What Does a Hearing Loss Sound Like?
Loud noise can permanently damage your hearing. It especially affects the sounds that help you understand speech. To hear what this sounds like, try these computer-generated samples. The sound samples are in the popular MP3 format.
Step 1 - Normal Hearing
First, click the "Normal Hearing" link above to hear a recording of a male voice reading several sentences (while this is playing, adjust your PC's volume so you can clearly understand the speaker).
Step 2 - Moderate Hearing Loss
Now, click the "Moderate Hearing Loss" link above to hear the same recording, but altered to sound as it would for a person with a "moderate" noise-induced hearing loss.
Step 3 - Normal Hearing With Background Noise
Background noise makes speech harder to understand. Click the "Normal Hearing With Background Noise" link above to hear the first recording again, but with a recording of a coal continuous haulage machine added to the background.
Finally, click the "Moderate Hearing Loss With Background Noise" link above to hear the same recording again (with background noise), and with a simulated "moderate" hearing loss.
NIOSH created these hearing loss examples using its Hearing Loss Simulator. The Windows based simulator displays a "control panel" for playing sounds while adjusting the simulated effects of noise and aging. You can enter a simulated individual's age (in years) along with the years of exposure to noise (in A-weighted decibels). The simulator shows the effects visually on a frequency band display while the user listens to the audio playback.