Three years ago, Michael Chorost, who suffered sudden-onset deafness in 2001, wrote about his quest to hear again — not just words, but music. Surgeons had installed a cochlear implant in his left ear, and its software broke the acoustic world into 16 channels of blocky but recognizable sound. The story chronicled his brief beta test of 121-channel software. We asked him for an update:
"Last year, I got the commercial version. Just as I remembered, the software makes music sound fuller and brighter. In January, I got my other ear implanted, and I can now hear in stereo. That's been an even more profound change. I don't have the new software in that ear yet, because we're still balancing the ears, which is easier to do with 16 channels.
Still, I've been having fun with music. I played my favorites to a friend, and she said, 'You like men's voices in the upper tenor range and women's voices in the upper alto.' That helped me understand why I like songs like Neil Young's 'Long May You Run.' Then she guessed I'd like Yo La Tengo and Portishead, and I did. The beats are complex enough to keep me engaged without overwhelming me. My ears are very young yet, but I'm figuring them out, bit by bit. Literally."