Testing your hearing - uHear

The most significant tool in the listener’s arsenal is his/her hearing. It’s ok to spend $100,000 on a music system but if you have hearing issues, it's worthwhile to factor this into your choice of music equipment, in order to get the the best value for your investment. You can get a reasonably accurate measurement of how well you hear by using the free iPhone, iPod touch application, uHear.

Three tests are provided by this application.

1. Hearing Sensitivity: This will determine the quietest sounds you can hear at each of the test frequencies. The left and right ears are tested separately.

2. Speech in Noise: This is a measurement of your ability to understand speech in the presence of noise.

3. Questionnaire: This is a series of twelve questions regarding your performance in common listening situations.

The main limitations of uHear are:

1. It is limited to range of about 85dB dynamic range (quietest to loudest) while a professional Audiometer is usually around 130dB. This means that if your hearing is good (you can hear sounds at levels of 25dB SPL or less), uHear will not be able to make it any more granular. Good, very good and excellent will all be reported as "normal hearing". Likewise, if your hearing is really bad (you can't hear sounds below 90dB SPL), uHear will report your results as "Profound loss" for those frequencies.

2. A professional Audiometer is normally supplied with a calibrated headset while uHear uses the standard iPhone, iPod touch earbuds. There will be some variation due to the ear-buds/headsets and how snug they fit. However, if you test in the same environment with the same ear-buds you will get consistent results. The uHear application was developed by a reputable hearing aid company, Unitron. uHear is the best hearing test currently available, short of visiting an audiologist.



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