As a musician, your hearing may be your most valuable asset—but loud music can damage it. Learn the risks, and how to protect yourself.
The November 2008 issue of In Tune examines the potential hazards to musicians’ hearing and describes ways that professionals protect this most valuable asset. Etymotic, Shure, Sennheiser, and other companies have been supplying touring pros with monitoring systems for years, but have recently been creating products for average musicians as well.
“It’s cooler now [to wear ear plugs] because major music acts wear them,” says Gail Gudmundsen of Etymotic Research, a company that makes both ear plugs and in-ear monitors geared for high fidelity and musical performance. She feels that this not only can prevent hearing loss (which many feel is reaching epidemic proportions in the U.S., in part due to the use of iPods and other devices with headphones), but also makes for better musical performances. “When sound is loud, you get the wall-of-sound effect; you’re trying to blend but you can’t sort it out. Take the sound down 20 dB and you can distinguish one thing from another and protect yourself at the same time.”
According to Gudmundsen, there are some clear danger signs that indicate damaging exposure to sound:
> Muffled sound
If you're experiencing any of these, get away from the sound as quickly as possible. As the article points out, exposure is a matter of time and intensity. The longer you listen to loud sounds, the more damage your ears will suffer.
To learn more, download a pdf
of an article on hearing protection for musicians. Download a fitting guide.
Not convinced? Watch this public service video from