Is Hearing Protection Recommended for Musicians?

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

Musicians rock. They bring so much happiness to our lives with their performances. The drawback is that music is nearly always loud, in fact, many people prefer it that way. The musicians themselves are at an even greater risk 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 music whether you’re a musician or not. The key to having a lengthy successful career, for musicians, is protecting their ears. Ear protection is also key to a lifetime of musical fulfillment for everyone.

Music is surprisingly loud

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

But what about music? If you ask someone whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is noisy, they might not answer right away. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: that music is certainly loud! Your ears can even be damaged by classical music which can reach fairly loud volumes.

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

And your hearing can be seriously damaged over time if you’re working with music every day, especially if you don’t use hearing protection.

Can you protect your ears from noise damage?

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 protecting their hearing?

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

  • Track your volume: Everyone knows the old saying “knowledge is power”. So it follows that you should always be aware of what volume of sound you’re subjecting your ears to. Keeping track of the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. But you can also buy a volume meter app for your cellphone to make it convenient to monitor the real-world volume levels your ears are experiencing from day-to-day. You will want to make some changes if the meter consistently detects volumes louder than 85 dB.
  • Take breaks: Your ears are the same as any other part of your body: they can become exhausted and will frequently benefit from a break. So take frequent breaks from the noise. In this way, noises won’t overwhelm and harm your ears. Regarding hearing, how long you’re exposed is nearly as important as how high the volume is. Taking breaks can be the difference between just the right amount of stimulation and too much!

Ear protection is important

Using ear protection is the number one most effective way to protect your hearing. A lot of musicians are concerned that ear protection will mute the sound and effects its overall sound quality. But depending on what type of hearing protection you use, that might not always be accurate.

  • Ear plugs made primarily for musicians: Most individuals are likely familiar with disposable ear plugs. They don’t always fit comfortably, but they do reliably block a lot of sound. They’re inexpensive, easy to find, and easy to throw away. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. But earplugs just for musicians are also available at a slightly higher cost. These earplugs use cutting-edge manufacturing tricks (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to fit comfortably in the ear) to maintain audio fidelity while diminishing the noise you hear by about 20dB. This option is perfect for musicians who need a light to moderate amount of protection (and who don’t have a lot of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to lose them).
  • Electronic earplugs: The same basic functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can also be found in electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block most of the sound. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. For individuals who work in really loud settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are perfect.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a significant part of modern music. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and sends them directly to a device placed inside of your ear (called an in-ear monitor). The majority of monitors are small speakers that fit snugly and block out the majority of sound while playing sounds you want to hear at safe volumes. This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. In-ear monitors are beneficial for people who work primarily with electronically amplified instruments.

Safeguard your hearing, and protect your career

It’s best to begin safeguarding your hearing early, before any substantial harm occurs. With solutions available at nearly every price point, there are easy ways for everybody to safeguard their hearing and their future. 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.

Don’t quite know where to start? Contact us today, we can help!

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.