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. But music is so much more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing hazard. The musicians themselves are at an increased risk of hearing damage since they are subjected to loud music just about every day.

Whether your livelihood relies on music or not, you’ll still want to be able to hear your favorite songs when you’re in your later years of life. The key to having a long successful career, for musicians, is protecting their ears. Ear protection is also key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment for everyone.

Music is surprisingly loud

If you ask the majority of people whether a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

Is music really that loud? People may not be so quick 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 music is certainly loud! Your ears can even be harmed by classical music which can get to relatively high volumes.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be created by a violin, for example. That’s around as noisy as a leaf blower. In Europe, for instance, they have laws that require hearing protection for anyone who works in a setting where there is noise above 85 dB.

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

Can you safeguard your ears from noise damage?

Okay, now you’re aware that musicians need to safeguard their hearing (especially if they want to keep on rocking out for many years). So how can musicians keep enjoying their music while also preserving their hearing?

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

  • Track your volume: Everyone knows the old saying “knowledge is power”. So being aware of volume levels of sounds around you will help you protect your hearing. Keeping track of the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. But you can also track 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 some changes if the meter regularly reads above 85 dB.
  • Take breaks: Your ears are like any other part of your body: they can be overworked and will frequently benefit from rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” regularly. This will help prevent your ears from getting overpowered with sound (and damage). Duration is almost as important as volume with regard to hearing health. Taking breaks can be the difference between just enough stimulation and too much!

Wear ear protection

Using hearing protection is the single most effective way to protect your hearing. Lots of musicians are worried that ear protection will mute the sound and effects its overall sound quality. But depending on what kind 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 individuals. They don’t always fit comfortably, but they do reliably stop a lot of sound. They’re cheap, easy to find, and easy to throw away. For musicians, they aren’t an ideal solution. But earplugs made just for musicians are also available at a slightly higher cost. A special material and state-of-the-art engineering are utilized to help these earplugs fit comfortably in the ear and reduce external noise by about 20% while maintaining the audio clarity. For musicians who need a moderate amount of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs work in pretty much the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The majority of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. For individuals who work in really noisy settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are ideal.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a significant part of modern music. A device, called an in-ear-monitor, is placed in your ear and transmits signals in electronically. Most 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. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the perfect solution.

Safeguard your hearing, and protect your career

It’s best to begin protecting your hearing early, before any substantial harm occurs. Everybody can protect their hearing and future with hearing protection options for every budget. Keep in mind, hearing 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.

Contact us 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.