Can You Hear Me, Mother?
If you're here you're probably into music, you might go to gigs and be in a band, you might also be into clubbing and never leave home without your iPod. Has it ever crossed your mind that you could be damaging your hearing? European noise regulations state that you can work safely with noise levels of 85 Decibels for a maximum of 8 hours. For every increase by 3dB the intensity of the sound is doubled, i.e. it gets twice as loud. This means that after 2 hours exposure to 91dB you're beginning to damage your hearing.
What volume does your band rehearse at? For how long do you listen to your iPod each day? What's the volume at your favourite club-night? And how long do you stay? Yes, it's cool to talk about Sound Systems 'tearing roofs off' & 'shredding ear drums' but the truth is more like 'IT'S TOO FUCKING LOUD!' We've all had ringing in our ears (Tinnitus) after a night out. You might have had a temporary dulled sense of hearing or an intolerance to some loud sounds - these are all warning signs that you have overloaded your hearing.
Lets be honest, in the short-term, gigs & clubs are not going to get quieter. We have to take on the responsibility of protecting our own hearing, and that means earplugs. Foam, 'one size fits all' earplugs are widely available but often distort sound. A good introduction to higher quality earplugs might be 'Doc's Proplugs'. They are made of clear plastic, come in various sizes and cost around £15.
I used them for a while, they seemed quite good but they don't reduce bass frequencies very well. Because of this and the fact that I spend so much time playing, listening & dancing to music, I decided to move 'up market' and invest in some ER15s from Advanced Communication Solutions. They are custom-made, a mould being taken of each ear. They're not cheap, around £165, but they reduce all frequencies by 15dB, so there's no loss of clarity - everything is just quieter. I've found they actually improve the sound at gigs and it's remarkable how quickly you get used to hearing everything at lower volumes. I wish some-one had introduced me to them years ago.
Deep down, you know all this makes sense. It's time to stop taking the gift of hearing for granted, to get on the Internet & down your local music shop and find the right protection for you. Hearing damage is irreversible. I'm hoping to live for a long time and would very much like to be able to hear what's going on around me, even if it's just to hear the nurse saying 'Mr. Lees, you've wet yourself again!'