When I take the handy online “Can You Hear Like a Teenager?” test, I can’t really detect test tones over 15kHz — which is apparently common for people over the age of 25. (I’m 42.) Sometimes I swear I can hear all the way up to 19kHz, but that’s likely wishful thinking rather than some impressive performance by the tiny, sound-amplifying hair cells in my inner ear. (The only hair that seems to work with reference to my ears are the old-man ones on the outside.)
Sadly, my problems are not just due to natural degradation. Blame many years of attending concerts without earplugs — Dinosaur Jr. in 1989, My Bloody Valentine in 1991 and Aphex Twin in 1993 were particularly brutal. But I also remember hearing ungodly ringing after seeing Squeeze at an outdoor venue in 1985. Be warned: Even wimpy pop songs can crush your ears if you’re not careful.
What I thankfully don’t have is tinnitus — a chronic ringing heard even when it’s quiet. (For a music-lover’s primer on the disorder, check out “Tinnitus and You” on D.C. DJ’s Tittsworth.com.)
Assess Yourself: Take the “Can You Hear Like a Teenager?” test.