Hi to all sound designers, first time I post on Social Sound Design but I've always found all of your comments here extremely valuable and I very much respect your judgment on all things audio.

I've been freelancing as a sound designer and audio editor for just over a year now, working on some shorts, promos, documentary and recently a feature film. I'm also working as a runner for an audio post-production facility. I have found myself in this position thanks to my passion and determination but now due to my damaged hearing I'm re-considering my career path.

Working with audio in post is really what I enjoy the most and I've always wanted to be a re-recording mixer. Since I can remember my hearing has not been great and testing it 6 months ago I realised to my shock that I cannot pick up anything above 11 Khz. My hearing has probably been like this since I was a small kid and I'm very much use to it, I find I've trained my ear over the years to discern very well under 11 Khz (probably due my lack of HF).

But now I realise that this is far from ideal to be working in post with audio, I would like your opinion on this, am I realistically wasting my time? Do you think the damage will stop me from progressing in the audio professional environment? I have not mentioned any of this to the people and engineers at work for the obvious reason. It's something that's really bugging me and as you can imagine it brings me down sometimes but hey I'd rather know from professionals like you what you think about it.

Thanks in advance!

5 Answers 5


I'm in film presentation and I'm very surprised how many edits that stand out like sore thumbs because of NTSC squeal at 15.75k. If you can't hear that high, maybe an RTA would help. High frequencies that mixers don't catch can be very annoying to some.


I read your post a couple of hours ago and have been thinking about it since. If your employer and or colleagues are not complaining about the balance of your mixes it does not sound like you have a problem. Everyone is going to hear it slightly differently for a number of perceptual and physical factors and all you can do is mix it as you hear it.

Assuming that you tested yourself with a sine tone (?) also remember that this is only a test of how you hear a tone of a single frequency, not how you hear multiple frequencies all working together. Also remember that your hearing range will reduce with age. I know mine is low, 13-14K, when compared to my students, some of whom claim to be able to hear well beyond 20K!!! It does not make there mixes better than mine or stop me from evaluating theirs.

Anyway I hope this helps.

  • 2
    Thanks for the comment, I did the test with an audiologist and the frequency graph was relatively flat with a slope from 9Khz and cutting off at 11Khz. For now my work seems to work fine with everyone else so I guess I'll keep doing what I love and take it from there. Thank you
    – Wilhelm
    Jul 7, 2012 at 17:41
  • Interesting. Yah sounds like the best strategy.
    – Bit Depth
    Jul 8, 2012 at 14:27

I tend to agree with @Bit Depth's comment. If your clients aren't having a problem, perhaps everything is fine. What you might choose to do at some point is ask some pros whose ears you trust implicitly to give you some spectral and mix balance feedback to see if they notice any issues.

In general, you are probably fine to do many kinds to audio tasks. Mastering might be a job you opt to leave to someone with better hearing range, but if you ever start to believe you're truly stuck, you do have options. For example, you can always continue working as a dialogue editor, as you seldom would encounter anything that high in frequency. Plus, someone else could be mastering the edited dialogue.

In short, I think you've got plenty of professional options without giving up your dreams just yet.


Be sure that your audiologist actually tests with signal frequencies that high.

All the 'standard' hearing tests I've had here in the states — including those from the House Ear Institute testing at NAMM shows — only test to 8k !

very disappointing to say the least...



I think the only way it could affect mixing is that you're hearing a different frequency balance than those that hear over 11kHz all the way to somewhere around 15-16kHz. Lack of hearing the "air" (10kHz+ frequencies) could affect the perception of "dark" and "bright" slightly. And you could miss excessive noise buildup from mics and gear in the high frequencies, although this can be spotted with a spectrum analyzer and is only an occasional problem.

But if no-one mentions about the mix balance feeling somewhat off or there being some excessive high-frequency noise, then it surely doesn't matter and you can work just as well as someone hearing to 15-16kHz? The main thing mixers should be concerned about is to do their job so that the audience doesn't notice anything being "off" or wrong and can focus on the content. When no-one complains, you've done your job well enough.

  • 1
    totally agree about using a spectrum analyzer for material above your hearing threshold .. I often filter out HF anyway as to make my use of real HF more deliberate and calculated
    – studio13
    Jul 18, 2012 at 0:54

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