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 are cool! They bring so much happiness to our lives with their performances. The downside is that music is almost 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 nearly every day.

Whether your living relies on music or not, you’ll still want to be able to hear your favorite songs when you’re pushing 60, 70, or 80. For musicians, protecting their hearing is the key to a lengthy and successful career. For the rest of us, ear protection is the secret to a lifetime of musical fulfillment and enrichment.

Music is surprisingly loud

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

But what about music? People might not be so fast to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: That can also be loud music! Even classical music can get to relatively loud volumes that can easily damage your hearing.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be produced by a violin, for example. A leaf blower is about this noisy. To put that into context, the European Union regulations stipulate that any workplace noisier than 85 dB calls for the use of hearing protection.

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

How can you protect your hearing?

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

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

  • Take breaks: Much like any part of your body, your ears can become tired and might need to get a little rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. This will help prevent your ears from getting overwhelmed with sound (and damage). Duration is almost as relevant as volume with regard to hearing health. The difference between the perfect amount of stimulation and too much can come down to taking frequent breaks.
  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So knowing volume levels of sounds around you will help you protect your hearing. Sometimes, this is as simple as tracking your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also invest in a volume meter app for your smartphone to make it easy to track the real-world volume levels your ears are experiencing day in and day out. If the meter reads above 85dB consistently, you’ll need to address this.

Wear hearing protection

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

  • Ear plugs made primarily for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s probably very well known to most people. They don’t always fit perfectly, but they do reliably stop a lot of sound. They’re not difficult to find, aren’t expensive, and can be disposed of easily. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. However, by paying a little more, you can buy high-quality earplugs designed specifically for musicians. A special material and modern engineering are used to help these earplugs fit snuggly in the ear and minimize external noise by about 20% while preserving the audio fidelity. This option is perfect for musicians who need a light to moderate level of protection (and who don’t have a ton of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to misplace them).
  • Electronic earplugs: The same basic functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can be found in electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block out the majority of the sound. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. For people who work in really noisy settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are perfect.
  • In-ear monitors: Most music is electronic these days, or at least amplified by electronics. A device, called an in-ear-monitor, is placed inside of your ear and sends signals in electronically. It’s like a specialized 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). This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. In-ear monitors are practical for those who work mainly with electronically amplified instruments.

Protect your career by protecting your ears

It’s never too late to take steps to safeguard your hearing, but it’s definitely a good idea to start sooner rather than later. Everyone can safeguard their hearing and future with ear protection options for every budget. Keep in mind, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. 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.

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