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Hearing tests and the importance of protecting your hearing

Discussion in 'Recording' started by ChrisH, Feb 27, 2015.

  1. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

    Nov 22, 2011
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Hi everyone,

    I've always been the one to wear earplugs at loud concerts and when playing in bands I would at least wear something like DT770's over my ears (i've always had a problem with wearing foam ear plugs while playing music, there's a disconnect). I recently decided to checkup on how my hearing is doing (you can do this easily with quality headphones or studio monitors in a noise free environment) and to my discovery I can only hear up to 15,000hz, kind of disappointing considering i'm only 25 and have been as safe as possible most of time.
    It would be interesting to see where everyone's hearing checks out at

    Here is a link
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Moderator Resource Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    I'm VERY glad to hear someone your age is aware of the hazards of sound exposure and thinking about hearing protection.

    I've been using custom-moulded Westone ER15 earplugs anytime I'm playing, (watching another band, riding the motorcycle, mowing the lawn, or anything else loud) for the last 24 years. Otherwise, I'd probably be deaf as a stump by now. The 7-pc band I was in at the time was working 2-5 nights a week, and by Sunday my ears would be ringing pretty good after cramming 7 people on some of those small stages. I swear it was being so close to the drummer's cymbals and snare that stung my ears more than anything else I was doing on guitar and keyboards. I knew I had to do something, and our soundman had bought ER15s about a year earlier and assured me they sounded great and fit perfectly. Since they're custom-moulded you can't really let anyone else try yours, so I had to take his word for it. I'd tried everything else over the years and found them all to be very uncomfortable, unpleasant sounding, or both. My good friend the soundman was right, the Westones give you 15dB of attenuation that doesn't alter the tone. They just reduce the volume 15dB. You'd be surprised how much clearer EVERYTHING is at -15dB. [They make -9dB filters and -25dB filters if 15 doesn't suit you.] People will come up and shout in my ear to talk to me and I'm backing away to 3ft, because I can hear them so clearly. They always look puzzled, apparently I can hear them better than they can hear their own shouting voice. And I'm the guy the other guitar player will come to and say, "could you turn UP a little bit, or turn your amp my way? I'm having trouble hearing you." He's not an overbearing volume guy either, but he's not wearing plugs - and on my side of the stage the volume is perfect, and things sound nice and clear because my eardrum isn't overloading. So I'll tilt my amp at him, or sometimes play straight across the stage for his benefit (knowing the soundman has me covered in the mains). As an added benefit, due to the plugged-ear-effect, I require little to no vocal monitor and can hear my own voice extremely well. When I first got them it took a couple weeks to learn how to sing with good plugs in. Because I could hear everything so well, and my own voice was so clear in my head - I was holding back vocally, and not belting it out like I needed to.

    Westones (or similar) are custom-moulded, so they're made specifically for your ear canal, and so comfortable you might forget you have them in. And where foam earplugs can only absorb highs and high-mids and leave the lows and low-mids through. ER15s are virtually neutral from a tonal point of view, if anything you'll gain clarity - simply because, like I said earlier, the reduction in sound-pressure lets your ear hear much more detail and articulation.

    My son is 22 now, and has been wearing ER15s playing drums, going to concerts, etc. for over 5 years now. I was extremely happy to foot the bill for his $185 earplugs when he asked if he could get a pair for his 17th birthday. I wish I would have started protecting my hearing sooner than my late 20's. I tried several earplugs in my late teens early 20's that I just couldn't stand, then a few too many years later - the Westones were an absolute godsend. I couldn't be happier with them, and cannot recommend the strongly enough. You will not find a better investment in your audio / music career.
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Moderator (Distinguished Member) Resource Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    I began wearing hearing protection far too late in life. I was probably 40 by the time I started, which left around 24 years of playing clubs and concert halls unprotected.

    I think I'm lucky, my most recent test ( with a real audiologist) showed that I was solid up to 16k, and that I could hear intermittent sections of 17k.... but beyond that, I've got nothing.

    What I am dealing with right now, however, is my perception of certain mid-range frequencies. For the last 6 months or so, I'm hearing 900hz - 2k as being too hot - and in all types of audio, too; professional commercial releases, home recordings, in all styles; rock, orchestral, acoustic, jazz... and, on different playback mediums as well; home theater, car radio, studio monitoring.

    The good news is, that at least I know why I am hearing audio this way. I'm on some medication right now where - according to my Doc - this sense of "hyped" mid-range has been documented in some people as a possible side effect of the medication.
    I've recently been working with Chris and Bos to work out a method of frequency compensation on my monitoring EQ, to assist in helping me from wanting to attenuate that frequency range, when I really shouldn't be attenuating it.

    FWIW :)


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