As musicians, our ears are our number one tool. As such, looking after them is absolutely vital. Damaging your hearing at loud gigs and clubs is all too easy. You don’t have to look too far to find a whole load of famous musicians with hearing loss – a lifetime of loud gigs and reckless rock ‘n’ roll abandon has taken its toll on the ears of everyone from Brian Johnson to Chris Martin.
The bad news is that hearing loss is completely irreversible – once the damage is done, there’s nothing that can be done to restore your hearing. The good news, however, is that it’s easily preventable.
It’s never too late to start looking after your ears either. The easiest way to take care of your hearing is to make sure to always wear earplugs any time you’re exposed to loud music – gigs, clubs and festivals can all put you at risk of potentially dangerous sound levels.
Earplugs help protect your hearing
There are a few different types of earplugs that you can use to protect your hearing. The most common that you’ll often see given out for free at gigs are disposable foam earplugs. They’re a cheap and cheerful everyday option and, while they may not be perfect, they’ll do a perfectly good job at protecting your ears and are certainly far superior to not wearing any.
The downsides of these foam earbuds are that they can be tricky to put in properly and not as ineffective if not fully inserted. They also colour the sound of what you’re listening to so that all of the frequencies aren’t reduced evenly. Listening to music with these in can sound a bit like you’re underwater.
If you’ve got a bit more money to spend, the next step up is reusable earplugs. These are typically made of some kind of silicon or similar material. These are also a great option for many people looking for a more permanent option than the disposable ones. These earplugs specifically designed for musicians will often have a more neutral sound than foam plugs. However, some people may find that they can be slightly uncomfortable, especially for extended periods of wear.
Of course, everyone has different shaped ears so a one-size-fits-all solution is not necessarily the best choice. Your ear canals aren’t going to be exactly the same as anyone else on earth.
If you’re after the perfect fit, and you’re willing to spend the extra cash, you can get a custom-made set of earplugs designed specifically for the shape of your ears.
You’ll have to go to an audiologist or clinic to get a custom mould of the insides of your ears taken. This is then used to create a one of a kind earplug just for you. The advantage of this is that it’ll fit perfectly and, as such, will be much more effective at reducing noise and will sound much closer to normal hearing – just at a lower volume.
Help Musicians’ Hearing Health Scheme
So custom-fitted hearing protection is the gold standard for looking after your ears but there’s a catch – it doesn’t come cheap.
A pair of ACS Pro custom earplugs with a fitting will set you back over £200. There is some good news though. The Help Musicians’ Hearing Health Scheme offer professional musicians the chance to get these much-needed hearing protectors for just £50.
To apply for this discounted scheme, you’ll have to prove your eligibility by showing that you’re professionally employed in one of the following roles and earn a majority of your income from one (or more) of those roles for the past two years or longer, or that you have done so for a total of 5+ years throughout your career.
- Musical Directors
- DJs (not radio)
- Instrument makers
- Peripatetic Teachers (self-employed)
- Piano Tuners
- Mastering Engineers
- Instrument Technicians
- Sound Engineers
- Music Therapists/Music Facilitators
If you think you fit the bill for some cheap hearing protection, be sure to apply now and make the choice to look after your ears.