The advice I’ve heard at HLAA conferences and webinars is to keep a diary of what you hear/ environments where you hear well and don’t hear well. Also some advice I have recorded on how to describe what you are hearing to your audiologist.
Identify the sounds
Is it speech, noise, a specific sound or everything?
Is the sound soft, average or loud?
Is the sound low or high frequency?
Is the sound simply “too loud” or is it “uncomfortable” Right, left or both
If voices are distorted, how? Do they sound muffled? Loud or metallic? Tinny? Can you hear “s” or “t” sounds clearly or not at all?
Also, use “high” and “low” exclusively to describe pitch and “loud” and “soft” to describe volume. For example, a piccolo is always a high sound, but it can be soft. A bass voice sounds low and but can also be loud.
And it is important to also report the acoustic circumstances.
If you listen to a phone call, zoom call, podcast or audiobook, do you have the same problems understanding speech that you do in, say, your local park or around the dinner table? Any feedback of this sort should be helpful to an audiologist
It can be helpful to build or label different sounds that are good or bothersome to you – try to be as
descriptive as possible such as saying it sounds:
Like I am in a box
Too much background noise
An annoying sound in the background
“Too much echo,”
“Too much bass,”
“Needs more treble.”
“Volume is fine, but needs more clarity,” “Too percussive”
And it is important to also report the acoustic circumstances:
Be as specific as you can - What is the room like where you experience problems? Keep a diary of circumstances where you have trouble hearing such as large family dinners, specific restaurants, locations, or, with specific people such as those who are soft spoken.
If music “doesn’t sound right,” try to be a little more exact. Can you follow or recognize the tune? Does it sound harsh or “off-key”? Too loud? Muddy? Does this happen with recorded music or only when you’re singing or playing, say, piano or guitar?
Try to use easily understood similes/metaphors but don’t get too “literary.” For example, “Everyone sounds like they’re speaking in a tunnel” will be pretty clear to an audiologist but “the sound is too plummy” will likely be harder for them to understand.
Finally, try to avoid using technical terms unless you know exactly what they mean. For example, “I’m hearing a frequency shift of 25 dB at 10 Hz” sounds very impressive but is completely meaningless.
With thanks to Dr. Michelle Hu, Aud.D. and Richard Einhorn, former HLAA Board Member, for answers to this question.