Hearing loss and HiFi

I have found a good number of threads in this subject but they are older.  Since hearing technology changes quickly I’ll go ahead with the question.  I am 72 years old and I was recently diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing loss. My loss is across the entire frequency spectrum as opposed to only high frequencies. It’s not just an issue of volume but also of clarity, I don’t hear as much as I used to in the music. If you have experienced hearing loss, how did it impact how you view you audio system. If you can’t hear the detail etc. do you really need a high end system? Should I get an EQ to boost the frequencies I have trouble with? Would I be better off selling my current system and buying a BEST BUY receiver and some speakers and calling it quits.
If you have experienced hearing loss, I would love to hear your thoughts.
It does not make sense to downgrade your equipment. If the problem is a loss of clarity (thankfully, “mild”), it seems to me that what you want to do is, if anything, INCREASE the level of resolution (clarity) that your equipment provides, not reduce it by going for lesser gear.

You are not alone, this is a fairly common problem as we age and many don’t even realize it’s happening. Good luck and good listening.
Your "microphone" may have lost some sensitivity but the brain compensates.  As frogman5 posted, stay with good quality resolving equipment (but don't need to go crazy).  Your brain will train to this.
Later you can experiment with digital equalization (MiniDSP) and apply a gentle hf roll up to compensate.  That may (or may not) bring back the cues for clarity and imaging your brain can use to create the sounds you will perceive.
Hi Pipebro,

Having good room acoustics helps a great deal.  If there's a specific band you need help with then an EQ is the right way to go, but if it is as broad as you say it is then that's not going to help you.

Try this.  Sit close to the speakers, or try headphones.  If you hear a lot more detail, then room acoustics and headphones are going to be your friends.


Obviously the first thing to do is quantify your hearing loss. Then when you know its say 10% you will know to downgrade your system by 10%. Some may say upgrade 12%, because that is what it takes to correct a 10% loss. But that would lead to spending everything being stone deaf. This makes no sense. So obviously downgrade everything in keeping with your hearing. 

Either that or relax and enjoy it while you can. Your call. I know which way I'm going.

Note all of the working mastering geniuses and recording engineers who are older (Bob Ludwig, Elliot Schiner, etc. etc.)...a case can be made that regardless of hearing loss your comprehension and ability to hear into things can improve with the experience that age supplies.
And your not considering hearing aids? I wouldn't do anything further until then. 
Didn't the ENT mention it will only get worse as time goes by? 

My hearing drops after 7Khz and tinnitus. 
Table jockey,  Hearing aids are coming 9/12 and I didn’t plan to do anything until I get them and get used to them. And the ENT did say it would get worse, unfortunately.
"Hearing aids are coming 9/12 and I didn’t plan to do anything until I get them and get used to them."

Good for you, pipebro. There are a few here mentioning certain brands that seem to bode well for us audiophools.

I'm getting a new evaluation next week. Sized up for some aids next month.
At least you don't have tinnitus. It can be quite distracting in all situations
Wolf_Garcia is correct. Some of the finest conductors ever had hearing loss and still produced superb recordings. My advice is to not worry about it. If you notice a significant loss of enjoyment in your system consider new speakers, not EQ which will sound worse. Careful with headphones and volume in general. Enjoy the music!  And I have moderate hearing loss and tinnitus. 
Here in Sydney,Australia,I developed worsening hearing loss and bought Hearing Aids about 8 years ago.Where previously,my hearing of music was a bit muffled,I now hear all the detail and it is fantastic.Why not get an Audiology test and get hearing aids? Best Tony
I am 71 and I have worn hearing aids for over 15 years and am on my third pair which are so much better than my first. I still have issues with understanding what others say unless I am looking directly at them. Hearing aids cannot fix everything. My hearing loss did not stop me from getting back into my audiophile hobby after 30 years away. I had kept all my cd collection. I did spend a lot on my system and do not regret it. My only problem is that some old cd's are really crappy. They are either deteriorating or were bad original recordings. 
Would I be better off selling my current system and buying a BEST BUY receiver and some speakers and calling it quits.
Would it improve what you hear or make it worse?
That seems like really good advice @erik_squires. I have always wondered if and how much my listening room affects sound quality. This is a pretty good assessment tool. Thanks! I’ll give it a try. 
pipebro, you won't want to wear your hearing aids while listening to music. They don't sound that hot for music. It is just a mater of volume and EQ. The best way to go is to get a DEQX unit, Anthem STR or Trinnov Amethyst. These units not only provide room control but they allow you to alter the frequency response any way you want and you can keep multiple profiles in memory so you can easily switch back to a normal EQ when you have company over. I think the visceral nature of music becomes more important with hearing loss. Beethoven said he could conduct by feeling the music. He never heard the 9th symphony, he felt it! Anyway, all these units have digital bass management which makes adding a subwoofer a breeze. I think it will really add to your enjoyment. These room control units will also keep you in the hobby as they are a riot to play will and give you an unbelievable amount of flexibility as long as you don't mind playing with computers.  
A detailed audiogram will give you an idea where you need to go but frankly their resolution is not that good and they stop at 8,000 Hz. In the end you will have to fine tune it by ear. You can also keep different profiles for different types of music. As an example, music with a lot of energy between 2 and 4 thousand Hz you will find annoying maybe even painful. You can make a curve with a 2-3 dB dip in this region which will improve things quite a bit. 
This will definitely improve your enjoyment of music but for how long I can't say. People's hearing declines at different rates. Very few of us become stone cold deaf. The major problem for people with hearing loss is maintaining a conversation in noisy conditions like a loud restaurant and frankly, most hearing aids to a poor job of dealing with this situation. Bose makes a product called Hearphones. I now recommend them to all of my patients with hearing loss and they universally love them. They are directional hearing aids. All you have to do is point yourself at whatever you want to hear and the rest of the environment gets cut off. They are the best for conversation and stuff like watching TV. They will even work well at concerts and lectures. I still would not wear them for Hi Fi listening as your system will be one very large programmable hearing aid with limited if any interference. And, by the way they only cost $430.00. Dirt cheap relative to even inexpensive hearing aids (which you will learn are a big racket) For people on a budget they are the only way to go.    
When I was young and had healthy hearing I would say to older customers that when they go to Symphony Hall they hear the orchestra with the same hearing filter they have at home, so just listen for the same qualities of sound in speakers that they hear in live concert listening. Now that I am older snd experience loss of acuity in my left ear, combined with tinnitus I can say that my ability to make that judgement is what’s diminished. And my pleasure in listening to music with it. While logically correct, my youthful opinion missed the point!
Clarity -- especially movie dialogue with advanced Dolby -- went out the window years ago.
In my early 40’s (66 now), I suffered acute severe sensorineural hearing loss in one ear. As a music lover I was severely depressed by this in the short run, but over the years I have compensated nicely. Fortunately I maintain “normal” hearing in my unaffected ear, but my point is to maintain your love for music and you will compensate naturally. The only reason that I believe would be valid to downsize your system would be if you needed the cash...
Pipebro, try this.  Now at the age of 66 I have noticed a bit of a roll-off in auditory reception, mostly in the upper range of frequencies and mainly in my left ear.  Through simple experimentation I found that by pushing out my left ear, from behind and from the base of the ear, I had a marked improvement, particularly in high frequency reception.  And fortunately, this aided not only in finer details but also in a better quality of imaging.  So what I am doing now, when sitting in "the sweet spot" for serious music listening, is placing a small piece of closed cell foam directly behind my left hear, at the base of the ear and next to my skull.  I use a makeup cleansing pad which is a soft foam material.  I cut it in the shape of a crescent so it follows the shape of my ear.  This pushes out my ear, slightly forward, about 1/8".  It's so simple and yet quite effective.  Maybe I am lucky and this minor adjustment is all that I need.  It may or may not work for you.  But since it is such a simple task and costs just a couple of dollars for a bag of 12 pads, then it certainly is something you should try.  I hope that you find good results.  FYI, these pads are available at Target, Wal Mart, and most drug stores.  There are very soft ones and there are more firm ones.  I found the more firm ones, which are a closed cell foam, keep their shape much better and don't compress flat.
Best to you.  Be safe and be healthy.
I'm 76 and have loss in my right (rifle) ear from the Army. Also tinnitus that rides at what sounds like about 50db to me. I know that's a meaningless spec, but it'll drive you nuts if you let it.
I have 2 thoughts: 1) Yes, pay a lot of attention to your room acoustics. I found that some really painful brass and soprano cuts were due to bad reflections. 2) Move a bit closer and be willing to accept some limitation on your use of high volume. Sometimes my tinnitus is really bad and I watch more TV.
My hearing loss does not seem to affect my ability to note transients, attack transients, images, depth, layering or soundstage. I know I wouldn't get them if I give up and switch to a background system from Walmart. 
Another member on another thread suggested Ginko. Who knows? But I ain't giving up this hobby until I'm really deef!