Protect Your Hearing, For Crying Out Loud…Part Two

The old foam standby. It's cheap and it'll do in a pinch, but it makes the mix sound like mud.

The last time we discussed earplugs I talked a lot about the really good, custom molded, musician earplugs and I still believe they are the best way to go, but I realize that $120 to $200 can be very cost prohibitive for a great many working musicians and students out there.  That, however, is not a reason for you to abandon hearing protection altogether.  There are earplug options…and not just the cheapo foam kind…although that’s better than nothing.  

The foam earplugs are great for fireworks…and sleeping…not so great when you’re playing music.  They don’t really lower the volume, they just muffle the sound and if you are singing they make it next to impossible to hear yourself. This causes instrumentalists to keep turning up the volume and vocalists to strain their voices.  It’s just not the best situation.  The reason the very fancy earplugs, often called high-fidelity earplugs, work so much better is because they filter out certain harmful frequencies and actually lower the volume without taking away any of the detail.  So, you can hear everything you need to hear…it’s just quieter…and it doesn’t damage your ears.  It’s also pretty expensive.

Well, it turns out that the same company that makes the custom molded, expensive earplugs also makes a non-custom version of hi-fi earplug that is very affordable.  They run $10 to $15 a pair (totally affordable) depending on where you get them and they come in two sizes: Standard and Large.  They don’t have changeable filters like the custom ones… you’re stuck with just one volume reduction level… and they aren’t as low-profile, but from what I’ve been reading, that doesn’t seem to bother most of the users.  Check out Etymotic Research, Inc. to learn more about them.

Etymotic isn’t the only brand out there, either.  You can get a really good overview of all the different non-custom, hi-fi earplugs available at the Earplugstore.  You can get detailed info and reviews so you can make a well-informed choice.  If you find a pair you want but don’t like buying online, see if they stock them or can order them at your local music store.

So, here’s your to do list:  1.Get your hearing checked at a Sears Hearing Center (Louisiana OR The Rest of the USA…it’s free, by the way)  2.Get a decent pair of earplugs…and USE THEM!  Your ears will thank you after every gig.  How?  No ringing!

Good luck and great hearing!

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Posted on July 16, 2011, in Musician's Health and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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