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Adjusting monitor audio for impaired healing

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Adjusting monitor audio for impaired healing

Postby forumuser686992 » Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:17 pm

Ok, I'm getting old and my hearing has just faded again.

It struck me that as I do everything in the box, I should be able to adjust the monitor audio so that it sounds like it should if I had good hearing, since that adjustment wouldn't affect what gets written to disc.

So (a) does this sound feasible (b) are there any tools which would allow me to do this i.e. measure the relative signal value at a range of frequencies when I indicate that the recorded and monitor signal were the same subjective loudness ?
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Re: Adjusting monitor audio for impaired healing

Postby RichardT » Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:49 pm

forumuser686992 wrote:Ok, I'm getting old and my hearing has just faded again.

It struck me that as I do everything in the box, I should be able to adjust the monitor audio so that it sounds like it should if I had good hearing, since that adjustment wouldn't affect what gets written to disc.

So (a) does this sound feasible (b) are there any tools which would allow me to do this i.e. measure the relative signal value at a range of frequencies when I indicate that the recorded and monitor signal were the same subjective loudness ?

Sorry to hear about your hearing problems

The thing is that even with perfect hearing the subjective loudness of a tone of a given amplitude varies with frequency. You need to know what the difference is between your hearing and perfect hearing. Have you thought of going to an audiologist? They may be able to give you a curve of that kind. Then you could ‘reverse’ it with an EQ.

Edit: There’s an app called mimi that claims to do this, and many others too, but I don’t know if it’s any good. You would probably get better results with an audiologist.
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Re: Adjusting monitor audio for impaired healing

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Aug 28, 2020 9:53 pm

Do you use reference tracks? It might be a simpler, more practical solution. But if you have severe loss at the high end then you probably also need the help of some younger ears for the final tweaking.
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Re: Adjusting monitor audio for impaired healing

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:21 pm

EQing the monitors or headphones to compensate hearing loss is a great move, but measuring hearing loss is an imperfect science. Also it won't bring back frequencies which we can't hear now. It can only help with balancing what we can still hear, and only to some degree. For many hearing losses some compression of dynamics can also help. It's been used in hearing aids for a long time but like EQ needs to be set up well. I'd consult with a good audiologist.
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Re: Adjusting monitor audio for impaired healing

Postby forumuser686992 » Fri Aug 28, 2020 11:07 pm

Thanks for all the useful comments - much appreciated. Here's a bit more info.

1I use HD650's for most monitoring.

2 I have curves from a recent audiological examination, so building some form of adjusting eq curve should be possible.

3 As stated, the frequencies that have gone have gone. However, the perceived levels in the right ear (weaker) are now different to the left ear, with a non-linear delta over what's left of my hearing range. I did originally pan the signal over a little, but on thinking about it that's not a solution.

4 One thought was to split the L/R signal going into my MOTU 828 box and route them to separate channels in the ART MX822 I use for monitoring from various sources, and then adjust the relative levels that way.

5 I largely use Live (together with Omnisphere, RMX and Trllian from Spectrasonics) Live's routing is fine to do the split and then use a plug in to set the EQ and levels on the two channels, I'm into washy ambient crap (as might be guessed from the synths) so frequency separation is maybe less critical monitoring wise than with more modern genres. Only my wife listens to it anyway, albeit reluctantly.

Am I making sense on the approach here ?

PS1: There is an old saying that "by the time a man can afford to lose a golf ball, he can't hit it that far." I fear the same might be true for audio .. I can now afford nice gear for my hobby, but can't hear the result as I might have done 30 years ago.

PS2: I see Bob Clearmountain is 67, and he's still mixing AFAIK. Presumably all pro producers have this issue as they age, or do they learn to compensate ??
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Re: Adjusting monitor audio for impaired healing

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 28, 2020 11:07 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:EQing the monitors or headphones to compensate hearing loss is a great move...

I'm not so confident of that. To start with there are some complex challenges involved in deriving an accurate inverse hearing curve for each ear, and then there's a real danger in that trying to boost the frequencies you're struggling to hear, you could very easily over stress the drive units, and particularly the tweeter... And as you're unlikely to hear any resulting distortion you may only notice the damage when the magic smoke escapes and spirals up to the ceiling! ;-) And there's also a possibility that you could introduce further damage to the hearing you still have.

You've also got the complication that your two ears may have different EQ requirements, but as both ears hear both speakers you can only implement a compromise EQ curve, and so your stereo imaging will be further compromised too.

In all seriousness your best bet, as Tim and others have suggested, is to find a good audiologist and get tested and fitted with some modern customised hearing aids. I understand they are very sophisticated these days with a lot of scope for accurate personalisation -- although you may need to pay privately. Most standard medical hearing aids, like the NHS service, is based only on improving the intelligibility of speech rather than maximising your frequency bandwidth to help with mixing music.

The other recommendation I'd make is to acquire and learn how to interpret some of the more sophisticated visual metering systems which can give some very helpful guidance for things like stereo imaging, overall tonal balance, prominent or missing parts of the spectrum, and so on. The iZotope Insight suite is about as comprehensive as it gets, but there are other similar options. The spectogram display (a 3D plot frequency vs time vs amplitude) can be particularly helpful and reassuring, for example.
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Re: Adjusting monitor audio for impaired healing

Postby RichardT » Fri Aug 28, 2020 11:30 pm

forumuser686992 wrote:Thanks for all the useful comments - much appreciated. Here's a bit more info.

1I use HD650's for most monitoring.

2 I have curves from a recent audiological examination, so building some form of adjusting eq curve should be possible.

3 As stated, the frequencies that have gone have gone. However, the perceived levels in the right ear (weaker) are now different to the left ear, with a non-linear delta over what's left of my hearing range. I did originally pan the signal over a little, but on thinking about it that's not a solution.

4 One thought was to split the L/R signal going into my MOTU 828 box and route them to separate channels in the ART MX822 I use for monitoring from various sources, and then adjust the relative levels that way.

5 I largely use Live (together with Omnisphere, RMX and Trllian from Spectrasonics) Live's routing is fine to do the split and then use a plug in to set the EQ and levels on the two channels, I'm into washy ambient crap (as might be guessed from the synths) so frequency separation is maybe less critical monitoring wise than with more modern genres. Only my wife listens to it anyway, albeit reluctantly.

Am I making sense on the approach here ?

PS1: There is an old saying that "by the time a man can afford to lose a golf ball, he can't hit it that far." I fear the same might be true for audio .. I can now afford nice gear for my hobby, but can't hear the result as I might have done 30 years ago.

PS2: I see Bob Clearmountain is 67, and he's still mixing AFAIK. Presumably all pro producers have this issue as they age, or do they learn to compensate ??

How big are the EQ adjustments you need? If they’re not so big as to stress your monitors I’d suggest trying out a single compensating EQ curve for both channels to start with and see how you get on. This is because this process is always going to be approximate, and also you’re going to hear signals from both monitors with both ears.

You may also find your brain has compensated for your hearing loss, and that the adjusted sound is very strange - I’m guessing here!

As Hugh says, you may be better off with some good modern hearing aids.
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Re: Adjusting monitor audio for impaired healing

Postby Moroccomoose » Sat Aug 29, 2020 9:34 am

I have those modern hearing aids Hugh speaks of. They truly are amazing.

Essentially you pay for the software running in them, so the price varies according to how many different scenarios they react to.

For example they can detect the environmental noise and reduce it to enhance speech. They can detect when you are using the phone. They can tell if you are listening to music. All the different settings fade between one another so you don't hear the different modes. They have wind noise suppressants, feedback suppressants and all sorts.

Basically there, the is universal hardware in terms of the bit that goes behind your ear and the audiologist can enable or disable the different modes depending on budget and needs. As it is all software based, you can essentially buy in at the lower end options and add functionality as you go so you can spread the budget.

My audioligist gave me a free 3 month trial. She actually extended the trial to 6 months, with no obligation, while we tweaked the settings to get them just right, and to work out the optimum buy in level.

There is nothing to lose, I'd also recommend seeing an audioligist. For what it is worth, I believe the NHS ones are also massively advanced, but probably slightly behind on the tech curve and you may need to wait for longer and they may have less time to really bottom out the optimum settings. But they would be free.

Hope that helps.

Stu.
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Re: Adjusting monitor audio for impaired healing

Postby forumuser686992 » Sat Aug 29, 2020 12:06 pm

I'm grateful for the wealth of advice posted here .. appreciated ! I now need to take this all in.

However, Hugh R suggested the specialist hearing aid route (which I hadn't considered) , and I shall follow this approach rather than the potentially complicated project of adjusting the monitoring signal.

I'd assumed that hearing aids (like my wife's) were quite focussed on specific frequency ranges, but now I see (via Google , of course) that there are suppliers addressing precisely my problem. I also came across https://musicandhearingaids.org/resources/ which is a useful jumping off point to more specific info.

Thanks to all responders for their comments!
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