Monday, August 8, 2011

Sound Bank: 4) 16kHz tone

When I was 17, I developed a strange ringing noise in my ears. You'll be familiar with it if you've ever been to a gig. I was familiar with it, too. I heard it every time I finished playing drums in the spare room of my parents' house. After about 30 minutes, it would fade and I'd go back to life as normal.

Except this time it didn't fade. 20 years later, it's still there. In fact, I've had tinnitus longer than I ever lived without it.

I won't bang on about the details -- I wrote a very involved blog post about it in October 2009 if you want to know more. But if I'm listing the 15 sounds that made me who I am, this one goes right to the top.

Tests have shown that my hearing dips at 16 kHz, and that is roughly the frequency of the ringing I hear every night when I go to sleep. I'm lucky - it doesn't bother me at any other time, and I can still hear people's voices above it. Others don't have that luxury.

If you want to know what it's like, imagine this noise running constantly in the background.

You can learn ignore the ringing eventually, but there's always a quiet point in the day when you think "oh, there it is" and your heart sinks a little.

If you don't suffer from tinnitus already, I implore you to turn your headphones down and wear earplugs at gigs. There's no recovery back once your ears are damaged.

Sound Bank is a series of blog posts I'm running in August while I'm on holiday. If you want to know more about it, there's an explanation on this page. Normal pop blog service will be resumed around 25th August

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