonus: I leveraged it into the ability to emit (by sort-of-whistling with the tip of my tongue against my palate) sounds in the same frequency range (which has provided many hours of amusement over the years).
Oh, and this age-related degradation of hearing in the upper registers is also the basis of a few interesting things, like devices that discourage teens from loitering, and apps that allow teens to communicate under the noses of adults.
Yet when I am in noisy environments I often am much less adept at figuring out what people are saying than others.
Are these two things related?
Because people have no problems in the classic quiet room, one person talking sound test environment, it tends to slip through the simple screening tests.
This is exactly why every time I've had an Audiology test, I've never scored above "Average - Above Average", even though I can hear nearly every fluorescent light ballast, powered-on TV, etc. From my own personal tests that I've done with soundwave generators, I can hear up to about 20khz.
Curse you for this! I've had this monitor for years without a problem and now I can't unhear it!!
By the way, I have the same exact problems as you do: hypersensitivity to high frequencies, and I can't hear / understand crap in a bar.
Interestingly it's pitched above the range of my tinnitus so I get to hear both most of the time :/
Summer here is my favorite time of year for that reason - the insect noise gets so loud at night, and falls right into the range of the tinnitus and e-noise such that it completely obscures them. It's almost like those sounds aren't there for a few months every year.
On the other hand, you probably don't want the tinnitus that often comes with noise-induced hearing loss. Better to be able to turn off the noise (or wear earplugs) than to hear it all the time.
When I wear earplugs I can understand conversations better. Like many others in this thread, I have uncommonly good hearing but find it difficult to hear any conversation in a loud environment.
On a related note, this is why people talking during movies is so infuriating for me: while they're talking the movie is basically turned off for me.
I'd definitely pony up for a pair from Bose. Their headphones don't impress me in the outright SQ department, but they have the best noise cancellation tech I've heard.
Can you elaborate on this? Is this good? Does that age correspond with undamaged hearing?
Today, many adults already have significant hearing loss from having regularly listened to loud music on portable players like the Walkman starting 30+ years ago. The first research on this seems to have been done in the mid-80's.
Believe I am well aware of that time before ipod/iphone/streaming services etc :)
However back then there amount of time spent by people wearing earphone and headphones was much smaller comparison. Even with the existence of the Walkman it was not common to see people using them for instance in the office and at their desks for hours at a time during the work day.
People also didn't spend hours on the phone chatting socially with them either.
My comment was really more about non-congenital hearing issues being potentially common place in the future as a result of this change.
You're only considering adults. Teens definitely did spend hours a day with earbuds in.
Same. I'm also pretty sure that extreme difficulty sifting through conversations in noisy environments is a symptom.
Has been like this forever and have never had any (other) problems with my hearing.
Its a signal/noise attenuation, you'll hear _more_ detail, not less.
A pair like these are what I'd consider 'high end':
But I've always got a cheap set from the pharmacy in my pocket or the car somewhere. Something like this is perfect:
Bar type conversations usually have me decoding people's facial expressions and nodding or grimacing at the right times.
I've adjusted to the hearing changes for the most part, but the most insidious new problem is acute sensitivity to nearby conversations when I'm talking to someone else. The best way to describe it is that I've lost the dynamic range of amplitudes. Rather than being able to focus on one conversation and hear it as louder than the rest, I feel that all of them seem to be at the same volume. The worst is when I'm out walking with another person to have a conversation, and we come upon another walking/talking pair. I need to let the other people go ahead until they're out of earshot.
No complaints overall. I'd have died without the chemo, so it was a favorable trade.
I assumed I was losing my hearing, which would make sense as I was a DJ in my later teens and spent a lot of time with large speakers and no ear protection. I went to get tested this past summer and I passed - my hearing is basically "normal for my age". They didn't have much else to offer, unfortunately.
What I've noticed in loud settings, like bars or busy restaurants, is that I can hear the music and everyone's voice at once, but I can't seem to pick out the voices directly in front of me.
It can definitely be a bit embarrassing as I'm constantly asking people to repeat themselves if it's a serious conversation, and if it's not, I try for a while until I lose the thread and then zone out and ask my wife about it later.
What could this thing be? ENT was very unhelpful.
I hear just fine (slightly above average 'signal' for my age), but in a noisy environment I struggle to focus on the voice of the person in front of me and exclude the 'noise'. That's processing.
My hearing is actually far better than it was when I was younger (32 now), I also had moderate/severe hearing loss from allergies (which I have mostly grown out of).
In every physical where my hearing has been tested I've always gotten average results, but quite often if there is some noise in the room (like a dining hall or a bar) I have really hard time hearing what people are saying
You usually don't need a referral as most hearing aid clinics will just let you call up and schedule an appointment. If you want to talk to an ENT specialist though, you'll probably have to go to your family doc first.
(if the direct link from here gets you to the paywall, it looks like a referral thing. Oddly going to it form Twitter worked, though Incognito and Web didn't: https://mobile.twitter.com/Jieqian_Zhang/status/780613322097...)
Direct link to the papers cited in the article:
(you can guess I also have interest in the topic...)
My own theory is that nobody can, in fact, hear everything that people say in such situations. But their mind does a great deal of work filling in the gaps. Our languages are surprisingly redundant, and quite often you can pick up everything you need to know from broken audio and other input like facial expressions and gesticulation. I think that my brain is worse at filling in the gaps.
Also, the link from Twitter worked, but the direct link hit a paywall.
Oddly enough, my wife has somewhat degraded hearing but she hears a lot better in noisy environments than I do. Must be like applying a filter to the noise, maybe she is losing the frequencies that cause confusion for me.
This will be an interesting product to try out - I hope there are more in the area of enhancing everyday interactions, rather than providing new distractions.
Enhanced vision is another area where I am hoping to see new products.
They're also cheap enough that a lost pair is not catastrophic.
They vary primarily in their frequency response: some are flat and others are designed to cut specific frequencies more than others (e.g, for bass players vs guitar players).
I found out about them from a drummer who was wearing them in a nightclub after a gig. I initially thought he'd left them in by mistake, but he swore it made having conversations a lot easier. That, and he had no plans to go deaf from the loudness of the music (and you don't learn the drums if you dislike loud music).
I always carry earplugs when I go to shows. Sometimes it's the nice plastic ones; sometimes I lose those and go back to the foam ones. Sometimes I forget and uses pieces of tissue (don't do that. When those pieces get stuck, it's slightly terrifying picking them out of your ear).
Last time I took one of those free hearing tests, I could still hear everything I should for my age range. I can still hear high pitch ringing (like from old CRT monitors), so I think my hearing is in decent shape for being in my 30s.
Hearing loss is a big problem in the US and it's spreading throughout the world. You don't want to be shelling out money of hearing aids later on in life (some are covered by medicare, but still) and once you start losing hearing .. you start to become isolated from people and friends. You will miss things and people won't bother repeating them or you'll just laugh and pretend you heard. It's isolating (according to a sign language instructor I had -- who wasn't deaf, but very impaired).
TL;DR Take care of your ears! Always have earplugs if you see live music a lot!
Problem is, even without earplugs I always find it pretty hard to actually experience the music, comprehend the lyrics, etc. at concerts because it's so loud and distorted. Earplugs reduce the loudness (not as much as I'd like), but they also muffle high frequencies, making it even harder. I've sometimes resorted to the somewhat silly approach of having one ear plugged and one unplugged, alternating every few minutes, so I can hear the music better, while still somewhat reducing the volume accumulating over time. Probably not the best idea.
I haven't tried fancy musician's earplugs yet. I know they're supposed to provide a more even attenuation curve, but they also have less noise reduction overall, which isn't great. I suppose I should buy a pair and see what they feel like at a concert…
But do you have any advice? What's your impression of sound quality at concerts when you wear plugs?
With foam, it's like being at a rock show underwater. With musician's earplugs, it's like being at a rock show at a reasonable volume. Spend the $20.
I have the exact Etymotic attenuating earplugs mentioned a few levels up. They don't reduce the volume as much as foam, but they reduce it enough for me, and the sound balance is much better. I can understand lyrics better with those earplugs than any other configuration I've tried, including no earplugs at all.
They aren't magic and they won't get the volume/balance perfect for you, but for $13 they are pretty great.
(another happy user of etymotics earplugs, was life changing for concert experience)
Because of this, even with ear protection, damage still occurs at clubs/concerts.
I get some bad ringing in my ears for a few days if I don't wear them.
Granted it doesn't stop me from being outgoing, but people having to almost shout or otherwise talk directly into my ear gets old after a while. I suspect it's not an issue with hearing itself so much as the brain processing the information.
In quiet conditions I can usually hear whispered conversations a good distance away.
But during bartending a few things are true:
* it's not too loud when you have time for a conversation.
* if it is too loud to converse, you're probably busy enough that interaction very simplified to a small subset of language - so lip reading becomes a big contributor to understanding. (e.g. basic greeting scripts, "can i get a..." and so on)
* when it's loud, it's pretty socially acceptable for the bartender to lean in to the conversation to hear - the "personal space bubble" of the speaker tends to shrink in that instance. Similarly a bartender asking you to repeat that a bit louder isn't considered rude.
edit: I wish I was clever enough to say this in as few words as BurningFrog did :)
This is why, for example, I don't answer unexpected phone calls. If I don't know the initial context of the call, the first minute is going to be very confusing for both parties.
The human brain is remarkably good at filling in the blanks.
I rely on context, plus lip-reading, plus the sounds I do hear to figure out the rest.
For context - I'm not severely hearing impaired - I only have a mild-to-moderate loss in both ears, but it's enough to hamper me in normal conversations, particularly in group settings or noisy environments. I use Siemens hearing aids at work, at church etc. - basically, anything that's not 1:1, or where I can't easily ask them to repeat things constantly.
Very often I didn't understand what the clients were talking to me about but then I'd hear keywords like "beer" or "tequila" and the quantity they want is very often requested using hand gestures (finger count).
Even then, the usual conversation between a bartender and the client is very short. To the contrary, when getting together with a bunch of friends you have to listen to entire stories which is way harder.
I've been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder somewhat recently. Before the diagnosis, I had my hearing tested a couple of times over the course of my adult life but nothing was found. It was during my ASD diagnosis that I've learned that people on the spectrum may sometimes have sensory issues, and sometimes hearing is affected. It explained why I can't understand what people were saying in noisy environments where everyone else seemed to carry out conversations normally.
We ended up having a lot of arguments, because she'd say things to me, I'd tell her I couldn't understand what she was saying, then she'd refuse to talk louder but still hold me accountable for remembering what she said.
Maybe this is another reason people think I'm brooding. I can only hear the people directly next to me in a noisy environment; not the people on the other end of a table for example. I typically assumed they couldn't hear me either, but now I'm wondering.
Through a crowd of people and and multiple noisy machines I could hear someone ask me "Where is the bathroom" or "How do I..." I guess it's a learned skill.
Up to a limit I mean it's not a superhuman skill just existing in certain circumstances and in my regular environment. I'm sure I'd be terrible in a noisy environment I'm not used to.
That said, yes, it is entirely possible that someone at the other end of the table could hear and understand you.
Their hearing is perfectly fine, but they drift away a hundred times a minute.
You don't have to move a lot to have ADHD. Here is a fun test/explaination on how it works in adults:
I had a nice improvement in concentration and attention to what I'm doing at work, but I haven't gone out to a bar or concert since, to try talking in a noisy environment.
Or if you don't want to use earplugs, just plug your ears when someone is talking to you. Same effect really.
I suffer a bit from tinnitus and as a result have taken to carrying earplugs for noisy environments. I find in addition to protecting my ears I can hear conversation better. I think basically the ears work better in the normal db range and don't function so well if overloaded. My kit, approximately:
Wax ear plugs: http://www.boots.com/en/Boots-Muffle-Wax-Earplugs-5-Pairs-_1...
Wax is quite good because you can adjust the effect - put in loosely they don't block much, squish them down and they do. I also chop them down to fit which the packet advises against. I recommend for tinnitus avoidance if nothing else.
I can more of less push through it at a pub and in other social situations but its extremely draining.
Now that I am lower I have ringing ears and lost the high frequency range of sound to a "slightly bellow level" and will probably never have to have hearing aids. My brain just couldn't figure out how to filter out all that noise.
I use to avoid drive-through, phone conversations etc. because there was always a 10% chance that everything I heard seemed like other person mumbling something. Medical help helped me correct the problem.
The problem is easily masked in a quiet environment, since your brain has more aural information to put the words together, but in a noisy environment, where many of the speech frequencies are cancelled by ambient sounds, you don't receive enough aural information.
edit. As for these hearphones, would be interesting to test them, but dont think I've used them. Never seen the problem as a big thing. More like annoyance perhaps. And yes, I am cheap.
This looks like a new spin on an old concept though. Perhaps it's made more practical since we all carry phones now.
* switch my hearing aids between 5 different programs depending on the environment.
* play "fractal" like tones to combat my tinnitus
* adjust the volume including muting the outside world
* play music from anything with a 3.5mm jack (bluetooth also available)
* hear calls from my phone
* probably more I'm forgetting
If it wasn't for the being hearing impaired part, having hearing aids is pretty cool :)
It looks like Bose is trying to bring this technology to a bigger market which is cool.
I have wished to friends and to a couple people like me for a hearing aid for hyper-vigilant people. Something that turned down the entire world, except for human speech, by 10-20 dB. I have my fingers crossed that these Bose devices can be re-purposed for this, just by turning down the gain to near ambient, so I can finally have some fucking peace and quiet.
Then maybe I won't think these open seating environments are the worst development in software for the last twenty years...
His audiologist can also set him up with a "training" program in his hearing aids that softens the amplification while he's getting used to them and after a few months go back to a more normal program. If he's not happy, have him talk to his audiologist...high end devices are highly tunable!
I guess the bigger problem was that putting it in my ear made me very dizzy, but I'd have tried to deal with that if the sound weren't so bad.
What does that sound like?
I'm not sure if it's actually fractal like in nature (hence the quotes around fractal); it's just somewhat random tones that help distract your brain from the tinnitus sound. I like it, but in situations where my tinnitus is bad (quiet rooms) I usually opt to have music on instead.
Do you think they'd be worth getting just for the ambient noise cutting abilities alone? My daughter has complete hearing loss in one ear and normal functionality in the other. Normally she's fine, but in a crowd she's completely lost.
I would probably find it annoying to swap out my ha's for the hearphones regularly, but might be worth the annoyance if it allows here to converse more normally!
An interesting side note is that you could 'hear' a very high pitched sound when using the device even though 50kHz is far outside the standard human hearing range. We still are not sure but think we were hearing a lower harmonic of the tone bouncing around the skull.
Sending 50kHz vibrations into the earn should interact with a 49kHz tone to cause the listener to hear a 1kHz tone.
(This is all from an acoustics course I took over a decade ago, so take it with a grain of salt!)
edit: is this your project? http://www.tinnitus.vcu.edu/Pages/Tinnitus%20Improvement.pdf
What worked for me was stop fighting and start loving it. Now it's a perma mantra. Some somatic malfunction that enables me to ear the hum inside of me or whatever poetry works for you. Try it maybe.
Whoa, what an interesting strategy. Here's a question for you: is your tinnitus a constant predictable pitch? If so, you could probably train a strong relative pitch skill enough to be able to spoof perfect pitch! That's pretty cool.
Thanks for the suggestion tho.
I'm hearing a tinnitus for over 10 years now, so I know what it's like. :)
That's the most perfect typo I've seen in a while.
I found the frequency of my tinnitus (67hz) and changed the octave until I found the best result (268hz).
When you play two square waves that are slightly off, you also hear a really obvious pulse that corresponds to how off they are (1 pulse per second means they're off by exactly 1 hz, and so on.) I don't know what the experience of tinnitus would be, but assuming you can hear the tinnitus and a square wave at a close pitch, it should be fairly easy to isolate the exact frequency with a binary search.
I found a frequency that was pretty close to what I hear (it's convenient that my left ear is mostly normal), and cranked it in my right ear. I now hear something like a distant swarm of bees, or a server room full of very loud fans.
No. Tinnitus is not caused by a real sound. It occurs somewhere after the phase-erasing Fourier transform performed by the physical structure of the ear. If it were caused by a real sound, or the brain added sounds in the time space (rather than the frequency space), it would work. But neurons are not fast enough to handle time-domain sound processing, so they offload Fourier transformation to the ear and then work with the (presumably phaseless) frequency-domain representation.
Then how is it that you can play one frequency into one ear and a slightly different frequency in the other ear, and the brain will register the beat frequency?
Only for the lowest frequencies (say, under 100 Hz) are there reliable traveling waves to even measure in the brain. Due to the firing refactory period where a neuron resets its membrane potential, most neurons have a max firing rate in the range of 250-300 Hz, so it's not possible for difference tones to explain any binaural beats above those frequencies.
Even for lower frequencies in the range of delta-gamma waves, it seems deeply unlikely that difference tones are the explanation, because the neurons encoding for frequency are separated spatially, so it's not as if two traveling waves reach the same neuron, subtract out, and result in the difference frequency.
However the brain produces the beat frequency, it's nothing like the way signals subtract in other media.
That's not where this is coming from. If, as you say, the brain is processing information in the frequency domain, then how would beat frequencies arise? I'm not debunking what you are claiming. That fits what I know about hearing. I'm genuinely curious as to how!
My primary area of study was perceptual consciousness in the visual domain, so I had to look a little more in-depth into binaural beats to answer your question. So, it appears that frequency coding is the norm for higher frequencies, but not for lower frequencies, which are the only ones we can hear binaural beats from. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find much relevant neuroimaging literature, so I don't really know.
Binaural beats are an auditory illusion, but I'm not sure of what process. The lower frequencies do record phase information, and use that for localization information (comparing phase differences at each ear for a frequency tell you the angle it came in from), so It could be related. Sorry again!
For binaural beats with low-frequency tones, I can only guess, but you can actually reconstruct phase information from the frequency domain signal depending on your sampling period. As a trivial example, imagine f << 1/T; now you can treat the DC component of the Fourier transform as a time-domain signal that contains f. I imagine that's how binaural beats work, as they occur at sufficiently low frequencies for this to happen. It could also be that the ear transmits low-frequency time domain information as well as frequency-domain information.
This is my new favorite way to describe the process. Gonna use this with my students :)
It's not much and doesn't seem to work for everyone, but if you've been suffering from tinnitus for years, one minute is better than nothing.
tinnitus is caused by people listening to music that is too loud. Music is too loud at most venues, if you are standing where you are meant to.
people don't like this comment, and point out that in many places inserts are available. All the same, the general clubs that I go to where I live, don't have them, and, more to the point, nobody else wears them. it's a social problem and perhaps a marketing problem. many bars / clubs are too loud and I as a consumer haven't been solicited to pay for a solution on-site. (even if this exists.) others I'm with don't wear anything either.
The responses here have convinced me that I likely should invest in some and bring them with me - but I don't like that I'm the only one doing so, and it seems kind of anal. i'm just being honest about how I feel. it would be easier if they were more readily available / being sold, and if everyone were using them.
I like to be cool and do the same thing everyone else does. just being honest.
In general, if the performers are wearing them, you probably should be, too. Your health is not a good place to think about being worried about what other people aren't doing to protect theirs.
I got a pair for EDC after realizing the foam earplugs were ruining the music. These reduce the volume with minimal muffling. Also pretty cheap considering they'll last a long time.
I picked them up at guitar center - they can help you get the right ones.
That's how it started with my MC5's. I put a piece of heat shrink tubing over the fray in order to postpone their demise but ultimately the plastic housing of the driver itself broke. The HF5's one day just stopped working out of one ear. I was never particularly rough with them or anything and only really used them at the office, but that was it for me.
I since moved on to a pair of Sennheiser MM 550-Xs but stopped using them because there was Bluetooth interference in my office (every one of about 70 desks in an open plan has a Bluetooth phone headset). Plus, the band messed with my hair and scalp.
Now I'm on a pair of Sennheiser CX 686G SPORTS that I originally bought for running but now use at the office. Sound's good enough and the build quality is superb since it was designed to be tossed about while doing active stuff.
I would gladly go back to Etymotic if they came out with something new in the $100ish price range, but for now I'll stick with Sennheiser. I've bought probably 6 different pairs of headphones from Sennheiser of varying styles in the past decade or so, and they all still work (with varying degrees of wear and tear). The only time a pair has broken on me was because I stupidly tried putting them on after they spent a night in a below-freezing car and didn't give them time to warm up, snapping the plastic headband, and their warranty service still replaced them with no questions asked.
Went to a kids show, some disney tripe or other, volume was painful for me and made my youngest at the time cry ... movie theatres clearly have a thing about being loud but surely that doesn't help to make them a place anyone wants to be. Yes, I went out and spoke to someone and had the sound level lowered, it was still loud; I'm sure it was beyond the safe working volume set by Health & Safety Executive [UK] though. Amazed that it's not monitored and set automatically.
I started using them in the 90s rave scene in SF. I would go to a party and would always bring earplugs with me, extra ones and hand them out. Especially to people who appeared to have had... a little too much. Sometimes handing a plastic bag of earplugs to someone who has had too much is a great thing from them as it helps them center a bit more.
I personally think that all concert ticket windows should hand these out with each ticket purchase/pickup.
One time I got grabbed by a bunch of bouncers and forcibly expelled from the venue - they thought the purple earplugs were drugs. Once they realized they were super apologetic and we had a good laugh about it.
No one is "forcing you" to have tinnitus. And what's so "ridiculous" about protecting your own hearing?
We are responsible for our own self-destructive behavior, like going to concerts without ear protection. Almost everyone's done it, but let's not blame other people for our own recklessness.
Most venues will also either give you or sell you (for $1) a pair of foam earplugs at the bar. Do it.
Perhaps that's the scene (metal, northern Europe). Most venues will sell for 1EUR, or give away, free foam plugs, but most people have better ones.
Nobody is going to protect your ears for you.
I quote the word because I can hear even the slightest sounds like the ticking of a watch in another room in complete silence, while at the same time being overwhelmed by the ringing. I had a hearing test done a couple years ago at a neurological institute to try to diagnose other issues (migraine-related), and my hearing was higher than they could measure. So it's not damage. It's quite fascinating.
I've gone to only one concert in my lifetime, and I don't listen to loud music. I haven't been around loud equipment for any length of time.
That might be something to explore; thank you for that. I also grind my teeth aggressively at night (which I wasn't aware of until ~1y ago when my wife told me).
Loud noise being just the most common--and least treatable--cause.
Another cause is otosclerosis, which is preeminently treatable.
If you have tinnitus, don't assume that nothing can be done. See an audiologist.
I find that really nice (and wish more countries would do the same).
Searching just now turns up http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2010/01/11/tinnitus_the_ea/ and http://www.therasmusforum.com/tinnitus-type-is-similar-to-ph...
I've tried it and it seems to work at least for a while for me. YMMV.
It also looks like more specific NMDA agonists are being developed as a treatment? http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal....