I recently had an ear infection and had partial hearing loss due to it, so I went to an audiologist. The infection resolved, but tests showed that I can only hear up to 14.5 kHz in one ear and 16 kHz in the other, to which the doctor said it's "fantastic" for my age (I'm 40). That's of course, complete BS, as I would be probably disqualified from, say, mastering music for young people or anyone with balanced hearing. I guess my hearing is still great for understanding speech, which is what audiologists focus on.
Which makes me wonder, why aren't we skeptical of gear designers who are past middle age? I hate to bring up this topic, as it could be taken as ageism; however, it's a fact that hearing acuity decreases as we get older. Take the late Rupert Neve, who was designing equipment well beyond his 80s. How much was he able to listen? Probably almost nothing over 10kHz. How was he able to judge the high end or the behavior of the 'silk' feature on his Portico gear? Can that be determined by math alone? And perhaps there's something that I do not understand about the aging process. Does hearing remain flat below the 'lost' frequencies as we age? or do we develop hills and valleys?
Now, old mixing engineers working well into old age I can understand, because most decisions are about the midrange, and the mastering engineer will be able to fix any problems with the high end.
Has anyone been severely afected by this? And how did you come to terms with it?
I guess I'm just trying to come to terms with getting older and how that affects making decisions in audio.
You adjust and apply your new baseline. Think of it this way; if recording you did 20 years ago sound radically imbalanced to what you do now, then it would point to a problem. That’s rare. I played with a guy who also did recording and mastering, eventually learned he was deaf in one ear and seriously restricted in the other. Have a client who is legally deaf, wears hearing aids, just finished a masters of music performance and runs one schools recording dept (classical).
Most everyone in this field deals with it to some degree whether they want to admit it or not. Tchad Blake is the only well known engineer I know who has been open about his hearing issues. I also don't think that being young and having little hearing loss would make someone a better engineer than someone with a lot of experience and some hearing loss. Our brain finds ways to compensate.