Hearing Screening: Audiometer Use, Care and Calibration

Hearing Screening Audiometer Use, Care and Calibration


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The Audiometer

MDH recommended audiometers have test tones ranging from 250 to 8000 Hz and volumes of 0-80/100 decibels, this allows the screener to perform both pure tone audiometry screening and threshold screening.

Headphones are calibrated to a specific audiometer and are not interchangeable with other machines.

MDH does not recommend speech stimuli screening equipment such as Verbal Auditory Screening for Children (VASC), where a word is presented to the child, and the child has to identify a related picture. Evidence indicates that the VASC is less effective than pure tone audiometry in identifying hearing loss.

Specifications vary somewhat between brands but most audiometers have the following dials:

  • Power or On/Off Switch: Needs to be on when screening.
  • Frequency Dial: The frequency dial rotates from 250 to 8000 Hz. This dial controls the test frequency or the pitch of the tone.
  • Decibel (dB) or Hearing Level Dial: This dial controls the test intensity or loudness of the tone. This is typically a rotary dial, which allows the screener to vary the tones presented in 5dB steps from approximately 0 to 80/100dB.
  • Tone Presentation Bar or Stimulus Switch: Pressing this bar presents the tone.

General Care

Handle gently and avoid dropping. When transporting the audiometer in a car, secure it so it will not fall during a sudden stop.

Avoid extreme temperatures (below freezing and above 90º F). Keep cords free of tangles and twists. Check all electrical connections, dials and switches for signs of problems. The headphone jacks should be removed from their plugs occasionally and wiped with an alcohol pad to improve the connection (Note: Do not use alcohol pads on the headphone ear pieces). Take proper care to prevent moisture from getting inside the audiometer.

Keep the case closed to prevent dust build-up. If the case or exposed surfaces become dirty, mild soap and water are usually sufficient to clean them.

Perform biological calibration and mechanical function checks each day, on each audiometer, before use.


Clean headphones before each re-use with a cleaning agent or alcohol-free wipes. Do not use alcohol because it may dry out the rubber cushions on headphones. When the headphones cushions need cleaning, remove them from the headset, clean and dry thoroughly before replacing. Keep all moisture away from the diaphragm (the hole in the center of the headphones).

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Audiometer Mechanical Function Check

This checklist, Audiometer Mechanical Function Check, is available for download as a PDF file[1 page/123Kb].


Audiometers should have yearly calibrations. Extensive calibrations are typically done at a repair facility or factory about every fifth year.

The Audiometer Needs Repair If:

  • Tone does not sound normal, static is heard, or sound is not produced when tone lever/button is pressed.
  • Headphones do not remain in proper position over ears.
  • A dial or switch does not function or indicator lights do not glow.

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Biologic Calibration Check

(Optional unless performing threshold audiometry)

To ensure that the audiometer is ready for accurate screening, the person with primary responsibility for the hearing screening program should do biologic calibration checks. Perform this check prior to threshold screening or when there is reason to suspect the audiometer may not be working properly. Use procedure described below. Refer to the Biological Calibration Check Form in Appendix A.

Same Ear Hearing Level Procedure

  1. Obtain a threshold screening (refer to threshold screening section of this manual) on the better ear with the right (red) headphone and record the results.
  2. Obtain a threshold on the same ear with the left (blue) headphone and record the results.
  3. Check thresholds at each frequency to see that they differ by no more than ± 5dB. If they vary more than this, do not use the audiometer and have it checked by a technician.

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Audiometer Supplies and Repair

Audiogram with Self-Carbon Paper Available From

  • Rapid Press
    6382 Main St. North Branch, MN 55056
    Phone: (651) 674- 4065
    Fax: (651) 674-4412

Audiometer Repair or Purchase

  • Audiology Systems, Inc.
    225 Nevada Ave. N #301, Golden Valley, MN 55427
    Phone: (866) 559-7407 or (763) 504-7407
    Fax: (763) 504-3193
  • Midwest Special Instruments
    12302 Princeton Avenue South, Savage, MN 55378
    Phone: (952) 203-6353
    Fax: (952) 808-0323
  • MacGill Discount Nurse Supplies
    1000 N. Lombard Rd., Lombard, IL 60148
    Phone: (800) 323-2841
    Fax: (800) 727-3433
  • School Health Corp.
    865 Muirfield Dr., Hanover Park, IL 60103
    Phone: (866) 323-5465
    Fax: (800) 235-1305
  • School Nurse Supply, Inc.
    P.O. Box 68968, Schaumburg, IL 60168
    Phone: (800) 485-2737
    Fax: (800) 485-2738
  • Starkey Labs
    6700 Washington Ave. S, Eden Prairie, MN 55344
    Phone: (800) 328-3897 or
    (952) 941-6401
Note: This resource list is for informational purposes only; the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) does not endorse any particular product. In addition, MDH is not responsible for the content of websites listed here. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this resources list does so at his or her own risk.

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