How You Hear Speech

Nick Morgan-Jones
April 6, 2021


Hey, my name’s Nick and I’m designing my own pair of custom hearing-enhancing wearables in my bedroom but what is actually hearing enhancement?

Well, everyone’s hearing is unique. It’s a little bit like your fingerprint. Everyone hears sounds slightly differently.

So all sounds that we can hear are on a spectrum from low tones to high tones. Now you might hear the volume of some of these tones slightly differently to someone else.

Speech is the most important sound that we need to hear. It is the basis of how we form relationships with all of the lovely people around us. But speech is also one of the most complex sounds that we need to hear. It's made up of a complete mix of low and high tones, all mixed and mashed together.

Now, the core of many words: a, e, i, o, u tend to be a lot of lower tones, but the intricacies of speech, the parts that separate each word; th, ch, sh, ss, tend to be a lot of higher tones. Now, the most common difference in hearing from one person to the next is the volume of which we hear high tones. So this means that we can often hear the core of each word. But in particular situations like being in a bar or something, it’s going to be a lot harder to hear the higher frequencies (tones). So this means you can’t hear the difference between peach, speech, steel, teal, thief, teeth. And so on.

The world only has one volume setting, but we all hear sound slightly differently. So wouldn’t it be cool to have personalised volume adjustments on only the tones that make sense for your hearing and that way, every word that you hear will be effortlessly clear.

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