How to Prevent Hearing Loss for Musicians
As musicians, our most valuable tool is our hearing. Our ears are sensitive, and we often underestimate how easy it is to damage them. Here are some facts that we’ve pulled together and some sound advice on how to avoid hearing loss.
In a cross-sectional study, 125 professional musicians with at least five years of work experience underwent hearing checkup. Almost half of them exhibited hearing loss in at least one ear.
Musicians who deal with loud noises on a daily basis are 4 times more likely to suffer from Tinnitus and permanent hearing damage. Continuous exposure to noise levels of 85dB, equivalent to playing a violin or a busy street, is already considered unsafe. Loud sounds which causes pain to the ear, is usually between 115 and 140 dB, which is equivalent to rock music peak at a concert and an ambulance siren.
|normal piano practice||60-70 dB|
|chamber music in small auditorium||75-85 dB|
|french horn||90-106 dB|
|timpani & bass drum rolls||106 dB|
|symphonic music peak||120-137 dB|
|rock music peak||150 dB|
A decibel level of 0db is equivalent to total silence, and is the quietest noise level the human ear is capable of perceiving. 30dB is equivalent to a soft whisper, and 60db a regular conversation. Anything louder than 85dB can cause hearing damage with prolonged exposure, and noises above 120dB can cause immediate damage.
|normal conversation||60-70 dB|
|Alarm clock, hair dryer||75-85 dB|
|City traffic||80-85 dB|
|Blender, home smoke alarm||84-103 dB|
|Lawn mower||90 dB|
|Sporting event||105 dB|
|Ambulance siren||120 dB|
1. Get informed
Learn about the levels of noise and repercussions of long exposure to these levels – especially the sound coming from the instrument you play.
2. Use a sound meter
Using a sound meter is a great way to determine if your surrounding noise levels are safe. The Soundbrenner Core comes with a built-in dB meter that accurately measures the decibel levels of your environment, so you can check whether or not you need to protect your hearing.
The Volume Alarm feature checks your surroundings 24/7 to ensure that you aren’t exposing yourself to harmful sounds. The Core will alert you when you may be at risk for hearing damage. This tool is indispensable for musicians, who are constantly bombarded with sounds throughout the day.
3. Wearing earplugs
There are many forms of hearing protection available in the market, ranging from in-ear monitors (IEMS) that double as stage monitors, over-ear headphones for drummers that are designed to block out harsh high-end frequencies from cymbals.
…designed to filter out excessive bass and treble frequencies while still allowing you to enjoy the music at reasonable volumes.
Concert earplugs, like the ones that ship with the Soundbrenner Core, are designed to filter out excessive bass and treble frequencies while still allowing you to enjoy the music at reasonable volumes. This has the added benefit of making concerts sound better and less distorted, since the earplugs act as a physical EQ to reduce harsh frequencies. On average, you can expect most hearing protection products to block out anywhere from 25 to 32db of background noise.
Both the Soundbrenner Core and Soundbrenner Core Steel include ear plugs.
4. Do not stand directly in front of speakers
Avoid having your amp, PA or stage monitors pointed directly at you. Instead, try standing behind the source of the sound. Use the decibel meter on the Soundbrenner Core to find the quietest spot away from the amp. This will allow you to play at the same volume (meaning the audience gets to hear you clearly) without being exposed to as loud of a noise level.
Avoid having your amp, PA or stage monitors pointed directly at you.
5. Take regular breaks
It’s also important to take regular breaks during practice sessions or rehearsals in order to avoid excessive stress on your ears. Use your Soundbrenner Core to set a timer to remind yourself to stop and rest every 1-2 hours.