Musicians' Hearing Loss and Prevention
Musicians, from classical orchestras to rock groups, are exposed to high decibel ranges. Hearing is important to the livelihood of a musician. Musical performance can create sounds loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss in seconds. Some hearing loss in musicians may be considered occupational hearing loss, and it may interfere with the musician's ability to perform the daily tasks of his or her profession (Sataloff, 1991).
Musicians suffer not just from hearing loss but also from ringing in their ears (i.e. tinnitus) and various pitch-perception problems (i.e. diminished frequency resolution). Music lovers should be cautious about the length of time and volume of music to which they expose their ears. Many performing musicians use in-ear monitors to regulate the levels of sound they absorb on the stage while performing.
In-ear monitors (IEMs) are devices used by musicians to listen to music or to hear a custom mix of vocals and stage instrumentation for live performance or recording studio mixing. They are often custom fitted for an individual's ears and provide a high level of noise reduction from ambient surroundings. Depending on the quality of the fit and length of the ear canal, a custom fit in-ear monitor will generally provide somewhere between 25 and 35 dB of noise reduction. In-ear monitors are also beneficial for using with personal music players (e.g. iPods, Smartphones, iPads, Laptops, etc.). IEMs provide the epitome of a personal music listening experience, providing unrivaled sound quality, while simultaneously reducing background noise. When background noise/ambient noise is reduced, people instinctively turn the volume to a safer listening level - protecting your ears, increasing music fidelity, and increasing your enjoyment.
Musicians who do not need amplified playback in their ears may benefit from custom-fitted musicians’ earplugs. These are non-electrical (i.e. passive) earplugs fitted with custom filters to make specific sounds in the music spectrum softer, without compromising the overall musical experience. Ordinary ear plugs cut off high-frequency sounds more than low-frequency sounds, making voices muffled and the timbre of music dull. The natural sound from musicians’ ear plugs solves this problem by reducing all frequencies equally without distortion. Musician's earplugs are also beneficial for listening to live concerts. The entire soundscape will remain the exact way the artist intended, but it will be at a safer listening level.
Both in-ear monitors and musicians ear plugs work best when custom molded to an individual's ear. We offer a wide range of custom molded in-ear monitors and musicians' ear plugs to suit your specific musical needs and experience. See our page on "Musician's Earplugs and Monitors" for more information on these products.
Sataloff, R.T. (1991). Hearing loss in musicians. American Journal of Otology, 12(2), 122-127.