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Author Topic: Hearing Aids for Recording Engineers: An Impossible Job?  (Read 971 times)

klaus

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Hearing Aids for Recording Engineers: An Impossible Job?
« on: January 07, 2024, 04:09:16 PM »

One of my clients, a successful engineer, is facing the inevitable: his hearing has deteriorated to the point that he needs electronic help.
So he auditioned several high-end DSP hearing aids that allow fine tuning to the environment via smartphone app.

But all of them he tried seem to have one fatal flaw: latency. Even a few milliseconds will blur his judgement, adding comb filtering and phase anomalies to the audio.

A question for recording engineers who have gone through this: have you found a type and model of hearing aid that, despite hearing loss, allows you again to fully trust your decision making while tracking or mixing?

P.S.: For obvious reasons, I will make an exception to the Ground Rules and will allow anonymous posting to this thread
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Klaus Heyne
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RadarDoug2

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Re: Hearing Aids for Recording Engineers: An Impossible Job?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2024, 03:11:34 PM »

The fact that there is latency should not affect the quality of balance decisions. Why would you think it would?
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klaus

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Re: Hearing Aids for Recording Engineers: An Impossible Job?
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2024, 06:35:19 PM »

If the original sound reaches the eardrum and brain from two sources where one of them (hearing aid) is delayed, it complicates judgment.
I have heard now from several people who report that they take off their hearing aids during critical work in the studio-not so much because of lo-fi DSP sound processing but mainly because of latency.

Latency was the main reason why during Covid, when people could not play in the same room, assembling virtual bands didn't work well or at all. Especially frustrating: rhythmic synchronicity was impossible to achieve over ISPN and other "low latency" transmissions.

Every music video we saw during Covid, where many artists seemed to have played the same song, but in different locations or continents, was a fake: They all played and recorded to prerecorded guide tracks. These individual contributions were then assembled and mixed together, without latency, of course.

But these videos led musicians to believe that, despite Covid, they could continue to make music with each other remotely. Which in turn led software manufacturers trying to sell us "low latency" solutions. Which never worked.

Update: several engineers report on a Facebook group about that subject that they reverted to analog hearing aids to avoid latency.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

RadarDoug2

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Re: Hearing Aids for Recording Engineers: An Impossible Job?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2024, 02:52:40 PM »

There is no doubt that latency affects the hearing situation, but of course it depends on the degree. But balance decisions are concerned with level. Latency does affect timing,and so makes it difficult for musicians to play. But of itself it should not affect balance decisions. It just makes the process more difficult.
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Kai

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Re: Hearing Aids for Recording Engineers: An Impossible Job?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2024, 07:54:41 PM »

A shot in the dark, not knowing the exact circumstances:


If the situation allows, bringing up the studio monitors level by some amount, and maybe a specific EQ on them can compensate the effects of hearing loss.

This is partly (*1) the same a hearing aid tries to do, but likely will work better, as the full natural hearing process can be preserved.

It’s only to watch out not to exceed the OSHA Daily Noise Exposure Dose recommendations, to avoid hearing loss getting worse.
This includes having little breaks in between work, and avoid noise in the time off.


If hearing loss is beyond compensability, I suggest shifting to musical producer’s work, and leaving the desk job to a younger engineer.
Concentrating on creative, artistic decisions might result in even better productions.
Fortunately, for such decisions, a perfect hearing isn’t necessary.


(*1) Typically hearing aids additionally do a lot of frequency dependent dynamic processing to avoid ear overload, which comes across the work of an audio engineer.
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