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Hearing Issues Not Evident When Using Headphones - Why?
Old 18th November 2019
Gear Head

Hearing Issues Not Evident When Using Headphones - Why?

I went to a gig here in London 12 days ago which saw me being blasted away by ridiculous levels of crowds screaming. I pretty much had my fingers in my ears for most of the gig, but stupidly stayed for the whole gig. Of course, I didn't have my ear plugs :(

Since then, my tinnitus which ramped up considerably 5 weeks previously (not down to any acoustic shock) has been sky high, and I am clearly suffering from severe hearing issues (top end definition has suffered and I'm experiencing hyperacusis as well as an overriding sense of fullness in both ears). To say it's distressing is an understatement. I went to an ear specialist on Friday who says that the results in my hearing test on certain upper frequencies mean that...I should be using hearing aids. It was tough being told that.

From him telling me that at that point in our consultation, I pretty much tuned out anything he said from shock. I'm a full time musician/singer who also occasionally produces so the idea of my livelihood being severely threatened scares the hell out of me. I have got an emergency referral to another ENT and am also seeing the Musicians' Hearing Service very soon. I am hoping that rest may see the symptoms alleviating to some degree and am trying not to panic, which is easier said than done right now.

However, if I listen to something on headphones, music sounds as I remember it - rounded and with definition (although the tinnitus is still present, which I could live with). There's a very noticeable difference on speakers...

Maybe my question is completely stupid but...any particular explanation for this? Anything to do with the sound source being directional as opposed to both ears dealing with sources from both directions without headphones?
Old 3rd December 2019
Gear Nut
pre55ure's Avatar

I hope you are doing better over the past couple of weeks.

I have no answer to your question, but have had a somewhat similar experience.
I have fairly bad hyperacusis in my right ear, to the point where it's really hard to even listen to music when played out loud in a room, as every snare hit makes me wince a bit.

I put on headphones and listen to the same thing, and have almost no problem.

Another weird thing - If I am listening to music, people loudly talking, etc... and I put in 1 earplug (doesn't matter if it's my good or bad ear) it cuts the hyperacusis by about 80%. I have no explanation.

I think that we don't realize how much of "hearing" actually occurs in the brain, and as such there are all sorts of weird things that can happen that don't make too much sense from a physical perspective.
Old 7th December 2019
Gear Head

I'm afraid that the situation with my ears is not much better. Hopefully things will improve with more rest...have had a few gigs recently and I'm truly grateful for IEMs. To think that I used to detest them...
Old 8th December 2019
Lives for gear
To the OP... you can’t change your history now, although the ability to hear more clearly with headphones indicates that you probably can still do good work with headphones and in-ears.
Also, repeat the testing with a different audiologist. I would want some confirmation that the first results are not in error or are showing something that is temporary, at least in part.

The one positive thing you could also do is post some of your first post in the Newbie section as a warning of what can happen if music people do not develop safe habits about loud sounds.
Old 15th January 2020
Gear Head

I'm seeing another audiologist in a week or so. Luckily, there's been a significant improvement in my hearing in one of my ears. Am hoping that there's further recovery. The ENT I saw a few weeks ago did seem to think that there was a good chance of my hearing loss being a transient phase based on the recovery of previous acoustic trauma that I had 6 years ago, so it looks like he may be right.

I am NEVER going to another gig without ear plugs. Even used them in the cinema last week.
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