A musician needs to hear properly to play well, and some proper ear protection can make a real difference to the length of your career. The (UK) Health and Safety Executive documention on ear protection for musicians gives specific instances of musicians with rock, classical and nightclub backgrounds - all have suffered tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and have had to face difficulties in ordinary life, as well as the unnecessarily early end of their careers in the music industry. It is almost thought to be the norm that anyone who has played in a rock band for more than a few years will have hearing difficulties, but it really doesn't have to be that way.
Since the regulations on noise protection came into force for the music and entertainment sectors in April 2008, the wearing of hearing protection is no longer optional. If you are employed as a musician you have a legal duty to wear hearing protection in a hearing protection zone. This applies even if you are in an area such as the stage pit of a pop concert for no more than a minute or two.
Acknowleding the particular needs of musicians, even the HSE won't say more for disposable foam earplugs than that they 'may be OK for glass collectors'. Fortunately, some far better options are available. First among these are the increasingly sophisticated designs of flat-response ear plugs such as the Elacin ER Noise Plugs you can have fitted by AudioFit. These custom-manufactured ear plugs, now something of a de facto industry standard, will be tailored to match the precise and unique contours of your own ears. Available in a range of attenuations, these will preserve the overall frequency balance you hear and still provide a very valuable degree of hearing protection. The precise matching to your individual ear contours means that they are also supremely comfortable to wear.
If you want to experiment with a flat-response ear plug system before committing to investment in the benefits of a tailored product, have a look at our Elacin ER-20s.
A 2006 study of Danish orchestras suggested that more than 27% of orchestra players suffer hearing loss. 24% of the musicians reported suffering from tinnitus (a ringing in the ears), 25% from hyperacusis (increased sensitivity to sound), 12% from distortion and 5% from diplacusis (where the ears hear two distinct tones). If you want to continue to play and enjoy music through a long professional career, you will need to use ear protection.
Musicians are almost spoilt for choice when it comes to getting quality in-ear foldback. Far from impairing your ability to hear the music, an audio feed that meets your own preferences can be a real advantage. By cutting out the deafening bass boom effectively and letting you hear your own contribution to the music, they can make it easier to play the way you want to as well as giving your ears the protection they need. Our Micro Monitor Classics, as used by some of the biggest names in rock and pop, come in a range of high fidelity options. Micro Monitor Flex, which also offer exceptionally fine stereo reproduction, are manufactured in soft silicon rubber for the ultimate in wearing comfort. Incidentally, apart from the precisely-tailored, effective audio sealing that blocks out unwanted sounds so effectively, custom-fitted in-ear monitors have another great advantage - they will almost always stay put for as long as you need them to. All the same, if you don't have time for a fitting session but still want to start using some sort of protection and foldback system right now, take a look at the Micro Monitor Rapid Fit 2 option.
It can be helpful to be aware of when your hearing is under threat. With the PocketEar kit you can not only assess the noise level in your environment, but use the included filtered protection to cut the sound levels down to safer levels.