Musicians have unique needs when it comes to hearing protection. They need to protect their hearing, but they also need to be able to hear their own music clearly, as well as hear other musicians’ music and voices while performing.
Conventional store-bought earplugs are great at providing hearing protection. However, they often provide too much protection for musicians, muffling speech and sound in the process. They make music and voices very unclear and unnatural to listen to. While conventional hearing protection can reduce very high frequencies, this amount of hearing protection is typically not needed for musicians.
Most musicians do not need maximum protection. What they need is mid- to low-frequency sound protection. This can be accomplished through earplugs that are specifically designed for musicians.
Musician’s Ear Plugs
Musician’s earplugs come in both custom and non-custom options. Ready-fit musician earplugs can reduce sound levels by approximately 20 dB, enough to reduce harmful sound without distorting speech or music.
These types of earplugs are fitted deeply in the ear canal in order to allow the device a tight seal within the bony portion of the ear canal. This deep fit reduces what is known as occlusion effect, a hollow or boomy sound in the musicians own voice that is sometimes experienced with lower quality ear plugs. Deep-fitting earmolds are popular with musicians because of the superior quality of sound they allow them to hear while practicing and performing.
Musician’s earplugs are not just for musicians. They are also a popular hearing protection option for:
- Sound crews
- Recording engineers
- Band teachers
- Airline personnel
- Athletic coaches
- Football players
- Medical professionals
- Construction workers
- Industrial workers
- Truck drivers
In-Ear Musician Monitors
For musicians who perform for large audiences, in-ear musician monitors (IEMs) are the current standard in musician technology. They allow the musician to clearly hear the music they are making as the audience would hear it while still protecting the musician’s ears from extremely loud amplification systems and audiences.
IEMs work best if they are custom molded to fit each musician’s ears personally. However, there is still the option of universal fit musician monitors. Universal IEMs typically come with interchangeable foam or silicone tips to allow for a semi-custom fit.
Both earmolds and IEMs can be custom made (using a mold) to fit your unique ear shape by taking an impression of your ear by your audiologist. The ear impression that is used to make the earmold or in-ear monitor is the most important part of the process in getting a good custom fit. The quality of the ear impression material and technique directly impacts the sound quality, sound isolation, and comfort that is achieved with the earmold.
Speak with our audiologists about custom fitted musician’s earplugs and IEMs and about your options for high-quality occupational hearing protection.