Monday, May 25, 2009

Take the piano thud test! How high can you hear?

Take the test!

The above is a great test. Test it with your best HAs(left, right, both) with the volume dial or button turned to the max. It should work for those with CI as well, but you won't get to test for cochlear dead zones as it's a moot point. Your CI just bypasses the dead zones and stimulates the auditory nerve directly with electrical pulses. You can test if you can hear the high frequencies with CI. For those with HA, you need enough surviving hair cells to amplify. For those of you who are hearing or have a mild hearing loss, you can test unaided. For those of us who are deaf, we can't hear enough unaided to get a proper assessment of our cochlear dead regions. 

Unaided, I can't properly hear anything but the lows. It's not loud enough even with the speaker cranked to the max. You will want to use a desktop speaker and turn it up to the max. If the speaker distorts terribly, turn it down a couple notches, but make sure it's loud enough for your HA to pick up the sound!

Try it with the speaker 3 feet away then hold the speaker near your HA. For me, the results were the same since my speaker is loud enough to reach my HA's SPL limit either way. Experment in different ways and obtain your best results. Make sure you properly adjust your speaker and try to test in a quiet room, turn off any other sources of noise.

This will both test what your HAs are capable of as well as your ears. It's also great for testing cochlear dead regions. The tone should be loud and clear like a bell and last the full 4 seconds. The pitch should ascend logically with each key(both white and black) sounding different. If you get the following, suspect a cochlear dead region(and possibly a poorly programmed HA)

1. The tone does not last the full 4 seconds, it fades away faster.
2. The tone is very faint or you just hear a thud or nothing.
3. The pitch sounds off or wrong or is the same across keys.
4. The tone sounds garbled, distorted or noiselike and not musical.

The highest I could hear at all for left ear: 967Hz then I hear just a thud.
The highest I could hear at all for right ear: 1046Hz then I hear just a thud.

The highest I could hear for both HA: 
932Hz for the full 4 sec. At 967Hz it was heard for 3 sec. At 1046Hz it was heard for 2 sec. At 1108Hz and 1174Hz I heard it for just a second then silence. Above 1174Hz, I heard just a thud sound. I hear somewhat better with both HAs than with each alone.

I find it odd that I hear up to 932Hz loud and clear but it goes downhill fast from there. Below 932Hz sounds just a bit louder with each descending key. The volume drops off rapidly with each ascending key above 932Hz. Perhaps I don't have enough surviving hair cells at around 1000Hz and none a few dozen Hz above that. Ive always wondered how much of a HL before you get to that point. Perhaps no HA is powerful enough above 110-115db HL.

I will repost my audiogram:

125Hz: 60-65db HL
250Hz: 70-75db HL
375Hz: 80db HL(home test)
500Hz: 90db HL
625Hz: 100db HL(home test)
750Hz: 105-110db HL
875Hz: 110db HL(home test)
1000Hz: 110-115db HL
above 1000Hz: 115db-120db+ HL, possible cochlear dead region.

I will learn more about this from reading around and from your results and explanations. Feel free to leave a comment with your own results and ask questions.


  1. Without HA or CI: Nothing

    R ear aided: 880 then I get thuds until 1,774 and thuds again after 2,093.

    L ear CI: 880 then thuds or nothing after that.

    Both CI and aid: 880 then thuds or nothing after that.

    I do want to mention that sometimes I have trouble hearing things on my laptop with the CI because my CI really picks up the computer fan whereas I can't hear the fan with my hearing aid. So it's easier to do tests online with my hearing aid than it is with my CI. I have background noises with the CI and I don't with the HA. I'll have to see if I can find a quieter computer to try this test on and will repost with the results if I can.

  2. With HA in my left ear (the good ear), I can hear it up to 2000 Hz at normal volume (turned halfway up), but between 2000 and 2500 Hz, I had to turn the volume all the way up to hear it. Beyond 3000 Hz, I could not hear anything except a click.

    Without HA - nothing, of course.

  3. I replied to your comment on my blog. I do have AIM and MSN. Let me know if you would still like to chat sometime. I do not know a lot about the details of how my HA works. I've had AVRs since I was 8 so it's kind of been the norm for me.

  4. The "tones" are not pure tones. It's not even like a regular piano.

    Without my CI, I can't hear anything. With the CI I can hear all 88 notes. No dead spots, no distortion, no problem. 3 feet or 20 feet. I can still hear all the notes.

  5. I can hear all of the notes on the piano with my CIs.

    No surprise there.

  6. Now that I have the CI, I can hear every single note, all the way to 4000+ Hz, even at moderate volume. But since I only have 5 electrodes active out of 22, some notes are too quiet, others seem a little off... but I can hear them all.

  7. To answer your question, I can actually hear more than 5 pitches because these notes aren't pure tones. But not much more than 7 or 8. I'm going for a tune up today so I will try this test again and see how different it is :)

  8. Ilove all the CI answers, hear every note. Wonderful. I can't wait to get mine.

  9. After my first CI tune up, the notes don't sound off at all now. I can hear the lows better, too. The highs are still quiet, but we'll turn them up in my next tune up.

  10. Well, I couldn't hear any of them! :-)

    That's goes on.

  11. Oh jelly, even with your HA?

  12. I've had completely different results on different computers and environments. Not a very scientific test really. Useful for showing people what you can and can't hear but otherwise, not much use.

  13. I get the same results on every computer. The problem is notebooks don't have powerful enough speakers so you hear worse due to a lack of volume. With enough volume of a desktop speaker, you then max the HA's SPL. Then the results are the same. What's your results Mog and others on a desktop with proper speakers with volume cranked up? For me, I can't hear much above 1000Hz.