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Thread: Ear Protection: Another question

  1. #1
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009 & Auntie Mame AltoRuth's Avatar
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    Question Ear Protection: Another question

    I was very interested in Hammertime's earlier query in this forum about what kind of ear protection might have been useful in his jazz camp experience. This got me thinking about how much sound is too much and whether there is any way of knowing the difference between merely annoying and hazardous.

    I'm an amateur, and play mainly concert/community band music, but between concerts and rehearsals I play on the average 3X week. My bands are brass heavy and I am positioned in one group in front of the baritone horns, most of whom have front-facing bells. One player in particular plays loudly and directly to the back of my head. In another band I typically sit in front of a French horn player similarly inclined to play every piece, even a tender ballad, as though it were a call to arms. Changing my seat is not an option and in the interest of not making waves, I'm disinclined to say anything. The director has tried in vain to quiet things, but these are amateur community bands, all-volunteer, open to all......you get the picture.

    So, am I putting my hearing at risk, or merely my sanity, which is pretty well shot as it is?

    All input, serious and otherwise, welcome!

    Ruth
    "Already too loud!"
    Bruno Walter at his first rehearsal with an American orchestra, on seeing the players reaching for their instruments.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    I sympathize with you AltoRuth.

    Can't say how much is too much, but it's definitely annoying that saxes have to sit directly in front of the brass section. I played in several jazz/big bands, and experienced the same thing you are dealing with.

    I tried putting cotton in my ears once, but that interfered with my perception of sounds - my own and everybody else's. And on some gigs I play, my ears are ringing for a little while afterwards.

    I wish you luck...

  3. #3
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Forum Contributor 2008
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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    For many young folks, hearing loss might seem like a remote possibility. It's not. Take care of your ears if you want to enjoy life later on. Something like this might be helpful:

    http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...entPage=search

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    Distinguished Member and Forum Contributor 2008 saxmanglen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    The following chart outlines exposure and time before permanent damage.


    90 dbA 8 hrs
    92 dbA 6 hrs
    95 dbA 4 hrs
    97 dbA 3 hrs
    100 dbA 2 hrs
    102 dbA 1.5 hrs
    105 dbA 1 hr
    110 dbA 0.5 hr
    115 dbA 0.25 hr or less

    Note: When the daily noise exposure is composed of two or
    more periods of noise exposure of different levels, their combined
    effect should be considered, rather than the individual effect of
    each. Exposure to impulsive or impact noise should not exceed
    140 dB peak sound pressure level.


    Most people are exposed to dangerous noise levels on a daily basis, but usually for far less time than it would take for hearing damage to occur. The harmful effects can be cumulative, so long-term exposure to short periods of loud noise can produce hearing loss years later.
        • 60-70 dBnormal piano practice
        • 70 dBfortissimo singer 3 ft. away
        • 75-85 dBchamber music in small auditorium
        • 84-103 dBviolin
        • 85-111 dBflute
        • 85-114 dBtrombone
        • 106 dBtimpani & bass drum rolls
        • 120 - 137 dBsymphonic music peak
        • 150 dBrock music peak
    With that being said,

    Get yourself some musicians earplugs. They are custom fit and you can get filters with 9, 15 or 25dB attenuation that are interchangeable.




    Review aricle:



    Westone ES49 Custom Musician's Earplugs

    From Joe Shambro,
    Your Guide to Home Recording.
    FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now!
    Guide Rating -
    The Bottom Line

    As a musician, recording engineer, or music enthusiast, you should know that your hearing is extremely valuable. Unfortunately, hearing loss has become a badge of honor among rockers -- and unfortunately, once it's there, hearing loss is permanent.

    Westone has long been considered a top name in hearing health products, and their ES49 -- priced at around $180 -- is a steal, considering the level of protection it offers. Reducing the dangerous volume without compromising the sound quality you hear, the ES49 incorporates custom molds with Etymotic's filters, offering 9, 15, or 25 decibels of protection.

    Manufacturer's Site
    Pros
    • Custom-fit comfort.
    • Filtered protection from high SPL exposure.
    • Excellent sound quality.
    Cons
    • Easy to lose.
    • Extra filters are expensive.
    Description
    • Custom-fit, vinyl earplugs available in a multitude of colors.
    • Etymotic filters, offering 9, 15, or 25 decibels of protection, allowing you to hear the full frequency range in your audio.
    • Total cost of $180, but your fees may vary by your audiologist.
    Guide Review - Westone ES49 Custom Musician's Earplugs

    I remember the first time I ever suffered music-induced hearing loss; I had seen Soul Coughing perform at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis on a snowy December night, and my ears rang for the next three days. At the time I didn't think anything of it -- at 15, it's hard to convince yourself that you're not invincible, let alone vulnerable to exposure-related hearing loss.

    Fast forward nearly 10 years later, and I'd begun noticing a little tinnitus -- that annoying, permanent ringing in my ears. I figured that prolonged exposure while working in the music industry as a sound engineer and studio producer was finally catching up with me.

    A visit to my audiologist, Judy Peterein at Washington University's Center for Advanced Medicine in St. Louis, confirmed what I had suspected: I have a mild case of tinnitus, despite having excellent hearing otherwise. As I make my living with my ears, I felt I needed to look into more permanent protection.

    For $180, I received the custom earplugs with a pair of Etymtotic ER-25 filters, and the initial fitting and follow-up visit. Your prices may vary depending on your dispenser's fees.

    The Etymotic filters are what make these earplugs so special. I chose the ER-25, offering 25 decibels of protection. Etymotic manufactures 9db, 15db, and 25db filters, which brilliantly allow you to hear the full fidelity of the audio around you at a comfortable, safe volume.

    The Westone ER-49 works flawlessly. Mixing live audio is great with the earplugs; it's as if the volume was turned down, but I still can hear every detail and frequency necessary. Seeing a concert with the earplugs is a really great experience, too.

    Remember, time + exposure = loss, and at 100db, a typical concert volume, 15 minutes is the maximum exposure time before loss begins to occur -- and once your hearing is gone, it's gone for good.





    Remember, it will take several hours of playing to get used to hearing yourself with the ears occluded. It IS worth it in the long run.

    Isn't having a smoking section in a restaurant like having a peeing section in a swimming pool?

    http://www.facebook.com/UnfilteredJazz

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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    Wow! Great information, Saxmanglen. Should be read by all. Perhaps the mods might ask you to create a "sticky" on this topic. Thank you for your post.
    Ruth
    "Already too loud!"
    Bruno Walter at his first rehearsal with an American orchestra, on seeing the players reaching for their instruments.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician Grumps's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    Wait till you get out and play rock and roll...

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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    Please someone correct me if i'm wrong but "standard" musicians' ear plugs do offer significant protection although obviously not as much or as comfortably as custom fit. I would advise anyone playing in a noisy band to get these at least.
    "The sound of tireless voices is the price we pay for the right to hear the music of our own opinions."

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    Distinguished Member and Forum Contributor 2008 saxmanglen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    Quote Originally Posted by AltoRuth View Post
    Wow! Great information, Saxmanglen. Should be read by all. Perhaps the mods might ask you to create a "sticky" on this topic. Thank you for your post.
    Ruth

    Your welcome.

    If the mods see it needs to be made a sticky that's quite all right with me.

    I've helped the hard of hearing for over 20 years now and am a bit passionate about pro-actively protecting our hearing.

    Cheers!

    Isn't having a smoking section in a restaurant like having a peeing section in a swimming pool?

    http://www.facebook.com/UnfilteredJazz

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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    Glen,

    I'm curious, do these plugs contain any Latex?
    Old reed players are like fine wine. They only get better with age. Tom Hagen

    Play the Music, not the instrument.

  10. #10
    Distinguished Member and Forum Contributor 2008 saxmanglen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    Quote Originally Posted by bandmommy View Post
    Glen,

    I'm curious, do these plugs contain any Latex?

    I'm going to take this as a serious question. Which I think it is?

    Westone is the earmold lab that makes the custom fit molds. They have available several different materials that can be used for these molds. Latex is a material that I've never heard mentioned being used in any molds.

    If it's allergies that's a concern here's what their site says:

    "Allergies

    Use Mediflex or Frosted Flex silicone earpiece material if allergies are a concern. However, earpieces made from silicone can be abrasive to delicate skin, particularly in elderly patients. Select acrylic or vinyl earpiece materials that have been boiled in saline solution as an alternative to Mediflex or Frosted Flex. Polyethylene earpiece material is available for extreme allergy situations."

    Acrylic would not be an option on the musician plugs. You need a soft material.

    More info here: http://www.westone.com/content/107.html

    Isn't having a smoking section in a restaurant like having a peeing section in a swimming pool?

    http://www.facebook.com/UnfilteredJazz

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saxmanglen



  11. #11

    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    In the UK, you can get some good reductions on custom moulded earplugs through the Musician's Union.
    Because of Tininitus, I started with Er15's. I then became more aware of the time spent around noise. You might be around noise for 1 hour, but with a 10 minute break you can restart the clock. Now I use ER9's (if I use them at all)and I take more breaks. I've never been able to blend in a section with plugs but I use them for the odd funk/dance gig. I sometimes use them if I'm going to play overtones for an hour.

    Jamie

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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    Quote Originally Posted by Grumps View Post
    Wait till you get out and play rock and roll...
    Barring the threat of waterboarding, that will NOT happen.

    Ruth
    "Already too loud!"
    Bruno Walter at his first rehearsal with an American orchestra, on seeing the players reaching for their instruments.

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    Admin Bill Mecca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    I got a pair of custom er15's a few years back after a really bad scare (an allergy to smoke exacerbated the condition, not to mention the overloud guitars).

    Glen's advice was spot on. This thread is now a sticky!

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    Distinguished SOTW member/Official SOTW Sister bandmommy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    Thanks Glen.

    I do have a sensitivity to Latex.
    Old reed players are like fine wine. They only get better with age. Tom Hagen

    Play the Music, not the instrument.

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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    I appreciate this thread. A couple of weeks ago at the end of an orchestra concert, I noticed that the intelligent, fiftyish woman playing piccolo was removing earplugs. I looked at her quizzically, and she explained that she ALWAYS uses earplugs when playing picc - cuz of her own instrument, not the trumpets behind us. She added that it is kind of hard to restore hearing once its gone. This thread reminds me to listen to her. Obviously she found an hearing protection product that still allows her to hear the orchestra. At tomorrow night's rehearsal, I'll have to remember to ask her for details.

  16. #16
    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    This is what I use on pop/soul band gigs: http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/er20.aspx

    The only problem is if they are crammed too far in your ear it's difficult to hear what your balance is in relation to the other instruments, so usually I play with my left ear plug (nearest to the drummer) in all the way and the right ear plug (with the horns on my right) out just a bit to let more sound in.

    Personally I don't use any in wind ensemble or big band but if you're in doubt, better safe than sorry. Frankly in community band I wouldn't think you would need anything more elaborate than the ER 20's.
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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    I am also very sensitiv to Latex and use the ER15 with very good results in rock/funk bands. For bigband I´m too much isolated. I should get some ER9 filters to change.
    See here: http://www.elacin.co.nz/erflexcomfort.html

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    I used to have (before I got sick) some silicon ear plugs. They were like squishy pieces that you shoved in your ears. You could use something like this? You could shape them so you could leave some of the ear open if you wish.

    They were from the chemist and came in a little plexiglass box to keep them in.

    Kinda like this:




    The other thing I can think of is wearing normal stereo headphones like these. While they are meant for listening TO sound, they are made to block our surrounding noises. Might be enough to protect your ears but not block out your ability to care for your intonation.


  19. #19
    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    The thing about ear plugs for musicians specifically, is that musicians' ear plugs are made to allow certain frequencies to filter in so that you still have a decent hearing of the music but it filters out more harmful frequencies and volumes. They do not cut all noise equally because then you just muffle everything.
    ____________________________________________________
    You can't blow it if you haven't lived it.

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  20. #20
    Distinguished Member and Forum Contributor 2008 saxmanglen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ear Protection: Another question

    The ER-20 plugs Gary has suggested is a good, less expensive alternative if your ear canal is fairly straight. Most of us have enough of a bend in the ear canal that makes this style difficult to use effectively. Also, until recently they didn't offer a smaller size.


    Isn't having a smoking section in a restaurant like having a peeing section in a swimming pool?

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