I heard a colossal whack on the snare drum as I was micing the bottom and I realized this would make me deaf if I heard it a few more times. That was audio school.
Over the years I have had access to a lot of music festivals and live concerts from sound check all the way to show time which in turn meant a lot of eardrum-obliteration. The life of a live sound engineer can be regarded as one of the most “Gangsta” professions, but getting paid to listen to music can have their own downsides. One of them definitely is gradual hearing loss; something I’d absolutely not want for the longevity of a “Sound” Career.
To counter such, I invested in a Pair of Etymotic Research ER20 early on. They have been my companion at live concerts, music festivals, public transport, you name it.
The ER20 are a 3 flange ear-tip design, with a Stem and a tether to hang it around the neck. The Damper and the Sealing ring sitting inside the ear-tips are designed to precision, rolling off any high-frequencies that might prove harmful at prolonged exposure.
The Earplugs may not attenuate absolutely flat across the frequency spectrum but it takes care of all your harsh high pitched transients. The plugs realistically roll off 15dB to 18dB between 30Hz to 1kHz and then dip a further to 22dB between 1kHz to 20kHz with a spike back up to 20dB around 4kHz with a wide Q. Which effectively means You’re protecting your ears while listening to the source softer by around 20dB without the loss of fidelity around the voice and melody and have a proper bass response too. One can also have a conversation with them on.
If You see me walking around in plugs and I don’t hear You call out, it could either be because I did not hear You or maybe I did not want to.
An average 20dB dip can make a world of a difference when you are front center or at FOH at a Concert running at 115dB to 120dB. That’s easily the Threshold of Pain for your eardrums after about an hour of exposure.
At $14 the plugs are extremely comfortable to wear and come with a nice Silicon? carrying case/pouch. The stem may seem and feel hard and obstructing initially but once You’re plugged in for long enough it becomes a part of you. That said one needs to be extremely careful while dispensing hugs and cheek kisses at social do’s as it could prove hazardous if they get wedged in. A Hi-Viz tether rope may help your cause or may be just don’t be as happy to see someone as You’d be otherwise.
The ER20 don’t wear out so easily either. I used my first pair for 3 years until one of those flanges tore and I had to order my next. Then I lost one. They’re extremely light and tend to fly off if You’re not plugged in.
Invest in a good pair today and feel the difference when You do not walk out of a concert exhausted by the volumes You’ve been exposed to.
In conclusion – the race to loudness is never going to phase out. Remember, your hearing is the only irreplaceable set of skills you have. Protect it.
Follow the link for a brilliant helmet earplug solution and review. The NO NOISE Motorsport and Music Earplugs
All Pictures Courtesy : Sigmund Q
Product Courtesy : Karen Aranha. Thank You for carrying it down for me.
- Sigmund Q