RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#328: Slowly Going Deaf?
I’ve been listening to music for as long as I can remember. I’ve been listening to rock music — and I’ve been told to turn it down — since I was 11 years old. That’s 30 years ago. Remember all those times your parents said, “Turn it down, or you’ll be deaf by the time you’re 40!” Let’s see if that’s true.
I’m not the concert-goer that a lot of you are. I’ve always had a thing about crowds, but I’ve definitely seen my share of loud shows: Black Sabbath & Motorhead, Helix and Deep Purple are not the kind of bands that turn it down. In 1972 Deep Purple were declared by Guinness to be the world’s loudest band! But I don’t enjoy the sheer earthquake noise levels you can get at a concert like that, so I’ve been using earplugs much of the time for almost 20 years. I started wearing them shortly after seeing Kiss in ’96. I find this cuts a lot of the noise, and renders the concert to a volume more akin to a loud home stereo.
Where I’m most guilty of playing it too loud is the car. Sometimes I don’t realize just how loud it is in there until I start the car in the morning, having left the stereo on at full blast. I seem to turn it up, turn it up, turn it up…and get used to it. Like a frog in cold water that you begin to slowly heat to boil, I become accommodated to the volume of the rock. So that would concern me, where hearing loss is concerned.
How much hearing have I lost? I completed a hearing test at work a short while ago, and have received the results. Using a 2009 baseline as the comparison, it looks like it’s barely changed at all!
Here’s how the exam worked. A mobile hearing test truck pulls into the parking lot and we take the hearing tests six people at a time. Each one of us enters a soundproof booth, which look like we’re sitting in the escape pods of a spaceship, especially after we don our special noise-cancelling headphones. Unfortunately it’s not a perfect setup. I and several others could hear the beeping of forklifts and tow motors in the yard, through the booth and headphones. This doesn’t help when you’re supposed to push a little button at the sound of a beep in your ears. The test took about five minutes to complete and the results came back about two weeks later. And here they are. I don’t know what half this stuff means, but I’m told I have no major loss. Alright!