I recently attended the 2010 Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, spending only one precious Sunday there to take it all in. I concentrated my time on the Pro Audio vendors, naturally, but every year there's one booth I NEVER miss. The House Ear Institute, based in Los Angeles, brings their mobile hearing test lab to the convention center floor.
The tests are so popular among the attendees that you must arrive first thing in the morning to sign up on the list and book a time slot, or you'll miss out. I was there on the last day of the show and amazingly only needed to wait an hour for my slot. You fill out some info and hand it to the test administrator, take a seat, and strap on some pretty utilitarian headphones. They squeeze tight against your ears and are just bareable for the lenght of time it takes to complete the test, which in my case was less than 10 minutes.
When all are finished their tests, the door opens and you return to the show flow to await the results. I spoke to a few guys nearby and share a bit about what we expect to discover. In five minutes the results are prepared and handed out to the subjects. I was expecting pretty good results since my previous exam showed I was on par or better for men my age. This test's results were consistant with my expectations, if not better.
So, here's the results for your own examination.
What they show is that my left ear has a bit of loss at 500 hz, but left and right ears have 5dB or less of hearing loss across the test spectrum from 1khz to 8Khz. This is as good or better than average for my age. The fellow standing next to me, on the other hand, and huge dip in his hearing at 6khz, down to 30dB. This is all to common when monitoring music or any kind of audio at too loud a volume for extended periods. Turned out he is a production sound mixer and works in loud environments, so no big surprise there.
Moral of the story? Keep your headphone volume as low as you can throughout your workday. If you use speakers, the SPL (sound pressure level) should be under 85 dB at your listening position. How do you find out what SPL you're monitoring? Why with an SPL meter, like this one.