6AM’s Guide To Hearing Protection

Author : Harry Levin
March 18, 2019

6AM’s Guide To Hearing Protection

In this business, your ears are literally everything, and you need to protect them.

It might seem like a good idea to adopt the “you only live once” attitude when you’re enjoying a night of techno; to let the music envelop you without impediment. Dance music is just as much about longevity as it is about pleasure, though. Proper techno parties last eight hours or more, and if that party has a proper sound system that’s eight hours of nonstop exposure to hazardous decibel levels. Extrapolate that over years of techno parties and that’s thousands of hours of pummeling your hearing.

Take it from veteran DJ/Producer Daley Padley, a.k.a. Hot Since 82, when he says you need to protect you ears:

“Tinnitus in both ears now !! This is not pleasant. It’s keeping me up at night now, kids use ear plugs while raving. Having this sucks.” – Hot Since 82

Hot Since 82 releases second single, ‘Bloodlines’ from forthcoming ‘8-track’ projectHot Since 82


Tinnitus, or a constant ringing in the ears, is just one of the possible side effects of overexposure to noise, and according to Besthearinghealth.com those side effects can extend into areas of your life outside auditory health:

“Hearing loss has been linked to declines in the quality of our relationships, depression and even other health concerns like heart disease.”

After all, hearing is one our five senses, and our senses are the means by which we receive information and interact with the world. Imagine having trouble holding a conversation with a friend because you have to constantly ask them to speak up or repeat themselves. Imagine being kept up all night like Padley because the ringing in your ears is so severe. Any loss in terms of your hearing would have a drastic effect on your quality of life, and often times it is irreversible.

In general there are two types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural. Conductive hearing loss typically refers to obstructions within the ear canal such as a buildup of ear wax or a perforation of the ear drum, with hearing restored fully after the obstruction has cleared. Sensorineural hearing loss refers to damages to the tiny hair-like cells within your ear, and it is irreversible. Sensorineural hearing loss has multiple causes including aging, disease and overexposure to noise.

According to Everydayhearing.com, normal levels of conversation reach approximately 65 decibels whereas concerts and other music events can reach upwards of 120 decibels. Even two minutes of exposure to these levels can lead to hearing loss, so imagine an eight-hour techno party. Or yet, a three-day festival. Luckily there are many practical and easy ways to prevent sensorineural hearing loss. Find a few solutions below:

1. Earplugs

Live music aficionados are not the only demographic that is constantly exposed to hazardous noise levels. Construction workers, aircraft marshals and people who work on factory floors are just some other groups who deal with excessive noise on a daily basis. As such, earplugs have become extremely accessible and efficient in protecting your ears.

You can buy disposable earplugs at practically any chain drug store. There are earplugs made for specific purposes like concerts or shooting ranges, and brands like DownBeats who do a fantastic job in providing hi-fidelity ear protection at a very cheap cost! In fact, we love DownBeats so much that we ensure we have them available for attendees at our events in Los Angeles.

You can even have custom earplugs molded to your ear canals made by companies like ACS CustomsDecibullz, Earpeace, or Protectear. Many people reject earplugs at concerts because they think it will diminish the quality of sound. That may be true with disposables (if only slightly), but with custom earplugs it’s like you’re simply turning the volume down on the world around you. A small price to pay for long-term health.

2. Rest

Just like your legs need rest after a night of dancing, your ears need rest after a night of throbbing techno. As referenced earlier, many techno parties can last for three days or more, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find moments to relax. Remember the importance of longevity. Not every minute of the festival has to be spent next to the speakers. Enjoy the quiet areas where it’s easier to converse with friends both old and new. If you’ve traveled abroad for the event in question, revel in the unexplored scenery. The music is what brings everyone together, but it’s not the only thing to enjoy.

3. Be conscious of your environment

No two venues are the same whether it’s a club you’ve been too a thousand times, a huge festival or a brand new warehouse space. The sound will always be different, and you can consciously adjust yourself in service to your hearing health. For instance if you’re at massive festival where stages are capable of housing tens of thousands of people, it’s not to difficult to stand at a distance from the speakers where your ears aren’t being shredded. If you’re in a new club with a freshly calibrated system that surrounds the entire dance-floor, be aware of how long you’ve been standing in the epicenter of sound.

This applies outside of live music events as well. If you live in a big city with lots of traffic and frequent construction projects it might be a good idea to wear earplugs when you’re out for a walk. If you’re listening to headphones at home try to avoid playing them at full volume. Also be aware that earbuds are worse for your hearing over time because they’re placed directly outside the opening to your ear canal.

If you’ve come to this site, music and events are presumably a very important part of your life, and we at 6AM want you to enjoy that part of your life for as long as possible. One burst of feedback or distortion through a professional system can leave you with permanent hearing damage. It really would be a shame to sacrifice decades of dance-music frivolity to a few nights of faulty sound work and a “you only live once” mentality.

It is true that you only live once, but with some simple changes your ears can function properly throughout your one life.