“It’s gonna get loud” is the slogan for my band, Mojo Radio. We can be a very loud band. We were told to turn down many times in the past. So many times that we came up with this slogan and had it trademarked. As a member of a loud rock band, I know just how important hearing protection is.
I am surprised when I see musicians in bands like mine not wearing any kind of hearing protection. It only takes me one time of forgetting to wear my earplugs to remind how much damage one show can do. That ringing in your eyes when you are trying to sleep that night after a show should let you know that it was too loud. A typical rock concert (see chart below) is around 110-120 dB. You should only expose yourself to this level of noise for only a few seconds to prevent hearing loss. Anything more is asking for trouble.
My first pair of earplugs was a set made for hunters. Those plugs were made so you could fire a gun, but keep the noise down at a safe level. These did the job, but they weren’t designed for music at all. These were all I could get back in the day in my small town, however. It was a first step toward protecting my hearing without using standard foam plugs that block out too much of what I want to hear. I knew there had to be a better solution.
Some of my friends found an audiologist in a town nearby and had earplugs made to their exact specs. These cost quite a bit more, but they were the best thing you could get. The audiologist asked each person a series of questions about what they played and how they experienced high levels of music. Then each person had a mold made of their ear canal. The earplugs were formed to the mold so that made a perfect fit. If you think you have early signs of hearing loss, I would highly recommend seeing an audiologist. They can tell you your options, and help save what’s left of your hearing. Your hearing will never get better if you keep abusing it. Just ask Jeff Beck, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, and Pete Townsend.
I finally found a set of music earplugs by Etymotic. These are made for music, and allow more of the full frequency range through. Like those hunter’s earplugs, they just keep the decibels at a safe level. These also are pretty small and people barely even notice that I am wearing them at all. I even forget I am wearing them after a while.
If you want to test your hearing yourself, then look for some apps for your smartphone. There are a few for both iPhone and Android. One of these apps was one from Mimi. Mimi is a company that makes a smartphone app that adjusts your sound profile to match your personal hearing limits. If you need more bass than most, then it adjusts to fit your needs. The nice part is they offer a hearing test app to test your ears.
If you find yourself listening to, or performing music at the levels that are unsafe then you NEED hearing protection. Your ears are the most important tools in your musician toolbox. You might be saying, “Bach still composed symphonies even after he went deaf.” He never got to actually hear those compositions though. I can’t even imagine not being able to listen to music every day. Do not delay, and get yourself some hearing protection right now. You’ll be glad you did the next time you fall asleep after a show without that ringing in your ears.