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Advice for mixer with high end loss
Old 23rd April 2019
  #1
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Advice for mixer with high end loss

20 years old with long life dream of being a pro sound mixer, but recent audiology trip shows I cannot hear above 16khz at normal volumes. This scares the s**t out of me. Is this going to affect my mixes? Should I give up? :(
Old 24th April 2019
  #2
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AlexK's Avatar
 

Plenty of top mix engineers with technically terrible hearing.

People buy into what you do for your taste, not the highest frequency or quietest sound you can hear...
Old 24th April 2019
  #3
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Consult your audiologist or do some reading. I think from my own reading (not recent) that 16khz as the start of a high frequency roll off is not unusual for many men. There are hereditary factors and environmental factors that gift some people with bat-like top end and the good sense to avoid hearing damage. If this is your first serious test, it is the benchmark for future tests. If next year, or at 25 you are down to 12khz, THAT is something to be very, very alarmed about.
Mixing is not a hearing test, although your hearing has to be good enough to accurately inform your decisions as a mixer.
Anyone who puts important content above 15khz is an idiot, so don’t worry too much about that limit. Also, being aware of that limit, get out of any habits you have that would significantly boost an area you can’t hear (keep your grubby fingers off of the “air” control).
Good luck to you!
Old 24th April 2019
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crowmig View Post
20 years old with long life dream of being a pro sound mixer, but recent audiology trip shows I cannot hear above 16khz at normal volumes. This scares the s**t out of me. Is this going to affect my mixes? Should I give up? :(
A 16kHz limit at your age is probably normal. It might even be better than average. I knew a senior sound engineer at ABC who said he probably couldn't hear above 12kHz. Ageing probably lowered his aural sensitivity to that level.

Unless you have frequent ear infections or something, I wouldn't worry.
Old 24th April 2019
  #5
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i'm in my mid-fifties and cannot hear above ca. 12500hz - which doesn't stop me from being a full time (and may i say high profile) live and broadcast engineer - fft is your friend :-)
Old 24th April 2019
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
- fft is your friend :-)
Please explain fft and how you use it. I think studio engineers (and I) don’t understand what you mean in the context of this thread. Are you looking at a graphic representation to check for any HF weirdness?
Old 24th April 2019
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Please explain fft and how you use it. I think studio engineers (and I) don’t understand what you mean in the context of this thread. Are you looking at a graphic representation to check for any HF weirdness?
Izotope's Insight plug-in -- and maybe others like it -- can give a real-time scrolling spectral depiction of the program material. It can reveal stuff way up high that a mixer may miss.
Old 24th April 2019
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Please explain fft and how you use it. I think studio engineers (and I) don’t understand what you mean in the context of this thread. Are you looking at a graphic representation to check for any HF weirdness?
whether mixing live or working in the studio and regardless of age/hearing capability, imo proper metering/measuring (and analyzing/interpretation of data) are a necessity to get a better understanding of what's going on regarding level, phase and frequency.

i've been using dk or rtw metering tools in the studio and various analyzers from bss/klark/tc live for ca. 35 years, with hardware tools getting partially replaced by smaart for ca. 15 years now: i'm using all this gear not only to compensate for gradual (but normal) degradation of my hearing capability but also to make more educated decisions on loooong sessions (or to speak with little feat: "when your mind makes a promise that your body can't fill") :-)

put some serious measuring tools on your pfl bus!

[in my case, this includes a single band fostex 6301nd speaker - the dk meter gets the pfl, smaart is mostly displaying the measurement mic but i can also feed in any other signal for comparing - pretty much the same way as when using it for system setup/alignment, the only difference is the signal being fed into it (which is pink noise for system setup)]
Old 25th April 2019
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Please explain fft and how you use it. [. . .]
Hi Bushman -

Your query was more likely intended for deedeeyeah [one of my own personal heroes on this forum]; but in case readers are interested in the math, I would point to 3Blue1Brown [another hero of mine, previously mentioned in these forums] for an elegant introduction:



An FFT [fast Fourier transform] is an algorithm that computes the discrete Fourier transform [a.k.a. DFT] of a vector [in our case an audio signal]. . .only, it does so really, really fast comparatively speaking! Most of us couldn't afford to wait around for a brute force implementation. The goal here is signal decomposition in a timely manner, and FFT generally delivers.

See: Fourier analysis

In the article on FFT, Wikipedia also reports: 'In 1994, Gilbert Strang [you guessed it, another hero. . .actually a super-hero] described the FFT as "the most important numerical algorithm of our lifetime".'

Aside from showing audio engineers the primary components of a signal, FFTs make a lot of things possible in signal processing.


Cheers,

Ray H.
Old 25th April 2019
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath View Post
Hi Bushman -

Your query was more likely intended for deedeeyeah [one of my own personal heroes on this forum]; but in case readers are interested in the math, I would point to 3Blue1Brown [another hero of mine, previously mentioned in these forums] for an elegant introduction:



An FFT [fast Fourier transform] is an algorithm that computes the discrete Fourier transform [a.k.a. DFT] of vector [in our case an audio signal]. . .only, it does so really, really fast comparatively speaking! Most of us couldn't afford to wait around for a brute force implementation. The goal here is signal decomposition in a timely manner, and FFT generally delivers.

See: Fourier analysis

In the article on FFT, Wikipedia also reports: 'In 1994, Gilbert Strang [you guessed it, another hero. . .actually a super-hero] described the FFT as "the most important numerical algorithm of our lifetime".'

Aside from showing audio engineers the primary components of a signal, FFTs make a lot of things possible in signal processing.


Cheers,

Ray H.
Will no one rid me of this meddlesome mathematician?
Old 25th April 2019
  #11
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
my hearing tops out at 16.500

i can hear 16k reliably, if i run tones at that.

i have no problems mixing.

there must be thousands of professionals who are below 16k.

Buddha
Old 25th April 2019
  #12
It's not much different to having slightly flawed monitoring... That's why I always get someone external to master my stuff, lack of confidence in my own hearing especially on very lows (imperfect room/monitoring) and very highs (20 years stood in front of a drum kit).
Old 25th April 2019
  #13
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A few years back I had an ear infection and went for treatment at the House Ear Clinic here in LA - possibly the world's best ear-only hospital. At each appointment they perform a full hearing test so that they can have a running timeline of any changes in their patient's hearing. After a consultation with the doctor (the infection turned out to be no big deal) I had an interesting conversation on just the question that OP asked, and the doctor's response was basically this:

Hearing is a mechanical process, but LISTENING is a mental process.

I was concerned that a "stuffed up left ear" might affect my composition and mixing - like I might be boosting high end on the left side because my ears were picking up less high end on that side. The doc reassured me, and scheduled a follow-up appointment a few months later. When I came back, he asked if I had been mixing anything differently, and I told him that I hadn't - in fact, that I had hardly even noticed any difference as my ear slowly returned to normal.

His explanation was that although the graphs showed some temporary loss of high-frequency sensitivity in one ear (nothing above 8k for a few months), this primarily affected the mechanical process of hearing, and that mixing and listening to music mostly involved listening, and that the human mind is an amazing thing, able to compensate (within reason) for partial failures of the mechanism behind hearing.

When you're mixing music, you're doing a lot of comparing what you're working on to other mixes you like, and attempting to put sounds into context - whether it's the context of a song, or the context of real-world sounds around you, etc. That's all about the mind. Of course, serious hearing loss could definitely affect one's ability to dial in certain things, but unless you've got serious loss or severe tinnitus, it's not necessarily the end of the world.

But take care of those things. Keep a bunch of earplugs in the car so you'll never roll up to a concert without protection - and not just the foam ones from Home Depot, get some Etymotics or similar. Worth every penny.
Old 26th April 2019
  #14
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Thank you all so much for the replies
Old 26th April 2019
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crowmig View Post
Thank you all so much for the replies
What?
Old 26th April 2019
  #16
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
What?
can you speak up. we are all deaf down here

Old 26th April 2019
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
can you speak up. we are all deaf down here

Or hit the talkback button. Our headphone levels are probably... (well, I wanted to say “deafening”).
Old 27th April 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crowmig View Post
20 years old with long life dream of being a pro sound mixer, but recent audiology trip shows I cannot hear above 16khz at normal volumes. This scares the s**t out of me. Is this going to affect my mixes? Should I give up? :(
16khz is bat music.
Old 28th April 2019
  #19
Much of the current modern rock/pop has nothing above 10k hz. You are fine.
Old 28th April 2019
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by crowmig View Post
but recent audiology trip shows I cannot hear above 16khz at normal volumes. This scares the s**t out of me.
Nobody hears much high up there. Fear is fear, you said it.

Tchad Blake does well with fairly damaged ears ! ( unprotected guns shooting as a boy + being more than 60ye) he still is the king.

Just go for it mate.
Old 28th April 2019
  #21
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And don’t turn up the highs on you monitors or put a compensatory EQ on your headphones. That can lead to accelerated hearing loss, and makes it impossible for others to accurately monitor in your room.
Old 28th April 2019
  #22
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You can also look at this another way. Instead of thinking about it in technical terms, think about it from a musical perspective, which is what really matters. Humans have a typical hearing range of seven octaves. At above 16k, you're only missing less than the last third of the very last octave. You're hearing 6 and 2/3 octaves perfectly well.

One other small detail, personally, I'm not sure testing methods from audiologists are 100% accurate in those ranges. After all, they're testing with headphones and just like with any audio equipment, inconsistencies are possible.

Last edited by voodoo4u; 28th April 2019 at 08:30 PM.. Reason: Typo
Old 8th May 2019
  #23
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Do a test with sine oscillator in your studio and foolproof the audiology test. They did exactly this when they were assessing you.
Old 9th May 2019
  #24
Keep a pet in the control room. If the top end gets irritating they will leave.
Old 10th May 2019
  #25
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There’th nothing wrong with high end loth. It hathn’t affected me one bit.
Old 10th May 2019
  #26
7+1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crowmig View Post
20 years old with long life dream of being a pro sound mixer, but recent audiology trip shows I cannot hear above 16khz at normal volumes. This scares the s**t out of me. Is this going to affect my mixes? Should I give up? :(
I cant hear above that! move on my dude! It will never be a problem I promise.
Old 11th May 2019
  #27
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crowmig View Post
20 years old with long life dream of being a pro sound mixer, but recent audiology trip shows I cannot hear above 16khz at normal volumes.
This pretty typical for a young adult in an industrialized society. About half of my college freshman students do not hear much - if anything - above 16k. At 16k, I bet you are ahead of some of your idols. Mixing is about listening not just about hearing.

Quote:
This scares the s**t out of me. Is this going to affect my mixes?
As long as you don't start boosting the daylights out of 17k - 20k range, probably not. And who goes crazy up there anyway? You are aware of your 'loss' - if you can even call it a loss. On the other side, you should get yourself some musician's earplugs and start practicing good habits - keeping your levels under control, wearing protection at gigs and rehearsals, and so on.
Old 12th May 2019
  #28
if we can't hear above 20kHz then why is it when I boost at 24kHz I can hear a genuine difference?
Old 12th May 2019
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pencilextremist View Post
if we can't hear above 20kHz then why is it when I boost at 24kHz I can hear a genuine difference?
You must be a master.
Old 12th May 2019
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pencilextremist View Post
if we can't hear above 20kHz then why is it when I boost at 24kHz I can hear a genuine difference?
because you are boosting above and below 24kHz
no EQ has an infinitely narrow bandwidth

say the green dot is 24k, the place where the curve finally flattens out on the left is probably 12k.

Advice for mixer with high end loss-screen-shot-2019-05-11-7.30.30-pm.png


Quote:
if we can't hear above 20kHz
we can't
please don't start this crap again

If you think you have super-human hearing, I urge you to find a university where actual scientific studies are going on and volunteer yourself as a subject. Just be aware that if you can demonstrate the ability to hear 24kHz all by itself, not some bandwidth deal, or some resonances, you will be making medical history and you might end up becoming a celebrity or something.
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