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Author Topic: Testing for Hearing Loss After a Radio Contest  (Read 5825 times)
K0OD
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Posts: 2578




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« on: January 06, 2014, 11:54:48 AM »

Doing a full weekend in CQWW CW  with a no-AGC QRP radio isn't advisable from the hearing standpoint. My head throbbed for days afterward. I wondered whether the contest had taken a toll on my hearing.

The wonderful WWW offers a number of online hearing tests. Some can be set up fairly precisely with effort and a good pair of hifi headphones. But what I wanted to know was basic. Could I hear extreme highs? Could I hear extreme lows? My reference was my 25 year old son. Test tones came from the primitive Dell sound-bar speaker attached to my monitor. This was no lab quality test.

My test the day after the contest showed that I was essentially deaf below 90 Hz and at 12 kHz and above. My son could hear a much wider range and from across the room. He easily heard the 16 kHz tones.

Interesting thing: a week later my hearing range was much improved. 12 kHz tones came in loud and clear.

http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/hearing.html

Can hams expect hearing loss after a contest? Can they expect the loss to go away quickly?
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K7MEM
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2014, 01:03:58 PM »

Without any testing prior to the contest, there is no telling whether you lost any range from the contest, or how much. You need to make several tests before and after to have any real idea. Your hearing will always recover somewhat, but there may still be some small loss. This can accumulate slowly over the years till your finally saying "Eih? What did you say?".

But I don't worry about it too much. My left ear is markedly less sensitive than my right. Most of the highs in the left ear are all gone. That makes it impossible for me to find an errant cricket in the house. I know it's there, but I can't zero in on it.

I blame it on all of the Pink Floyd, and many other, concerts that I attended. I once went to a Pink Floyd concert that started at midnight, at Radio City Music Hall. When we got out of the concert I couldn't hear the subway trains pull up. About noon that day my hearing was pretty much back to normal. Well, as normal as it was ever going to be again.

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Martin - K7MEM

http://www.k7mem.com
VK3DWZ
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2014, 03:46:41 PM »

Another good way to test your hearing is thru hi-fi equipment.  All you need is a good pair of headphones, a hi-fi amplifier and either a test C.D. or test gramophone record.  This is much better than the pretty lousy sound-card that is fitted to most computers.  My hearing is pretty knackered from more than 50 years of shortwave listening.  And a motor accident in January 1963 robbed me of most of the hearing in the left ear.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2014, 05:43:44 PM »

OD:  Funny you should ask that question at this particular time!  I have a VA appointment tomorrow to obtain hearing aids. 

While there have been other contributing factors for my hearing loss, I feel that the clock started when I spent 3 years as a high speed Morse intercept operator..... copying code for 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. 

In your case I feel that you are having a temporary hearing sensitivity loss, not a hearing loss per se.  These young people who listen to music many hours a day with an Ipad/phone/....whatever, and ear buds will develop a profound hearing loss over a short period of time. 

Some, depending on the initial condition of the hearing mechanism, will be able to tolerate sustained noise longer than others. But, all will pay for the practice.

Al - K8AXW

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G3RZP
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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2014, 02:21:30 AM »

Hearing loss due to a noisy environment used to be called 'boilermaker's ear' - an obvious reference to the occupation that showed it most commonly. I prefer not to use headphones, which helps slightly. But after 12 hours of a contest, even the birds outside seem to be cheeping CQ!
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KD0REQ
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2014, 09:19:51 AM »

most of us old greybeards have significant hearing loss in the left ear... from the days of driving with the window open.  those of us who have been concert meat, it balances out.

any peak noise above 90 dB will cause some temporary hearing loss.  repetitive noise over 90 dB, more permanent.  this is why the despots who make iThingies don't put enough volume in their stuff and STILL warn you not to crank 'em up.

they're not going to eliminate QRM, oh no, they'll just limit audio output to 80 mW eventually.
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K0OD
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2014, 09:23:00 AM »

Tried the hearing test on a computer with a more elaborate speaker system and perhaps a better sound card.  Could hear down to about 30 Hz. Still nothing at 16 kHz which my kids can hear. I know that humans lose ability to hear high frequencies at early age. 

I've seen articles over the years on the topic of hearing loss by hams but can't find them now.

Here's the test I used. Scroll down the page:
http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/hearing.html
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K9MRD
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2014, 09:37:03 AM »


Interesting thing: a week later my hearing range was much improved. 12 kHz tones came in loud and clear.



Isn't it obvious, the contest improved your hearing...... Wink
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KE6EE
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2014, 01:42:55 PM »

most of us old greybeards have significant hearing loss in the left ear... from the days of driving with the window open.  those of us who have been concert meat, it balances out.

any peak noise above 90 dB will cause some temporary hearing loss.  repetitive noise over 90 dB, more permanent.  this is why the despots who make iThingies don't put enough volume in their stuff and STILL warn you not to crank 'em up.

People differ in their perceptions of what sounds seem to be too loud. I've always found sound (as at an amplified outdoor concert) that others can tolerate to be much too loud for me. So for decades I've carried earplugs with me for such occasions. With earplugs which reduce sound levels up to 30 dB I can still hear well enough to dance at a loud nightclub or at a concert.

The problem is that many ordinary sounds, like the rush of wind in a car window at speed, or engine noise or even the loud noise some car tires make at speed, can be high enough to cause temporary or permanent hearing loss over time. Permanent hearing loss comes from destruction of the hair cells in the inner ear which respond to sound vibrations in the air. In birds the hair cells regenerate. In humans they do not. Some scientists have been working for years to figure out how to get human hair cells to regenerate.

The bottom line for hams is to become more aware of the actual sound levels coming from their radios whether from headphones or speakers. In a contest situation no doubt the ears become tired and hams will tend to increase the listening volume in order to hear better.

It's quite possible and easy to test one's equipment for sound level outputs on speakers or in headphones by using inexpensive sound level meters. They used to be about $50 at Radio Shack. A ham could calibrate his gear using an indicator on a volume control which shows a maximum safe level (say 75 dB) for extended listening. Certainly at 75 dB one should be able to hear all that is to be heard from a radio.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2014, 01:45:10 PM by N6GND » Logged
K7MEM
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2014, 04:59:27 AM »

Here is a link I found while wandering through a different forum. It contains a group of downloadable audio tests. You can download individual tests or the whole thing. But the whole CD is pretty big (423MB).

http://web.archive.org/web/20070617044433/http://www.binkster.net/extras.shtml#cd

It has a nice variety of tests.
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Martin - K7MEM

http://www.k7mem.com
WB2WIK
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2014, 09:48:59 AM »

Using a RX without AGC in a contest?

Wow.

That reminds me of the old saying about it's good to bang your head against the wall repeatedly because it feels great when you stop. Wink
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K0OD
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Posts: 2578




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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2014, 11:38:51 AM »

Using a RX without AGC in a contest?

Wow.

That reminds me of the old saying about it's good to bang your head against the wall repeatedly because it feels great when you stop. Wink

Apt analogy. Used an OHR-100A with Timewave DSP-9, mostly in the 100 Hz position. Signals would suddenly blast in. 

Plus I *mostly* used headphones. Using a speaker was *slightly* gentler.

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K9IUQ
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« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2014, 02:47:56 PM »

My test the day after the contest showed that I was essentially deaf below 90 Hz and at 12 kHz and above.

Do not worry about it. CW tones are around 500-700hz. As long as you do not lose this range you are fine.

Stan K9IUQ
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 812




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« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2014, 03:16:34 PM »

Do not worry about it. CW tones are around 500-700hz. As long as you do not lose this range you are fine.

Because ham radio's the only thing that matters ... don't need to hear anything else. Wink
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K0OD
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Posts: 2578




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« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2014, 07:08:35 PM »

According to these charts our ears (brains?) are most sensitive to tones of around 3 kHz. So why don't we listen to code there rather than at about 600-700 Hz?

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