Hearing is something that many musicians take for granted. We may think that loud is better but over time, we are doing irreversible damage to our biggest asset, our hearing.
Long exposure to high sound pressure levels can result in hearing loss and tinnitus (a constant high pitched ringing in the ear). Tinnitus is a permanent condition and should not be taken lightly. It is the start of a greater hearing loss problem. Many guitar legends including Eric Clapton and The Who’s Pete Townsend are suffering from hearing issues over their long careers of being exposed to loud volumes.
If you come home from a gig or a rehearsal and you have a slight ringing in your ears, this is your ears telling you that potential damage is being caused. Action at this stage is critical as hearing damage is irreversible once it gets to a certain stage.
If you are serious about looking after your hearing, you should consider wearing some form of ear protection when performing, or even attending live music.
Musicians should always look after their hearing. A musicians hearing as a valuable asset and without it, music can lose its enjoyment. Look after your ears, especially when performing on stage.
Signs of Hearing Damage
The human ear can withstand a lot, but any repeated exposure to 85 decibels or above can result in damage to the hearing. As a guideline, a typical rock band in a mid-sized venue will be playing between 105 and 112dB. This is above the threshold for what our ears are willing to accept.
Even 60 seconds of unprotected hearing exposure to this sort of volume can result in damage starting. You won’t notice the damage after one gig, but if you are regular performer, over time you will see the degradation in hearing.
Here are some of the key signs that you may be starting to develop hearing damage:
- Tinnitus – this could be temporary or it could be always there. You may notice this more when you are in a quiet environment.
- Difficulty hearing others in conversation, especially in a noisy environment
- Listening to the TV or music on a higher than usual volume
- Difficulty hearing someone when speaking on the phone
- Feeling stressed from trying to concentrate on what someone is saying
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is wide to seek guidance from a qualified audiologist.
An audiologist will be able to give you a hearing test to assess the damage, they will be able to advise you on what aspects of your hearing spectrum are damaged and give you some best practises for maintaining a healthy hearing level.
For musicians, you may notice that music sounds softer. You may struggle to pick out the detail in a track or feel that some of the high end frequencies are muffled. The higher frequency range is the first area that gets damaged. This means that some instruments and vocals in a track might sound clouded or less clear to the person with hearing damage.
Hearing Protection for Musicians
Any working musician should always be conscious of the damage that prolonged exposure to high sound levels can cause. There are a range of fantastic products to protect your most valuable assets, your ears.
Ear plugs come in all shapes and sizes from custom moulded ones, down to the small foam tips you can buy in bulk for very low prices. For most musicians who don’t have the budget to stretch to custom ear protection, any high grade silicone plugs with some good attenuation filters in will fit the criteria you need and provide ample protection.
You will notice that many pro level players will either be wearing in-ear monitors or have custom moulded ear plugs to protect their hearing. You don’t have to splash big bucks to get protected. Here are some affordable and great quality ear plugs you can get your hands on and start looking after your hearing today.
Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs
These tiny plugs from Eargasm are perfect for performing or attending events with loud volumes. Made from hypoallergenic silicone, these will be soft and comfortable to wear for long periods of time without causing any fatigue of the ear canal.
They even come with a great aluminium case to attach to your keyring. This means you’ll never leave home without a great set of ear plugs in arms reach.
Eargasm offer these plugs in two different sizes, both of which are included in every order as well as a pair of attenuation filters offering 15dB or 16dB attenuation and noise reduction.
Vibes Concert Earplugs
Vibes Concert Earplugs offer up to 22dB of noise reduction with specially designed filters that trim volume, not tone. They are designed to be virtually invisible with a clear stalk that protrudes from the ear canal for easy removal once done.
Every pack of Vibes earplugs comes with 3 interchangeable earbud sizes. The buds are made from hypoallergenic silicone and you can swap the sizes to get the best fit for you. They are comfortable to wear for long periods of time and even have an add-on neck cord so that they never stray far from your ears.
The Earos One earplugs look every bit as professional as they sound. They fill the inner ear with their in-ear monitor style design and their patent pending soundbore technology claims to filter volume, not sound, offering between 17-25dB of protection even in the loudest environment without compromising on the quality of what you hear.
These earplugs ship with two sets of silicone tips, small and large, so you can find the right fit for you. Each earplug is left and right specific with individual contours to fit in that ear accordingly. They are the closest design to custom moulded earplugs you could get.
Large amplifiers, drums, and general exposure to loud instrument volumes can result in hearing damage and eventually, hearing loss. If you work as a musician, it’s in your best interest to keep your ears healthy and protected. Your loud amplifiers are doing you more damage than you realize.
Decibullz Custom Moulded Earplugs
The Decibullz plugs look as great as they function. They look expensive and they look as if they’ve been custom made for the wearer, but they come in at 70% cheaper than custom items. They also offer a staggering 31dB of protection without affecting the sound quality.
The custom moulded segment of the name means just that, these plugs are made from thermoplastic. When you buy a set, you have to hear them up in boiling water, let them cool and then mould them to your own ear shape. If you don’t get the fit right first try, then simply heat up and try again, and again. They are remouldable until you get the perfect fit.
You can always get the perfect ear shape with the thermoplastic. Once moulded, you can then fit the supplied attenuator and one of the three sizes of earbuds and enjoy custom ear protection without the custom price tag.
Fender Musician Series Earplugs
Who knows the hearing of guitar players better than one of the biggest guitar manufacturers in the world. Fender have over 60 years experience crafting the tones we all know and love so when they entered the market of ear protection, guitarists stood up to take note.
These Fender designed ear plugs offer up to 27dB of protection and are perfect for stage use as well as long rehearsals. They are small, comfortable and comes with a great little carry case so you can throw them in your gig bag and take them anywhere you are going.
These are specially designed to protect your ears after long exposure to loud volumes, your drummers crash cymbals will no longer leave you with ringing ears after each gig.