Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hearing loss

I found these ultrasonic ringtones on the Science Made Cool website via Tangled Bank #102 which was hosted by Further Thoughts. Wow. That was complicated. Actually, I think that ultrasonic is defined as 20kHz and above. Eight, 10, and 12kHz were almost unbearably loud. 14.1kHz was comfortable, and 14.9kHz was audible, but quiet.

Bill's daughter came in so I tested it out on her. She could only hear up to 16.7kHz.

I booted up our PC because I wasn't sure that the speakers on this laptop are very good. I could hear up to 15.8kHz with those speakers. Barely. Bill's daughter yelled from the back of the house, "Are you still messing with those ringtones?" She could hear it from two rooms and a hallway away.

My son, his girlfriend, and his friend Will wandered in on their way to San Francisco, so I used them as guinea pigs, too. My son and his girlfriend could hear up to 16.7, and his friend Will could hear up to 18.8kHz. Most of the sounds hurt Will's ears.

I am really not surprised about my obvious hearing loss. I have a really difficult time hearing people speak if there is any background noise. I blame the various bands I've played in since I was 13. Particularly because I usually sit in front of the trumpet sections (Sorry, Andrew).

I tried testing this out to see how well the other animals in the family heard it. I put the laptop on the floor between Smokey and Fang, and played all the notes. Smokey looked on, mildly interested and Fang started falling asleep. Neither one made so much as an ear twitch. One of the other cats, Alice, came over to investigate, probably more because it is fairly unusual to see me sitting on the kitchen floor than the noises.

Oh, and Bill couldn't hear ANY of them. Not even the 8kHz. I keep telling him he's getting really deaf. Now I have proof. So he's not just ignoring me! I hope.


Anonymous said...

Try it with high quality headphones (do not put them on for the lower frequencies... it hurt everyone's ears here). Regular earbuds are not very good above 14 kHz. Definitely PC speakers are not capable of reproducing the higher tones. Your external speakers might be able to produce 20 kHz tones, especially if you paid a lot of money for them.

-Brother Phil

Ian said...

If I turn up the volume all the way on the speakers I can hear the 15.8 kHz which seems odd, since I am 38 and have never been that good at following conversations once there is significant ambient noise. Not that I'm complaining...when you can see 40 on the horizon, anything with a "20" in it sounds good :)

artificialhabitat said...

It's good to know that the efforts of brass players everywhere to deafen those who sit closest to them, have not been in vain.

Laurie said...

Brother Phil - I don't have headphones, high quality or not, and I'm not putting anything in my ear that has been in one of the kids' ears without major sterilization. We just have the cheap speakers that came with the computer, and your nephew's friend Will could hear up to 18.8 with those.

Ian - I'm 43 now. Hitting 40 is not that bad. Just ask my Brother Phil, who just turned 40. Right Phil? RIGHT PHIL???

Andrew - I always suspected that there was a brass conspiracy...

Mr Farty said...

I had a physics teacher in high school who would demonstrate the effect of hearing loss with age by hooking up an oscillator to a speaker and turning up the frequency till he could no longer hear it, then blithely carry on with the class until we begged him to turn it off. Good times!

Brother Phil said...

Will knew when it was being started because he heard the click. The power of suggestion is amazing. Send me all of your beer. I only had luck with the Sony in-ear headphones, and my PC speakers are Altec Lansing gee whiz, pretzels go with beer, and I couldn't hear tones anywhere near as high with them.

Laurie said...

Mr Farty - I'm actually concerned by the hearing loss my son seems to have at such a young age.

Brother Phil - Must send beer and pretzels. Making beer next week at local brewery. A British bitter, actually. Not making pretzels, though.