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EQ for someone with hearing loss?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Is it possible to create and EQ profile for someone with hearing loss? I wear hearing aids but my hearing is not that bad that I am deaf without them or anything. I wear them because they help with my tinnitus mainly. However I wonder if using similar methods to help with my hearing can also be applied to headphones? I have provided a copy of my last hearing test for anyone who wants to have a go to look at. Is it just a matter of boosting the upper ranges? If anyone can provide a sample profile for Foobar I can work my way from there. But only if you are sure this will help as I know you cannot replace those ranges only amplify them. By the way I can hear up to 11.5Khz but they only test you to 8Khz from what I can tell.1000


EDIT: Just to let you know I understand a little about 'boosting' certain frequencies and the damage it can do if done incorrectly. I am not talking about just blasting the high frequences by says 30dB because basically EQ should expand and compress (at least this is the correct manner and I read it is used in hearing aids otherwise you would just be blasting the frequencies that the person is deficient in and doing more damage as they would not know they are doing more damage due to not hearing it. Much like the person who cannot feel pain burns themselves and does not know it until they smell or see it).

Edited by DeadMan - 7/19/12 at 9:41am
post #2 of 15
I believe you'd want a parametric EQ to accomplish the fine-tuning you're looking for here - it'll make life a lot easier (and more precise). I'm not really aware of what exists as plug-ins for foobar2000, but I know that parametric EQs do exist.

But where it gets a little screwy is here:

Headphones are not ruler-flat to begin with - they have a huge range of possibly FRs (which we can see as measured and compensated charts, but that doesn't reflect the actual acoustic response your ears "see" (before we get into your hearing loss)). And then there's the whole question of how much musical content really exists above 12khz (or more importantly, content in music you listen to).

So you'd have to have some idea of what your current headphones already do (there's a lot of models that are ~10 dB up at 10khz to start with), and how much more adjustment you want to apply. I wouldn't be too worried about blowing drivers up boosting HF, because the power demands for HF are generally minuscule (it's something like <5% of the amplifier's load is for 5khz and higher, so you aren't likely at risk of going into clipping or similar unless you get VERY aggressive with your adjustments).
post #3 of 15
Originally Posted by DeadMan View Post

Is it possible to create and EQ profile for someone with hearing loss?

A question I'm very interested in also. I experienced a sudden hearing loss (overnight) due to a viral infection. Lost all hearing in the right ear and the frequencies above 2k Hertz in the left are impaired. I use a Bicros aid normally, but can't use it for music listening with headphones.


I have been experimenting with a simple graphic eq (iTunes) for the past several weeks. Besides eq I have to convert the tracks to mono, either within iTunes or with external hardware since I have only one usable ear. I have Senn HD 555, Fostex T50rp and JVC HA-FX40 on hand to try.


I have been able to improve the SQ of the HP's to some degree or another using trial and error eq settings. The Fostex sounds not too bad stock with a little eq. I have materials on hand to mod them, so hope to improve them further. I can improve the JVC SQ with eq, but they still become un-listenable to me very quickly because of the harsh treble, even with eq.


So far, I have not been able to correlate the eq settings that sound best to me with my audiological evaluation curves. Simply boosting the frequencies above 2k Hertz as I had previously thought based on hearing test results has NOT been the best sounding. As a previous poster mentioned the response curve of the particular HP probably has an effect and I suspect there are other factors, also.


I look forward to responses from the knowledgeable members of this forum. Vic

post #4 of 15

well... Grados are somewhat tuned for people with hearing loss (in b 4 flamewar)

boosted in upper-mids and treble.

post #5 of 15
Originally Posted by roBernd View Post

well... Grados are somewhat tuned for people with hearing loss (in b 4 flamewar)
boosted in upper-mids and treble.

I think that's a little unfair, but as mentioned previously - *many* headphones have a boost around 10k. It's a popular modern feature. It's mostly in response to human hearing (which isn't flat) - boosting up high and down low will result in a flat sound. But you have to keep resonance and other factors in mind when discussing FR (because FR doesn't show the entire picture).

If anyone wants to kill a few hours looking at graphs:

Correlating this to individual hearing loss gets screwy because those graphs are compensated for the HATS, and your head is not going to equal the HATS (the HATS is based on an average of heads). And then theres your individual hearing acuity. Have you guys tried asking your respective audiologists about this?
Edited by obobskivich - 7/19/12 at 12:07pm
post #6 of 15
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Have you guys tried asking your respective audiologists about this?

Good point. The question is on the list to ask at my next appointment. My audiologist is a teaching professor at our state university, so hope he can give some insight. Vic

post #7 of 15
Just as a random thought, and I'd ask about this - you can actually buy audiometric headphones (the same stuff they use to test your hearing), which are calibrated to whatever ITU/ISO standards, and may be better at accurately reflecting the response you'd need to just apply adjustments based on what those measurements say (in other words, those measurements show your hearing as observed through X system, so if you had X system and applied the correction to it, it should flatten out). Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic are two examples, HDA280 and DT48A.00 are the model #s.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

I currently use Sony MDR-ZX700's, Sennheiser PX100 v1's and Porta Pro's on occasion. But yeah I get the drift. I think it would take an audiologist to understand how to calibrate to your hearing. It would be nice to apply a single rule that covered most cans. I have tried wearing my aids with the full sized Sonys but they will like buggery both when there is not or little sound (quiet passages) or when certain frequencies clash). They are OK when listening to speakers 'sometimes'. Other times they whistle and distort. I read a great article regarding hearing aids and the poor quality digital variants available today. He much preferred an older analog hearing aid no longer made. There appear to be NO hearing aids aimed at audiophiles apart from an old analog type and 1 digital type that is not nearly as good.



There is no mention of the Siemens I currently am using though. I'd be curious to know how mine fare (probably badly).


EDIT: My aids are Siemens Impact Pro L (whatever that might entail). I hear they have a new sound system called 'Bestsound' but is only available on 3 of their products (Not NHS provided like mine are).

Edited by DeadMan - 7/23/12 at 8:54am
post #9 of 15
I don't think you can apply a single rule to all cans, or even most cans, just because of their differences in response. What you're really aiming to do is compensate for both your own personal HRTF *and* hearing acuity, which is unique to your head. And then you're trying to make a given can (which will have a different FR from head to head, not even talking about your acuity) respond in a given way. It's a pretty tall order. I'm not even sure something like the Smyth could accomplish what you want, because I don't think it compensates for hearing acuity.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

Yeah I get that. I wish I could wear my aids with my cans though without them whistling and doing other weird noise distortions. I think that is REALLY what I would looking for or a set of in ear buds that are tuned to my own hearing loss.


BTW I took this test wearing my ZX700's in a relatively noisy environment expecting to fail miserably and it says my hearing is 'normal' lol.




I doubt it's very accurate though.

post #11 of 15
Have you asked your audiologist about IEMs, like customs, or something from Etymotic or similar? Might be easier to get what you want in terms of response (you'll sacrifice soundstage, but c'est la vie).
post #12 of 15

This is an important topic. Thank you Deadman for starting it and for the very interesting link about analog hearing aids.  Many Headfiers have hearing loss and are unaware of it. Then there are people like Deadman and me who have had their hearing tested and can see the loss in black and white. Many people with tinnitus probably have hearing loss as well. High frequency hearing loss is common as people age and or have been exposed to excessive noise.It is really unfortunate that the analog "audiophile" hearing aids have been discontinued. That looks like an opportunity for someone to create a profitable market niche. HF hearing loss is often manifested in a sensitivity to those frequencies. Loud voices for example can be irritating.  I've had better results HPs when those frequencies are reduced; not boosted.

post #13 of 15

I read with interest the article from Home Theater and HiFI on analog HA's. However, the article is dated 2006, an eternity in the field of hearing aid technology. I suspect many of the HA's tested are obsolete and probably not even available today. I am relatively recently hearing impaired, and have only used digital aids. My Phonak Audeo Smart S Bicros aids have a "music" program available. My audiologist adjusted the "music" program using the Phonak computer fitting software playing through a pair of small desktop speakers, hardly an audiophile setup. The resultant sound is somewhat better than the "speech" settings and is what I use when driving. But, having said that, modern hearing aids are designed to improve speech comprehension, not music listening.


For several reasons, I prefer to listen to music without the aids. As mentioned in an earlier post, I have been experimenting with the dynamic eq included with iTunes to see if it could improve the SQ of headphones and iem's. Even though the iTunes eq program is fairly crude, I was able to improve my listening experience with the stock Fostex T50rp's by trying the various default settings and tweaking a bit. Then I started modding the T50rp's, first by replacing the stock earpads with Shure HPAEC840 pads as suggested in the Fostex mod thread. I didn't like the resultant sound at all. I then went back to a "flat" eq setting to see if that helped. It did! Sounded better to me than the stock T50rp even with eq. Altogether the best music listening I have experienced since my hearing loss. According to the Fostex mod gurus, the Shure pads were supposed to flatten the response curve by bumping the bass a bit. At least to my impaired ears, I believe it did. I plan to keep the Fostex's as-is for a few days. Later some of the other mods suggested will be tried to see if more improvement can be made. Vic

post #14 of 15
With 7 years experience as a registered hearing aid specialist and previous recording and live sound reinforcement experience, I can say that merely compensating with a graphic eq setting based on ones audiogram will tend to overshoot the affected area of hearing. Imagine moving from a 4 bedroom house into a studio apartment. You still need to put the same amount of sonic information in a smaller space. Your hearing in a way lost real estate in those specific sounds that were damaged. All one is doing when adjusting eq is shifting the dynamic response of a section of frequency range. It's important to consider you have to re-proportion the dynamic range of the affected hearing. I recommend looking at equal loudness contour graphs easily found on google to show that all frequencies are perceived with different ranges of volume. To achieve optimum results, you would have to run your sound system through a multi-band compressor to not only amplify but reduce the dynamic range of a frequency to that of the residual or remaining hearing. In essence you are squeezing the sound into the remaining space so that dynamics retain their equivalent perceived fluctuations. Also, sometimes hearing may be affected so much in the higher frequencies that trying to stimulate those areas with such little hearing left will result in distortion in the cochlea. When loud sound rattles the hearing organ the acuity and detail of those frequencies is diminished. Hearing aids now are capable of 250 million processes per second with 18 million virtual transistors. Staggering considering today's best a/d converters and equal preamps.
post #15 of 15

It probably deserves mentioning that not all sudden hearing loss is in the high frequencies.  I experienced sudden loss in my right ear only below 1KHz (about 60dB down) due to a tumor on my vestibular-cochlear nerve.  As a musician, audiofile, and audio product design engineer this is a problem.  I hear a tweeter on the right and a woofer on the left!  As it turns out, the frequencies above 6KHz are 15 dB hotter on my right than on my left, accentuating this phenomenon.  In addition, the brain is delaying my "understanding" of the frequencies in my right ear, along with creating auditory allusions that approximate harmony notes in my right ear (being a musician with great "head harmony" has a whole new meaning).  I tried a couple of different hearing aids, but their inputs all clip onstage because of the high acoustic volume.  It appears no hearing aids today allow the audiologist to adjust input padding.  I don't really have a problem hearing speech because of my particular situation, and the audiologists and all the products are all about improving the hearing of speech.  I have decided to forego a hearing aid.  Because I need correction in only one ear, I can't use the T-coil system anyway.


So, to help my onstage monitoring system, I am looking for headphone amps that have sophisticated EQ capabilities so that I can adjust the curve for the left and right differently.  Additional DSP capability to adjust the dynamic range for specific bands would be awesome. and probably necessary.  So far, I have not found such a device.  I may have to make it myself, which is real shame, as this type of product should already be available.  I am thinking bluetooth control of filter settings with an Android app, low-latency DSP in a small battery-powered box, stereo-in, stereo-out, with a built in headphone amp.  A microphone pre-amp input would be good for concerts (plug in a microphone and put on the headphones to hear the concert).  In addition, some musicians want to hear what is happening around them onstage.  I went to a concert after this happened last July and haven't been back to one.  Not only freq anomalies, but I have become very sensitive to ambient noise, such as from the people talking around me, especially women and children.  Does anyone have any leads on portable DSP boxes that can help me?


You can also respond to me personally at tony@oregonbaby.net.


Thanks for your help.

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