Hearing loss is one of those things that everyone is exposed to but very few take seriously. Many people blow off loud music fooling themselves into believing that they would never suffer from hearing loss personally and think that any damage can be regenerated magically over time. I’m here to tell you peoples, hearing loss is a very serious debilitating issue and cannot be regained with modern science. Hopefully with this article, we together can gain a better understanding on the issue and learn to protect ourselves without sacrificing our musical needs.
Sound is measured in decibels or dB. The softest sound that can be heard is 0db, normal talking is 40-60dB, headphones are around a 110dB, a concert can range from 110dB all the way up to 150dB, and anything over 85dB can be damaging to your hearing. Of course the closer you are to the sound source can effect the decibel level and also how long you are exposed effects you as well.
As you can see from the chart above it only takes a couple of minutes before your ears can begin to suffer. Also music lovers are not the only ones vulnerable. Construction workers and landscapers are also at danger. Using a lawn mower, chainsaw, or loud power tools for more than a couple of hours can cause long term and painful damage.
Hearing loss is a big pain the rear, or ear I should say. Loud ringing, fullness in the ear, headaches, balance loss, and not understanding speech are all ways that hearing loss can affect your quality of life. The pain can also be debilitating. It is really hard to concentrate when something is bothering us and people with ear pain from being exposed to loud noises can be in pain every day of their life. If you are experiencing these issues then you should see a doctor. Although your hearing will not come back, there are medical ways to reduce the pain and other side effects that are experienced.
If you like techno and frequent this site then most likely you already are suffering from some type of hearing loss like myself. Let’s talk about how to prevent furthering this damage. The most obvious is to wear earplugs when attending shows. They can be bought cheap at Meijer, K-Mart, some drug stores, and pretty much wherever guns or sporting goods are sold. Not all earplugs are created equal and I suggest reading the package and figuring out how many decibels that they will reduce. If you are going to a show for the night, a proper plug should reduce the sound by at least 20dB. Most silicone plugs are about -20dB and most foam plugs are about -30dB. Properly fitting them in the ear also effects their usefulness, so make sure they are in right.
Although store bought earplugs are a great help with preventing damage, everybody has different sized ears and having a perfect, custom fit pair is the best option. Also, store bought plugs can make the music sound muffled, potentially sacrificing your experience at the show. Custom plugs, made for musicians and concert goers have special properties that reduce the damaging frequencies while still allowing the wearer to enjoy the music and communicate with people standing next to them. Most custom options also come with switchable filters that can be swapped out depending on the dB reduction you are seeking.
To get fitted and purchase custom plugs, simply visit your local audiologist. They are all around in every county and all of them I have looked up cater to musicians as well. Many musicians rely on in-ear monitoring systems by companies like Shure and Westone that help them monitor the sound as well as reduce sound levels from the room, and most audiologists provide custom fit tips for these products as well. You can also get a hearing test while you are there. Don’t be scared to find out how deaf you really are.
Promoters, DJs, event planners, and club owners also really need to start thinking about the health of their consumer base. Turning up the music to uncomfortable levels is damaging the crowd and themselves. Alcohol and other substances floating around the event also affect people’s judgment on dB level. A wasted DJ or promoter never turns it down, always up. Lay off the Molly bro, get your dumbass friend out of the bass bin, and turn it the fuck down! I would like to create and listen to music for the rest of my existence please.