Best way to compensate for hearing loss

September 29, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

14 comments on “Best way to compensate for hearing loss”

  1. The theory behind “stereo” requires 100% symmetrical conditions, meaning identical parameters for each loudspeaker and each channel in the chain. But are always both ears identical? I doubt! It is proven that real heads/faces never show 100% symmetry, pinnae have a different shapes, geometries and angles thus the HRTF is different for both ears. And are there studies which show that the sensitivity of both ears are identical for all frequencies? Concerning our eyes everybody can perform a simple test showing that there is always a dominant eye! Thus stereo per se featuring a doubling of an original sound source require a lot of brain processing for getting the phantom images correct. Instead of turning the balance knob I would recommend to tilt the pinna of one ear if there isn’t an exact center image as claimed. 🙂 Even tilting your head will move the phantom image concerning perceived stage height. For me listening to stereo (!) requires to close both eyes!

    1. YES! tilt the pinna instead of balance control. When you move the balance control you inevitably alter the recording mix especially when a solo instrument is brought up in that channel. I struggle a very slight high frequency loss above 4000Hz and nerve damage in my left ear that is almost painful in a reverberant environment. Cupping a hand at that ear also brings the center image back. Don't hesitate to experiment and refine your technique. I have never understood why, when at audio shows, the extremely high playback levels do not generally excite my condition.

    2. Some years ago, someone produced a series of well-known faces made up of a half face and a reversed half face joined up to give a new full-face image the images were surprising and disturbing at the same time.

  2. I have substantial hearing loss in my right ear, thanks to years of being in the midst of live music. Sometimes the balance control tweak works. Other times...and who knows why....simply turning my head slightly give the best results.
    Thanks to a wide soundstage i can even move to a different position on the couch.
    Other times, I just like to be alone with my tinnitus. LOL

  3. f you have hearing loss, moving a balance control i does not work. Not matter where you move it, you'll never get back those frequencies. I developed hearing loss after 2 audio related accidents - one took out my lowest hearing on the left side, the other took out my highest frequencies on that same side.

    The best solution, one I've been using for 2 years now, is adding a Schiit Audio Loki Mini+ or Lokius equalizer to only the loss side. I found it best to use the Lokius, since it can run balanced or unbalanced. Balanced, I have it on the rack with my amplifier, centered between the speakers (my other equipment 15 feet away). There, I stand or sit between the speakers and adjust the frequency bands one at a time until the image centers. It has worked wonders to bring me more at peace with my hearing loss. Sadly, I can't hear cymbals above a ride cymbal on my loss side.

    I was considering hearing aids, but my case is odd because I can hear voices and tv fine. When I told my audiologist about my discovery, as hoping this news would help her help others. She never responded... I assume she was more interested in selling hearing aids than offering a less costly alternative to her clients.

  4. Now nearing age 70, about 10 years ago I was diagnosed with hearing loss in one ear that warranted fitting for a hearing aid. More recently, my “good ear” tested enough outside the normal range that I began wearing hearing aids in both ears. My hearing loss is mainly in the higher frequencies, and not uniform between both ears. As a result, each hearing device must be “tuned” to specifically compensate for the specific frequency losses in each ear. I am an avid music listener and can say without question that my hearing aids are the single most important part of the audio chain in my system (which includes a PS Audio DS DAC). If I adjusted the output from my speakers using tone and balance controls to try and make it sound right to me without my hearing aids, the system would not sound very good to any listener with normal hearing. With my hearing aids in, the system sounds great to me and everyone else. For anyone over 60, I highly recommend a thorough hearing exam by a good audiologist before you spend another dime on audio upgrades. Once your ears are right, you can really enjoy the benefits of improving your system.

  5. I'll add that both the Schiit Audio Loki Mini+ and the Lokius have defeat switches, which allow you to defeat your loss-correcting settings when others with normal hearing are listening to the system.

  6. I should have said "In my case, adjusting the balance control did not help." I've never had tone controls in my systems... The addition of a Loki Mini+, then Lokius, on my loss channel has worked wonders for me. My brother says the left side just sounds a bit bassier to him and, since he likes bass, he's cool with my adjustments staying active while we listen together. raising a cupped hand behind my loss ear also helps when listening.

  7. Most 'serious' amplifiers don't have a balance control.
    Move your listening chair to the best possible position (sweet spot) & close your eyes when listening.

  8. I am deaf in my left ear from a brain surgery years ago. Moving to the left a little and turning my head to the left seems to allow the time arrival of both speakers to make a wonderful sound stage. When I hit the sweet spot the sound just blooms. I can get the impression that my hearing is back to normal at times while listening.

  9. Albeit a few of the ‘purists’ here would tell you to just suck it up (all the while being content with their RIAA EQs…), you could employ (beyond hearing aids) as an example a miniDSP for your listening sessions that may address some of your left-right misbalances and hearing inconsistencies. Moving one's seating position to one side or the other to compensate for disproportionate volume levels can impact timing (wave propagation).

    It should all be about, IMHO, what makes your listening enjoyable, and realistic to you.

  10. I know where Paul was coming from. The solution that came to my mind, right off the bat, was to simply use the balance control, as that wouldn’t upset any speaker or seating positions. The balance could easily be set back to center by another user. Paul (I would have to imagine) and I however, don’t have a problem with serious hearing loss and as such, don’t have any firsthand experience dealing with it.
    And, just to throw it out there… While it’s true that not one of my pairs of mono-bloc amps are equipped with balance controls, all of my preamps are.

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