Hearing loss with age

Posted by: MangoMonkey on 13 January 2019

i read that men losing hearing in the upper frequency as they age, and women in the lower frequencies.

(and there’s a joke in there as well - marital harmony since they can finally not hear each other).

so - is it more of a the higher frequencies being attenuated - as in harder to hear, or is it like a high pass filter.

if former, could explain the market for super bright speakers. If latter, could explain the market for speakers like harbeth - no bass or treble...

Posted on: 14 January 2019 by Svetty

It is the higher frequencies in both sexes that are generally the issue for both age related and noise exposure hearing loss. The ability to discriminate between different sound sources is also impaired. I'm no expert - perhaps a resident ENT consultant could expand on this?

Posted on: 14 January 2019 by Ardbeg10y

It is quite unimportant IMO. My wife and I have done a hearing test. We both score average for our age. She's significantly younger than I am (7 years younger, I'm 40), she does hear much higher frequencies than I do. Despite this difference, I do hear much more. Why? My brain simply works different. She wants my brain, I want her brain.

It must be a bit like Dacs. You feed them with the same data, but something different comes out of it.

I have always been surprised by elderly conductors. They must hear half of what I do, but they still track a full orchestra and even individual voices.

Posted on: 14 January 2019 by Rich 1

I'm 65 and my wife 62, according to tests she has little or no hearing loss. On the other hand I have quite severe loss at higher frequency but good bass. Right considerably worse than left. NHS hearing aids were a revilation, the best and cheapest system upgrade I've ever had! On a serious note that apparently is rearly mentioned at private or NHS hearing clinics, you should carry out a Risk Assessment on your aid. Now don't laugh as this is serious, if your work could take you to a hazardous environment such as risk of explosion, this could be gas meter readers, gas fitters, emergency services and what about oil tanker crew, etc., then your aid must be intrinsically safe to comply with HSE laws. NHS do supply such aids free if asked to. I suspect private ones will be considerably more expensive than standard aids. Rich 


Posted on: 14 January 2019 by SamClaus

An interesting question. I'm losing the upper frequencies (above 3-4000hz - which is more or less normal for a person of my age), and I've been trying some top of the range Swiss hearing aids (Phonak). I never found my speakers (PMC 20.23) overly bright, but with the hearing aids I find them almost unbearably bright on certain recordings (violin sonatas, etc.). Violins even sound distorted sometimes.

I can't decide whether it's because I've got used to the attenuated high frequencies - and I'm now hearing them as they should be heard, or whether I'm expecting too much of those hearing aids.

It might be better to start a new thread on that topic on Wednesday, otherwise it'll be short-lived...

Posted on: 14 January 2019 by Rich 1

Interesting Sam Claus, I've got PMC 20 24's that I chose after I had my hearing aids. I also auditioned 20 23s and found them to bright. 

Posted on: 14 January 2019 by steve95775

It's true that as you age, high frequencies roll off more. Your "frequency response" goes wonky, so you're like a lo-fi am radio. As we need high frequency response to accurately place things in space, (the distance between our ears determines this), our ability to discriminate say a specific voice in a crowded room becomes more difficult.

As a young man in the 80's selling hifi to a lot of older clients, (they had the cash), I could definitely hear things in the mix that they seemed to miss. It didn't mean that older people couldn't pick a better reproduction from an inferior one, just that some things went through to the keeper. Back in those days, the Spendor BC1 with it's Coles super tweeter was pretty common. There were a fair few people who never noticed it had fried and no long worked, and my impression was that it was the older client who may not have noticed this more often than not.

However, now as one of those older clients, (sad but true), I still think I can discriminate a better sound from a crap one pretty easily. Might be vanity, or pig-headedness, I don't care.  I've always felt that appreciation of the way a great hifi can move you was down to two things, one being it didn't mess up the music too much, and two if you as the listener had an affinity for music. Some, (well actually most IMHO), hifi's fail the mess up the first test, and there are a lot of people who would rather mow the lawn than get carried away with the music. Losing your high frequencies sucks, (as does tinnitus), but I still get moved to tears with great music.

As for the guy who gets hooked on a loudspeaker so bright it can peal paint off the walls, well I didn't notice an age correlation.  Ditto the bass freak. And the old cliché about race and bass/treble, (you know the song), well that was bunkum too. We all have our kink when it comes to our hifi, but as a guy who maybe has sold to over 5000 clients, I honestly can't see any correlation between sex, race, orientation or political belief and the hifi they end up with. But if they start tapping their feet/toes/tongues to the beat I knew I was on the right track.

However, in the way that as you get more into wine, the sweet Moscato is left behind for the great Cabernet Sauvignon, well my experience is that as  clients, (sadly few), would graduate to the Flat Earth point of view as they progressed up the hifi ladder, the tendency to value performance over flashing lights emerged. And yeah, I have old friends who still sink oceans of Moscato, and still think Boney M on a ghetto blaster is just dandy. They just don't get wine or good music.

As other threads have discussed, people who buy horrendously priced black boxes from Salisbury are the minority. I'd love to have my hearing as good as it was back in the day, but it still get's me there.


Posted on: 14 January 2019 by Innocent Bystander

 To the best of my awareness essentially what happens with age related hearing loss is like a low pass filter, the roll off frequency of which is gradually lowered. So in simple terms at age of 20 you may be able to hear up to 20kHz, 30: 19.5KHz, 40: 18.5 KHz, 50: 17KHz, 60: 15KHz, 70: 12KHz,  or something like that, and of course varying from person to person.

it doesn’t stop you listening to and enjoying music, though it will gradually affect the sound quality. Interestingly it might sometimes explain different people’s perception of ‘brightness’ or harshness if some systems. 

On the bright side (pun not intended!), you don’t get troubled by audible high frequency whistles emitted by switched mode power supplies and the like, which youngsters can find annoying, and once sufficiently advanced you wouldn’t need to replace your speakers’ tweeters if they fail!


Posted on: 14 January 2019 by TOBYJUG

Natural hearing loss from age is more random with frequency drop. Most are in the upper middle where intelligibility of speech is.

Posted on: 14 January 2019 by SamClaus

Thanks for your interesting replies. I now find myself in a bit of a quandary - if I listen to music with hearing aids, I find the sound unacceptably bright on some recordings. Without hearing aids, I always suspect I might be missing something... Shouldn't have tried in the first place - I was quite happy listening to music without hearing aids.

Posted on: 14 January 2019 by Innocent Bystander

There was a thread about hearing loss / hearing aids some time in the last year or maybe two, with some discussion of different types - apparently IIRC some con be optimised for different purposes, and switched between modes including one optimised for music listening. Maybe that is something to investigate - though I think they were pretty expensive.

unfortunately I don’t remember the thred’s name , but a search should find it (whether before or after zero hour).

Posted on: 14 January 2019 by Rich 1

Sam, do you have a molded earpiece or a dome attached to your aid? If it's a dome try lowering the volume on the aid. Also do you have a music setting on your aid, it's to reduce feedback or howling, distortion starts just before the feedback. Rich 

Posted on: 14 January 2019 by David Hendon

[@mention:74356846675335341] if your hearing aids are too bright they need adjusting. There is no time to discuss this here with the forum dying imminently but I (and no doubt others too) have lots we can say on the subject if you want to open a new thread on the other side....