In 1999, astrophysicist/musician David McClain spent an intense three-month period working on The Northern Sky Survey, mapping the sky in the near infrared while getting by on an hour of sleep per night. When he finished the survey, he was suddenly struck by a viral infection that nearly killed him; his doctors were never able to determine the cause and, after three months, the infection dissipated almost as quickly as it had appeared. But afterward David noticed that he could no longer understand his wife when she was speaking to him. He went to an audiologist and discovered he had a sensorineural hearing loss of 60-70 dB in the high frequency range. Hearing aids helped him understand speech, but he was devastated to discover that music never sounded right through the hearing aids. But as a physicist, he was determined to solve the problem.
Motivated by his love of music and informed by his scientific training, McClain has spent the last 16 years developing equations to describe the entire hearing experience – from the cochlea, to the afferent 8th nerve, to processing in the central nervous system, efferent 8th nerve interactions — and developing signal processing algorithms to adapt to and compensate for his hearing loss in a way that preserves the audio experience of music. The result is a collection of signal processing algorithms he calls Crescendo. Kyma is one of the tools David uses for testing out new ideas and prototyping them for Crescendo.
Now he’s blogging about his findings on his web site http://refined-audiometrics.com. In keeping with his motto “Keeping music enjoyable for all!” David hopes that his experiences, research findings, and extensive set of algorithms can benefit others.