<< back home

Latest News

Hearing tests

A sound engineering is only as good as his or her ears – but until recently, I’d never actually had mine checked.

At a recent show the audience ranged from kids to octogenarians with twin heading aids. Despite hearing loops and my best efforts, those with hearing devices struggled with the bass sound of the band. It’s not possible to provide a warm, full sound for the majority of the audience without it becoming bass-heavy for the few with hearing difficulty.

In order to understand the problem better, I decided to have a chat with an audiologist – and get my own hearing tested while I’m at it.

Sandy at Specsavers Hearing Centre, Worcester, was able to talk me through the typical process of hearing loss. Hearing loss is typically the degradation of high-frequency sensitivity (that can be assisted with hearing devices), whereas bass response is less affected.

This explains why the older members of the audience found the mix very bass-heavy. Hearing aids are optimised for clarity of speech, but run out of puff if you ask them to fill in the full range of frequencies a band can create.

How about my hearing? Well the news is good – anything between 0 and 20 dB attenuation is considered normal hearing, and I have only small drop-off at 4kHz, typical of someone working in noisy environments. Sandy doesn’t think this would be significant enough to affect my mixing style, but I’ll be getting checks more regularly in the future.

I regularly wear ear-plugs while working, but if you haven’t got any yet, get your hearing checked by a professional and take their advice on the protection available.

There’s only one downside – it’s one less excuse for bad mixing.

Oh, and if the results are bad, you might have to start working the lights instead…