As this is Better Hearing Month - an annual event recognized by hearing professionals and organizations to raise awareness about hearing loss and its treatment and prevention - I thought I'd list a few of the more interesting and useful hearing-related tests available online. While these tests are no substitute for being tested by a professional using calibrated equipment under controlled conditions, they can be educational (and even entertaining).
For example, many people - including many "audiophiles" - would clearly have a hard time identifying tone frequencies in a blind test, as evidenced by some audiophiles' complaints of "harsh" or sibilant sound from CDs due to (according to them) the format's sharp upper-frequency cut-off at 20 kHz. And we've all experienced the boomy mid-bass emanations coming from vehicles (and even some home systems) whose owners undoubtedly believe actually constitute low bass.
A little time spent with an online audio test like some of those below could help clear up such misperceptions. For the hearing tests, the best results will only be obtained using a decent pair of headphones under quiet conditions:
High Frequency Response and Hearing Test - This test presents a -3-dBFS sweeping sine tone, from 22 kHz to 12 kHz. A voiceover tells you which frequency is currently playing.
Equal loudness contours and audiometry - This hearing test measures the relative sensitivity of your ears at different frequencies. It produces equal loudness contours or hearing curves – the frequency response of your own ears.
Test the ability to hear in the presence of noise - A hearing test from the hearing aid manufacturer Phonak. It tests for how well you can hear and understand speech in the presence of distracting ambient noise.
Loudspeaker Frequency Test - This test includes a sawtooth test that sweeps from 20 kHz down to 20 Hz, back up to 20 kHz, and then repeats, as well as individual frequency tests that emit a single frequency for one second.
Test for Tone Deafness - This test was used in research as a screening test to roughly characterize pitch discrimination and musical memory abilities.
Comments, questions or suggestions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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