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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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Is everyone aware how hearing damage occurs. It's not how loud it is, but rather how loud it is over a period of time.

A little bit of loudness over a long period can be more harmful than a very loud sound over an extremely short time.

Take the time to check over this chart. Or otherwise expect me to "turn a deaf ear" when you start whining later in life that you can't enjoy music anymore.
 

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I agree with the COSH stuff but I would add a few things to it. Stuff I learn from Syn-Aud-Con a couple of decades ago (and yet, still too late LOL).

One is the effect of the stapedius muscle ( Stapedius muscle - Wikipedia ) on the hearing system. It acts as a limiter to protect our hearing over long durations but can be over-ridden with muscle relaxants. I don't think COSH considers that because it adds complexity to their presentation and I'm sure they don't want to know we are all drunk and stoned at work - and let's not tell them, eh?

Also, I was told that repeated short blasts of very loud sounds can cause significant damage. Hunters, for example, are out traipsing around in the woods, listening for twigs snapping and wind rustling. Their senses are very aware. And then - BLAM - 145 dB of sound from a gunshot. Do this a number of times a day and it can have an impact as well. But from a COSH point-of-view, I think what you've shown is the most relevant info.
 

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I had an audition 10 days ago with a REALLY FREAKIN LOUD basement metal band. Too late, I realized just how loud it was - I was too focused on trying to play songs I had *just* learned, worry about my own sound and volume, and etc. When I came out of my own head for air I realized holy crap this is loud. And reached for my earplugs.

I suffered permanent hearing damage that night. My right ear used to be worse and have some tinnitus, now I have it in both. Be careful out there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I had an audition 10 days ago with a REALLY FREAKIN LOUD basement metal band. Too late, I realized just how loud it was - I was too focused on trying to play songs I had *just* learned, worry about my own sound and volume, and etc. When I came out of my own head for air I realized holy crap this is loud. And reached for my earplugs.

I suffered permanent hearing damage that night. My right ear used to be worse and have some tinnitus, now I have it in both. Be careful out there.
I was gonna hit "LIKE", but there's nothing about that to like, if you know what I mean. That is effin tragic, man. So sorry. Good warning tho. Thanks.
 

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Etymotic blue eyes plugs are vg. I have bought lots of 50 and sell half at retail (2x cost) then I give the other half away to friends who need them.

When in doubt, plug em up. Also best to put in the plugs before you enter the environment therefor avoiding the sudden drop in surrounding volume. This is the single greatest complaint of people who don't like ear plugs

Cheers
 

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Non musicians: buy earplugs. Musicians: buy molded earplugs. I don't see the point in anything under -15dB reduction, personally. We are super loud, I have -25dB filters on mine, and I can hear people speaking without issue when they are in.

Hell, even bars make me want to bring my earplugs with me.
 

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165 Decibels. What model shotgun?^)@#:):)
 

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Speak louder, i cant hear you.LOL. I suffer from earing loss and had a custom set of plugs made for me so i can keep playing for a few more years.
 

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Just to add to what @High/Deaf said: those numbers are RMS and white noise based (a gun blast is a transient peak and as such a rather different animal). The frequency of the noise in the real world can also play a part in how long an exposure can damage hearing; higher freqs kill your ears fastest. This is why piezo tweeters in music/dance clubs are the devil - they reproduce freqs up to 30-40K which you can't hear but hurt you and have a very wide dispersion pattern so you don't have to be standing on axis with the tweeter to get blasted - e.g. Lee's Palace (before some recent changes) the sound dude there (now retired) could no longer hear treble (not sure if he was aware of that or not), so what did he do? Cranked the high end.... into those piezos (now replaced). Ruined a few shows for me (not just); I had to get away from the front and find the spot in the room with the biggest null in the upper register (the back where the bodies in front have absorbed most of it) AND wear plugs. Moving into the 'pit' area litterally hurt (dunno how the people who stayed there standed it, but I assume alcohol had something to do with it, though it wasn't enough to take the edge off for me).

As @Budda said, shows are loud; easily over 100db - I bet you'll be in there longer than 15 minutes at a stretch; a band's set is at least 20 if not longer.

For all of us here, I highly recommend these as a minimum (20db reduction without custom molding): Etymotic Research | ETY•Plugs® Earplugs
... which I see @sambonee already did too

Unlike standard (disposable) foamies (guitarist in one of my bands uses them, so I assume some of us here also do) they attenuate all frequencies pretty much equally (vs kill all the treble aka intelligibility and barely any of the bass which can still hurt you, just more slowly and less painfully); you actually hear the show better because your ear can relax vs tense up due to the exposure (to expand on what @High/Deaf said earlier re: stapedius muscle and what @Budda said re: can still hear conversation with them in - I find I can hear convros better, again, going back to the relaxed ear thing). I've had mine for 5 years (lost the pair I had before that at a gig). Very comfortable (also unlike foamies for some people) and cheap (no custom mold). I also use their in ear headphones (which can double as earplugs if not playing music; accurate as fuck - I've mixed with them). Personally I find even a wad of TP or paper towel from the bathroom superior to foamies (which is what younger me used to do before coming upon Etymotic). Best US$12 + ship you've ever spent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Etymotic blue eyes plugs are vg. I have bought lots of 50 and sell half at retail (2x cost) then I give the other half away to friends who need them.

When in doubt, plug em up. Also best to put in the plugs before you enter the environment therefor avoiding the sudden drop in surrounding volume. This is the single greatest complaint of people who don't like ear plugs

Cheers
Etymotic. Used religiously in the last band I was in. Love 'em. Everything sounds good (not muffled).
 

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I have a set of custom -9 db musicians plugs. I wear them often. Too late though. I have tinnitus in both ears by now. I should have bought and worn them 20 years ago. I believe I was 40 when I finally had a pair made.
It does suck, but it's not too bad yet. Hopefully it does not get much worse. You have to be extremely disciplined to wear them at rehearsal when you bring your newly acquired vintage amp for the very first time. You want
to hear it, in all its glory. That may be fine once in a while. The problem is when you find, fix, collect and sell amps for a hobby you always seem to be bringing a newly acquired vintage amp to rehearsal. I wear the plugs
as much ads I can stand. It's just not the same with then in sadly. When I am at home demoing new amps I have acquired, or just repaired, I always put them in. I crank an amp up to ten, sometimes I wear my custom plugs
with ear muffs over top as another layer of protection. Sadly the ringing in our ears cancels out any of the same frequency so certain things we can't hear any more. Your corduroy pants flapping, birds singing, voices talking
in loud restaurants. I sleep like the dead. My wife can be up 5X in the night dealing with a sick kid or dog. I am not disturbed by it. I had my hearing tested about 2 months ago. Not great. But not as bad a I expected either.
Take care of your ears folks. Hearing loss is not reversible.

This thread got me thinking. I play a lot in my basement. Volume on what I think is a reasonable lower volume that is not disturbing my family upstairs. 1962 Vibrolux amp. Volume on 2.5 I am sitting about 3 feet in front of the amp. I often play a little louder than I am tonight. I don't wear plugs when I practice at home. I decided to download a decibel meter app for my iphone. 90db average. Nearing the damage zone. Damn. I have been at this for years doing this. I figured I was good. Damn it. I guess I am going to have to wear my plugs any time I play. This sucks.

So according to the chart, if I play for 2 hours at 90 db, then walk away for a few hours, and do another 2 hours. Then later than night another 2 hours. I've done 6 hours at 90 db in one day. That's a cumulative total and I am starting to do damage right? Damn it.
 

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this is a good thread, thanks for all the helpful info everyone
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So according to the chart, if I play for 2 hours at 90 db, then walk away for a few hours, and do another 2 hours. Then later than night another 2 hours. I've done 6 hours at 90 db in one day. That's a cumulative total and I am starting to do damage right?
Breaks of a few hours in between sessions has to do some good, I would think. Maybe you have been OK, cause the chart says 2 hours at 91db. If no one here can answer to that, ask an audiologist. In the meantime, I'd play it safe.

Thanks for your post. A very helpful testimony.
 

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Sadly, those of us that already suffer from hearing damage or have tinnitus (I'm one as well), I think that scale can be adjusted a bit. I think 90dB is worse on virgin ears than ears that have a 10dB drop already. I may be wrong but that seems logical to me, so hopefully @keithb7 you won't have done any more damage - or not much more anyways.

Nonetheless, no sense inflicting anymore damage if we can help. And I used to love the glory of standing in front of a big amp or a bug Martin rig (which I did for much of the 80's, thus my current situation). And I still like to occasionally take the plugs out for a couple minutes and hear the roar when I'm around a big, well run system (which usually is in a smaller club and not an arena - or god forbid a stadium).

But it isn't just our amps or monitors. I stood beside the drummer's crash for years and years and I'm sure that took its toll, too. Such an annoying noise. LOL


Just to add to what @High/Deaf said: those numbers are RMS and white noise based (a gun blast is a transient peak and as such a rather different animal). The frequency of the noise in the real world can also play a part in how long an exposure can damage hearing; higher freqs kill your ears fastest. This is why piezo tweeters in music/dance clubs are the devil - they reproduce freqs up to 30-40K which you can't hear but hurt you and have a very wide dispersion pattern so you don't have to be standing on axis with the tweeter to get blasted
Totally agree with that. I hate piezos in everything I've heard them in. There ought to be a law against them. My hi-fi speakers are +/- 3dB to about 24k and that's more than enough - especially for what highs I can still hear. It's a smooth, pleasant hi-end and doesn't fatigue the ears at all. My Meyer PA speakers are probably good to about 16k - a very powerful, smooth horn, not like those plastic and crystal ragged-assed piezos. Awful things.

Also, regarding conversations at music shows. Am I anti-social when I don't want to try and have a deep conversation when I'm enjoying a band? I don't go out to see bands much anymore and it never fails that someone wants to strike up some 10 minute conversation about their job or something. You'd think me asking "what" over and over and over again (my hearing ain't good) would be enough of a hint, but apparently not. Wait till the break and we can chat all you want, buddy..........
 

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1) Important to distinguish between overall hearing loss and frequency-dependent hearing loss. In other words, a person can have the subjective impression that everything is hunky-dory but be losing audibility of high end. Once upon a time when there were no LED screens and it was all CRT, the "flyback" transformers on TVs would provide a 15.75 kHz whine. If it was a high-end TV the whine would be difficult to hear, but regular consumer-grade TVs and monitors would produce it. At the time, I would ask my students if they could hear it or had ever noticed it. Only a small handful would indicate so. Those folks should not be impressed with speakers or headphones that go clear out to 24khz. 16khz bandwidth is probably good enough for everything of interest to humans (dogs and bats are another story), but when useful bandwidth starts dropping to 10khz and below, you can find yourself saying "What did he say?" a lot more often.

One of the things that tends to accompany our penchant for distortion is sustained SPL levels at higher frequencies.

2) One needs to also distinguish between temporary and permanent loss, though I imagine frequent bouts of temporary loss are likely associated with some forms of permanent loss. We know that exposure to bouts of high-SPL sound for concert-length periods can result in temporary hearing loss, with useful bandwidth returning after 24-48hrs. That's not great, but it's not permanent.

3) Shooting ranges for Olympic-type sharpshooting frequently provide earphones that are connected to triggers. Before the hammer hits the bullet, a loud tone in the earphones prompts the various mechanisms in the ear to damp the sensitivity of the ear drum, and interconnecting bones, as well as provide back-pressure through the Eustachian tube, so that the cochlea ends up being bombarded less. Hearing loss is the result of death to hair cells in the basilar membrane, and generally not damage to the bones, So what the warning tone ends up doing is reducing the SPL applied to the oval window of the cochlea. Unfortunately, there's nothing at a gig to prompt such a prophylactic response in one's ears when a mic'd kick drum booms out of 18" subwoofers. You will likely apply "natural" damping of the ear mechanics as you sit/stand and listen - and that's part of what can prompt temporary hearing loss, as that "prevention" remains in place for a while - but there can be plenty of VERY high-SPL bursts that come without warning or preparation that can do damage. And keep in mind that contemporary music has a dangerous mixture of both excessive sustained high end, and enhanced dynamics. Vinyl used to have a dynamic range of around 60db. Digital has a much wider dynamic range, making for sudden high-contrasts. At lower SPL, that merely more engaging and emotive. At higher SPL that can become dangerous.

4) There have been many discussions regarding limiting of SPL levels from personal listening devices, since so much of our music listening is through earphones these days. I'm sure many of you have sat on a bus, train, airplane, or subway and been forced to listen to the "tsss-tsss-tsss-tsss" of someone else's headphones from 20 feet away. Unfortunately, unless mobile listening devices come with proprietary headphones/earphones, there is little way to anticipate what the electronic output of the mobile device translates into in terms of SPL at the ear. After all, one can always engineer a more efficient driver for the earphones that can turn sensible SPL into dangerous SPL. Even with proprietary earphones, though (such as what Apple is making/marketing), there isn't much stopping anyone from producing more and more efficient earphones, or even add-on devices that could, for instance, further amplify a wireless music signal.

So, what to do? One idea that occurred to me - certainly not foolproof - is to make noise-cancelling earphones the default. The idea is that the SPL people listen at is partly a function of what the music is competing with. If noise-cancellation turns the 60db ambient level into 20db, then it won't take high SPL to make the music audible over top of that ambient level. It's like the difference between talking to someone at a club vs talking at the library or church; in the one environment nothing less than yelling will do, while in the other whispering is sufficient for intelligibility. Certainly the technology for making noise-cancellation the default is widely available. All it needs is TRRS plugs and jacks, which are generally used for microphone-equipped earphones. leave the mics on, invert it electronically and feed it to the ear-pieces, and bingo-bango noise-cancellation. It's a thought.
 
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