Coping With Hearing Loss

 

Age, occupation, medicines (both OTC and prescription), genetics, injury – all can contribute to hearing loss. Affecting nearly 1 in 5 Americans, the most common type among audiophiles is Sensorineural – repeated exposure to excessively loud noise.  Whatever the reason or type, losing any range is troubling to our community.  Member Broadstone has been trying to compensate with hearing aids, but wonders what other options are available to him.

“To compensate for the tapering off of hearing acuity which for me begins in the area of 5000Hz and totally drops off at about 7700Hz, I’m considering the addition of an equalizer in the system. My thinking is that, because hearing aids are little more than sophisticated equalizers, I could accomplish the same improvement without having to wear them.
This brings me to my request for your advice; first of all, I would like to know if I’m missing something or if there’s a flaw in my logic. Secondly, if it appears that an equalizer might be the answer, which type and manufacturer is recommended. The little research I’ve done leads me to believe that the addition of an equalizer will have a negative overall affect on sound quality and that the best ones are quite expensive. With this in mind, I would like to try something that won’t break my bank to, at least, do a trial before I commit to a higher quality component.
BTW, my present system consists of, among other things, the hybrid 100W Rogue Audio Sphinx, Shanling solid state CD player and Martin Logan Odyssey speakers.”

So far, the community has said:

Polk432
DBX 10/20 I’ve owned several of each 14/10 10/5 10/20 avoid the 20/20 the RTA and Pink Noise Gen. seem to always go out in them. Best of luck.

Bojack
I have a ton of experience with the Behringer Ultra-Curve Pro DEQ 24/96 in use with an all Quicksilver/Spendor system and recommend it. I use it extensively to compensate for my hearing loss in my left ear (tragic story). It is undetectable in my signal chain, adding no noise, grain, veiling, or hum. You should be able to boost the frequencies in question, and it allows for .5dB adjustments in each channel. I did have one go belly up (stopped saving presets), but you can get them for $350 new. Yes, the fancy Accuphase models may be better in some way, but it costs a small fortune and may even do less than the Ultracurve. You will need 4 XLR to RCA adapters, however, and a preamp that has a tape loop or processor loop. Best of luck to you.

Plato
Broadstone, I think it could work and I have found that some of the dbx model EQ’s sound very respectable in a high-end system. My backup for my expensive Lyngdorf preamp/equalizer is a dbx 1231 stereo 31 band graphic EQ with variable gain. I like it a little better than the older dbx 10/20 that is an old model and failed after time.

The dbx 1231 has both TRS connectors (RCA to TRS adapters are easy to find) and XLR balanced Inputs/Outputs. It has a list price of around $500 but can be found on the Internet closer to $350. I believe it has up to 15dB of boost/cut at 1/3 octave intervals.

If you find yourself using a lot of boost (say over 5 or 6dB) you might need to make sure your amp has enough power and stability into low-ohm loads in order to avoid amplifier clipping that can harm your speakers (and possibly your amp too).

Good luck!

Buconero117
I am puzzled that what you are trying to achieve cannot be done by your hearing aids themselves. Most high quality aids are programmable to a specific response curve that can be exactly matched to your hearing loss. Also, most high quality aids do not roll off at 7700HZ. I suggest you first go back to your audiologist and seek a solution via your aids. If you don’t have one, look for an audiologist that has a large number of clients that are professional musicians. I have tired various equalizers in my rig, none have worked well to the point they sound better with using my aids. Not mentioned in various responses about equalizers is the Technics 9010, a work horse of the pro sound field.

Papermill
Broadstone,

I expect your issue will be more and more common as most of us older audiophiles need to address our inevitable hearing loss.

I’m not sure if an equalizer will properly compensate for your hearing issues. However, I use the AudioControl C-101 equalizer in my second system in a very difficult room. It works wonderfully to balance frequencies. I much rather have it in the audio chain than out. It looks like it’s available on eBay for a few hundred dollars and can be connected simply with RCAs. And it’s a consumer product, not a pro product – easy to install between your preamp and speakers.

Much cheaper than most hearing aids! So it may be a relatively “easy” alternative in which to experiment.

All the best,

Dave

Noromance
Buconero, I think the op wants to listen without the aids. I can imagine aids acting as a major barrier to hearing the actual sound of the rig.

Broadstone
Thanks very much to all of you. I’m more comfortable now with the idea of at least trying the equalizer approach, and will. Peppermill, your response was what mine would have been before I bought mine and it makes a great deal of sense. Yes, with properly adjusted quality hearing aids one would think that hearing should approximate hearing normalcy of one’s younger years and there’s no doubt that, when wearing them I’m hearing upper frequency detail that I had lost.

I’ve been involved in this hobby for over 50 yrs and, except for speakers, I’ve never spent $5000+ on any single component, which is what these hearing aids set me back. The only time I wear them, though, is when I’m actively listening to music. Therein may be part of my problem; I’ve not worn them enough for my hearing to adjust. Besides, if I wear them for more than 1/2 hour, itching in my ear canals becomes uncomfortable and distracting. I’ve worked with 2 audiologists on this issue.

Anyway, using my hearing aids may well be the better choice and could end up being my ultimate choice but, whichever way I go, I appreciate the helpful advice I’ve gotten here.

Buconero117
Noromance, like Broadstone, I have been into audio for over fifty years, hearing aids for a like amount of time. I have learned a lot in that time. The progress in the hearing aid field has been unbelievable, especially in work that Mead Killion has done in perfecting hi end hearing aids. Killion gave us the ER line of ear buds.

In my view, the right aids should not be a barrier to hearing the actual sound of the rig. Remember, we all search for the components that produce the best sound to our ears, that is why we all have very different rigs. That quest is needed in searching for hearing aids. The hearing aids of General Hearing are an example of high end products at reasonable prices. My pair cost $3K. The have two different microphones, one especially dedicated to the music program, they also have Killion’s DigitK amps. Best to go to General Hearing’s web site and learn more about what hi end hearing aids are all about. The search continues.

Audiogoners, if you’ve experienced hearing loss, how are you coping with it?  Share your advice in the comments below!

For more information about hearing loss, check out this short article from NPR Health.
Also consider visiting the Hearing Loss Association of America
 

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