Inside The Ear: How Hearing and The Ear Works

November 28, 2023
Blake Cadwell
Written by
Blake Cadwell
Blake Cadwell

Blake Cadwell is a hearing aid wearer and co-founder at Soundly. He regularly tests and reviews hearing technology to share his experience with Soundly’s readers. Blake's research and perspectives have been featured in the The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, AARP and FastCompany.

Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Reviewed by
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A

Dr. Amy Sarow is a practicing clinical audiologist and serves as Audiology Lead for Soundly. Her expertise and experience span topics including tinnitus, cochlear implants, hearing aid technology, and hearing testing. She holds a doctoral degree in audiology from the University of Iowa. During her residency at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Sarow was inspired by the three-tiered, patient-centered approach, incorporating clinical work, teaching and research.

GN and Soundly partnered with an award-winning visual animator to capture the incredible world inside our ears. Each animated piece takes on a different element of our ears and hearing.

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Behind our ears lies a complex and interconnected system that turns the outside world into decipherable sound.

If you've ever wondered what hearing loss looks like, where earwax comes from, or how hearing works, this visual series is for you.

Most of us have only a basic understanding of how our ears work; we know even less about how to protect our ears from the things that could damage them.

The World Health Organization recently reported that over 1 billion GenZ and millennials risk hearing loss due to excessive headphone use.

A few months ago, we decided to tackle this challenge with a partnership with GN. Our lead audiologist, Amy Sarow, sat down with a visual animator to map out the exact anatomy of our ears and answer five key questions.

Keep scrolling to see each part of our ears and hearing health brought to life in three dimensional detail.

How does sound go from the outside world to the brain?

This video animates the entire process from sound wave to brainwave. Think of this as an introduction to the anatomy and functions inside the ear.

What does hearing loss look like as it happens?

Dr. Amy and our visual artist worked together to capture what hearing damage looks like as it happens.

What does hearing loss look like after it happens?

We charted the inside of the cochlea to show what a common, high-frequency hearing loss configuration looks like inside the ear.

What causes ringing in my ears?

Millions around the globe experience tinnitus immediately after a loud concert or after sustaining hearing damage over many years. This video illustrates the connection between hearing loss and ringing inside the ear.

Where does earwax come from?

This video illustrates earwax from the source and how it naturally moves through the ear canal, collecting dirt and debris.

More about this project.

Hearing wellness has never been more critical, yet many people do not understand how their hearing works. This visual project will give curious minds a new appreciation for the world inside the ear.

The artist behind this excellent work can be found on Instagram @Design_Cells. Thanks to GN, Jabra, Beltone, and ReSound for their collaboration on this exciting project. Reach out to hello@soundly.com with questions.

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