As a musician you will probably want to keep your hearing in tip top condition, but sometimes all that clubbing, going to concerts and general listening to loud music can take it's toll on your ears and as a musician your ears have probably taken some damage.
Today I found a nice little application in the iTunes app store which allows you to test your hearing straight from an iPhone or iPod touch and it seems to work pretty well. Currently the app is available for free (it was paid for very recently) and is called uHear. I thought I would post about this because as a music producer, I think the results can be applied when creating mix downs and it is nice to know how well your ears are functioning anyway.
The app is split up into 3 sections as listed below.
- Hearing Sensitivity (Takes 6 minutes) - Assesses your ability to hear at different frequencies. It does this by playing certain frequencies over and over at different volume levels At the end it gives you a little graph displaying your hearing abilities over different frequency ranges.
- Speech in Noise (Takes 1 minute) - This test measures your comfort level for understanding speech in the presence of noise. It gets you to set the volume of some audio of a someone speaking and then you lift up the background noise until you can just about hear the words clearly.
- Questionaire (Takes 2 minutes) - A simple questionaire that just asks you questions about your hearing, this section is not that interesting as the top two but good if you think you might have hearing loss.
Why Is This Useful To Musicians
I thought that the Hearing Sensitivity test is the most interesting test as it gives you some good details about the frequency range of your hearing for each ear. Here are my results for this test...
My results found a few problems in the lower frequencies, I'm in my mid 20s and according to this app I am experiencing some mild to moderate loss already. Firstly this makes me want to look after my ears a bit more (I admit I do listen to loud headphones and rarely think about the consequences). Secondly it makes me think about how I can apply this new knowledge about my ears frequency response to my music production.
If the app is correct and I am experiencing this slight loss in the lower frequencies, should I compensate for it when I am producing a mix down of a track? Am I turning up the bass sounds and lower frequencies in my tracks too high for people who are experiencing less loss of hearing compared to me? Maybe I should be slightly reduce these low frequencies in my mixes to compensate?
The only problem I can think of with this app is that the results will vary slightly depending on the headphones you use. Therefore make sure you do the test again on a different set of headphones. This is also a nice way to test the frequency response (to your ear) of any headphones you have.
Anyway I thought it was a nice test and worth a mention on here as it is a good thing for any musician to know about as they might be able to apply this new knowledge in their mix downs. It's also a free app too, so there is nothing to lose and it might make you look after your ears more too.