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, but 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 moderate both the amount of time they spend listening to loud music and the volume level 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 fitted for an individual’s ears and reduce a great deal of the noise in the wearer’s 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-fit 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 earplugs cut off high-frequency sounds, muffling voices and dulling the timbre of music. Musicians’ earplugs solve this problem by reducing the volume of the sounds you hear without distorting those sounds, providing natural sound at a lower volume.
Both in-ear monitors and musicians’ earplugs can be custom-made and fitted by a licensed hearing-care professional for each musician’s personal needs.
Sataloff, R.T. (1991). Hearing loss in musicians. American Journal of Otology, 12(2), 122–127.