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Heyser Lecture

AES Amsterdam 2008
Tutorial T17

Monday, May 19, 16:00 — 18:00

Jan de Laat

Frequent exposition to loud sounds often causes hearing damage. Recent studies in Sweden demonstrated that 74% of all musicians complain of hearing disorders such as: hearing loss, tinnitus (whistling or noise in the ear), hyperacusis (suffering from sounds that are too loud), distortion (attentive) and diplacusis (perception of different pitches on the left and right sides). It appears that the sound volume of concerts has gradually become louder and louder over the last decades, and this corresponds to the extent of hearing problems in musicians, even attended by unfitness for work.

In The Netherlands these troubles are becoming recognized little by little. A few years ago the government (Department of Social Affairs) established an agreement with the employers (administrations of professional symphony orchestras) and employees (union of musicians) aimed to manage these problems. Attention and consideration will be focused on awareness, professional information (even at early ages, starting at music colleges), prevention of and protection from hearing loss (not only by hearing protectors such as personal ear moulds), and rehabilitation of hearing handicaps in musicians.

In a research project with 259 musicians of three professional symphony orchestras in Amsterdam, we combined results of the outcomes of questionnaires, pure tone audiograms, speech audiometry, transient and distortion-product oto-acoustic emissions, tinnitus matching, and frequency selectivity measures in order to achieve more insight in the individual hearing sensitivity related to the time of exposure to loud music. Remarkable results of this investigation will be discussed.

Last Updated: 20080613, tendeloo