Musician's Custom Earplugs
Preventing Hearing Loss
Some sources of very excessive noise exposure are fairly obvious:
- Amplified music (as a spectator or performer)
- Power tools (drills, saws, nail-guns, etc.)
- Firearms (recreational, military, occupational, etc.)
- Airplane/jet engines
Some less obvious examples of excessive noise exposure are:
- Subway stations
- Restaurant kitchen noise
- Hair dryers
- Boat engines
Noise is everywhere.
Whether obvious or less apparent, all of these, and more, can have significant consequences for hearing.
Sometimes the impact of noise can be sudden, such as an unexpected trauma from an explosion or uncontrolled feedback from a powerful loudspeaker. Often there is no way to prepare for an unexpected noise trauma and the results can be devastating. More often however, noise exposure is predictable and therefore manageable. Examples would be; cutting the grass every week in the summer, band practice, or daily use of power tools. When noise exposure is predictable, whether occasional or long-term, having and using appropriate hearing protection is easy, and can greatly decrease the potential for noise-related hearing loss. Any hearing protection is better than none.
Three Basic Categories of Hearing Protection
Musician's Custom Earplugs
- Sound-board operators
- Band teachers
- and many others…
Musician’s Earplugs are made the same way as custom earplugs, described above. However, unlike earplugs which are simply intended to reduce as much sound as possible, musician’s earplugs are designed to attenuate (reduce) sound in a very specific way. Musician’s earplugs reduce the level of the sound getting through to the ear canal, but attempt to maintain the frequency characteristics of the original signal. This allows musicians to play or sing along more easily, by hearing the sound as it was intended to be heard, only softer. This also makes them nice for concert-goers. Most custom-made musician’s earplugs use filters designed by Etymotic Research, and are identified by the initials ER (for Etymotic Research) followed by the decibel attenuation of the filters. Thus:
- 25 dB attenuating filters are called ER-25
- 15 dB attenuating filters are called ER-15
- 9 dB attenuating filters are called ER-9
The filters snap into the special custom molds and can be removed at any time so that the mold can be cleaned with soap and water. (The filter itself should not get wet.) Some musicians keep filter sets of various attenuation levels, so that they can use the level most appropriate to the venue. When we order your musician’s plugs, we will help you choose a level that is right for you. Although we generally refer to these as Musician’s Earmolds, the same product can be used for many others as noted above. Dentists, for instance, are regularly exposed to the shrill sound of high-speed drills, but need to communicate with patients and staff. Pilots are exposed to engine noise, but need to communicate with the flight crew and be prepared to hear radio communications. Band teachers spend years in concrete-walled classrooms with a cacophony of instrumentalists, but need to hear the questions and comments of their students. (Not to mention the noise during lunch duty in the cafeteria!) So although these are usually called musician’s earmolds, their use is certainly not limited to musicians.Auditory Services will help you choose and obtain the right hearing protection for your needs. Your hearing is so important. Let us help you preserve it.