Posted by HearStore on Aug 27th 2018
In this day and age, it is difficult to predict the kind of internet content that will go viral. There was the infamous dress of 2015 that looked white and gold or blue and black, depending on who you asked. And then, there was the great debate of 2018 when an audio clip went viral, splitting people into two camps: Yanny or Laurel.
On May 11, 2018, a high school student posted an Instagram video with audio from Vocabulary.com, whose audio recording of the word “laurel” sounded nothing like one might have expected. On Twitter, a poll of over 500,000 people responded 53% in favor of “laurel” and 47% in favor of “Yanny.” Talk show hosts, musicians, and artists alike responded to this phenomenon, falling into one camp or another.
For one, “Part of it involves the recording. It’s not a very high quality. And that in itself allows some ambiguity already,” says Brad Story, Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing at the University of Arizona. “Then you have to take into account the different ways people are listening to this – through mobile phones, headphones, tablets, etc.”
Scientists familiar with sound and hearing were able to solve this strange phenomenon. It came down to a matter of frequencies and how we hear. The New York Times even went so far as to create a tool for understanding the different sound frequencies embedded in the recording, which you can check out here. It turns out that people who focus on higher frequency sounds can hear “Yanny” but cannot hear “laurel,” and conversely, people who could hear lower frequencies were able to hear “laurel” and not “Yanny.”
While we’re not here to debate which one is correct (hearing is subjective!), this ambiguity phenomenon points to something that is relevant to us: hearing and frequency.
Understanding High Frequency Hearing Loss
Why is that dogs can hear certain whistles while humans can’t? Our hearing capabilities limit the frequencies we can hear – humans are able to hear within 20 hZ and 20 kHZ.
According to Healthy Hearing, “High-frequency hearing loss occurs when the sensory hearing cells in your cochlea die or are damaged. These hair cells are responsible for translating the sounds your ears collect into electrical impulses, which your brain eventually interprets as recognizable sound. High-frequency sounds are perceived in the lower part of the cochlea, while the hair cells that perceive low-frequency sounds are located near the top. Because of this, hearing loss typically affects the higher frequencies before it affects the lower frequencies.”
In other words, people who experience high frequency hearing loss will have difficulty hearing sounds in a higher pitch, whether it is the treble sounds of music or women’s voices or birds chirping. High frequency hearing loss is one of the most common forms of hearing loss, and it tends to affect men more so than women. One of the first signs of high frequency hearing loss is difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, particularly if the speaker is a woman or child.
The causes of high frequency hearing loss are varied and are common also to other forms of hearing loss. Exposure to noise and the natural process of aging are both common causes of high frequency hearing loss. Other causes include Meniere’s disease or the use of ototoxic medication (which could permanently damage your inner ear hair cells).
Frequency compression technology
Frequency compression technology, or frequency lowering technology, is a marvel of contemporary hearing aid development. This feature takes high frequency sounds and shifts them, with minimal distortion, into lower frequency regions that hearing aid wearers can hear. With this feature, people with high frequency hearing loss are now able to hear the sounds they’ve missing. The Swiss manufacturer Phonak first made it popular with their feature SoundRecover, “an innovative, non-linear frequency compression algorithm [that] compresses selected high frequency sounds into a lower frequency range where both hearing sensitivity and discrimination ability are better.”
Other hearing aid manufacturers have followed suit with this ground-breaking technology. Below are our favorite hearing aids with frequency lowering technology, making these a great choice for hearing aid wearers with high-frequency hearing loss.
As one of the leaders in frequency compression technology, Phonak imbues all of their devices with sophisticated features. The updated Audeo B and B-R, powered by Belong Platform, provides wearers with better speech understanding overall (20%) and in noise (60%). With AutoSense OS, Audeo detects sounds in your environment every 0.4 seconds and makes adjustments automatically for a true-to-life listening experience. The Audeo B-R, powered by lithium-ion battery technology, is a fantastic rechargeable solution that gives wearers confidence throughout the day. The latest Phonak hearing aids come equipped with SoundRecover 2, the latest version of their frequency shifting technology.
Signia has emerged as one of the frontrunners of hearing aid technology, and the Signia Nx platform does not disappoint. With their newest model, Nx, tackles two major challenges facing new hearing aid wearers: getting accustomed to the sound of your own voice and fine-tuned hearing aid adjustments. Signia’s Own Voice Processing feature scans your voice and your environment separately, ensuring that your voice sounds natural to you. Compared to previous hearing aid models, Nx improves the spontaneous acceptance of your own voice by 75%.
As with all Signia models, Nx offers a number of excellent features: frequency compression, SpeechMaster, EchoShield, Ultra HD e2e binaural listening, feedback cancellation, HD music, and wireless connectivity.
Having issues with your hearing aids? Signia TeleCare allows your audiologist or hearing professional to make remote adjustments to your Nx hearing aids. This “virtual house call” will have you back to hearing your best in no time.
Starkey has been a consistent favorite for people who want a dependable hearing aid infused with top-of-the-line technology. The Halo Made for iPhone family of hearing aids debuted just a few years ago and has quickly become one of the most decorated devices on the market. In its newest iteration, the Starkey Halo iQ allows wearers to connect their hearing aids and their iPhones (and Androids) via Bluetooth. With this connection, you may stream phone calls, music, and other media directly to your ears. Other excellent features of the Halo iQ include frequency compression technology, GPS-archiving of listening preferences, and fast sound processing for a seamless listening experience.
Learn More with HearStore
So is it “laurel” or “Yanny”? With a pair of advanced hearing aids to treat your high frequency hearing loss, you’ll be able to know definitively!