Hearing loss due to loud music is a frightening trap to fall into in the society of today. We are surrounded by loud music with the abundance of nightclubs, bars and portable music players with their in-ear buds.
The scary thing is, once your hearing has degraded, the consequences are permanent.
The five senses
Hearing is one of the five traditional senses us humans have, the rest naturally being sight, taste, smell and touch. It’s quite clear no one would hope to become blind, or never being able to taste great food anymore, so why are we willingly putting our ears at risk?
I wonder what it is about hearing that’s so tricky for people to understand – it should be preserved, not just gullibly thrown away because of peer pressure or other factors.
I went to a local pub the other night where a rock band was playing a live gig. As usual, upon entering a loud environment I reach for my little case of my trustworthy earplugs and plug them in.
I walk by the crowds of people and watch bewildered as the most loyal fans of the band are standing right in front of the small pub stage, with drums banging and the cymbals crashing as if they were designed to destroy people’s eardrums.
With my friends I was with, we headed instantly to the back of the pub which is a relatively “safe” area when one’s ears are concerned. The noise level was a quite normal, lively but loud bar environment.
There, we calculated a dB value of around 85dB from a smart phone application, which was equivalent to a diesel truck going 40mph at 50ft distance. That’s bearable, for a while at least.
Just for comparison, a vacuum cleaner makes noise at 70dB (which can already be an annoying noise level to some), live rock music lives in the 108-114dB range, which is the average human pain threshold, and is as much as 16 times louder than our ordinary vacuum cleaner
Car horn at one meter hits 118dB. Now that would feel quite nice, wouldn’t it?
The importance of earplugs
Everyone must have used basic, industrial-level foam plugs at some point of their lives. They might be a little uncomfortable to wear, for longer periods of time.
I don’t vouch for them personally, because I have found much better alternatives for myself.
In my experience, attending live gigs is actually more enjoyable with earplugs on rather than off. Here’s why:
Take advantage of quality earplugs
If you find yourself in loud environments quite frequently, you need to be educated about proper and comfortable earplugs.
I use earplugs all the time in night clubs, gigs, movie theaters (oh yes), indoor skateparks, airplanes etc.
The ones I prefer are the Etymotic ETY High Fidelity Earplugs, which are probably one of the best purchases I ever made. I’ll tell you about them shortly.
You can hear music better
Yes. You can actually hear music better, because with proper earplugs, the wall of noise and sizzle will be gone, and you will hear the music again, pleasantly. And this is why you can enjoy it.
Our ears can only take so much abuse until they stop working correctly. The separation of different frequency ranges improves a lot. I have noticed high frequencies, such as drum cymbals, get so overbearing that it’s truly hard to hear the music.
You can talk to your friends (ah… thank the heavens!)
Are you tired of your friends screaming in your ears? Do you find yourself constantly screaming to them?
Personally I hate it when people shout straight into my eardrums. Just think about this: if the background music or noise was suddenly turned off, it would make quite a hilarious scene of someone shouting that loud into one’s ear.
Not to worry, the earplugs come to the rescue! With plugs, talking can be quite normal again, because you hear what people are saying and you hear yourself.
Your hearing stays preserved and crystal clear
This is such a refreshing feeling. When it’s time to pull out those plugs, you know you’ll be the only person left with a high-definition hearing after a wild night out clubbing.
Say goodbye to hearing dullness and late-night tinnitus.
No more self-guilt
In the past, I used to go out not wearing any earplugs, even though I knew I should wear some. Every time, I felt guilty because of this. Maybe I was too scared to wear them around people or because of some other dumb excuse.
Today, I don’t give a damn anymore. I protect my ears and feel great because I do.
The ETY-Plugs are arguably the best investment I have made throughout my musical career. This is true because my ears are the most important tools I could own being a musician.
Sure, I need my eyes to be able to look at the monitor at times, but without my ears there would be no music.
Having used a pair of ETY’s for a few years now, I have noticed my hearing has improved in accuracy and sensitivity. If you think about all the nights out in bars throughout a year and the cumulative effect of it, that’s a lot of weight for the precious ears to bear.
I literally can’t stand high-level noise bursts and high frequency signals such as peak moments during movies in theaters anymore, because my ears have gotten so sensitive for not being suited to loud environments anymore. This might sound like a bad thing for some, but I don’t see it that way.
When I’m in the studio, I know my ears are giving me the best performance they ever have before.
I love the ETY’s. They are designed to reduce the dB level by 20dB, and not alter the frequency response. In other words, what the ETY earplugs do is turn down the volume in your ears. They are so easy to insert in as well, and washing them with water is effortless.
Did I mention the small plastic case they are supplied with? I always have them with me in the small “coin pocket” in my jeans.
One of the absolute best things about these plugs is that they are almost invisible while you are wearing them. They have a transparent, plastic “stick” that’s the only piece which is only slightly visible, coming out of your ear canal.
Very often no one even notices I have a pair on until they get very close. The ETY’s are very stealthy.
I highly recommend you get a pair from Amazon for $13.19, where I also got mine a few years back. I think your ears are worth the price of a few beers and slices of pizza. Are you with me?
The path towards better hearing
I truly hope I have been able to spark something inside of you and take better responsibility regarding loud music and environments, as I sure have harassed enough people around me about it.
Please, please, please take care of your hearing, and your ears will reward you in return!
If you have any questions about this article or earplugs, comments or feedback, feel free to leave them below and I’ll get back to you!