Is Hearing Protection Recommended for Musicians?

Close up of drummer's hands playing a drum kit. Drums are very loud, the player should be wearing hearing protection.

Musicians rock. Their performances bring us so much enjoyment. But music is so much more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing hazard. Since musicians subject themselves to loud music on a daily basis, their hearing is at an increased risk of being harmed.

As you get older, you’ll still want to be able to enjoy your favorite songs whether you’re a musician or not. The key to having a long successful career, for musicians, is protecting their ears. For the rest of us, hearing protection is the key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment and enrichment.

Music is surprisingly loud

Most people would say that a jet engine is really loud.

Is music really that loud? People might not be so fast to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: That can also be loud music! Your ears can even be harmed by classical music which can get to fairly high volumes.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be created by a violin, for example. A leaf blower is about this noisy. To put that into context, the European Union regulations stipulate that any work environment noisier than 85 dB calls for the use of ear protection.

And your hearing can be significantly compromised over time if you’re working with music every day, particularly if you don’t use hearing protection.

How can you protect your hearing?

Okay, now you know that musicians need to protect their hearing (particularly if they want to continue rocking out for many years). So what can musicians do to protect their ears and still enjoy the music they love so much?

Well, here are a couple of simple things musicians can do:

  • Take breaks: Much like any part of your body, your ears can become fatigued and might need to get a little rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” regularly. This will help stop your ears from getting overpowered with noise (and damage). Duration is nearly as important as volume with regard to hearing health. Taking breaks can be the difference between just the right amount of stimulation and too much!
  • Track your volume: Everybody remembers the old saying “knowledge is power”. So being aware of volume levels of sounds around you will help you safeguard your hearing. Usually, this is as easy as tracking your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also keep track of day-to-day volume levels of external noises using a volume meter app that you can download on your cellphone. You will need to make some changes if the meter regularly detects volumes above 85 dB.

Use ear protection

Using ear protection is the single most effective way to protect your hearing. Lots of musicians are worried that hearing protection will muffle the sound and effects its overall sound quality. But depending on what type of hearing protection you use, that may not always be true.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Most people are probably acquainted with disposable ear plugs. They don’t always fit perfectly, but they do reliably block a lot of sound. They’re inexpensive, easy to get, and easy to throw away. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. But earplugs made just for musicians are also available for a little more money. These earplugs use cutting-edge manufacturing methods (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to preserve audio fidelity while diminishing the noise you hear by about 20dB. For musicians who require a moderate amount of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: The same general functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can also be found in electronic earplugs. The majority of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. This solution is perfect for people who work in particularly loud environments, and who want more options when it comes to volume control.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a significant part of modern music. A device, called an in-ear-monitor, is placed in your ear and sends signals in electronically. It’s like a specialized little speaker for your ear, and the majority of monitors can block out sound from the outside world (thanks to a fairly tight fit and special design). This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the perfect solution.

Protect your hearing, and protect your career

It’s never too late to take steps to safeguard your hearing, but it’s definitely a good idea to start sooner rather than later. With solutions available at just about every price point, there are simple ways for everyone to safeguard their hearing and their future. Don’t forget that you’re investing in your career by utilizing hearing protection for musicians. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy creating music for as long as you want to.

Don’t really know where to start? Call us today, we can help!

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.