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AES Conference on Music and Hearing Health

Sensaphonics audiologists, Drs. Heather Malyuk and Michael Santucci, addressing IEM technology advances for musicians with hearing loss.

Recently, hearing health experts from around the world converged on Aalborg University in Denmark for the International Conference on Music-Induced Hearing Disorders, organized by the Audio Engineering Society (AES). The three-day conference featured 21 technical papers presented by participants from across the globe, plus a series of panel discussions on the link between music and hearing.

The conference organizing committee was chaired by AES member Professor Dorte Hammershøi of the host university. “The exchange of views across four continents was a highlight of this conference, with the inherent variety of traditions for culture, legislation, and behavior,” she notes. “I was very happy with the atmosphere that was created by the diverse participants, which is something one can only hope as conference organizer.”

AES conference chair, Professor Dorte Hammershøi, delivers the keynote address.

This was the second AES international conference dedicated to music-induced hearing disorders. Dr. Michael Santucci of Sensaphonics chaired the first, held in Chicago in 2012. Santucci was also an invited speaker to the Aalborg event. “The goal of the conference is to share knowledge across many related fields, and to raise awareness of hearing health issues that have caused significant damage to many in the music industry,” says Santucci. “This was an outstanding gathering, with academic, medical, and audio professionals coming together.”

Santucci and Dr. Heather Malyuk co-presented the paper, “New Developments in In-Ear Monitor (IEM) Technology For Musicians With Hearing Loss. Co-authored with AES past president Bob Schulein of ImmersAV Technology, the paper discusses specific techniques for musicians who have been unable to perform, allowing them to successfully return to the world of live performance.

Presentation topics at the conference included the effect of music on hearing and perception, sound level management and measurement, hearing protection for the music industry, and advances in hearing aid technology as applied to music.

In recognition of the importance of the Conference on Music-Induced Hearing Disorders, the AES will publish a special issue of its peer-reviewed publication, Journal of the Audio Engineering Society (JAES). Scheduled for printing in early 2016, this JAES bonus issue will focus on hearing health issues, and will include the revised conference manuscripts along with other papers not presented at the conference.

Rodrigo Ordoñez, associate professor in Signal and Information Processing at Aalborg University and member of the organizing committee, notes, “With the success of the conference and creation of a special journal issue, the AES is clearly communicating the importance of hearing health issues to the entire membership while providing a platform for disseminating valuable research, both within the organization and across the global music scene.”

As co-founder and co-chair of the AES Technical Committee on Hearing and Hearing Health with Bob Schulein, Dr. Michael Santucci of Sensaphonics says that he found the entire conference experience especially satisfying.

“When I started in this industry 30 years ago, the very idea of hearing protection for musicians was considered laughable—and I mean that literally! So for me personally, it’s very rewarding to see such a huge change in perception and attitude over time. Seeing hearing health gaining traction within AES and spreading throughout the music industry means a lot to me personally, and obviously will benefit musicians around the world.”

For more information on the 58th AES Conference, visit

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