In my last post, I wrote about the Sound Studio that we had recently built in Bern. During the construction of this room, I learned a lot about sound systems and cabling that are in the domain of professional audio. It was therefore quite timely, when we were in the midst of constructing our new room, that I received an email enquiry from the audio journalist Gary Parks, who is based in Northern California. He had some questions for me about hearing aids for an article about hearing loss that he was writing for the professional audio publication, Live Sound International part of ProSoundWeb. According to their website, Live Sound International is “...recognized as the world leader in covering live and installed sound technology, trends, people and business issues”. I was very happy to be invited to be involved in a publication geared towards the pro audio community.
Gary and I had a very interesting exchange via email where we looked at the issue of hearing loss and how hearing aid technology addresses the challenges that people with hearing loss face with both speech and music. Gary has over 25 years of experience in the professional audio industry and so his questions really made me think about how to discuss hearing aid technology with a professional who has a great insight into sound reinforcement systems and recording technologies. Given his background, he is familiar with the principles of digital signal processing and the technology behind transducers and filters which we discuss in the context of hearing aids. One topic that we focused on was amplification which in hearing aids is for the most part non-linear to compensate for the loss of natural compression in the cochlea in the case of sensorineural hearing loss. This is completely opposite to the goals of professional audio and consumer HiFi which are to linearly amplify signals with minimal distortion to the source.
Within the article Gary talks about hearing and hearing loss. He also talks about the different technologies that are available to help, including hearing aids. He includes input from discussions that he had with sound engineers, audiologists, musicians and others working within the field. Along with his wife Eva, who is also a musician, they were both in the process of being fitted with Bernafon Zerena 9 hearing aids during our email exchange and so he had some very personal insights into the fitting process. He talks in the article about bringing musical instruments and music samples to the fitting session to help with fine-tuning the Live Music Program.
An interesting topic that was new to me, that was also in the article, was the use of supplementary technology for sound engineers so that in some situations they do not need to rely on their hearing and they can receive visual feedback instead to make audio decisions. An example of this technology is a device used to tune a guitar, that indicates when it is finished with a certain string with the lighting of a green LED. A key take-home message from this interesting article is the importance of taking care of your hearing as a sound engineer and acknowledging the existence of hearing loss in general.
The article was published online on 14 December 2018 Say What? Hearing Impairment, Ways to Compensate, and the Testing Process and was on the front cover of the digital and print edition.
In follow up conversations with Gary, he hopes to keep the topic of hearing and hearing loss active within his writing in the future and in discussions with his colleagues and I can applaud this. I hope that you will read this article and that it can inspire you to further promote the issue of hearing loss to other professional groups as Gary has done with this article.