Should Musicians Use Ear Protection?

Close up of drummer's hands playing a drum kit. Drums are very loud, the player should be wearing hearing protection.

Musicians rock. They bring so much happiness to our lives with their songs. The downside is that music is nearly always loud, in fact, many people like it better that way. Since musicians expose themselves to loud music frequently, their hearing is at an increased risk of being damaged.

As you grow older, you’ll still want to be able to enjoy your favorite songs whether you’re a musician or not. For musicians, protecting their hearing is the key to an extended and successful career. For the rest of us, hearing protection is the key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment and enrichment.

Oftentimes it can be surprising how loud music can get

If you ask the majority of people whether a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

But what about music? If you ask someone whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is loud, they might not reply so quickly. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is certainly loud! Your ears can even be damaged by classical music which can reach fairly high volumes.

A violin, for example, can produce sounds well over 90 dB. That’s about as noisy as a leaf blower. To put that into context, the European Union regulations stipulate that any workplace noisier than 85 dB requires the use of hearing protection.

And if you’re working with music day in and day out, consistent exposure to that sort of volume, especially without ear protection, can seriously damage your hearing over time.

Can you safeguard your ears from noise damage?

Okay, musicians who want to preserve their hearing for years to come need to protect their hearing. So what can musicians do to protect their hearing and still enjoy the music they love so much?

Here are a couple of strategies:

  • Track your volume: Everyone remembers the old saying “knowledge is power”. So knowing volume levels of noises around you will help you protect your hearing. Sometimes, this is as simple as tracking your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also purchase a decibel meter app for your cellphone to make it easy to monitor the real-world volume levels your ears are experiencing from day-to-day. You will need to make a few changes if the meter consistently reads louder than 85 dB.
  • Take breaks: Like any part of your body, your ears can become exhausted and might need a little break. So take regular breaks from the noise. This will help prevent your ears from becoming overwhelmed with noise (and damage). Regarding hearing, how long you’re exposed is almost as important as how high the volume is. Taking breaks can be the difference between just enough stimulation and too much!

hearing protection is important

Needless to say, the single most beneficial thing you can do to protect your hearing is easy: using ear protection of some kind. Lots of musicians are concerned that ear protection will muffle the sound and impact its overall sound quality. That isn’t always the case, depending on which type of ear protection you choose.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s most likely very familiar to most people. They’re pretty good at blocking a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit comfortably. They’re inexpensive, easy to find, and easy to dispose of. And they aren’t ideal for musicians. But earplugs made just for musicians are also available at a slightly higher cost. These earplugs use modern manufacturing methods (mostly they’re made out of very distinct materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to maintain audio clarity while reducing the noise you experience by something like 20dB. For musicians who require a moderate level of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: The same basic functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can be found in electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block out the majority of the sound. What you hear will instead be piped in by the earplug itself. This option is perfect for people who work in particularly loud settings, and who are looking for more options in terms of controlling volume.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a major part of modern music. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and conveys them directly to a device placed in your ear (called an in-ear monitor). It’s like a special little speaker for your ear, and most monitors can block out sound from the outside world (thanks to a fairly tight fit and specialized design). So you regulate the volume level and can hear sound in an accurate and clear way. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the perfect answer.

Safeguard your career by protecting your ears

It’s never too late to take measures to protect your ears, but it’s definitely a good plan to start sooner rather than later. Everyone can safeguard their hearing and future with ear protection solutions at all price points. Remember, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to ensure you’ll be making incredible music for years (maybe even decades) to come!

Contact us so we can help you get started.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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