A Surprising High-End Endorsement: It Only Takes One Good Ear

Recently I’ve been getting to know a lovely woman. Angela’s not the music aficionado that I am, nor has she had any exposure to high end audio listening, but since music (and the equipment that delivers it) is such a big part of my life, of course I had to give her a demonstration of what my relatively modest system can do.

First I played London Grammar’s “If You Wait.” Surprisingly, she’d never even heard of the band… but then again music was never important to her. Next, I played a tune from Dizzy’s Baby Teeth album called “Backstroke,” then followed it up by “Trains” from Porcupine Tree.

After a short while, she said, “It’s so clear… I’ve never heard anything like that… It can’t even be explained what I’m hearing… It has to be heard to understand it.”

These are very common responses from people that experience high end audio for the first time. But what isn’t common is this: Angela has total hearing loss in one ear. Known as unilateral hearing loss, it resulted from an early childhood accident. She has no memory of the accident and only ever remembers hearing from one ear.

After a short while, she said, “It’s so clear… I’ve never heard anything like that… It can’t even be explained what I’m hearing… It has to be heard to understand it.”

Her condition poses a number of challenges, such as problems understanding speech in crowded environments, locating the source of a sound, and difficulties with tuning out background noise. And yet… even someone who’s deaf in one ear can experience the big difference that high end audio delivers. Remarkable!

Since one person’s experience isn’t exactly scientific, I performed some searches regarding hearing loss on a few popular high end audio forums, and was surprised to find many posts from audio enthusiasts who have either total or partial unilateral hearing loss—yet the HiFi hobby is as important to them as anyone.

As an aside, the first time I met Angela, she said, “I’m deaf in my right ear, so if you want to talk shit to me, say it in my right ear.” That’s when I realized I wanted to get to know her.

The Music is the Trophy

Music Tracks:

London Grammar “If You Wait”
Porcupine Tree “Trains”
Dizzy “BackStroke”

Equipment:

PC -> Roon
DAC: Bricasti M1SE
Integrated Amplifier: Belles Aria
Speakers: Harbeth P3ESR Anniversary
Cables: Analysis Plus Oval 9 & Solo Crystal