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Online Hearing Test and Audiogram Printout

The next three sections take you through the actual hearing test.

A. Calibrate your sound levels

Calibration
File

  1. Using headphones, listen to the calibration audio file.
  2. Then, without your headphones on, rub your hands together closely in front of your nose, quickly and firmly, and try producing the same sound.
  3. If you have trouble hearing the sound of your hands rubbing, the test is already completed: you likely suffer from a severe hearing loss!
  4. Adjust your computer’s volume so that both levels match:
    the calibration file through your headphones, and
    your hands rubbing, without headphones.
  5. Once matched, do not change your levels anymore during the rest of the hearing test.


B. Listen to the individual test files

  1. In a silent environment, starting from the top row, move down until you hear a tone. Do this for each column.
  2. Always start with files on top of the table. The bottom files are for severe hearing losses, and will play very loudly for a normal hearing person!
  3. Stop with the file whose tone becomes just audible – not the file above or below – before switching to the next column.

Test Both Ears  Left Ear Only  Right Ear Only


C. Review your personal audiogram

  1. After finishing working with the audio files, click the STOP button to get your test results.

Your personal hearing thresholds should now appear on the audiogram below. Ideally, the markers should be located on the top of the graph, around the zero range.
audiogram grid
Overlay  Clear Markers  Print - Save - Bookmark

This graph is similar to what your audiologist's system would produce during a hearing test, and plots the softest sounds you can hear across the different frequencies tested. Ideally, the six markers should be located on the top of the graph, around the zero range. The next section explains the audiogram in detail.

Click the 'Overlay' button to add information on top of your audiogram.

The first overlay outlines the area related to conversational speech. It is in the shape of a banana and is often referred to as the “speech banana.” Vowels are located on the left side of the banana (the green area), and consonants are to the right (the blue area). Remember, all the sounds located above your individual hearing thresholds will be inaudible to you. If your personal markers are located inside (or worse, below) the speech banana, it means that your hearing will be missing part of the conversation, requiring your brain to compensate for this deficiency, by guessing words, for example.

The second overlay depicts some familiar sounds of our everyday life, such as rustling leaves, birds chirping, water dripping and other common sounds.


What is an audiogram?

The frequencies (or pitches) that have been used during your hearing test are shown on the horizontal axis (the vertical lines). These frequencies are low on the left side of the audiogram (250Hz), then gradually climb to higher frequencies on the right side (8000 Hz or 8kHz). Humans hear frequencies from 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz, but an audiogram only shows a subset of our hearing range: it focuses on the frequencies that are the most important for a clear understanding of speech (the spoken words).

The volume (loudness) required to reach a person’s hearing threshold is shown on the vertical axis (the horizontal lines). These are expressed in deciBels Hearing Level (dBHL). dBHL are not absolute loudness levels but represent a difference between your hearing and the average “normal” hearing. When scoring 0 dBHL, your hearing exactly matches the norm; higher values are signs of hearing loss. There are tolerances though: normal hearing is defined by thresholds lower than 15 dBHL at all frequencies, not strictly at 0 dBHL. The loudness scale goes from very soft sounds on top (-5 dBHL) to loud sounds at the bottom (80 dBHL).

As you perform this hearing test, markers will be set on the audiogram, and will correspond to your personal hearing thresholds. Once the test is completed, you can read the audiogram as follows: Every sound located above the markers will be inaudible to you. The Overlay button gives you an idea of what these sounds could be.

How to efficiently use this hearing test!

This online hearing test offers a convenient way to check your hearing over time, allowing you to detect a possible hearing loss or a degradation of your hearing as soon as possible, without the need to consult an audiologist for this routine check.

Although this website has not been designed as a substitute for a proper hearing test, it will give you valuable information regarding your hearing when you need to:

  • confirm your good hearing, and take a snapshot of your audiogram for future reference
  • confirm if your hearing has returned back to normal after your ears were stressed, such as during an extremely loud concert
    precisely track how your hearing evolves over time
  • confirm your suspicions about a possible hearing loss
    keep track of your hearing after your visit to your audiologist or primary care physician
  • assess the performance of your hearing aid(s)
  • diagnose hearing aid deficiencies

Technically, we are facing two situations: either the hearing test you perform is (somehow) calibrated, or it isn’t (at all). In both cases, useful information can be obtained from this site, although of a different nature.

The calibrated condition assumes that you are using good headphones or speakers – their response must be flat across the tested frequency range (250-8000 Hz) – and you succeeded in calibrating your sound levels properly. In such a case, the precision of this hearing test is estimated at around 10 dBHL, which is good enough to diagnose a mild, moderate or severe hearing loss: simply, look at your threshold plots on the audiogram and give them a 10 dBHL tolerance.

The uncalibrated condition can be understood through the worst-case scenario: your headphones or speakers are poor performers, and you did not bother calibrating your levels as suggested in our first step. In such a situation, you won’t be able to infer any information about your actual hearing loss, but you will still be able to use this website in a very reliable way through differential testing.