I think it was 2007 when this “high pitched ring tone” craze kicked off – the idea being that older people couldn’t hear high-pitched frequencies, so younger people would put these high-pitched tones on their cell phones and they’d hear when their phone was ringing – or when they got a text message – but their teachers couldn’t. These same high-pitched tones would also be used by some businesses in an attempt to drive off younger people who were loitering in front of their establishments. I listened to one of these tones that I wasn’t supposed to be able to hear at my age, and I heard it just fine. I knew there was a scientific basis for this, but I figured since I could hear the tone my hearing was “perfect” – I’ve always gotten perfect hearing scores when I’ve had my hearing tested. I found a Web site today that shows how wrong I was about being able to hear tones I thought I could!
I cranked up my speakers and clicked on the preview buttons for each tone: I can hear the 16khz tone, but I can’t hear the 17khz tone or anything higher. I’m 34 years old, so the fact that I can hear the “30 and younger” tone means I have slightly better than normal hearing in terms of high-pitched frequencies (according to this scale at least). What about you? Where does your hearing drop off, and how does that relate to your age – are you better or worse than average? And if your hearing is worse than it should be, what band were you a roadie for in the ’80s?