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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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As I get older (I've been an AARP member for a bit now), I know that I must be losing some of my hearing. But at the same time, as a full-time musician, I'm a very active listener, and I've noticed that my ability to distinguish small differences in sound has improved over the years.

On Saturday I get to the music school very early so I can practice for a couple hours before we open. After that I'm doing the daily stuff - which includes taking out the trash. So about five minutes ago I'm standing next to the dumpster outside on a crisp, cold, quiet morning... and I heard a sound that I at first thought was a squirrel moving around in a tree. So I look for the squirrel. And I see one - but that's not where the sound is coming from.

So I listen closer. And I realize that what I am hearing is the leaves separating from branches as they fall. I've never noticed this sound before. So I spent another minute listening, and I notice that the sound coming from the oaks is actually different in tone than the sound coming from the maples.

I'm curious - do other folks here notice sounds like this?

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

I learned something similar several years ago while running lossy codec (ACC, mp3 …) listening tests. as part of the program we had to train listeners, as well as identify what we call "expert listeners" -- those capable of reliably perceiving sonic nuances the general population usually misses. mild high frequency loss -- common with age and moderate high SPL exposure -- can actually make a person more sensitive to lower frequency sounds. the reasons are pretty straightforward. without high frequency noise to mask them, many mid and lower frequency nuances become more apparent. frequency selective losses also cause the brain to compensate with greater sensitivity in the remaining frequency bands where hearing is still good. enjoy!

-=tension & release=-


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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Topic starter  

Thanks, Greg - that makes sense. I know I still have plenty of high end (I can hear the 'teenage repellent' frequencies), but I also know I must be losing a step in the high end.

I've also found that you can do some training to develop hearing sensitivity. I was working with a 48 year old student today, and got her hearing 'beats' in her tuning for the first time. By the end of the lesson, she was pretty amazed at how much more sensitive she was, especially to the bass end of things.

Now I'm looking forward to what I might hear tomorrow that I've never heard before :)

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

training can be very important and rewarding for some. for some types of tests, we conducted training sequences to sharpen listeners abilities to hear differences. one of these was a double blind ref-A-B test in which the "pure" reference source cut played followed by two more cuts in random order: one was the reference again, and the other a subtly distorted or artifact-containing version of the reference. the listener then trained by identifying which cut, A or B is identical to the reference in about 25 sample set comparisons (trials). some quickly learned to recognize specific artifacts very well. other never learned to recognize any (ideal users of lower rate mp3 coding!). it didn't take too many sample sets to "tune in" a person possessing a basic ability to perceive differences. but good or bad results, all participants were considered trained when done. so-called "experts" were those that demonstrated an acute and reliable ability to recognize at least one type of processing, artifact or distortion. what was amazing is how unequal the expert listeners were in their abilities to discern differences among the many sonic dimensions. for example, some had no strong perception of imaging or "stage" yet could hear very subtle EQ differences. after a point, additional trial training didn't help improve the weaknesses; but we were sure to identify expert strengths through consistencies over numerous training procedures, not just one set of 25 trials.

some people never seem to hear beat notes -- even after training. somewhat amazing to those of us who find them to be so obvious.

-=tension & release=-


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(@rparker)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5492
 

My mother and I had this interesting chat about 3 years ago. She asked me, "So what can't you hear?" "How the heck would I know?", was my reply.

Come to find out that she can hear (with a hearing aid) something that my step-father cannot and visa-versa. One can hear the town's fire whistle and one can hear a tractor-trailor truck rumbling down the hill across town as it slows from 55mph to 35. Hearing's funny.

Before my revision Mastoidectomy, my son could send me into a Migraine with just a one second whistle.

Myself, I have troubles isolating hearing in music. I hear one collective song, which is what it should be. It's taken a lot of training to pick out just the instruments for me, much less key and such. On the other end, when I record anything, the bass is a wild a** guess. I can hear it, but does it belong where it is and at that level? Got me. I tend to over-do it if I'm trusting my ears, so I end up under-doing it alot and a few of my Hear here postings have had people advise that I increase the bass.

Forget an EQ.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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 Ande
(@ande)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 659
 

I have a good friend who is a doctor specializing in hearing and hearing loss. (We met and became friends when I lost a lot of hearing in a skull fracturing motorcycle accident 15 or so years ago.)

He doesn't talk so much about hearing "loss" as hearing "change." THis makes a LOT of sense to me- I've got a severe conductive hearing loss in one ear (estimated 80 to 90 percent loss at conversational volume.) BUt I hear other stuff in that ear that I never knew was there, that other people don't. (VERY low sounds, for example. Or things that are on the threshold of "not sound, but just big movement.") Sitting in my apartment, I can "hear" (almost feel) cars passing on the street in front, and differentiate between big trucks and small cars. It's also funny at band rehearsal. I can "hear" the bass in the mix, even when it's too quiet, as long as I'm touching something that vibrates with the bass. (I sometimes play leaning on the wall, with my back, shoulders and head touching it.)

It's all very interesting. I think a lot of what you're describing though, noteboat, is just the effects of being an expert listener. Like any other skill, the more you practice, the more refined your "tastes" (or sensitivities) are. My wife turns her nose up at any and all of my whiskies, and swears that they all taste the same. Can't tell Scotch from Irish. Many scotch whiskeys, I can identify by smelling, without a need to taste. (Obviously, this has been going on for a number of years.) Whatever you practice distinguishing, you get better at distinguishing.

Best,
Ande


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(@rparker)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5492
 

It's also funny at band rehearsal. I can "hear" the bass in the mix, even when it's too quiet, as long as I'm touching something that vibrates with the bass.
That's the very vibe i get and enjoy thoroughly at live shows. It's an energy that reverbs through the hall and humans. That energy, which is recorded, captures a lot of energy that started as at that sensation that you speak of. We hear on the live recordings what is probably the bi-product of that. I don't think we get the full feel of live ,usic hrough a recording. We do get a bunch, though.

True story. In the 1970's, he J Geils Band could never capture their sound until they hit the stage in front of people.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3998
 

I am able to listen sounds and noises that other people doesn't listen. Really I never though about it, I guessed they are losing some hearing. Perhaps the issue is different and we are improving our hearing, not in the physical ear (or not only), also in the associate brain processes. I'll try to look for some info.


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(@greybeard)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5899
 

I remember, many years ago, there was a very heavy snowfall. It was a totally wind-still morning and the flakes were huge. I could actually hear the "crunch" of them hitting the snow that had already fallen. I think that the heavy fall was creating an artificial deadening of sounds, further away. Eerie, but absolutely magical.

One interesting thing happened, when I was working on a project in London. I was in typical office, part open plan part small offices. It was very difficult to concentrate, with all the noise, so one of the other programmers brought in some ear-defenders, which were designed for shooting. The weird thing was that, the way that they were constructed, they cut out all the ambient "white noise". I could hear machines in rooms at the far end of the floor, which I normally would not have been able to do. It was far more irritating than the normal clamour.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


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