Simulated Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

What does it sound like to have hearing loss from noise, music, or sound overexposure?

These simulations give a small idea of what it’s like to have tinnitus or difficulty hearing speech and music because of noise-induced hearing loss. Please use a soft comfortable volume for listening at your discretion.

In your daily life, if you notice temporary muffling, distortion, or tinnitus after being overexposed, it means you’re at higher risk of permanent tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss if you don’t start protecting your hearing health.

TINNITUS

This simulation of the sounds of tinnitus is from Simulated Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (1999) by WorkSafeBC. It begins with information about tinnitus. Tinnitus sounds start around 1:00. Imagine hearing these types of sounds 24/7.

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  • The Sounds of Tinnitus 00:00

SPEECH

This playlist has simulations of what speech sounds like with mild, moderate, or severe noise-induced hearing loss. The first track is for a woman reading the story Ali Baba, first in quiet and in background noise. It’s from Simulated Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (1999) by WorkSafeBC. Note the estimate of noise-induced hearing loss in Canadians is now up to over 6 million people. It’s around 70 million people in the USA, and over a billion people worldwide.

The second track is listening to speech in background noise assuming progressive hearing loss from 90 dBA exposure over time. Simulated noise-induced hearing loss gets worse with every beep, assuming 5 more years of unprotected exposure. The third track is for progressive hearing loss listening to conversation in a car. These are from Auditory demonstrations II: Challenges in speech communication and music listening by NASA Glenn Research Center, Acoustical Testing Laboratory. 

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  • Reading Ali Baba 00:00
  • Speech in Background Noise 00:00
  • Conversation in a Car 00:00

MUSIC

This is a 3 song playlist of Mozart and then Paul Simon singing “You can call me Al” and “Graceland.” This is what music sounds like with mild, moderate, and severe noise-induced hearing loss. It’s from Simulated Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (1999) by WorkSafeBC.

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  • Mozart 00:00
  • You can call me Al (Paul Simon) 00:00
  • Graceland (Paul Simon) 00:00

With noise or sound overexposure, there is pitch and loudness distortion as well as hearing loss. Tinnitus is no fun either. Neither is painful decreased sound tolerance or hyperacusis, but there aren’t any simulations for that.

How can you protect your hearing health? Turn volumes down, <50% for personal listening. Wear properly fit hearing protection in harmfully loud environments. Don’t wait until you notice problems. Stop hearing damage from starting in the first place. Or music and voices will never sound the same.

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