Neil Young, Ozzy Osbourne, Grimes, Ayumi Hamasaki, and Chris Martin. What do these musicians have in common? Other than their love for music and entertaining, these five musicians, among many others, suffer from hearing loss and some even have tinnitus. But this is often the case when working in the music industry, even expected. There are three types of hearing conditions that are pretty much guaranteed when working in noisy environments, especially for long durations:
- Noise-induced hearing loss (hearing damage caused by exposure to excessive noise levels)
- Tinnitus (a ringing or other noise in one or both ears)
- Hyperacusis (a disorder in loudness perception
But the real question is, what are musicians doing to protect their hearing? One thing is for sure, they aren’t switching genres to “ease” the noise levels because it doesn’t matter whether you perform heavy metal or classic rock. What matters is the noise level and the duration of music being played. And it’s not just the music that is contributing to their hearing loss. Venues and situations need to be taken into account. Some venues may have a festival or fireworks happening at the same time. Or maybe there are some sirens passing by. It can be a combination of environmental noises happening at the same time a concert is going on.
More and more musicians and other celebrities are taking the public platform to vocalize their hearing loss journeys and to bring more awareness to hearing loss and tinnitus so that others won’t have to suffer as they do. We’ve heard their stories, the ones that start with,“I wish I had known back then..” One thing they have said was how they wish they had taken preventative steps when it came to their hearing health.
So, what kind of hearing protection is there for musicians? We have three over-the-counter hearing protection options for you.
Earmuffs. Earmuffs are great because they can be easily worn over the ears. They do a great job blocking out noise, though extremely obvious to see if you’re worrying about being discreet.
Earplugs. Earplugs are easy to find at your local retail or drug stores. They fit in your outer ear canal and seal out loud sounds. The only downfall is that earplugs tend to reduce high frequency sounds more than low and mid frequencies so the music could sound a bit distorted.
Musician plugs. Musician plugs are different from your generic style earplugs. Musician plugs filter the music to softer levels but have the same quality of sound as if you didn’t have plugs in your ears. Though be warned, musician plugs need to be worn correctly to work. In addition, there are two things to look out for when purchasing musician plugs. First, check out the noise reduction rating (NRR) – the higher the number, the better, it means more protection. You want to get a pair that has a NRR in the high 20 or low 30s.
Lastly, there are two types of custom-fitted hearing protection options.
Custom earplugs. Custom earplugs are molded to fit your ears exactly. They’re comfortable and you get to choose the level of protection you need. To get your perfect fit, you do have to visit a hearing specialist to get your measurements.
Custom in-ear monitors. Professional performers use these advanced electronic devices. The monitors are molded to fit your ear shape. The neat thing about these in-ear monitors is that you can adjust the volume while still being able to hear each instrument clearly while protecting your hearing.
Musician or not, it’s always an excellent idea to take control of your hearing health and start protecting your hearing before it’s too late. Some musicians have turned to hearing aids, tinnitus maskers, and sound therapy to help with their hearing loss. AudioCardio offers smart technology to strengthen hearing and improve your communication through our personalized sound therapy app. Sign up for a free trial with AudioCardio today!