Rock stars put their ears in audiologist Julie Glick's hands

Julie Glick is an audiologist who specializes in working with audiophiles and musicians. She knows what good sound sounds like.

Dr. Julie Glick in her office. Steve Guttenberg/CNET

I met Julie Glick a few months ago with some folks from Ultimate Ears at a Head-Fi meeting in NY. UE was promoting a new set of custom-molded in-ear headphones, the Personal Reference Monitors, which are just now entering full production. In her NYC office, Glick can fully demonstrate these unique headphones, which are not only custom-molded to your ears but fine-tuned, soundwise, to your liking. Ultimate Ears technicians use the frequency curve you create to build your Personal Reference Monitors. I crafted my EQ curve in Glick's office; it was a lot of fun to design my sound. I should have my headphones soon; watch for the review in a month or so.

When I recently dropped by Glick's Manhattan office, I was happy to see that she has a wide selection of UE custom-molded headphones available for audition. That's great, because most people never get a chance to hear custom headphones before they buy them. It's also nice that you can compare one UE model with another, or with your own headphones, and see which custom is right for you. Glick does ear-canal impressions (molds) for Ultimate Ears customers for $75. I've had impressions made many times, and it can feel a little weird to have someone probing deep inside your ear canals, but Glick made the process less of an ordeal.

Ultimate Ears Personal Reference Monitors Logitech UE

She formed Musicians Hearing Solutions to focus on the needs of working musicians. Her clients include Alicia Keys, Jon Bon Jovi and his band, John Mayer, Kanye West, Moby, Howard Stern, and many more.

Musicians use in-ear headphones as monitors to hear what they need to hear on stage. Glick regularly goes to concerts to see her clients at work, and she'll sometimes stand to the side of the stage and listen to the musicians' headphone mixes. What she learns there might really make a difference in the way a musician plays or sings. When listening to her talk about those experiences, it's clear she loves her work.

Most audiologists perform hearing tests (audiograms), but you won't find many who test the full high-frequency range of human hearing, out to 20 kHz. Glick's office offers those extended tests, which might be especially useful for curious audiophiles and musicians who want to see how their very-high-frequency hearing is holding up. I had the extended hearing test, and Glick assures me that my ears are in great shape. Whew!

She offers an extensive range of earplugs and hearing protection devices. I've worn plugs at concerts for decades, and would never go to a show without hearing protection. Glick recommends musicians plugs that are custom-fit specifically to your ears and have a specially designed filter that delivers a clear and unmuffled sound. If you have ringing in the ears (tinnitus) after prolonged exposure to any type of loud sound, you're definitely in danger of losing your hearing. It won't happen overnight, but do you want to lose even some of your hearing before you're 30? Glick also recommends Ety Plugs that you can buy on the Web for $18. Your ears will thank you.

Glick also fits hearing aids; we discussed the fidelity possibilities of the better devices, the ones using canal receiver technology. The best models can differentiate between conversational speech and sound in noisy environments. Some devices stream Bluetooth audio directly from a phone, TV, or computer directly to the hearing aid. Audiophile clients with hearing loss can be fitted with devices specifically tuned for music, but the main focus is speech intelligibility. Glick can fine-tune the frequency response and dynamic range compression of the hearing aids.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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