Hearing loss is worsening?

I have bilateral high frequency hearing loss that has gradually been getting worse. Over the last few months, I have felt that it has gotten much worse and had a recent audiologist visit and hearing test. My hearing aids (Oticon OPN S1) are updated now and sound crisper.

This summer, I started violin lessons and have been playing for months now. Is it possible this caused the hearing loss?

2019: 2020:
250 30 25 30 30
500 25 25 30 45
1k 25 25 25 35
2k 15 30 25 45
3k 50 45 60 60
4k 50 50 55 60
6k 60 65 65 75
8k 75 70 80 80

It would potentially depend on how much you practice and how loud you play during that practice.

Violinists can have self induced loss, especially in their exposed ear. Due to a combination of air acoustic and skeletal vibration. However, relative to learning a very loud instrument like the drums or some wind instruments your risk is somewhat less.

If it doesn’t affect your playing, wearing a pair of Etymotic ER-20 may mitigate against some of the risks of noise damage.

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I can look into those ear plugs. I used an SPL meter on my phone and the violin seems to range between 82-86 db and sometimes as high as 89 db. It’s pretty loud.

I’ve been playing with my hearing aids in. It didn’t occur to me to take them out. I can easily take out the left one while playing, if it is damaging my hearing, or both. I would have thought that noise induced hearing damage would be in the high frequencies, which I already have. I was dismayed to see the increase in low and mid frequency loss in my left ear (both ears).

Hard to believe a violin would cause this. You may have a progressive loss which a lot of times is linked to genes. You might want to see an ent specialist who could send you for genetic testing. It’s just a thought

85 dB is getting into the hearing loos zone. It would take a while but damage is taking place.
Protect your ears.

Another thing you could do is mute your aids but leave them in, so you get some protection just from them being in your ears.

I actually do have a genetic diagnosis, a mitochondrial disease that includes progressive hearing loss. What no one told me (and possibly no one knows) is that along with progressive high frequency hearing loss, I may be extremely susceptible to noise and noise-induced damage, too.

I’ll consider whether playing without hearing aids or playing with musician’s ear plugs is worth it. I’m just playing for myself, not as a performer or for anyone else. If it doesn’t sound good to me while playing, then I’m not sure I’ll continue. I’m beginning to think that maybe a cello, which is a slightly quieter instrument as well as much farther away from the ears, is something to consider. But maybe that doesn’t make sense either, if I would also need to play without hearing aids or with musician’s ear plugs.

At that volume I’d go with Westone or Etymotic ER15 ear plugs. (same thing, different vendor).

Etymotic makes an active (needs a battery) ear plug that attenuates the signal as it get louder, but that might be a bit much for violin practice.

I would say “No way!”… except the loss is greater on the left (ear laying against the body of your fiddle) and you say there is a genetic thing. (I never heard of that but it might explain me and my family.)

A viola would be only slightly less irritating in highs, more in mid-lows.

Cello is a bulky beast but of course does not scream-sing and the belly is away from your head. Not thought of as a solo instrument but Yo-Yo Ma gets work, David Baker played a mean jazz cello, and I once restored a tape of a 1953 cello recital which was really haunting.

There is also a (family of) totally electric violin which plays only as loud as you turn-up the speaker. Yamaha YEV Electric Violin (I know nothing about bowing, but Yamaha is usually safe to try.)

I know nothing about Yamaha’s electric violin. I do have a Yamaha WX5 wind synthesizer with a Yamaha VL70m synth module. It does a nice job of sounding sax-like. The tone isn’t quite as good, but many of the expressive elements that this long time pro sax player uses on his sax can come out of the speakers.


I looked at that Yamaha WX5 wind synthesizer. What a fascinating instrument. I played clarinet and recorder when I was younger. An electric sax, amazing.

I’ve played a bit with musician’s ear plugs in. I can play and hear what I’m doing but it sounds almost like playing a toy violin or a synthesizer set in violin mode. For now, that’s what I’ll keep doing. I’ll try to talk to my audiologist and my violin teacher this week and see what can be worked out.

I’ll ask my friend who plays cello if I could try it out. But I’m not sure that it would be any different.

The WX5 especially with the VL70m synth feels like I’m playing a real instrument. I still bring the tenor sax to the gig but I leave the alto home, and sold the soprano. It does decent emulations of trumpet, trombone, clarinet, guitars, harmonica, and a few other instruments. Violin and flute not so good, unless I haven’t learned how to do it.

If you are interested, I know a guy who runs a commercial site dedicated to wind synthesis, and he usually has refurbished ones for sale, plus the two models by Akai and Roland still in production (I like the WX5/VL70m better than the Akai and Roland synths).

I gigged with musicians ear plugs for a long time and after a while you get used to them. It takes an adjustment. I suspect with violin as it is with sax, your hearing through the filters has to compete with bone conduction.

After you get used to the plugs, it starts to sound normal. I believe either Westone or Etymotic offers a 9db filter that might be right for Violin. I don’t know how loud a single fiddle plays, but an inexpensive sound meter might be able to solve that.

The rule of thumb for me is to not let anything over 85db (A weighted, slow response) reach my eardrum.