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Ways to improve hearing ability?

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
Does anybody know of ways to improve hearing? I find that when comparing 2 different headphones, i have incredible difficulty picking out specific differences. All i can do is pick out the overall feel of a headphone.

Perhaps i'm listening for the wrong things when doing comparisons?

BTW, i have no musical training and don't really play any instruments.
post #2 of 55
Is it a problem of picking out differences or a problem of vocabulary? I'm not trying to be cheeky -- I have a problem expressing the differences no matter how many times I read the vocabulary thread. But I can tell you which headphones I like and which ones I don't and can express it like a caveman ("this one big", "this one small").

I have musical training and play instruments; this is a different ballgame.
post #3 of 55
I don't think it's so much improving you hearing ability but knowing what to look for, how to notice small differences in the music, etc. Being classically trained helps a lot.
post #4 of 55
Start playing an instrument. If you've always been curious about the guitar, trombone, drums, or whatever, buy one and take lessons. It's an indirect effect, but it will work wonders on your ears. You'll get an entirely different perspective on music and you'll start to pick up on the finer points of reproduction.
post #5 of 55
Take estrogen.

Quote:
"We've discovered estrogen doing something totally unexpected," says Raphael Pinaud, assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study. "We show that estrogen plays a central role in how the brain extracts and interprets auditory information. It does this on a scale of milliseconds in neurons, as opposed to days, months or even years in which estrogen is more commonly known to affect an organism."

"Pinaud, along with Liisa Tremere, a research assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences, and Jin Jeong, a postdoctoral fellow in Pinaud's laboratory, demonstrated that increasing estrogen levels in brain regions that process auditory information caused heightened sensitivity of sound-processing neurons, which encoded more complex and subtle features of the sound stimulus. Perhaps more surprising, says Pinaud, is that by blocking either the actions of estrogen directly, or preventing brain cells from producing estrogen within auditory centers, the signaling that is necessary for the brain to process sounds essentially shuts down. Pinaud's team also shows that estrogen is required to activate genes that instruct the brain to lay down memories of those sounds."
post #6 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post
Start playing an instrument. If you've always been curious about the guitar, trombone, drums, or whatever, buy one and take lessons. It's an indirect effect, but it will work wonders on your ears. You'll gwt an entirely different perspective on music and you'll start tonpick up on the finer points of reproduction.
This is the best advice here. Even poor musicians can pick out differences in music with uncanny accuracy. It's always good to start young. I was forced to play the trombone when I about 8, and stuck with it for 9 years. It is a horrible, disgusting, and foul instrument, and I have since moved on to better things.

However, I'm grateful for all the practice I had dealing with different tones and scales. It's very easy to identify notes now, and I know I'll be getting my kids to learn music at an early age as well. As proof of this, I know of no musician that owns Bose or Monster, etc. I've had some of my friends (musicians for a living) try out those headphones at the future shop, etc, and after a few minutes of listening they put them down, and just remarked offhandedly that it does not sound like real music. Consider that they have no experience with audiophile quality headphones whatsoever. That's pretty cool, I think.
post #7 of 55
That "start playing an instrument" advice is total bullcrap. Starting to be a musician wont affect how well you can hear and in many cases you will find that musicians have awful hearing; both in a literal and then an aesthetic sense (they cant tell what "sounds good" from purely a sound perspective).
You could take estrogen, but I would advise against it.
Hearing loss is not permanent, there are permanent forms of hearing loss and those considered "permanent" because they take >40 years to recover. The best process to improving your hearing is to turn down your music (lower and lower and lower); your ears will be able to recover from recent damage they have received (sometimes it may take up to two years, and you will probably never get to hearing as good as it used to be) but more importantly you will become better at using your ears. Ever wonder why there is the stereotype of blind guys with fantastic hearing? They have to rely more heavily on sound than we do; they consciously use their ears to hear "sound". So do audiophiles. Musicians simply hear music.

Hearing the difference between headphones beyond EQ has nothing to do with musicianship; I have been a practising musician for most of my life and if anything it hinders your perception of detail in audio. If you improve your musical ear you can hear what happens in music, the tones players use and also the chord progressions and what is being played. It WONT let you hear the difference between DAC A and DAC B. The only way to hear the difference between DAC a and DAC b is to listen to music and be aware of the microdetail in the music.

There are many people who believe that being a musician hinders your ability to discern difference in music with regards to sound quality because you focus more on the music and what is happening within the music than within the sound.


All of this said, being a musician is one of the most difficult and most rewarding things in life. If you have the time and patience (you dont need talent) I suggest you to learn. Dont just try and learn the instrument; try and learn music. The sounds, the musicianship and the ear (hearing what is hapening in music, for example hearing a I vi ii V I progression). Being a musician may very well be a way to improve your ability to discern difference in equipment; I find it very easy to tell the difference but developing your ear musically is very challenging. I have spent a lot of time with audio equipment and I have been listening quietly for a long time - I know how to listen to the sound as well as the music after many years of practise and i know what to listen for.

It just takes practise. Listening quietly is one of the most powerful steps you can take in training your ears to hear "audiophile sounds". The ears are amazing things, even when damaged. They speak to you every day, you just have to listen.
post #8 of 55
Get your ears cleaned out (with a syringe).
post #9 of 55
I would personally advise against unnatural ear cleansing methods. Wax is an essential part of the sound an ear receives as well as a biological defense mechanism.
post #10 of 55
well, getting them cleaned by an otologist is great stuff!

anyway, there's tons of distortion/tone/rhythm audio tests on the web. get a good soundcard, and run them again and again....until you get +70% accuracy. you need to know what to look for.

also, convert some FLAC to 256/224/192/160/128 kbit MP3, and learn what to look for as well. I personally cannot stand any MP3 <224kbit
post #11 of 55
So, my HF2 or your K701?
post #12 of 55
IMO ABX tests are great to improve hearing ability. Note however that this will only increase your ability to hear whatever it is the test compares - usually MP3 compression artifacts. You won't become much better at detecting other kinds of sound differences, so you will need to train in different things if you want to become better at them.
post #13 of 55
there's a thread here on the forum w/ tons of audio tests...I scored great at some, and very bad at others. I should run them again and again until I go +80%
post #14 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrOutside View Post
leeperry logic: brb doing the same IQ test over and over until im a genius
protip: you're still a dick
Yeah, because those listening samples only test your innate hearing potential and not listening experience.

Protip: it's called practice, and believe it or not, it does actually make you more skilled at whatever it is you're practicing.

Oh, and protip: referencing old memes does not make you cool, nor right.
post #15 of 55
lol, what do IQ tests and auditory tests(distortion/rhythm) have in common? geez

the more you run these tests, the better you'll get :

Tonometric.com: Neuroscience-based musical tests and population stats

Listening-Test
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