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 rock. Their performances bring us so much enjoyment. But music is a lot more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing risk. Since musicians expose themselves to loud music on a daily basis, their hearing is at an increased risk of being harmed.

Whether your income depends 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, preserving their hearing is the key to a long and successful career. Hearing protection is also key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment for everybody.

Music is surprisingly loud

If you ask most individuals if a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

Is music actually that loud? If you ask someone whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is noisy, they may not answer right away. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is certainly loud! Even classical music can reach fairly loud volumes that can easily harm your hearing.

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

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

How can you protect your hearing?

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

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

  • Take breaks: Like any part of your body, your ears can become tired and might need a little break. So take regular breaks from the noise. By doing this, noises won’t overwhelm and damage your ears. Regarding hearing, how long you’re exposed is almost as important as how high the volume is. The difference between the ideal amount of stimulation and too much can come down to taking frequent breaks.
  • Track your volume: Everyone remembers the old saying “knowledge is power”. So it follows that you should always know what volume of sound you’re exposing your ears to. Usually, this is as simple as keeping track of your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also monitor day-to-day volume levels of external noises using a decibel meter app that you can download on your cellphone. You will need to make a few changes if the meter regularly reads above 85 dB.

Wear ear protection

Of course, the single most beneficial thing you can do to protect your ears is easy: wearing hearing protection of some kind. A lot of musicians are worried that hearing protection will mute the sound and impact its overall sound quality. But depending on what kind of hearing protection you use, that might not always be true.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s likely very familiar to most individuals. They’re pretty good at stopping a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit comfortably. They aren’t difficult to get, aren’t expensive, and can be disposed of easily. And they aren’t ideal for musicians. But earplugs just for musicians are also available at a slightly higher cost. These earplugs use modern manufacturing methods (mostly they’re made out of very distinct materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to preserve audio fidelity while diminishing the noise you hear by something like 20dB. For musicians who require a moderate amount of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs work in essentially the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block out most of the sound. But the earplug itself will send in the sound you hear. 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 transmits them directly to a device placed in your ear (called an in-ear monitor). The majority of monitors are small speakers that fit snugly and block out most sound while playing sounds you want to hear at less harmful volumes. This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the perfect answer.

Protect your career by protecting your ears

It’s never too late to take steps to protect your hearing, but it’s definitely a good plan to begin sooner rather than later. With solutions available at nearly every price point, there are simple ways for everybody to protect their hearing and their future. Keep in mind, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to ensure you’ll be making amazing music for many years (maybe even decades) to come!

Don’t really 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.

Stop struggling to hear conversations. Come see us today. Call or Text