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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

Play a recording that demonstrates 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

Play a recording that demonstrates 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

Play a recording that demonstrates 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.

Step 4 - Moderate Hearing Loss With Background Noise

Play a recording that demonstrates moderate hearing loss with background noise

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.

These hearing loss examples where created using the NIOSH 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.


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