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Age related hearing loss + Audiophile?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I have a simple question. Can someone with age related hearing loss be an audiophile? Or to what extent does hearing loss effect the use of high quality components?

My father once adored music, all the Beatles and early rock and roll. He was even friends with Roy Buchanan, and still has a few of the Snake Stretchers records from the first pressing. I'm considering getting him some higher quality components, as his older gear has slowly crapped out. But is it worth it?

I got him a Sennheiser ALS last year and he likes it, but it's designed for hearing loss, and the specific ranges lost due to hearing loss, and not quality. He's 74 for what it's worth.
post #2 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by 43st View Post
I have a simple question. Can someone with age related hearing loss be an audiophile? Or to what extent does hearing loss effect the use of high quality components?
Since this is the sound science forum, we should use a scientific approach t the problem.

First, we should define "an audiophile". As far as I know, apart from various dictionary definitions, there is no common interpretation of the term. I treat myself as audiophile, because - literally - I love listening to the music. I don't care about the hardware as long as it fulfills certain criteria (eg. allowing me to listen to the music that I like with satisfying quality, good build quality, nice design, made in the EU, no voodoo in manufacturer's philosophy, etc.). On the other hand, I don't think that people who buy expensive high-end equipment and use it once or twice a week to listen to one of their twenty-thirty CDs/LPs is not a music adorer/lover.

Next, one should prove that high quality components are distinguishable by normal-hearing listeners. So far, no ABX/DBT studies prove that above certain level of quality there are significant differences between amplifiers/preamps/cd players/DACs. These might be present if two devices have significantly different parameters (eg. one with very high and one with very low distortions level). Moreover, clipping can be heard easily, so underpowered amplifiers may be easily distinguished from more powerful ones when listening using low-efficient loudspeakers/headphones. I believe that transducers (together with room acoustic) play the most important role in sound quality and these can be easily distinguished, even in blind tests.

Finally, age-related hearing loss may affect the perception via the hearing system, but we should keep in mind that low and high frequencies may be perceived by receptors located in/under the skin. I have no knowledge if their sensitivity is also reduced in the elderly (I guess it is), though it looks like a very interesting issue.
post #3 of 20
Audiophile = Lover of sound.

Anyone can be an audiophile, it's not a club reserved for the "elite few".

Also, if you go an listen to just treble you'll notice how little it impacts music (besides say, a small impact on timbre and brilliance in cymbals).


You dont lose "quality" in your ears, mostly just certain frequencies because your ears work in a particular way that makes this so.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGreen View Post
You dont lose "quality" in your ears, mostly just certain frequencies because your ears work in a particular way that makes this so.
This is good to know.. He does complain sometimes in restaurants, due to certain frequencies being harder to hear with the background noise.

I once drove his car and the EQ was completely off.. I mean horrid. I know he set it up, so I made the assumption that his hearing must be in really bad shape.
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by 43st View Post
This is good to know.. He does complain sometimes in restaurants, due to certain frequencies being harder to hear with the background noise.

I once drove his car and the EQ was completely off.. I mean horrid. I know he set it up, so I made the assumption that his hearing must be in really bad shape.
I understand the whole background noise thing I have the same problem. This is especially troublesome when watching TV, understanding the dialog through the background music. I solved that problem with Senn RS140 wireless phones. for music listening I gravitate toward Grados, their "bright" sound suites me well.
post #6 of 20
It's the same as any other paraphilia. Your father, I assume, is a heterosexual male, yes? Does he enjoy looking at women? Does it matter that he's "too old" for them?
post #7 of 20
He should be able to enjoy good gear. I think you mostly lose the high end with age, but most of what you enjoy are vocals and the mids. You usually retain that into old age. I'm hoping to get another 40-50 years of enjoyment.
post #8 of 20
Just keep listening until you're really deaf. No matter how bad your hearing, you can still be an audiophile.
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatcat28037 View Post
I understand the whole background noise thing I have the same problem. This is especially troublesome when watching TV, understanding the dialog through the background music. I solved that problem with Senn RS140 wireless phones. for music listening I gravitate toward Grados, their "bright" sound suites me well.
Ears are a funny thing. I have what I would consider below-normal hearing, and yet I suffer from hyperacusis, which means I find a lot of things too loud to the point it is irritating.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatcat28037 View Post
I understand the whole background noise thing I have the same problem. This is especially troublesome when watching TV, understanding the dialog through the background music. I solved that problem with Senn RS140 wireless phones. for music listening I gravitate toward Grados, their "bright" sound suites me well.
He does have a Sennheiser Set 810 (consumer ALS gear) that I got for him last year. It's hooked up to his TV and he uses it constantly. It has a tunable range, so you can actually tweak the headphones to boost the range you're having a hard time with.

Maybe one could EQ around this to a certain extent. It would be hard to do it for him though, which would be a problem. He's a listener and not much of a gear head.
post #11 of 20
I would say tinnitus and hyperacusis can be very devastating for listening to music (and of course people who make music themselves) and is of course, more prevalent in older people. I have no tolerance for high frequencies and get fatigued by most music within seconds but I have to carry on with this strange ritual of forcing unnatural sound into my ears because I don't want to live without music. It always sucks when the music fades out or comes to a quiet section and you hear the noises in your head. According to studies most people with tinnitus are not bothered by it, though everyone I know in my own personal life that has it absolutely dreads it. Although I have hearing loss in the upper registers, that hasn't affected my musical enjoyment anywhere near as much as actual tinnitus. However, let's keep anyone with acute hearing loss from mastering a cd, eh?
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoseFan View Post
However, let's keep anyone with acute hearing loss from mastering a cd, eh?
Heh... tell that to some of the older bands that are still rockin' hard

Like someone said, you don't lose "quality" in your ears, all age related hearing loss is, is a damaging or stiffening of the hairs that vibrate in your ear when they are hit by the sound waves. All this changes is the range you can hear.

Also, you said his EQ sounded WAY off? Well, like you said, you now have an indication as to how bad his hearing is. I'm sure he said something along the lines of, "what are you talking about! that sounds perfect!"?

If you are looking for higher-end equipment, look into auditioning thing with him to see what it is that he thinks sounds good and what he likes, you'd be more likely to cater to his needs by find something that he finds comfortable, enjoyable, etc.
post #13 of 20
He can still be an audiophile and make use of decent equipment, but I wouldn't go out and buy him a $10000 headphone setup.
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Necrolic View Post
He can still be an audiophile and make use of decent equipment, but I wouldn't go out and buy him a $10000 headphone setup.
Why not,plenty of older people have exotic cars etc,etc,being old does not preclude them from the nice things in life.
I can think of many young people where $10000 phones would be more than a waste of time.In fact I can think of a lot of young people who are a waste of time.

Let the older generation enjoy what they have worked hard to attain,we will all be in there shoes one day.
post #15 of 20
Those shoes are fitting these days. I should go do a frequency test to see where my weaknesses are. Then get an active EQ and tweak.

Are there typical frequencies that are lost with age? I assume some of the highs tilted headphones are popular with the older crowd that doesn't work for the young.
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