Hearing Protection for Musicians
Musicians are far more likely than other professions to suffer from noise-induced hearing loss. From Neil Young and Chris Martin to Ozzy Osborne, Thomas Bangalter and Moby, the list of rockstars and famous musicians with auditory decline is long. Hearing is at the heart of what you do, and musicians’ earplugs are a simple solution that will allow you to continue following your passion. As such, they’re not just designed for people who make music, but for their fans, too.
The risks that come with long periods of extreme noise exposure are manifold. Not only will music sound muffled and dull, problems with pitch, texture, and loudness perception are often followed by a range of long-term health issues.
It’s never too early or too late to take care of your hearing. As always, prevention is better than cure. But if you’re already suffering from the consequences of years or decades of extreme noise exposure, musicians’ earplugs can help you prevent further damage.
Getting the perfect pair of musician’s earplugs involves working with an audiologist to obtain the highest high level of care and a complete hearing protection plan – not just earplugs.
This is our musician’s guide to using earplugs to preserve and protect your hearing.
Why are Musician Earplugs Necessary?
Hearing loss is one of the most common health disabilities. For a lot of people with acquired hearing loss, loud noise may have contributed to their hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is called noise-induced hearing loss.
- Working musicians are nearly four times more likely to suffer noise-induced hearing loss than the general public.
- Musicians are also 57 per cent more likely to have tinnitus brought on by their work.
Noise-induced hearing loss often first shows as a dip in hearing around 3-6kHz and can spread to affect other high frequencies. It can also be associated with tinnitus. The amount of damage caused by noise depends on many factors including individual susceptibility, the volume of the noise, the length of exposure and how often the person is around loud noise.
Learn more about the 7 harmful habits that can damage your hearing.
Enjoy the music, avoid the noise
As a musician or fan, the sound levels you are exposed to can easily exceed levels that are considered safe. Hearing loss and tinnitus can greatly impact your ability to enjoy and play music. It’s therefore very important that you seek the appropriate audiological care and use specialised hearing protection or earplugs to protect your hearing.
Are Custom-Made Earplugs a Worthwhile Investment?
Standard noise earplugs, such as foam earplugs that might be appropriate for construction or factory workers, are generally not appropriate for a musician as they produce muffled and muted sounds, referred to as the “occlusion effect”.
Earplugs for musicians are specially manufactured with a hollow centre and filter to preserve the soundscape at a safer volume. Custom-fit earplugs lower sound across frequencies, instead of lessening noise primarily in the high-frequency range. Whilst they also reduce decibel levels, they maintain a natural quality of speech and music.
What are the Best Earplugs for Musicians?
If you are looking for the very best hearing protection without compromising your sound experience, you’ve come to the right place. Attune Hearing offers a wide range of custom-made solutions for musicians, DJs, producers and fans.
Our earplugs are made with high-quality materials and are custom-made to fit the natural shape of your ears because there is no one-size-fits-all solution to hearing protection. They are made to be comfortable on the stage, in the crowd and in the studio for extended periods of time. Our custom earplugs are available with different levels of noise reduction (attenuation) and don’t compromise the quality of the music.
What are the Next Steps?
Making a good impression
The first step is getting a hearing assessment with a trusted, local audiologist. The audiologist will inspect your ear canals with a magnified light to check that the canal is free from wax and debris and to determine the shape and direction of the canal.
The audiologist will then position a small piece of foam or cotton wool attached to a string in the ear canal. This is used to determine how deep the earplug will go. This is a very important part of fitting an earplug. If the earplugs do not go deep enough, your ears might feel blocked when wearing the earplugs.
The audiologist will then mix up some silicone-based putty that is put into the ear canal with a syringe. Again, the audiologist needs to choose the correct material so that the impression is accurate. The material stays in the ear canal for 3-5 minutes and is then sent to the lab to be processed.
Finding the correct strength
Once the audiologist has obtained an accurate ear impression, the next step is for the audiologist to determine which strength of filter you require. For example, a heavy rock musician will be exposed to a louder sound than someone who is singing in a choir.
Having the correct strength filter ensures your hearing is protected. If too strong a filter is chosen, people will take the earplug out to hear and consequently tend to not wear their hearing protection.
Protect your Hearing
Earplugs for musicians should really form part of a complete hearing protection plan provided by your audiologist. When prescribing earplugs, your audiologist should also take the opportunity to do some base-line audiological testing such as a hearing test, possibly including the extreme high frequencies that have been shown to be quite sensitive to detecting early onset noise-induced hearing loss.
Your audiologist will take the time to teach you how to correctly insert your new earplugs. If they are not inserted correctly, they will not be giving you the full amount of protection. It is also possible to re-test hearing with the earplugs in place, to ensure you are getting the expected protection from the earplugs.
You should then continue to have regular hearing checked with your audiologist every year to keep a check on your hearing levels. If any changes in hearing levels are detected, proactive actions can be taken to increase the strength of the earplugs by either changing the filters to a higher strength or making new earplugs if necessary.
Our range of custom-made earplugs is available in a wide variety of colours, to match your instrument, make a statement or be discreet. You can discuss your options with one of our friendly audiologists in your local Attune Hearing clinic. Feel free to give us a call or book online to schedule your appointment today.