Musicians’ Hearing Loss and Prevention
Musicians, from classical orchestras to rock groups, are exposed to high decibel ranges. Hearing is important to the livelihood of a musician. Musical performance may create sounds loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss. Some hearing loss in musicians may be considered occupational hearing loss, and it may interfere with the musician’s ability to perform the daily tasks of his or her profession (Sataloff, 1991).
Musicians suffer not just from hearing loss but also a ringing in their ears and various pitch-perception problems. Music lovers should be modest in the length of time and level of loud music to which they expose their ears. Many performing musicians use ear monitors to regulate the levels of sound they absorb on the stage while performing.
In-ear monitors are devices used by musicians to listen to music or to hear a custom mix of vocals and stage instrumentation for live performance or recording studio mixing. They are often custom fitted for an individual’s ears and provide a high level of noise reduction from ambient surroundings. Depending on the quality of the fit and length of the ear canal, a custom fit in-ear monitor will generally provide somewhere between 25 and 35 dB of noise reduction.
Musicians who do not need amplified playback in their ears may benefit from custom-fitted musicians’ earplugs. These are non-electrical earplugs fitted with custom filters to make specific sounds in the music spectrum softer, while not compromising the overall musical experience. Ordinary ear plugs cut off high-frequency sounds, making voices muffled and the timbre of music dull. The natural sound from musicians’ ear plugs solves this problem by reducing the volume you hear without distorting the sounds.
Both in-ear monitors and musicians’ ear plugs can be custom made and fitted by a licensed hearing-care professional to each musician’s personal needs.
Sataloff, R.T. (1991). Hearing loss in musicians. American Journal of Otology, 12(2), 122-127.