Alright, not exactly a Sound Design question but I don't think there is a forum having to do with ears and the people on it possibly wouldn't understand my question so please bear with me:

Have you ever worried about one of your ears being less sensitive than the other?

What is the best way to test if one ear reacts different than the other when listening?

For example, from time to time I think I notice a drop in high-end in my right ear compared with my left, but I flip on an oscillator and send it soaring high up to about 17-18K and can still hear it off the speaker and headphone in my right ear. It gets to the point where I am running off a mix in headphones and I think it's left-heavy just because of my hearing but I switch around the phones and it's because the mix was left-heavy. I've also thought that I was perceiving more high-end on the left of the mix because my Pro Tools keyboard/monitor cart sits to my left while I mix so maybe it's the resultant early refs I get from the screen.

I have taken hearing tests and passed with flying colors but it still irks me that one ear might be different than the other.

Is this something to be worried about? What's the best way to test? What are your thoughts?

  • I've been worried about it. I got a hearing test and it was ok. I was thinking the same thing as you, it irked me that one ear might be different than the other. It was slightly off, very, very slightly off.
    – Chris
    Feb 23, 2011 at 1:08
  • I have had this issue before as well. Sometimes it's a cold coming into my system and my sinuses are starting to clog. I recommend hearing checks regularly (once a year). Just like an athlete, this job is physically straining and you need to keep that part of your body in good shape.
    – Bruce
    Feb 23, 2011 at 2:29
  • Do you have a deviated septum? This can cause blockage/drainage/difference between ears and hearing.
    – VCProd
    Feb 23, 2011 at 2:59
  • VCProd Not to my knowledge. I basically got hit in the jaw while playing college basketball and my jaw got dislocated. It never really fit back into place and kind of healed itself back into place (it looks normal - it's not crooked or anything) but a little later I could crack it and it made a snapping sound when I tried to push back on it. It's been 7 years since then and the same ear I am worried I have problems with is the same side of the jaw that was hit in basketball. Is there any reason why an injury like that in the joint could effect the ear or hearing?
    – Utopia
    Feb 23, 2011 at 5:06
  • @Utopia Absolutely. The jaw is physiologically connected to the ear (in a few ways other than literally). Look up TMJ - a disorder of the jaw where it can cause pain in the ear. I havent heard of a jaw disorder affecting hearing or frequency response, but I know it can cause many different pains and uncomfortable issues within the ear area.
    – C3Sound
    Feb 23, 2011 at 6:08

1 Answer 1


Warning Nasty detail in message Warning

I once had a sinus infection that backed up into my nasal passage and forced its way into my ear canal. It pushed a hole through my right ear drum. It had to be the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my entire life.

I went to an audiologist for a hearing test after the healing was finished, to test my frequency response and everything was normal and balanced in both sides. So never fear the abilities of the human body to repair itself.

The test was in a "anechoic chamber" as they would want to call it. However, I advised on his air conditioning outside of his booth. They ran a series of bleeps, noise, etc. and perception tests at a number of amplitudes and map it out on a graph comparing ears. Its a great way of seeing how your body responds to the spectrum.

Whats awesome is that this is covered by your insurance if audio is your main profession. This has to be proven of course to your insurance company by degree, company W-2, or whatever self employed business form or tax receipt you can grab. Not only is the test covered, but those awesome custom molded ear decibel reducers can be covered as well (this seems to be more debatable by insurance companies - their argument can be something like, "We wouldnt expect an engineer to be in a bumping night club if they wanted to protect their ears." Shows you how much they know about the industry eh?

Anyways, just my experience. Check out going to an audiologist. They are handy people for us!

  • Good story. Thanks for sharing! I'll check out that insurance tip - thanks!
    – Utopia
    Feb 23, 2011 at 5:01
  • In Australia where I am from you can get regular audio tests for free. I love it because I have a map over the years on my hearing responses.
    – Bruce
    Feb 23, 2011 at 6:38
  • @Bruce Does your response gradually keep getting worse or do you fluctuate and get better?
    – Utopia
    Mar 28, 2011 at 20:32

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