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My hearing feels slightly unbalanced.
Old 5th April 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 

My hearing feels slightly unbalanced.

Hello, I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced a dip in one ears hearing while mixing/playing back music? And if so what can I do to bring back a more even sense of balance between my ears. My right ear reproduces sounds quieter. Are there any hearing aids that will allow me to hear frequencies better/giving me a sense of restored balance between my ears? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
Old 5th April 2019
  #2
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Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

I would recommend you go see an ENT immediately, but I won't do that. The last time I responded in like fashion to someone on this forum who was reaching out for help, that individual ripped me a new asshole.

So, yeah, no - don't go see an ENT.

Cheers.
Old 5th April 2019
  #3
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Yeah I've seen enough angry reply responses to know exactly what you mean. I’m totally in need of a visit with an ENT. Agreed.
Old 5th April 2019
  #4
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I think the answer of Jeff Hayat is the best answer you could get but, as I do not know how experienced you are, I would also suggest to check the loudspeakers. It may seems stupid, but I dare to give you that suggestion because I had the same problem and I found out one of my loudspeakers was at a slightly lower volume than the other. Probably because I was listening for so long to those speakers and I was trusting them, I was feeling the imbalance elsewhere too (a sort of psychological reaction). YMMV
Old 5th April 2019
  #5
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edva's Avatar
I'm not sure what your particular issue may be, but IME no two ears hear things exactly the same; and, hearing is an organic process, so it is constantly changing, not only from day to day, or only in one direction - there are constant variances as you work and play.
So in a sense, perhaps you should be gratified that you are sensitive enough and aware enough to notice some differences.
Or, you may have a physical problem exacerbating the issue. But even with healthy ears, one side will always sound slightly different than the other.
Either way, good luck.
Old 5th April 2019
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

First (and probably simplest) thing that I'd do is go see your GP - it could very likely be a very simple wax buildup, which they'll be able to tell you from a quick look in your ears.

And if that's that case, it's not a reflection on personal hygiene or anything, it sometimes just happens.

Usually they'll recommend either using olive oil drops, or sometimes if there's a big tasty lump sitting in there, they can fish it out (painlessly) with a little hook thingy.

I've had my ears syringed a couple of times in the past, but I'd only look into doing that after exhausting other options - the second time I had it done, it made my pre-existing tinnitus in my right ear a little bit worse. Also, the procedure is a bit weird (but not painful or anything), and you're left for a few hours afterwards with your sense of balance being really off - basically feels like having seasickness on dry land.

I have slightly weird Eustachian tubes (basically, there's a bit of a kink in them) which means that if I get even slightly congested due to a cold or something, my ears (particularly my right ear) tend to lose high frequency response very quickly. I've also had issues with wax buildup, and have been told by ENT specialists that it's nothing that I'm doing or not doing, it's just the way my ears are. Thankfully I don't get sick very often!
Old 5th April 2019
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
I would recommend you go see an ENT........
Quote:
Originally Posted by JEK3 View Post
I think the answer of Jeff Hayat is the best answer you could get but, as I do not know how experienced you are, I would also suggest to check the loudspeakers. It may seems stupid, but I dare to give you that suggestion because I had the same problem and I found out one of my loudspeakers was at a slightly lower volume than the other. Probably because I was listening for so long to those speakers and I was trusting them, I was feeling the imbalance elsewhere too (a sort of psychological reaction). YMMV
These are good advices.
Besides speaker imbalance, placement and room acoustics can play a role as well.

Many years ago I was worried too for a while, since I was finding myself placing the instruments/elements always on the same side in the stereo panorama for my mixes to sound right.
Hihats ALWAYS on the right side, etc.; left just sounded off/wrong to me.
I even had this issue, monitoring on headphones, so I believed it must be my hearing.
However, since I'm working in a treated studio, I never experienced that issue again; weird enough, also not in headphones, anymore.

So, the three things you should check out are; seeing an ENT, speaker balance and speaker placement - room acoustics, in the sequence you find appropriate for you.

Fingers crossed that it is not your hearing.

Success.
Old 6th April 2019
  #8
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Thank you to everyone for the highly helpful advice and knowledge. I'm seeing my GP this week and will be getting a referral to an ent Doc asap. It's interesting to know that even those of us with perfectly normal hearing still experience hearing differences from one ear to the other. I think some of us are also likely honing in on a severely micro level, due to our passion for mixing audio/singing etc. So thank you all once again, and here is to good health and wonderful hearing, and some great songs in the studio!
Old 23rd June 2019
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Necroing the thread.

I have tinnitus in my right ear, some days it just goes away, others it feels like my ear is actually "full" and I have this persistent whine. Sometimes it makes spaces feel weird (as I hear better from the left). Anyway, I have certified -6/-10dB loss on my right ear at 8kHz (and it is actually around 3dB more sensitive at 250Hz than my other ear). That's life, I don't make a huge deal out of it. It's slightly depressing, as for instance I can only hear hiss (eg. CRT whine) with one ear, but I don't obsess over it. I was wondering, how do you manage hearing imbalance between ears as a sound engineer? I mean, if you have worse treble on one side, how do you esnure that the mix is unbalanced? Do you switch stereo channels every now and then to make sure that stuff is fine?
Old 10th July 2019
  #10
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ampetrosillo View Post
Necroing the thread.

I have tinnitus in my right ear, some days it just goes away, others it feels like my ear is actually "full" and I have this persistent whine. Sometimes it makes spaces feel weird (as I hear better from the left). Anyway, I have certified -6/-10dB loss on my right ear at 8kHz (and it is actually around 3dB more sensitive at 250Hz than my other ear). That's life, I don't make a huge deal out of it. It's slightly depressing, as for instance I can only hear hiss (eg. CRT whine) with one ear, but I don't obsess over it. I was wondering, how do you manage hearing imbalance between ears as a sound engineer? I mean, if you have worse treble on one side, how do you esnure that the mix is unbalanced? Do you switch stereo channels every now and then to make sure that stuff is fine?
Take heart, your situation would be a big problem if you were a mastering engineer, but it is much less of an issue for mixing live sound.
Several reasons for that, one of them being that you are rarely in an ideal stereo listening environment at FOH anyway.
There are many issues and hurdles to overcome in mixing live sound, to be sure, but the one you ask about is pretty far down the list. Not ideal, obviously, but you can work around it, with enough dedication, effort, and experience.

Your ears don't necessarily have to be balanced - as long as your mix is balanced. How you get there is much more about your ability and experience as an Engineer than it is about the balance between your two ears.

Many people with a perfect pair of ears wouldn't know how to mix a show if their lives depended on it.
And many great sounding shows are mixed every day by people with varying degrees of damage to their ears.
Obviously not ideal, but that's reality. There is much much more to mixing great live sound than having perfect ears (if there even were such a thing. Certainly a rarity among working live sound engineers haha.) IMHO. Good luck.
Old 10th July 2019
  #11
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stixstudios's Avatar
I was going to post a similar question a couple of weeks ago called "Ear Bias Anyone?"

I tend to favour - or I should say, my left ear "seems" to hear things better than my right ear (not by a huge amount). I think I've always had this issue - so perhaps it is a bias.

I'm not doing live mix, but mixdowns in the DAW, and I usually rely on the metering anyway. I mostly mix on headphones.

The bizarre thing is, I was recently working on a mix thinking about this issue, so I flipped the headphones around (R/L) and was astonished at the pleasant difference! The mix sounded clearer, better balanced and had a wider sound stage - weird!!...

Maybe I was just used to the sound the other way and it was good to have a change? I wonder if people have a "mental bias" as well as a "physical" one?

Regardless, it's always a good idea to get your "tools of trade" checked by a professional once in a while. I had my ears cleaned out properly around 3 months ago after an ear infection. Not the bacterial type, but the much more pleasant fungal type...yum...yummmmmm...

I do wonder if people have a "mental bias" to ear preference though.
Old 17th August 2019
  #12
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I went to see my ent I have some loss of 4k in my right ear. And i hear slightly more in my left ear. But I check in headphones and where I can had no complaints yet.
Old 17th August 2019
  #13
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This all happened after a ear infection.
Old 28th August 2019
  #14
It's been years since I stopped using earbuds, but since I've been back on the gym I decided to get one and to my surprise my left ear canal is much smaller than the right ear. Luckily the earbuds I purchased had adapters, so I'm using a smaller one on the left side...and weirdly enough my left ear is slightly "better" than the right one. It's not much, but I can certainly notice it.
Old 28th August 2019
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stixstudios View Post
I was going to post a similar question a couple of weeks ago called "Ear Bias Anyone?"
The bizarre thing is, I was recently working on a mix thinking about this issue, so I flipped the headphones around (R/L) and was astonished at the pleasant difference! The mix sounded clearer, better balanced and had a wider sound stage - weird!!...
I flip the L/R to R/L as I check my mixes. I also check in mono and on reference speakers. I find this helps.
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