Should Musicians Wear Hearing Protection?

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

Musicians rock. Their shows bring us so much enjoyment. The downside is that music is pretty much always loud, in fact, many individuals prefer it that way. Since musicians subject themselves to loud music on a daily basis, their hearing is at an increased risk of being harmed.

As you grow older, you’ll still want to be capable of enjoying your favorite music whether you’re a musician or not. For musicians, protecting their hearing is the key to a long and successful career. For the rest of us, ear protection is the secret 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 actually that loud? If you ask someone whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is noisy, they may not reply right away. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is certainly loud! Even classical music can get to fairly high volumes that can easily harm your hearing.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be created by a violin, for example. That’s around as loud as a leaf blower. To put that into context, the European Union laws dictate that any workplace noisier than 85 dB calls for the use of ear protection.

And if you’re working with music on a daily basis, constant exposure to that kind of volume, particularly without ear protection, can seriously harm your hearing over time.

Can you safeguard your ears from noise damage?

Okay, musicians who want to preserve their hearing for years to come need to safeguard their hearing. So what can musicians do to safeguard their ears and still enjoy the music they enjoy so much?

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So it makes sense that you should always be aware of what levels of sound you’re exposing your ears to. Usually, this is as simple as monitoring your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also buy a decibel meter app for your smartphone to make it convenient to track the real-world volume levels your ears are experiencing from day-to-day. You will need to make a few changes if the meter regularly reads above 85 dB.
  • Take breaks: Much like any part of your body, your ears can become exhausted and might need a little break. So take regular breaks from the noise. This will help stop your ears from getting overwhelmed with sound (and damage). Duration is almost as relevant as volume with regard to hearing health. Taking breaks can be the difference between just enough stimulation and too much!

Use hearing protection

Using ear protection is the single most effective way to safeguard your hearing. Many musicians are reluctant to wear ear protection because they’re worried it will effect the clarity of sound they hear, as well as muting the volume. But depending on what type of hearing protection you use, that might not always be accurate.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s probably very well known to most individuals. They don’t always fit perfectly, but they do reliably stop a lot of sound. They’re cheap, easy to come by, and easy to throw away. And they aren’t ideal for musicians. However, by spending just a little more money, you can buy high-quality earplugs made specifically for musicians. These earplugs use fancy manufacturing tricks (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to preserve audio clarity while diminishing the noise you hear by around 20dB. For musicians who need a moderate level of protection on a budget, this option is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs work in basically the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block the majority of the sound. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. This solution is perfect for those who work in particularly noisy settings, 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 put in your ear and sends signals in electronically. The majority of monitors are small speakers that fit tightly and block out most sound while playing sounds you want to hear at less harmful volumes. So you regulate the volume level and are able to hear sound in an accurate and clear way. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the perfect solution.

Safeguard your career by protecting your hearing

It’s never too late to take steps to safeguard your ears, but it’s definitely a good idea to begin sooner rather than later. Everybody can protect their hearing and future with hearing protection options for every budget. Don’t forget that you’re investing in your career by utilizing hearing protection for musicians. It’s one way to make sure you’ll be making incredible music for many years (maybe even decades) to come!

Don’t quite know where to begin? Give us a call today, we can help!

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Schedule an appointment to see if hearing aids could benefit you.