Do Old Timers listen more critically?

We know that our hearing deteriorates as we age. Strangely, however, I have found that the persons who are most critical of detail happen to be older persons of, say, 60+ years old. What's more, invariably, the details that are being addressed happen to be totally non-existent to me. Furthermore, the older guys seem to like to play music much louder than the levels I find comfortable. Finally, 3 systems that I have heard, belonging to said senior persons, do not meet the standard of what one would generally accept as being mid-fi. Yet, this does not prevent them from getting involved in critical listening... to a degree that I do not perceive/comprehend (specifically: detail, timbre).

I am 41 years old, and my hearing is still quite good to 18kHz. I try to take every precaution possible to preserve my hearing (such as using ear plugs with power tools, and abandoning parties where the music is uncomfortably loud).
 

Mooly

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2007-09-15 8:14 am
I can relate to this, a very good older friend (music enthusiast) has always had what we call audiophile systems, QUAD 405 etc GALE 401 speakers in the past. He is very critical. I always thought the GALES sounded awful and assummed it was the settings he was using on the Quad Preamp. About 8 years ago he updated his system, to an all Sugden setup with new ProAc speakers, and I had a chance to look at old setup. The fuses to the H.F. units in the Gales were blown. I replaced them and he could,nt really hear much difference, yet when we were auditioning various new kit he could pick out diferences. A couple of years ago he updated the amp and cd player to the new Sugden A21SE and CD21SE and he could hear differences. I played a few test tones and I think above about 5khz and he could hear nothing, so theres hope for us all :)
 
Perhaps, with reduced hearing bandwidth, one becomes more focussed. One repeatedly hears talk of how the midrange is the most critical area, to the extent that we are told that loudspeaker crossover points should not occur in this region. Throw away the higher frequencies, and there's less distraction from the critical range...? I realise that when I listen for detail, I default to concentrating on the higher frequencies.
 
Mooly said:
I can relate to this, a very good older friend (music enthusiast) has always had what we call audiophile systems, QUAD 405 etc GALE 401 speakers in the past. He is very critical. I always thought the GALES sounded awful and assummed it was the settings he was using on the Quad Preamp. About 8 years ago he updated his system, to an all Sugden setup with new ProAc speakers, and I had a chance to look at old setup. The fuses to the H.F. units in the Gales were blown. I replaced them and he could,nt really hear much difference, yet when we were auditioning various new kit he could pick out diferences. A couple of years ago he updated the amp and cd player to the new Sugden A21SE and CD21SE and he could hear differences. I played a few test tones and I think above about 5khz and he could hear nothing, so theres hope for us all :)


I think critical listening has very little, if anything, to do with hearing high frequencies. Obviously you need to hear *something*, but the appreciation of musical detail, timbre, pace, rithm, stage width, instrument placement, probaly takes place below 5 or 6 kHz anyway.

Developing the ability for critical listening needs time so that automagically makes you older ;)

I have a friend who wears hearing aids in both ears, with custom DSP embedded. It doesn't seem to impair his critical listening ability; on the contrary, often he can teach me a thing or two!

Jan Didden
 
Shaun said:
I realise that when I listen for detail, I default to concentrating on the higher frequencies.

I feel I must qualify this statement; it is not always true. I believe that across the board detail/high resolution is most easily achieved in the treble (tweeter) region. So, historically, this is where I listened for it. With my Yamaha NS1000 speakers (beryllium mids and tweets) I am now hearing midrange detail that I had only experienced with electrostatics speakers.