Jim Peace

ANR headsets harmful?

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18 hours ago, DXB said:

  @gsxrpilot do you happen to recall what vendor made yours?  

Dev- @DXB- I got mine at the same place, it's called "Fit-Ear" in Hangar A, Booth 1009.  You go in on one day and get fitted, then go back a day later to pick them up.  If you only have one day, go early and let them know you need them the same day.

Paul and I have the QT Halos which only use a hollow tube, I believe the Clarity Aloft puts the actual speaker into the earpiece?  The guy there really knows his stuff, he'll be able to say the pros and cons for your headset.

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14 hours ago, EricJ said:

You don't want that when outside audible clues can save your butt, so I suspect it is an intentional design decision in aviation headsets to not do as much reduction in the mid-upper frequencies where alarms and warnings and clanking sounds live.   So that energy will still come through, and, unfortunately, that spectrum is often where tinnitus lives, too.

My tinnitus is around 7-8kHz, precedes my use of ANR, and is well outside the low-mid frequency range where ANR does most of its work in aviation headsets.

The signal processing for ANR is in many ways similar to channel equalization for wireless communication systems, so that the bits get through more reliably.   It's not anything super-esoteric in the industry, doing a "better" job of cancelling is definitely feasible and is not a limitation of the technology itself.   I think it is intentionally held back in aviation headsets so no headset manufacturer gets any fingers pointed at them for losses related to not being able to hear the warning horn that the Trunk Monkey has been released in the cabin.

And while I'm at it, if you have tinnitus and somebody tries to sell you something that they claim will cancel it, run far away.   That requires feedback from within your skull, so unless it comes with an implant that goes in the part of your brain responsible for auditory sensation, it ain't gonna work.

 

A couple of comments and clarifications - 

-I'm not sure why a high end ANR headset in a piston plane might cause someone more problems than a tight earplug in a 767 where the sound insulation has been ripped out.  Per my limited understanding the halos/clarity alofts produce pretty similar sound attenuation profiles as the best ANR headsets, but I don't have real understanding of the ANR technology.  I would wonder whether it is the key difference is the sound profile in the two different aircraft and not the sound attenuation strategy that makes the difference. 

 -When it comes to hearing protection in piston aircraft, I am certainly of the "more is more" philosophy - my Mooney is really a very hostile noise environment (>100db at full power) where even short exposures cause significant damage.  Those of us who have already lost our hearing reserve and have significant high frequency losses can't afford even minor exposures. It's not possible to block all sound through a headset of any kind - the absolute best you can get is a 50db reduction, and that's from completely sealing off the ear canal (so called "maximal conductive hearing loss"). Sound reaches the inner ear pretty efficiently through pathways other than your ear canal.  Just tap on your skull to see what I mean.  I suspect that level of attenuation is still enough to leave an awareness of changes in piston engine noise etc. 

- The frequency profile of noise exposure doesn't reliably predict the frequency range of hearing loss it creates - it's almost always high frequency loss for some reason - I'm not sure it's completely understood why, though there are folks who understand better than I do. But toxic drugs (e.g. some chemotherapies, aminoglycoside antibiotics) produce the identical hearing loss profile, so the inner ear hair cells that let you hear high frequencies clearly have a special vulnerability in general, not just to noise-induced damage.

- Wearable masking devices for tinnitus definitely work but generally aren't practical when out in the world, or necessary for most people outside a very quiet environment.  The issue is usually at night when trying to sleep - here a soft white noise source of some kind, or just running a fan is enough for most people who are bothered by this issue.  

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On 7/3/2019 at 10:08 PM, MB65E said:

I fly with the qc35s/UFm in a light jet, they are awesome!! I like the fact you can leave the ANR off, because with it on you can not hear ambient noises at all in the cabin. 

I was just thinking how bad my boseX are with noise. This got me thinking what headset to bring to Oshkosh. Love my DC’s but can’t input music easily. You’ve found the 35’s work well then in the rocket? My E is really loud...

Good Chat!

-Matt

as i said, I compared the DC x11 and a telex ANR that I have had for a while and the QC35 was better than both.  We outfitted 4 QC 25's with Ufly mics and boom cannulas for our rocket.

 

Since you ahve a QC35, give it a shot.  I was very surprised.

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This hearing loss debate seems to be more important to the guys that have already lost some hearing than to the ones who have not noticed that their hearing has already diminished. So, to the ones that now realize they have at least a slight hearing problem let me ask a question. My wife has been bugging me to get hearing aids but I don’t want to yet as I seem to be getting by ok. My rationality in holding off on the hearing aids is that they are tuned so we can hear the higher frequencies which help with normal conversations. My question is this...if the hearing aid amplifies the higher frequencies will that eventually kill off what little high frequency capacity we now have?? My brother in law has a hearing problem and last year he got top of the line set of hearing aids which worked fine. However, I’ve noticed that when he does not have them in he really can’t hear worth a damn anymore, so much so that I think he has lost way more of the high frequency capability that he used to have a year ago. I’m wondering if that is a result of the amplification of high frequency? Anybody know if my thinking is in line??

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2 hours ago, nels said:

This hearing loss debate seems to be more important to the guys that have already lost some hearing than to the ones who have not noticed that their hearing has already diminished. So, to the ones that now realize they have at least a slight hearing problem let me ask a question. My wife has been bugging me to get hearing aids but I don’t want to yet as I seem to be getting by ok. My rationality in holding off on the hearing aids is that they are tuned so we can hear the higher frequencies which help with normal conversations. My question is this...if the hearing aid amplifies the higher frequencies will that eventually kill off what little high frequency capacity we now have?? My brother in law has a hearing problem and last year he got top of the line set of hearing aids which worked fine. However, I’ve noticed that when he does not have them in he really can’t hear worth a damn anymore, so much so that I think he has lost way more of the high frequency capability that he used to have a year ago. I’m wondering if that is a result of the amplification of high frequency? Anybody know if my thinking is in line??

I'm not a doctor, and I don't play one on TV, but my understanding is that this is the opposite of normal recommendations. When you aren't hearing the high frequencies, you aren't stimulating the nerves that process these frequencies, and the nerves die or the neural pathway becomes non functional or something. The stimulation is key. So amplifying the signal prevents the neural effects (which are actually the unrecoverable bit).

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1 hour ago, nels said:

This hearing loss debate seems to be more important to the guys that have already lost some hearing than to the ones who have not noticed that their hearing has already diminished. So, to the ones that now realize they have at least a slight hearing problem let me ask a question. My wife has been bugging me to get hearing aids but I don’t want to yet as I seem to be getting by ok. My rationality in holding off on the hearing aids is that they are tuned so we can hear the higher frequencies which help with normal conversations. My question is this...if the hearing aid amplifies the higher frequencies will that eventually kill off what little high frequency capacity we now have?? My brother in law has a hearing problem and last year he got top of the line set of hearing aids which worked fine. However, I’ve noticed that when he does not have them in he really can’t hear worth a damn anymore, so much so that I think he has lost way more of the high frequency capability that he used to have a year ago. I’m wondering if that is a result of the amplification of high frequency? Anybody know if my thinking is in line??

Some potentially helpful points:

-The general dogma among hearing specialists is that hearing aids do not substantially accelerate hearing loss. I'm not sure this is 100% true, but there is  a clear rational basis for this belief. Hearing aids provide amplification at lower levels of sound intensity that those that tend to cause injury.  In addition, correctly programmed modern digital aids are quite selective at amplifying frequencies where the user has difficulty, in contrast to the more broad based frequency profiles of sounds that may have caused the original injury.  Also they avoid amplifying loud sounds, just bring soft ones below the hearing threshold of the user into their profile of hearable sounds.  It is very different from someone putting a megaphone by your ear. 

-There are some situations where hearing aids may actually prevent hearing problems from worsening.  With a severe hearing loss, parts of the brain that process sound atrophy over time.  If someone has had severe problems for a long time without using hearing aids, then their hearing aid benefit may be  less because their brain has lost capacity for higher order processing of the sounds they have been missing.  

-It is generally worthless to recommend a hearing aid for someone who doesn't want one, no matter what their family thinks.  They will not wear them.  

-Good digital hearing aids are quite expensive and never covered by insurance.

-Going to a low cost hearing aid vendor is a  bad idea - the ones with low margins on the aid itself also tend to provide bad fitting service.  The programming of the digital aid to benefit the user based on their specific hearing loss profile is an iterative, empiric process that may take several tries from an experienced audiologist.  I usually recommend folks go to an otolaryngology department at major reputable academic center to get hearing aids - in general these places are both expensive and good.  There are also good community hearing aid vendors, but it may take some legwork to figure out where to go.  

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12 minutes ago, toto said:

I'm not a doctor, and I don't play one on TV, but my understanding is that this is the opposite of normal recommendations. When you aren't hearing the high frequencies, you aren't stimulating the nerves that process these frequencies, and the nerves die or the neural pathway becomes non functional or something. The stimulation is key. So amplifying the signal prevents the neural effects (which are actually the unrecoverable bit).

This is undoubtedly true. As an extreme example, the best predictor of how much you can help a deaf person  with a cochlear implant is how long they have been deaf.  The person with a dead inner ear for a long time doesn't have a brain that can process the sound any longer, even if you input the signal directly to their auditory nerve.  

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4 minutes ago, DXB said:

Some potentially helpful points:

-The general dogma among hearing specialists is that hearing aids do not substantially accelerate hearing loss. I'm not sure this is 100% true, but there is  a clear rational basis for this belief. Hearing aids provide amplification at lower levels of sound intensity that those that tend to cause injury.  In addition, correctly programmed modern digital aids are quite selective at amplifying frequencies where the user has difficulty, in contrast to the more broad based frequency profiles of sounds that may have caused the original injury.  Also they avoid amplifying loud sounds, just bring soft ones below the hearing threshold of the user into their profile of hearable sounds.  It is very different from someone putting a megaphone by your ear. 

-There are some situations where hearing aids may actually prevent hearing problems from worsening.  With a severe hearing loss, parts of the brain that process sound atrophy over time.  If someone has had severe problems for a long time without using hearing aids, then their hearing aid benefit may be  less because their brain has lost capacity for higher order processing of the sounds they have been missing.  

-It is generally worthless to recommend a hearing aid for someone who doesn't want one, no matter what their family thinks.  They will not wear them.  

-Good digital hearing aids are quite expensive and never covered by insurance.

-Going to a low cost hearing aid vendor is a  bad idea - the ones with low margins on the aid itself also tend to provide bad fitting service.  The programming of the digital aid to benefit the user based on their specific hearing loss profile is an iterative, empiric process that may take several tries from an experienced audiologist.  I usually recommend folks go to an otolaryngology department at major reputable academic center to get hearing aids - in general these places are both expensive and good.  There are also good community hearing aid vendors, but it may take some legwork to figure out where to go.  

Your first sentence leads me to believe my worry may be correct? My brother in law has very expensive digital hearing aids and I am guite certain his hearing has gone down hill substantially since he started using them.

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2 minutes ago, nels said:

Your first sentence leads me to believe my worry may be correct? My brother in law has very expensive digital hearing aids and I am guite certain his hearing has gone down hill substantially since he started using them.

I'm hedging a bit based on limited expertise, but I can say it is not at all a common experience for a slowly progressive hearing hearing loss to become a rapidly progressive loss upon fitting a hearing aid for the first time. Once the loss has started, it is normal for the loss to progress no matter what you do.   One might also worry that his aid wasn't selected or programmed correctly.  

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On 7/3/2019 at 10:08 PM, MB65E said:

I fly with the qc35s/UFm in a light jet, they are awesome!! I like the fact you can leave the ANR off, because with it on you can not hear ambient noises at all in the cabin. 

I was just thinking how bad my boseX are with noise. This got me thinking what headset to bring to Oshkosh. Love my DC’s but can’t input music easily. You’ve found the 35’s work well then in the rocket? My E is really loud...

Good Chat!

-Matt

The QC35s seem to work in my "F" just fine; I think they are as effective and way more comfortable than my Bose aviation headset. That said, (again) I think my problem was tons of use daily mostly due to my work (not aviation) use of the units.. But, if I want to try life minus ANR, that is going to mean passive protection and that probably means HALO's for me because I don't like the weight of the STD aviation units. . 

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I’m now a halo convert I guess. The wife and daughter have DCs and Zulu 3s, respectively.  Might give the in ear molds a try... halos are the most comfortable for long flights. I don’t get tinnintus with the zulus.  

Need to look at some OSHA literature on this topic. 

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1 hour ago, bradp said:

I’m now a halo convert I guess. The wife and daughter have DCs and Zulu 3s, respectively.  Might give the in ear molds a try... halos are the most comfortable for long flights. I don’t get tinnintus with the zulus.  

Need to look at some OSHA literature on this topic. 

Check out this government site. It’s pretty clear on what to do to maximize hearing protection when flying.

https://www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/pilotsafetybrochures/media/hearing.pdf

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On 7/5/2019 at 6:50 PM, EricJ said:

What?

I think it's funny that some people who are exposed to large noise and sound energy sources for long periods of time want to blame the thing that cancels the noise.   Wut?

The net energy incident on your ear with ANR is much less than without it.  In an aircraft you don't want the ANR to cancel everything since you want to be able to detect audible alarms, engine noises, etc., enough to be able to respond to them.

I think that's why we get ANR (active noise reduction) instead of ANC (active noise cancelling).   I've worn some headsets (entertainment headsets in business/first in airliners) that were pretty close to ANC.   An attendant got perturbed with me because I'd giggle when she tried to speak to me because I couldn't hear a damn thing but the entertainment audio and it was funny to watch her lips move while she trying to talk to me.

You don't want that when outside audible clues can save your butt, so I suspect it is an intentional design decision in aviation headsets to not do as much reduction in the mid-upper frequencies where alarms and warnings and clanking sounds live.   So that energy will still come through, and, unfortunately, that spectrum is often where tinnitus lives, too.

My tinnitus is around 7-8kHz, precedes my use of ANR, and is well outside the low-mid frequency range where ANR does most of its work in aviation headsets.

The signal processing for ANR is in many ways similar to channel equalization for wireless communication systems, so that the bits get through more reliably.   It's not anything super-esoteric in the industry, doing a "better" job of cancelling is definitely feasible and is not a limitation of the technology itself.   I think it is intentionally held back in aviation headsets so no headset manufacturer gets any fingers pointed at them for losses related to not being able to hear the warning horn that the Trunk Monkey has been released in the cabin.

And while I'm at it, if you have tinnitus and somebody tries to sell you something that they claim will cancel it, run far away.   That requires feedback from within your skull, so unless it comes with an implant that goes in the part of your brain responsible for auditory sensation, it ain't gonna work.

*trips and falls while getting off soap box*

What we have above is a well written kinder/gentler version of what I was trying to...let’s say more directly communicate.  Thank you for your words.  I appreciate them.

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16 hours ago, nels said:

Check out this government site. It’s pretty clear on what to do to maximize hearing protection when flying.

https://www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/pilotsafetybrochures/media/hearing.pdf

Cliff notes:

Single engine plane=Mooney 70-90db

Occupational workday= 8 hours

Allowable noise levels (impact and continuous) 84db

85db or above for eight hours a day day in day out week in week out <84 for day average you are fine.  85-89 you need to have your hearing tested and a baseline established.  Ear plugs provided (not mandatory to use).  Annual tests to see if a shift in hearing.

MANDATORY use of hearing protection required if 8 hour day is >90db

Hearing loss is insidious

Once attenuation is lost it is lost.

Protect your hearing.

ANR headsets are NOT the enemy.

The exposure you get in GA is NOT likely significant.  (I would still wear headset for comfort and ability to hear ATC) Same reason to wear while Cutting grass.  A rock concert?  Whole different story.  Protect your hearing.  Wear plugs.  Drive with windows down?  Likely over 100db  + probably turning radio up to hear over the wind.  Use your A.C. If you drive a lot for work.

Professional pilots?  BIG DEAL.

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On 7/3/2019 at 8:58 PM, ilovecornfields said:

Thanks. That was really helpful and adds significantly to the discussion.

Over the top?  Yup.  Kind of like reading (ANR is causing hearing loss instead of preventing it).

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12 hours ago, RogueOne said:

 

My take on the government write up is this and they put it in writing: the most effective form of protection is noise cancelling headsets combined with ear plugs inserted in the ear. I’ve been doing this and totally agree.

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Much better to be a bird brain when it comes to avoiding hearing loss in airplanes. Here’s why birds DON’T need ANR!

 

 

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1 hour ago, nels said:

My take on the government write up is this and they put it in writing: the most effective form of protection is noise cancelling headsets combined with ear plugs inserted in the ear. I’ve been doing this and totally agree.

My plane is not close to 115db and I fly 75 to a 100 hours a year. Do what you wish. I will do the same. I would do more if I believed the ANR alone was not adequate. 

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21 hours ago, RogueOne said:

 

My take on the government write up is this and they put it in writing: the most effective form of protection is noise cancelling headsets combined with ear plugs inserted in the ear. I’ve been doing this and totally agree.

 

7 hours ago, RogueOne said:

My plane is not close to 115db and I fly 75 to a 100 hours a year. Do what you wish. I will do the same. I would do more if I believed the ANR alone was not adequate. 

Sorry RogueOne, I wasn’t trying to quote you but I accidentally hit the quote button and couldn’t get rid of your comment. I tried to erase it but your name just stayed there. I’m not to good at some of this stuff.

i will say I think you should try foam plugs under your ANR headsets and see if you actually can hear ATC more clearly. It’s worth a try and certainly can’t hurt.

Edited by nels
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I will try it, but it is about comfort as while the ANR is not good like  my David Clark non ANR, when off, it does still provide some noise attenuation. 5db?  Likely. I am only at 90db so I am fine for noise impact and VERY comfortable with ANR on. I ALWAYS wear earplugs and or muffs when shooting as impact noise at that dB is harmful. The same at concerts (if not I get ringing).  I do not have any issues after flight regarding hearing. Great that you still hear ATC with plugs and you like the combination. More is definitely not a bad thing.

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