Let’s cut to the chase here.
Musicians are 57% more likely to develop hearing damage than other Americans not directly exposed to loud sounds.
To go into the obvious reasons why would be an insult on your intelligence, but let us tell you this …
… While we all know that frequent exposure to sounds over 85 decibels can actively damage our hearing, the shocking truth is that, on average, the time it takes a musician to seek help for their hearing trouble is between 5-7 years.
Just think, from the point of which the damage is created to the point at which help is sought, that damage is likely to be irreversible.
Here’s how you can prevent it from happening to you right now:
In a process known as ‘Acoustic Trauma,’ musicians can be exposed to loud sounds that, over the course of just a few years, can lead to chronic hearing damage.
Whether that’s during practise, gigs, or even while listening to recordings in the studio, Acoustic Trauma is a very real problem for musicians.
However, luckily for you, you’re reading this and this is what will be your hearing’s lifesaver …
Earplugs. Yes, you probably guessed it from the start. The most effective way to protect your hearing as a musician is to wear earplugs.
Now, while conventional, store-bought earplugs provide good protection, many musicians have commented that they almost provide too much! Store-bought earplugs muffle speech and sound, and make music unclear and unnatural, which isn’t ideal for the musician aiming to create that perfect melody.
As a musician, what you need is an earplug that offers you mid-to-low frequency protection, albeit earplugs designed specifically for musicians.
The beauty of these earplugs, which come in both custom and non-custom options, is that they reduce sound levels by approx. 20 decibels, which is enough to reduce harmful sounds without distorting speech or music.
Furthermore, if you’re interested to know what makes musicians’ earplugs different from the rest, it’s for one very simple, but important, reason:
The earplug is deep, which allows the earmold to seal within the bony portion of the ear canal. This deep fit reduces what it known as ‘occlusion’ – a hollow or ‘boomy’ sound in the musician’s own voice that can be experienced with lower quality ear plugs.
While other earplugs muffle and distort sounds, the musicians’ earplugs reduce the volume of sound but not the clarity.
Did you know about the more advanced protection for musicians?
For musicians who perform for large audiences, in-ear musician monitors (IEMs) are the current standard in musician technology. They allow the musician to clearly hear the music they are making as the audience would hear it, while still protecting the musician’s ears from extremely loud amplification systems and audiences.
IEMs work best if they are custom molded to fit each musician’s ears personally. However, there is still the option of universal fit musician monitors. Universal IEMs typically come with interchangeable foam or silicone tips to allow for a semi-custom fit.
It’s important you seek professional advice from an audiologist before making any decision around custom-fit earplugs.
It’s now up to you
Now that you know the truth about a musician’s vulnerability to hearing damage and, of course, the prevention method, you now have a choice:
You can either click off this page and forget everything you’ve just learned, adding to that shocking statistic of 57% of musicians needing to look after their ears but waiting up to 7 years to seek help, or you can do your ears and yourself a favor and book yourself in for one of our hearing tests.
Book your hearing test today and you can even try out one of the specially designed earplugs for musicians while you’re here.
We look forward to helping you keep your ears healthy for longer.
Scott Marquardt is the owner of Clarity Hearing and a highly skilled audiologist who has been in practice for over 20 years. Dr. Marquardt earned a master’s degree in audiology from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and a doctorate from A.T. Still University. He is a member of the American Speech Language Hearing Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. He and the team offer comprehensive hearing healthcare services and specialize in the care of tinnitus, imbalance, and auditory processing disorders.