It seems obvious that one should wear earplugs when constantly exposed to loud sounds, but does this apply to DJs, musicians and drummers? Drummers are in the middle of the noise at any gig, so their ears are endangered. DJs are DJing in between two massive monitor speakers, and their headphones hardly protect their actual ear canals. Manufacturers reply with rolling out special versions of earplugs that are meant to protect their ears from endless pressure. But do they work as they are supposed to? On simplydrum.com, you can read about the best models.
To check this, a special research is needed. One of the most common consequences of exposing one’s hearing to frequent loud sounds is tinnitus, also known as ringing in the ear. Another effect that has been reported is, like you might guess, hearing damage. If a group of drummers that did not use earplugs had these symptoms, and another group that did use them had less or none of these, it would have been a positive answer.
Loudness becomes dangerous at 80 dB. The loudest concert ever is said to produce 139 dB (Manowar, 2008). At regular rock or jazz concerts, one can expect about 100 dB. On the stage it’s not as loud, because most sound is produced by PA’s facing the audience. Still, it’s better to reduce the loudness for about 20 dB to make it safer. The earplugs that provide this effect are considered worthy protection.
Still, there are models that offer solid 15 or 17 dB protection. If the concert you’re playing is not meant to be extremely loud, these can also be salvation. Usually these earplugs come in packs, so you can select the one you need for any given sort of noise. Professional ones reduce loudness but don’t muffle the sound. So they deserve a closer look.
Some drummers prefer noise-cancelling earphones. The advantage of these is that one can hear themselves playing (via microphones) with a metronome added if necessary. Metronomes are not to be underrated even by experienced drummers. That’s a reason to prefer noise-cancelling headphones.
These headphones can provide up to 25 dB noise reduction. Yet the sound of the earphones can be not as natural as one would like. So many drummers prefer earplugs that reduce the loudness but leave the overall soundscape intact.
If you’re looking for cheap earplugs, we recommend $9.99 hi-fidelity DownBeats earplugs, which you can find here.
If you have had any experience with earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones, share your thoughts. How long have you been using them? Have you tried different types? How did music influence your hearing with these on? Drop a comment to share your experience. For someone, it might be a great help.