One of the oft-ignored downfalls of live music is the danger it presents to our hearing.
Unless you’re at an unamplified performance – and even acoustic patio performers often use amplification – chances are live music is subjecting your ears to unsafe noise levels. It seems even relatively quiet, folk-leaning bands like to turn it up to 11 in concert, potentially putting the audience’s hearing at risk.
Audio Help Hearing Centers in New York City and Stamford, Connecticut remind you that noise levels above 85 decibels (dB) – roughly the sound of heavy city traffic at street level – can cause hearing loss. Many live concerts easily exceed that, weighing in at 100 decibels or more depending on the venue and your proximity to the speakers.
These sound levels can quickly damage the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear, resulting in permanent hearing loss. Concerts can also lead to tinnitus, a perceived ringing, humming or buzzing sound in the ears. This sound may or may not go away after a day or two.
What’s a live music lover to do? Avoiding concerts doesn’t seem like a viable option if attending shows is such a boost to quality of life. But neither does going deaf.
The answer may be making a small investment in your hearing health by purchasing reusable earplugs specifically made for live music settings. These products are designed to let in the rich, full sound of the music, but lower the volume to acceptable levels.
There are an increasing number of options on the market, with each being significantly safer than letting your naked eardrums get blasted by amplified guitars, drums and vocals. Pay attention to the noise reduction ratings (NRR) given for each set – the goal is to get the sound level down to 85 dB or lower from the typical 100 dB of a concert.
Audio Help offers the following suggestions on products to give you peace of mind at the next show:
- Vibes Hi-Fi Earplugs: These 15 NRR earplugs are shipped with three interchangeable sizes designed to comfortably fit any ear. They also include a convenient, pocket-sized case to protect them on the way to the venue. ($23.98, includes shipping)
- LiveMus!c HearSafe Earplugs: Available in standard and large sizes, these earplugs are shipped with two pairs in one package, a 29 NRR set and a 23 NRR set. These cone-shaped earplugs offer more protection than the average earplug, better protecting your hearing if you’re close to the speakers. Includes a cylinder keychain for easy storage and transport. ($28.95 for two pairs on Amazon)
- EarPeace: These earplugs differ from others because they include interchangeable filters featuring 17, 20 and 26 NRR values. Available in standard or petite sizes, they also include a cylinder keychain for safekeeping. ($24.95)
- Etymotic ER•20 xs: Standard and large sizes are options with these units, which feature a pull-tap for easy removal from the ear canal. Shipped with a keychain pouch and neck cord so you can remove them safely during quiet songs, these have a 12 NRR (although the manufacturer claims they provide about 20 dB reduction in human ears). ($19.95)
Are you concerned about damaging your hearing from live music or other loud sounds? Learn more about how Audio Help’s services can benefit you by calling 888-290-1194 or scheduling an appointment online.