Take the Piano thud test! What's the highest frequency you properly hear?

The Basics of Musical Pitch

The above is a great test. Test it with your best HAs(left, right, both) with the volume dial or button turned to the max. It should work for those with CI as well, but you won’t get to test for cochlear dead zones as it’s a moot point. Your CI just bypasses the dead zones and stimulates the auditory nerve directly with electrical pulses. You can test if you can hear the high frequencies with CI. For those with HA, you need enough surviving hair cells to amplify. For those of you who are hearing or have a mild hearing loss, you can test unaided. For those of us who are deaf, we can’t hear enough unaided to get a proper assessment of our cochlear dead regions.

Unaided, I can’t properly hear anything but the lows. It’s not loud enough even with the speaker cranked to the max. You will want to use a desktop speaker and turn it up to the max. If the speaker distorts terribly, turn it down a couple notches, but make sure it’s loud enough for your HA to pick up the sound!

Try it with the speaker 3 feet away then hold the speaker near your HA. For me, the results were the same since my speaker is loud enough to reach my HA’s SPL limit either way. Experment in different ways and obtain your best results. Make sure you properly adjust your speaker and try to test in a quiet room, turn off any other sources of noise.

This will both test what your HAs are capable of as well as your ears. It’s also great for testing cochlear dead regions. The tone should be loud and clear like a bell and last the full 4 seconds. The pitch should ascend logically with each key(both white and black) sounding different. If you get the following, suspect a cochlear dead region(and possibly a poorly programmed HA)

  1. The tone does not last the full 4 seconds, it fades away faster.
  2. The tone is very faint or you just hear a thud or nothing.
  3. The pitch sounds off or wrong or is the same across keys.
  4. The tone sounds garbled, distorted or noiselike and not musical.

The highest I could hear at all for left ear: 967Hz then I hear just a thud.
The highest I could hear at all for right ear: 1046Hz then I hear just a thud.

The highest I could hear for both HA:
932Hz for the full 4 sec. At 967Hz it was heard for 3 sec. At 1046Hz it was heard for 2 sec. At 1108Hz and 1174Hz I heard it for just a second then silence. Above 1174Hz, I heard just a thud sound. I hear somewhat better with both HAs than with each alone.

I find it odd that I hear up to 932Hz loud and clear but it goes downhill fast from there. Below 932Hz sounds just a bit louder with each descending key. The volume drops off rapidly with each ascending key above 932Hz. Perhaps I don’t have enough surviving hair cells at around 1000Hz and none a few dozen Hz above that. Ive always wondered how much of a HL before you get to that point. Perhaps no HA is powerful enough above 110-115db HL.

I will repost my audiogram:

125Hz: 60-65db HL
250Hz: 70-75db HL
375Hz: 80db HL(home test)
500Hz: 90db HL
625Hz: 100db HL(home test)
750Hz: 105-110db HL
875Hz: 110db HL(home test)
1000Hz: 110-115db HL
above 1000Hz: 115db-120db+ HL, possible cochlear dead region.

I will learn more about this from reading around and from your results and explanations. Feel free to leave a comment with your own results and ask questions.

Good post…As the originator of the Piano Thud Test several years ago, (ahem) I am familiar with the pit falls in using it.

Just be sure that the speaker or earphones you use are reasonably flat for frequency response and that if you use speakers that you are within 18 inches approx. of the speakers (near field). This is to keep reverberant nodes and anti-nodes from canceling or reinforcing certain tones.

And be sure to disable your hearing aid’s feedback prevention circuit. Ed