Do you need perfect hearing to be a great mixer?

This is a very lengthy video, but very worthwhile IMO. (It is also available as an audio podcast)

If you have a boring job to do, or you have to travel, it’s worth just putting it on and just taking it in - even in smaller chunks of time if need be.

My dad worked in audiology for many years, and he told me a little about how important the ear/brain relationship is to the act of “hearing”, and also about how much compensation happens in our brain to decipher the physical stimuli. Nevertheless, it was very satisfying to hear confirmation of what he had told me here. It also confirmed a LOT of what I have observed over the years of being involved in music and audio.

If you have ever wondered or been effected by about hearing loss, tinnitus or any other hearing disorder, or even just wondered if you need perfect hearing to be a great mixer, then this is very highly recommended!

BTW here’s Tchad and Andrew answering the question I posed on the top of the thread:



I just jumped around and listened a little bit so far, but around 2:32:00, I noticed a chat comment that seemed to sum up what they were talking about which resonated with me.

[Bops NY] “SO what one hears, is not the same as another, almost like degrees of colour blindness.”

I listened more closely to the video and around that time-stamp they seemed to be implying that, though maybe didn’t explicitly say it. Later, talking about tinnitus and how to work around it, they suggested you could compensate through training certain frequencies.

This is something that has occurred to me for a long time on the forums, how we all hear and perceive differently, even though we share a genetic model of the same physical hardware. So to assume that two people will hear something the same doesn’t make sense, kind of like unique fingerprints can never match another. It then almost becomes like trying to describe colors or what you see in a picture to someone else. Or what that mystery substance is with your hands feeling it in a concealed box. They may or may not understand the description or interpretation.

It’s no wonder there are so many disagreements around music and sound, because we each live inside our own ‘world’ to some degree.

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Yeah, it’s a BIG subject, and there is a lot to unpack on this. My takeaway is that our hearing system, in combination with our brain is AMAZING.

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Might not be pertinent, and might be a frequency thing, but my wife always says “you never listen to me” OR “repeat back to me what I justsaid” I tell her she speaks in the 200-400 range and that is where I am deficient. Now she screams. After 52 years, I have mastered selective hearing.


I have tinnitus, but my wife keeps telling me it’s BS and I just don’t want to listen to her.

You can’t win. I can fully sympathize with you Paul!

What amazes me is that loss of hearing is (and must obviously be) common among audio professionals, and yet they manage to churn out good mixes.


Late to this thread, but I’ve posted before about my hearing deficiencies and how huge it was for me to get hearing aids. My sensitivity craters between 2 and 4 kHz, although it recovers at 8k, and that truly is where a whole lot of female voices sit. Getting the HAs improved both my life and my wife’s, whom I only rarely have to ask to repeat herself anymore…


I’ve got problems in the same region, and constant tinnitus too. I notice now that I have to concentrate when my wife and I are having idle conversation. She changes topics fairly frequently, and if I’m doing something else, i.e. reading IRD, the words don’t make sense. My brain doesn’t put everything together as well as it used to, so it’s kind of like defective spellcheck.

Just got back from vacation so I haven’t heard the podcast, but the premise of “perfect hearing” is interesting, in that people with the physiology to score perfectly on frequency and level tests will still have differences in how they react to audio stimuli. In other words, having the same perfect tools to hear with doesn’t mean you hear the same thing.

Since my tools are a bit flawed, it has become increasingly important for me to focus on adapting to how I hear things and adjusting from there. For example, I know that if I’m down 4db at 4K, and my recording sounds bright to me, it will be ice picks for everybody else. In the long run, knowing how to use what you have is more practical than perfect hearing, as long as you verify your choices with other ears that you trust.


Yep, also constant tinnitus, neglected to mention that. That would be something, if it were to stop by some magic…


I’ve read about some brain disassociation therapy that is supposed to help. As I write this, the flies are buzzing loudly in there, probably from flying yesterday.


Holy crap - I hit play thinking it may be an hour and half or so… Yikes! :wink:

And throw in personal taste and then bias and of course you have yourself the perfect storm.

I have mild tinnitus, but am extremely conscious of my hearing given I teach music in a large room. It does get reasonably loud at times but either I manage it well or I have become slightly deafer.

Overall, I think my hearing is pretty good overall. I wonder (likely answered in the vid) if our hearing is in a sense ‘better’ because of our hobby/job.


It’s pretty much par for the course if you’ve spent any time in a band, or even if you’re over 40.

Yeah, that’s why I suggested listening to it while you’re doing something else. I figured most wouldn’t have the patience… As a bit of a summary, here’s Tchad Blake (backed up by Andrew Scheps) answering the question I posed in the OP:


Yes, each person comes from their own reality. It’s really just reaching out and finding common ground IMO.

So it sounds like you’re teaching in actual classrooms again. I thought you were in Melbourne but that’s become a nightmare from what I can see. At least NSW got rid of Gladys Berejerkoff. :slightly_smiling_face: Flutter echoes drive me nuts, many videos (and live situations) have horrible audio just because of that. I can try to be tolerant, but good audio is like heaven when you can get it.

I think our hearing is ‘sharpened’ or more sensitive because of our training. It’s both a blessing and a curse, as you can appreciate the good stuff, but be driven mad by the bad stuff.

I always have more ringing in my ears than usual after a recording session and I always keep my headphone volume levels relatively low because I’m aware that the higher the volume is, the more damage you’re doing to your ears. The snare drum can be especially damaging.

I’ve even noticed that my tinnitus is worse after singing and playing acoustic guitar or even being around a chatty group of people for awhile. It really doesn’t take much to worsen the ringing. Almost any sound can be damaging to the ears. The degree of damage will depend on the volume levels, frequencies and the amount of time that your ears are exposed to the sound.

Many times I’ve heard that if you enjoy the sounds/ music that you’re listening to, you will be less likely to damage your ears than if you dislike the sound. I don’t know if this is true or not but I figured it’s an interesting theory (not sure if it’s been proven to be factual but I seem to recall reading this in a science article awhile back).

This very point is discussed during the podcast/video.


That might be another place I’ve heard it, also. It’s been awhile since I watched that and I don’t think I watched the whole thing.

And what your ears have already been exposed to in the past. I think essentially you’re just pouring salt in an open wound when there’s already been injury. My right ear is very sensitive to very high pitched sounds, due to some injury in the past I’m sure, and a trigger of that can cause physical pain; at least in the form of literal and physical distortion - which feels like a tickling annoyance at least. A metal wrench dropped on a concrete floor in a garage is my worst nightmare.

I do think the emotional response is significant. Different brain chemicals are emitted based on stimuli. I can tolerate music I enjoy, but unwanted sounds and noises really agitate my ears and my temper. :rage: :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

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I used to be. Moved back to my home town of Bendigo about 6 years ago. Not as restricted as Melbourne.I have about half of the clases at them moment, in the traditional sense.

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Oh cool. The urban areas seem to be the worst. Rural areas are probably better off. WA (Western Australia) seems to be doing quite well. Americans are sympathetic with Aussie’s in all this, and also watching to see if we’re next. :open_mouth: Things seem ridiculously crazy here as well, in some ways.

I wonder also if there is a case about that with familiarity as well. That if you know the song well, even if you don’t actually like it (but don’t hate it either) if that has any less effect on hearing?

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