Should Musicians Use Ear Protection?

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

Musicians are cool! Their shows bring us so much happiness. The drawback is that music is nearly always loud, in fact, many people prefer it that way. The musicians themselves are at an increased danger of hearing damage since they are exposed to loud music just about every day.

As you grow older, you’ll still want to be capable of enjoying 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, ear protection is the key to a lifetime of musical fulfillment and enrichment.

Sometimes it can be surprising how loud music can get

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

Is music really that loud? If you ask somebody whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is noisy, they might not reply so quickly. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: that music is indeed loud! Even classical music can reach relatively high volumes that can easily damage your hearing.

A violin, for example, can create sounds well over 90 dB. A leaf blower is around this noisy. In Europe, for example, they have laws that require hearing protection for anybody who works in a work environment where there is noise louder than 85 dB.

And if you’re working with music day in and day out, constant exposure to that kind of volume, especially without hearing protection, can severely harm your hearing over time.

How can you protect your hearing?

Okay, musicians who want to keep their hearing for years to come need to safeguard their ears. So how can musicians keep enjoying their music while also preserving their hearing?

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

  • Take breaks: Much like any part of your body, your ears can become exhausted and may need a little break. So take regular breaks from the noise. This will help stop your ears from getting overwhelmed with noise (and damage). Regarding hearing, how long you’re exposed is nearly as important as how loud it is. Taking breaks can be the difference between just the right amount of stimulation and too much!
  • Track your volume: Everyone knows the old saying “knowledge is power”. So being aware of volume levels of noises around you will help you safeguard your hearing. Sometimes, this is as easy as keeping track of your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also purchase a volume meter app for your smartphone to make it convenient to track the real-world volume levels your ears are encountering day in and day out. You will want to make some changes if the meter consistently reads louder than 85 dB.

Use hearing protection

Using hearing protection is the number one most effective way to safeguard your hearing. A lot of musicians are worried that hearing protection will muffle the sound and impact its overall sound quality. That isn’t always the case, depending on which type of ear protection you use.

  • Ear plugs made primarily for musicians: Most people are probably acquainted with disposable ear plugs. They’re fairly good at blocking a lot of sound although they sometimes don’t fit very well. They’re not difficult to get, aren’t expensive, and can be disposed of easily. For musicians, they aren’t an ideal solution. However, by spending just a little more money, you can purchase high-quality earplugs designed specifically for musicians. These earplugs use modern manufacturing processes (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to fit comfortably in the ear) to preserve audio fidelity while diminishing the noise you hear by about 20dB. This solution is perfect for musicians who require a light to moderate level of protection (and who don’t have a ton of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to lose them).
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs work in essentially the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. Most of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. But the earplug itself will send in the sound you hear. For individuals who work in really noisy settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are ideal.
  • In-ear monitors: The majority of music is electronic nowadays, or at least amplified by electronics. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and conveys them directly to a device placed in your ear (called an in-ear monitor). It’s like a special little speaker for your ear, and the majority of monitors can block out sound from the outside world (thanks to a rather tight fit and specialized design). So you control the volume level and are able to hear sound accurately and clearly. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the perfect solution.

Safeguard your hearing, and protect your career

It’s better to begin safeguarding your hearing early, before any significant damage occurs. Everybody can safeguard their hearing and future with hearing protection solutions for every budget. Remember that you’re investing in your career by using hearing protection for musicians. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy creating music for as long as you want to.

Give us a call so we can help you get started.

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.