Hearing and Age

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Hearing and Age
« on: 16 Jun 2008, 03:40 pm »
I'm 55 years old. Hearing declines with age, both sensitivity to sounds and range of frequencies that can be heard, particularly at the top end.

I played some test tones the other day and found that I could just about hear 10khz but could not hear 12.5khz, although I thought I felt it (almost as a pain in the ear - these tones weren't played very loud). Above 12.5khz I didn't hear or sense anything.

I have a Behringer DEQ2496 in my system and this has a Real Time Frequency Analyser which shows that there is plenty of sound in the 12.5 to 20 khz band on the CDs I play. However, what is the point in my speakers (RM30Ms) producing those frequencies if I can't hear them?

With this in mind, I used the Behringer to roll off the frequencies from a lower point then before, namely I reduced 12.5khz by 3db, 16khz by 7db and 20 khz by 15db.

I'm not sure if it's made any difference to the sound I hear: I don't think I'm missing anything and I have the slight impression that the whole sound is a bit clearer, or perhaps brighter, but of course I may be kidding myself.

What I would like to ask is, has anyone else adjusted their speakers with consideration for what they can actually hear?

I would also like to know if there are any other possible advantages in doing this?  For example, is the tweeter now able to do a better job with a lesser workload (applies to the whole chain I suppose - cables, amp, DAC, which all come after the Behringer in my system). Will it have a longer life?

Any comments appreciated!


Re: Hearing and Age
« Reply #1 on: 16 Jun 2008, 04:24 pm »
The answer may partially depend on how often anybody else listens with you.

My guess is that there is no benefit to the other frequencies by chopping off the highs, but that's just a guess.


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Re: Hearing and Age
« Reply #2 on: 16 Jun 2008, 05:30 pm »
Regardless of age, I think there may be an advantage to rolling off extended treble is some systems.  Like you, I can't hear very high frequency tones (in my case above 14khz) but I can feel them pressurize my ears.

The problem in a lot of systems is that the stuff that gets reproduced up at those very high frequencies is crap that masks and mangles the music's harmonic integrity.  The two primary culprits are digital artifacts and tweeter resonances.

With all that HF crap pressurizing the ears, even though it can't be heard, no wonder some systems sound fatiguing!  And in those cases, rolling off the very high frequencies helps.  My brother's system consists of a squeezebox > DCX2496 > Hypex amp > Axiom speakers & Hsu sub.  Rolling off the highs above 12k in that system made it much more listenable. 

Now if the system can reproduce clean, extended highs without the crap, then there is great benefit to having the ears pressurized by very high frequency musical harmonics, even if they can't be perceivabley heard.  Kind of like the spice that can't be specifically tasted but enhances the flavor of the dish.

But it takes really well-engineered gear to pull this off.  The FST in the RM30 is very clean sounding at these higher frequencies, unlike most metal domes.  With really good upstream gear that preserves high frequency musical harmonics and minimizes high frequency noise and distortion, this speaker can sound magical up top.



Re: Hearing and Age
« Reply #3 on: 17 Jun 2008, 12:25 am »
As far as the auditory system goes, I would be very surprised if the 'downward spread of masking' was relevant.  If my memory serves, the downward spread of masking is not significantly greater for ears with high-frequency hearing loss compared to younger ears.  But I have to admit, it's been ten years since I studied psychophysical tuning curves and so forth, so there could be research to contradict me.


Re: Hearing and Age
« Reply #4 on: 17 Jun 2008, 06:31 am »

'Downward spread of masking'?


My system is of reasonable quality, except perhaps the Behringer which sits between the Transport and DAC: