Hard-of-hearing Prefer a Different Sound When It Comes to Music

Contemporary music can pose challenges for the hearing impaired

Published: 2023-08-22
Author: American Institute of Physics | Contact: aip.org
Peer Reviewed: Yeah | Post Type: Research work
Magazine reference: DOI link to study document
Related Posts: latest articles | full list

In this page: Summary | Main article | About the Author

Synopsis: Contemporary music can pose challenges for the hearing impaired, but adjustments to the sound mix could have a positive impact. We wanted to explore whether there really are differences in blending preferences between normal hearing and hard of hearing listeners. The researchers played different mixes of music for listeners with and without hearing loss and found that those with hearing loss preferred louder lead vocals, higher frequencies, and more sparse mixes with fewer frequencies overall.

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main summary

“Exploring Level- and Spectrum-Based Music Mixing Transformations for Hearing Impaired Listeners” – Written by Aravindan Joseph Benjamin and Kai Siedenburg – Journal of the Acoustic Society of America.

Millions of people around the world experience some form of hearing loss, which has negative effects on their health and quality of life. Treatments exist in the form of hearing aids and cochlear implants, but these assistive devices cannot replace the full functionality of human hearing and remain inaccessible to most people. Auditory experiences, such as speech and music, are most affected.

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In JASAPublished on behalf of the Acoustical Society of America by AIP Publishing, researchers at Oldenburg University studied the impact of hearing loss on subjects’ enjoyment of different music mixes.

Modern pop or rock music is built from several individual tracks, such as vocals, instruments, and synthesized sounds, all recorded separately and mixed together to create the final product. To suit the listener’s preferences, this mix may involve turning the volume of one of the tracks up or down, or amplifying high- or low-frequency sounds.

“The mix is ​​tailored to the needs of people with normal hearing,” says author Kai Siedenburg. “We wanted to explore whether there really are differences in preference mix between normal hearing and hard of hearing listeners.”

To do this, the researchers played different mixes of music for listeners with and without hearing loss. They found that people with hearing loss preferred louder lead vocals, higher frequencies, and sparser mixes with fewer frequencies overall.

“In general, hard-of-hearing listeners have reduced frequency selectivity and impaired level perception,” said author Aravindan Benjamin. “They tend to prefer higher lead voice levels compared to normal listeners.”

The article continues below the image.

Illustration showing various music sources being passed through a sound mixer to a listener with and without headphones. Listeners with hearing loss may have difficulty distinguishing voices and certain frequencies in modern music. Image credit: Aravindan Joseph Benjamin.

Continued…

Previous research by the group found that the music steadily shifted to quieter voices and louder instrumentals up until 1975 and has stayed there, meaning that today’s music may be less accessible to people with hearing loss.

The use of hearing aids can remedy these problems to some degree, but they are not available to many people with hearing loss and come with their own set of problems. Some users may prefer to adjust their music with software instead of listening to the default mix through headphones.

“Getting some good headphones, for example, and then messing around with the equalization might be a better solution than trying to squeeze everything through the headphone hardware,” Siedenburg said.

Ultimately, the biggest difference must come from the production side. Sound engineers with access to individual tracks can make a world of difference by making their work more accessible to millions of listeners.

“One approach could be to offer a couple of different combinations, one for the general public and one for the moderately hard of hearing,” Siedenburg said. “Certain adjustments to the mix could help better meet the needs of this group of people.”

Journal of the Acoustic Society of America (JASA)

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA) is published on behalf of the Acoustical Society of America. Since 1929, the journal has been the leading source of theoretical and experimental research results on the broad interdisciplinary topic of sound.

JASA serves physical scientists, life scientists, engineers, psychologists, physiologists, architects, musicians, and speech communication specialists.

Acoustical Society of America (ASA)

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the leading international acoustical scientific society dedicated to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics.

ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustic Society of America (the world’s leading magazine on acoustics), JASA Express Letters, Minutes of meetings on acoustics., Acoustic Today Magazine, books and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year.

Attribution/Source(s):

This peer-reviewed research article related to our Deaf Communication section was selected for publication by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our readers in the disability community. Although the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article “People with hearing problems prefer a different sound when it comes to music” It was originally written by the American Institute of Physics and published by Disabled-World.com on August 22, 2023. If you need more information or clarification, you can contact the American Institute of Physics at aip.org. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

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Hearing impaired people prefer a different sound when it comes to music

Cite this page (APA):
American Institute of Physics. (2023, August 22). Hearing impaired people prefer a different sound when it comes to music. disabled world. Retrieved August 23, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/hearing/communication/ Different-sounds.php

Disabled World provides general information only. The materials presented are never intended to be a substitute for qualified professional medical care, nor should they be construed as such. Funding is derived from advertisements or referral programs. Any third party offers or advertisements do not constitute an endorsement.

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