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Hearing Problems?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Haamilton, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. Haamilton

    Haamilton Active Member

    I've sure most of you have experienced the deadening feeling of having your ears overworked. But how many of you engineers have actually had the feeling stay for days at a time?

    recently, i was listening to a Multi-platinum Mixing Toturial, when the Dead-centered Voice Over changed It's Panning to my Right ear only. I was wearing Headphones and instantly persumed that the cans we're breaking. But i checked and checked, and began to notice the next day a cotten like feeling in my left ear, as well as a painful feeling when listening to any music, regardless of volume, even on Monitors. D: - you could only imagine how terrifying this feeling is.

    I'm not sure if it's hearing loss, as i'm rather young, 19 :|, but i wanted to know if anyone has ever heard of such problems/or experienced such.

    in the last couple weeks, i've been mixing a lot of music, and recording quite a lot. I usually keep the levels at a moderate decibal.
  2. matthewfreedaudio

    matthewfreedaudio Active Member

    What do you consider "moderate?" Are you checking the SPL at your listening position? How many years have you been listening to your music on you iPod? Do you play any loud instruments (electric guitar, drums, etc)?

    It is possible to have hearing damage at the age of 19. What you are experiencing may be hearing damage or it could be something silly like wax build up.

    Production Sound Mixing for TV, Film, and Commercials.
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Doesn't sound good but,

    I'm 54 and never had that sort of thing happen from music. I've been stupid and played music way too loud, and knew it. Later though, I shouldn't do that again and thankfully it only caused some ringing and the standard fatigue for an evening.
    Take it easy, you have a lot of years left. Your ears are what separates you from being a musician or not!

    I was once hunting with a group of teenagers years ago. We were in a very remote area and basically driving a truck and stopping everytime we saw Prairie Dogs. One of the guys in our group ( who is a Game Worden now) unknowingly plugged a 12 gauge with mud and like a complete reckless idiot ( did I mention he is a Game Warden now), shot the thing out the window while we were driving. The volume was deafening and the plugged barrel blew the side of the barrel apart like an egg . I lost a small percentage of my hearing for about a week. Its was a scary thing and I am waiting for the day my hearing goes in that ear.

    Eat well, drink water, take some vitamins and take a break I'd say. Rest... at your age, it should return. You could be getting a cold too.
  4. Haamilton

    Haamilton Active Member

    Funny enough, i don't have the possibility to play any loud instruments at my current apartment, but i've played drums in the past (and oh i do miss them) but I've never experienced a problem with my ears before.
    and @audiokid - funny story :biggrin: i can't imagine that noise, especially while confined to such a small space o_O :| i've never truely valued my ears until just recently :| and i've always been so partial to headphone mixing, so i've been having a hard time switching over.
  5. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

    i'd say run to your hear doctor.
    That never happened to me like that but i've had some hearing loss after a really loud rock show (AC/DC) (even though i was wearing earplugs except for maybe 2 songs=those guys are crazy).
    At your age things should go back to normal but, still, run to your hear doctor!!!

    Good luck with that.

  6. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    I have my hearing checked every two years. So far I only have some loss in my right ear in the 2k range(the so called nagging wife frequency). It may simply be an ear infection. Always good to get it checked out. I generally hate ear buds and in ear monitors. I can understand their convenience but you're putting all that spl almost directly on your ear drum with no vent. It can't possibly be good for your ears. I wear protection at concerts as well.
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    This is definitely a hearing problem. Go see your doctor. Once tinnitus and related problems start, they do not stop. Mine was caused not by reckless firearms and C4 but by an ear infection and TMJ. Headphones concentrate sound right on the tympanum and related psilia. Earbuds are exponentially worse on your ears and most of the younger generations can anticipate early and chronic aural issues from their overuse.

    The rule of thumb is actually to mix low levels to achieve definition and not loud dB's. Sure you check a mix at all volumes but that is just a check. A good technique is to lower the volume gradually and listen closely for the last thing(s) that are audible. Adjust, wash, lather, rinse, repeat.
  8. DrGonz

    DrGonz Active Member

    The Jack Attack and the others are right on the money here... Take all of their advice. I use to jam w/ out ear plugs for hours on end and mix tons of material all around the same period of about 5 years. I hated to wear ear plugs since it killed the sound spectrum that was more natural. My thought was always if it is too loud for my ears then turn down, but we never did turn down. I don't get the ringing in the ear very often these days but back then it was a huge issue. I also suffered immensely from TMJ and that added to my discomfort that I brought upon myself.

    These days I don't really listen to much of the new music and have not been jamming at all really. My ringing in the ear happens about 2-3 times a year now. Still, definitely I have damaged my ears and am trying to keep the hearing that I have left. Back when I was mixing a lot it became a natural thing to mix at very low DB levels. I realized that my hearing of lower DB levels made my ears work harder without working them hard. If you get headaches or such then you are pushing your ears too hard at any levels. I do believe that hearing loss is permanent, but I do also believe the human body has a way of compensating for these losses. These days occasionally I go mix something and my ears are so much more reliable than when I was mixing night and day. However, my ability to mix was sharper when I was doing it all the time and sometimes you use it at the risk of losing it. Just have a balance, avoid saturating your ears for too many hours on end, and takes lots of breaks. When you get to a point that you have problems then take a week off at a least. Also, go to the doctor if you really feel worried at all.

    Lastly, avoid these so called "ear buds" as it seems you have made a connection to a cause of the problem within your posting. On a side note, I hated taking any phone calls from friends that wanted to talk my ear off on my cell phone when I was in the studio. Occasionally, I remember getting this call or two from friends that lasted 20 minutes or more while I was in the middle of mixing. When I came back the ear that I had mostly used on the cell phone was totally dulled by the experience. At that point of listening I went home within 5 minutes and came back the next day to continue my work. There is no point forcing your ears to work once they have been exposed to nasty behaviors.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I've had two occasions in my over 41+ years in the business when I experienced a damaging event. My first was as a young teenager. The headphone output of my Sony reel to reel tape recorder didn't provide for enough output level. It had built-in amplifiers to power the included speakers, so I knew it had enough power to drive the headphones louder. So I found the resisters that needed to be replaced with lower values. I put the lower value resistors in but then couldn't get any sound at all out of the headphones. (I was only 13) Being confused by this dilemma I was rocking and rolling controls all over the place when I finally found a switch in the wrong position. Whoops! Nearly instant deafness. I was panic stricken. Everything sounded distorted. Everything sounded like my head was encased in a large piece of latex foam rubber. I thought my career was over before it had begun.

    Jump down six years. I was 19 and the overnight disc jockey on the number one rock station in Baltimore. Many radio stations would give away free tickets to rock 'n roll shows. A disc jockey would be assigned to attend the show and represent the station. I got chosen for Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band opening for KISS. This was 1976 and we didn't have any high-tech hearing protection back then. So I grabbed a handful of my mother's cotton balls she used to take off her makeup with (clean unused ones). When Bob Seger and his band took the stage the sound was fabulous and we were virtually right behind the PA mixers. I was there with other distracting who were all friends of mine summer which I went to school with. When KISS took the stage, I thought an atomic bomb had just been detonated. It was grotesquely loud. We were all crouching down in our seats behind the morons in front of us to try and reduce our exposure to the extreme sound pressure level. It was to no avail. When the concert was over it sounded like my hearing had loose parts in my inner ear. Everything was distorted sounding muddy and nondescript. This lasted for almost a week and thank God it's finally healed and passed. I swore I would never submit myself to anything like that ever again and I haven't. If I go someplace and the PA is too loud, I just leave. I'm a professional listener, it's my life, it's all that I do. I also love motorcycling and made sure that I purchased a nice quiet motorcycle. But the wind noise even with a helmet on can be quite fatiguing on long trips. So far, my hearing is still good nearly out to 18 kHz at almost 57 years of age. And well-balanced I might add.

    Bear ass me again.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  10. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I'm 55 and have a bit of tinnitus and a dip in sensitivity at 3-5 kHz. That's very common in middle aged men. (It's the resonant frequency of the ear canal.) I've never had a major notable incident like others have been describing above, and I've been pretty conservative about my listening volumes over my lifetime, but I guess I was not careful enough.

    The fact your loss is in only one ear and you can't point to a cause means that you should get to a doctor asap. It might be nothing (e.g. ear wax buildup) but if it something like an infection it could cause permanent damage.
  11. leona.mccauley

    leona.mccauley Active Member

    Hey Hamilton, I would suggest that you make an appointment with an audiologist and get a hearing evaluation as hearing loss is a problem that affects people of all ages.
  12. tunes

    tunes Active Member

    This topic makes me nervous. ~~~~~~~

    So what does everyone think about this: If you know you have loss in the upper frequencies in an ear, do you forget about trusting your ears anymore and always have someone check your mixes? Or do you throw in the towel?
  13. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    When I was 16 I had a "sudden sensorineural hearing loss" (I think it's called like this in english) in my left ear after a gig. I didn't use any hearing protection and had, in addition to my drums, a guitar cab right beside me. After the gig I had the usual "numb" feeling and ringing in my ears that usually went away after a few hours. But after two days it was still there. So I went to a doctor. He said my ear drum was dented and I had IVs (to enhance the blood flow) for a week. Since then I have permanent tinitus in my left ear (actually in both but much louder in the left).
    That was 19 years ago and since then I've never played drums without earplugs. I do use earbuds with my iPod but never really loud. I never mix with loud levels and always put something in my ears when going to a concert.
    Honestly I can't even play drums anymore without earplugs. Loud noise really hurts my ears, especially high frequencies like whistling or feedback (I hate people who whistle at concerts!!!)

    BUT... my hearing is still good. I've been to my otolaryngologist just recently and he said that, for someone who's playing drums for 26 years, my hearing is perfect. I have some frequency dents (I had them give me a copy of the hearing test result chart - very interesting and helpful!) but nothing dramatic.

    I guess I was lucky that the SSHL wasn't worse back then. And maybe it was better this way. If it hadn't happened maybe I would have never started to use earplugs and my hearing would not be so good anymore. Who knows.

    But I went to the doctor immediately after realizing something was wrong. So don't wait. As a musician or engineer your hearing is the most important thing!
  14. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Honestly, I they should think about another line of work? If you've blown your hearing out from self abuse, since he didn't know what you wanted to do in life earlier, in a sense, you already made your decision a long time ago.

    People think that for me to be a good rock-and-roll engineer, they automatically assume that I am a regular frequenter at rock 'n roll concerts. Hell no. No way. I think I can count on both hands how many rock 'n roll concerts I've gone to. Night clubs? Not as often as you think with loud rock bands playing, If it feels too loud to me it is too loud. How hard is that to understand? I valued my hearing from the time I was a child. I was put on this planet to be a professional listener which means I've got to have really good hearing. I enjoy rock 'n roll when I have control of the volume. Good rock-and-roll engineer's don't play the control room monitors loudly when they mix. What a concept. DUH. So that's just what you do to protect your own hearing. I like any kind of ear plugs either. If I want to blow my hearing out for an evening, on occasion, sometimes I do. And then you pay the price for a day or two after that. Do that too often become a drummer will pretty much ensure that you're probably not going to have a career as an audio engineer, in this lifetime? I wanted to be a percussionist. My parents wouldn't allow it. Played trumpet for four years and French horn for over seven years. Took some drum lessons and realized, this is way too loud to be sitting behind, dammit! And back in the late 70s all he had for electronic drums sounded pretty lame. We didn't have sampled drum sets you could play back in 1979 that was worth anything to listen to.

    As an engineer, we all love to see what our control room monitors can crank out. Some will blow you into the rear control room wall. Big West Lakes are like that. Big anything is like that. But the idea is to not blow your hearing out during your sessions. And when you do, it's either time to call it a day or take an extended break for dinner. Try engineering a 12+ hour long rock 'n roll festival for 65,000 people, in a remote truck all day. Can you say ear fatigue? But the idea is to not monitor so as to cause that problem. So you have to err on the side of caution. If you already know what you're doing, you're going to mix everything just fine. Even when ya get a little raggy after 12 hours plus of mixing. I mean you wouldn't necessarily want to endure a scalding hot shower that would burn your skin, even if you could endure it would you? Especially if you know it can cause damage? These are all choices we've made in our lives. Maybe you've had a lot of fun as a drummer and it was all good. Your decision to become an engineer at this stage may present a challenge.

    I have this lovely guy who actually had a fairly substantial, hereditary oriented, severe hearing loss. It was a lowly musician and worked with big bands. He had a great love of the recording arts & sciences. But he was so deaf that he would actually brag about his " computer-controlled " hearing aids. I kept telling Frank, this is not something you want to brag about. He fancied himself a recording engineer and set up his own Mastering Studio at home and tried to sell his services. I'm sorry... I don't care what kind of computer-controlled hearing aids he had, this man's deaf. I trust his hearing is much as I would trust a blind doctor to perform a circumcision. In fact the doctor might do a better job? Simply because he is more in touch with the connection.

    I think my brain notches out my tinnitus? I can only hear it when I listen for it.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  15. Jenson

    Jenson Active Member

    There is a condition called SHL (sudden hearing loss) that is most often temporary lasting for 72 hours or less affecting only one ear. 'Happened to me. It was very disorienting and unnerving. Thankfully it was gone in less than 48 hours.

    As a piano tuner by profession I've always carefully protected my hearing, so I was puzzled by the sudden loss. It comes back. Now my hearing is so good that I can hear other people's tinnitus! thumb
  16. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I had an interesting and somewhat unfortunate experience about two years ago. I was driving home through Arlington Virginia. On a road I've been using for 30 years. Thankfully, there was no one on the road except me at this particular moment in time. I drove by this house that I never realized, wasn't really a house. It had a couple of smaller houses in the backyard. As I was driving by, a bolt of lightning struck one of these smaller houses and it exploded! I mean it wasn't just a small explosion. This nearly knocked my Chevy van over while I was driving. The explosion was deafening... I was deaf for good part of the week. This was a power distribution transformer for the electric company, the size of a small house. Flames were shooting up 100 feet into the air and it knocked out 25% of Arlington's electrical service and supply. I'd crack the windows on my Chevy Van and it kept the windows from blowing out. Saved me from a lot of broken glass. I was pretty shellshocked after it happened and had to pull over at the corner and recover from this for about 45 minutes. And I thought I'd had been in some loud control rooms before... ? Certainly, not this loud.

    I don't like driving next to large explosions.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  17. sachit

    sachit Active Member

    Hey Haamilton, I'm 18 and I'm rather worried about how my ears will survive a life of audio production. :D What you have seems like the temporary hearing loss issue already mentioned. I attended Karnivool a few weeks back and had a headache because of the volumes the next day(passive smoking weed notwithstanding). I kept myself away from any music for a day or two, and sure it helped.

    I seriously hope your ears are fine, go see an audiologist and make sure you're always mixing at reasonably low volumes. I think (8 hour exposure) ~85dBA is the highest you should go, make sure you're at least 10dB below that.
  18. garrett

    garrett Member

    i have mild tinnitus. I'm pretty used to it by now, but was a little scary when i first noticed it.
    I don't really feel like i have hearing loss, but definitely have constant ringing
  19. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I know that there are different levels and severity of tinnitus. As a child, before I was ever exposed to any kind of high sound pressure levels other than a couple of opera singers from across the room, I've always noticed that silence does not truly exist. The brain is the most powerful chemical engine science has ever known. It takes a fair amount of energy to keep a brain alive. And I think I was actually hearing that as a child? The tinnitus I have always heard from childhood on has-beens somewhere in the rather perceivable high frequency area of 13-14 kHz. And it sounds slightly like an old-fashioned cathode-ray television set on, without the sound turned up. And that was 15 kHz from the horizontal flyback transformer high-power supply.

    Though I think we have also all at some time in our lives experienced a piercing siren like tinnitus that is actually perceived as painful. It's scary when it happens. It's incredibly loud. It's not something in the background. And you hope to God it will soon go away. And usually it does within a few seconds. For others, it doesn't. It affects their lives. Interferes with their concentration. Terribly distracting on a continuing basis. Some so bad, they've had their auditory nerve cut, creating instant permanent and total deafness to get away from the never ending loud siren.

    Thankfully my high frequency tinnitus is only a background irritation. And when I need to listen to something carefully, the built-in DSP processor deep within rather damaged brain, automatically kicks in the tight notch filter and it's gone. It only comes back if I listen for it.

    I think this could also be something of an indicator of hearing our own neurotic clocking speed? Or perhaps some other type of neuropathy? I'm illiterate after all. I mean we've all heard that clocking sound coming from our computers from those built-in sound cards. It's because that sound card is in such close proximity to these frequently RF generating internal clocks that makes the computer go. And it's not going to go way until you separate the audio device from being in close proximity to the clocks. We can't do that with our ears. So perhaps at times, even if you're not thinking about something, maybe your mind is actually hard at work and you're hearing the internal clocking? I actually don't think this syndrome is all strictly from just external damage? Because we don't think of our brains as clocks but they are chemical engines. And all engines when they are working, means that they are working at a certain speed. Will we know our brains move faster than 13-14 kHz. So this might be a lower harmonic component of the speed at which it is actually running at? I mean I've heard this frequency all my life. It's when it gets down to that 3-5 kHz region that it gets painful and untenable to deal with. And this could have something to do with chemical interactions simply going on within the brain? And that which disturbs the delicate balance of this ever so amazing acoustic detector that utilizes fluid dynamics and direction and speed sensing hairs suspended within the fluid. And energized by something beating at a drum. The beating of my drum just happens around 13 or 14 kHz or higher. But every once in a blue moon ya get one of those startling painful stabs of sheer torture and you know instantly your career is over. 30 seconds later... you breathe a sigh of relief and then cough your guts out.

    It was good stuff.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  20. sachit

    sachit Active Member

    There was a report I was reading somewhere that said that in a study, 93% of all people who were in an anechoic chamber reported hearing strange sounds/high pitched tones in their ears. I hear it too, when there's no sound in a stationary car with the windows up. Or late at night when it's so quiet I can hear the 60Hz buzz of the mains. I'd put it at higher than 12kHz, and it sounds somewhat like a pure sine. Either that study was true and I'm normal or my ears are totally wonky.
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