Jump to content

Ageing of human hearing and expensive high-end headphone gear.


Recommended Posts

Hi All,

I would like to raise the issue on human ageing, with the special focus on the ageing of human hearing and the use of TOTL headphone gear, i.e. headphones for more than 2,000 Euros, e.g. STAX headphones for 5,000 Euros and headphone amplifiers within the same region (5,000 Euros). 

But this does not focus at Stax only, of course, as there are so many extremely expensive headphones (electrostatic, magnetostatic, dynamic) in the market right now.

I don't know how old you are, of course all ages are represented here at the forum. But I also find old headphone veterans, here, who have been active in the scenery since the 1990's or 1980's. BTW, I started with STAX in 1989 with an SR-Gamma Pro and SRD-X Pro Amp.

My recent measurement of my hearing showed that I can still hear up to 13 kHz (12,8 kHz for -3 dB, to be honest) and then the curve decreases so steeply that no equalizer could help to repair for the loss beyond the 13 kHz. So, that 13 kHz is really a kind of cut-off frequency. From earlier measurements I can predict that the cut-off moves to lower frequencies with 1 to 2 kHz per decade. So, in ten years I expect my cut-off being at 11 kHz.

What do you think of this problem when listening to top headphone gear?

The STAX headphones, e.g. the SR-009 or SR-007 produce extremely transparent high frequencies and an awesome resolution. E.g. cymbals and brass really shine with these headphones.

But is this still the case when the human hearing has a cut-off at 11kHz or 10kHz or even 9 kHz?

So, does it make sense to own headphones and amplifiers for a total of more than 10,000 bucks?

I tried hearing with steep low-pass filters (parametric EQ) and when moving the cut-off to 11kHz, the cymbals and brass really lost their brilliance, it was the pure "horror". Wooden instruments (strings, woodwinds) were still reproduced perfectly but not the metal instruments of a classical music orchestra.

But of course, the brain was not adapted to this abrupt change which I enforced by the application of that steep low-pass filter.


Tyll Hertsens from Innerfidelity retired May 2018. Certainly you know this video where he announced his retirement and reported that he sold his house and would go onto world journey with his "tiny house" on wheels:

Tyll said that as a young and middle-aged headphone reviewer he had an excellent hearing, much better than average, so he could hear differences between gear very well.

But now his hearing has been getting worse that he found himself no longer capable to review headphone gear as he could no longer detect the sonic differences. He tells us about this in the aforementioned Youtube video.

Tyll also sold his high-end headphone gear and will go onto his journey only with a standard Bose and a Beats headphone (Beats? I think so but do not perfectly remember). He does not seem to trust his ears anymore. 


What is your opinion on this and the ageing of human hearing and the use of top STAX headphone gear or TOTL gear from other headphone manufacturers?

Cheers, Werner

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok, I don't understand. I deleted these tags. I don't know if tags make sense or not. I am quite a forum newbie and have no experience with forums and tags. So, I apologize if I did anything wrong. I was not aware by the way! I never posted this question at any other forum or place, grawk!

TLDR? OK, I understand ...

But I am really embarrased.  No, it's much more , I am really dissapointed deeply in my heart, how unfriendly and aggressive the people in this forum are. What is going on here??

One posts a topic which could be of general interest (I thought it would be of general interest but I must have been wrong).

And the responses are only HATE. I did not intend anything bad. So wtf?

Maybe I hit a soft spot of many within this forum. I.e., maybe some in this forum are getting old and their hearing capability is no longer sufficient to enjoy high-end headphones like Stax SR-009+BHSE. Tyll Hertsens is an honorable man, he called a spade a spade. But here on this forum, it does not seem to possible.

So, I leave this forum, I will delete my account at head-case-forum. I will check how this is possible. If not directly online, I will ask the admins to delete my account. I don't want to be part of such an aggressive community. Only bashing and shit-storms one gets here if one is a newbie and does not belong to the older inner circle.

It looks like highschool where some students are mobbed. Are we adults here? I have doubts. I am deeply dissapointed by heart! Never have practiced anything like this in life. "Appreciation of other people and human beings", is this a foreign word at this place?

OK, no, thank you!



  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Werner42 said:


What do you think of this problem when listening to top headphone gear?

I tried hearing with steep low-pass filters (parametric EQ) and when moving the cut-off to 11kHz, the cymbals and brass really lost their brilliance, it was the pure "horror". Wooden instruments (strings, woodwinds) were still reproduced perfectly but not the metal instruments of a classical music orchestra.


If you are a reviewer maybe its a problem. If your aim is to get enjoyment from listening to music and your enjoyment is improved by hi-end hifi equipment that you can afford to buy then no it's not a problem. There is far more to enjoying music via hifi than just frequency response... dynamics, detail, stereo imaging, pure emotional enjoyment, good bass.... Im almost 50 years old and I don't have any meaningful response above 15K and above about 13k im getting rolloff. Do I care... only as much as that like everything else reminds me I am mortal and slowly falling apart. I can still appreciate a T2 over a blue hawaii, a panasonic fr cap over a simlic, a philips nos ecc88 over a electro harmonix 6922.... (or I think I can which for me boils down to the same thing for me).

I think that if I was 20 and applied a 13khz high slope cut off I would be appalled at the results. Now I am more than twice that age I live with it. For me what does not make sense is to get into debt for my enjoyment of music. Could I buy a blue hawaii se new... from savings yes... would I no. Would I get a bank loan for one... no way ever. Would I spend time and money over many months buying the tools and skills to build one.. yes and I did. Audio is a journey, I learnt a lot and thanks to that journey I ended up with a T2....

Perhaps Tyll is going through some life changes... it takes a lot of guts to sell almost everything and go "walk about", mid-late life crisis? who knows his real motivations, but sure as heck I would not be satisfied with a bose mini system. what drives me nuts is my hifi never sounds exactly the same day to day week to week... is it me or the hifi, or some environment condition don't know... I just want every day to be one of the "special magic" sounding days,

My 2p worth.

It's certainly true you do need a bit of a thick skin here sometimes. a few days ago I tried to answer someone's question and got chewed up a bit, I think the chewer either misunderstood what I was trying to say or just wanted to flex their superior electronics knowledge. Made I was angry and hurt for a day or so but there are lots of different personalities here, in the future I will avoid them. I have got so much out of this forum it more than balances out. 

Edited by jamesmking
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You seem to forget that the important stuff is where the speech stands (500Hz to 2KHz) and that the brain is an incredible machine of filling gaps. If you provide your brain with an as accurate as possible information in the critical band, it'd make a better job "inventing" what it knows is there but now can't perceive. It's not its fault, it's our damn cochleas.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Dusty Chalk said:

Or just..tldr.

we may live in a hot take society, but we kind of hate hot takes here.  Please give Reddit a try, I understand you would receive lots of back slapping.

What's your hot take on hot pockets?

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
  • 9 months later...

I am 65 1/2 now and I can hear to about 13,500hz per audicus. I enjoy my gear and music as much as I ever have. I must admit  to being treble sensitive and I am still just as annoyed with treble grain and especially sibilance.

Some of the new stuff is so good and inexpensive. Monoprice M1070 planar on sale, Schitt Audio Modi multibit, Cavalli Liquid spark. I still use a modded Sony 9100ES/ SACD-DVD player I bought from tkam 10+years ago as my transport for CD's and for SACD's.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally, I always thought that this issue is overblown.

Below is a chart of normal hearing loss with age, shown as hearing threshold db per freq per age group, for men and women. There are many versions of this same chart floating around, this particular one was recently reproduced in a Lancet article. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanwpc/article/PIIS2666-6065(21)00040-7/fulltext




We know that the magic in music happens in the midrange. Sure, there is spatial information in the high frequencies etc, but honestly, we can all change eq settings / equipment / listening levels as our hearing shifts with age.

When we are first exposed to music that we fall in love with, in our teens and younger years, it's not because we can hear what's going on at 15khz. Or even 8. We often listen with crappy speakers and headphones in those ages anyway. Is it unfortunate that we can often afford more gear as we get older and our hearing gets crappier? maybe. But all of the riffs, melodies, lines, and even harmonies I love listening to should still remain well audible in my older ages.


  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
On 12/25/2021 at 9:56 PM, robm321 said:

^ I still use my Modwright Denon 3910 Universal Truth Mod for SACD. I think it was from the same era. 

^ I still have the Modwright Denon 3910 and Sony SCD-777ES.  My Exemplar Denon 5910 is non functional for the last 5 years now.  Gotta give some loves to modded SACD/DVD-A players!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, robm321 said:

Funny, I also have a modded Sony SCD-xa777es that's been in a box for at least 8 years.

Wow!  A nice one with the XA777ES.  I was so close on getting the Sony HAP-Z1ES modded by Dan but backed out at the end. Now just using the Matrix X-Sabre Pro for digital front end.  Less about the gear but more on enjoying the music.  I miss my Yggy too.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.