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Author Topic: Study: earplugs for everyone  (Read 2708 times)
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robcat2075

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« on: Nov 23, 2017, 09:44AM »

And not just the violas in front of the trombones, either

New research: All orchestra players should wear ear plugs


Quote
Calculated results indicate that risers, available space, and screens at typical positions do not significantly influence sound exposure. A hypothetical scenario with surround screens shows that, even when shielding all direct sound from others, sound exposure is reduced moderately with the largest effect on players in loud sections. In contrast, a dramatic change in room acoustic conditions only leads to considerable reductions for soft players. It can be concluded that significant reductions are only reached with extreme measures that are unrealistic. It seems impossible for the studied physical measures to be effective enough to replace hearing protection devices such as ear plugs.


My crit would be the framing of the discussion as if it were primarily a professional symphony musician problem, whereas it's a problem that starts as early as 5th grade beginner bands where some students' ears are placed just inches in front of trumpet and trombone bells.
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« Reply #1 on: Nov 23, 2017, 09:58AM »

Haahaahaha. Ear plugs only work if you've got a great mix coming through an in ear monitor. Otherwise, you've gotta be kidding. Impossible to get a real sense of your sound with ear plugs in.

Only my opinion, but a world where 5th graders start playing with ear plugs in would be a world with awful sounding ensembles at all levels.
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« Reply #2 on: Nov 23, 2017, 10:17AM »

I play better with plugs in in loud situations than without. I can hear a lot more, since the distortion threshold is so much different.
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« Reply #3 on: Nov 23, 2017, 10:20AM »

Haahaahaha. Ear plugs only work if you've got a great mix coming through an in ear monitor. Otherwise, you've gotta be kidding. Impossible to get a real sense of your sound with ear plugs in.

Only my opinion, but a world where 5th graders start playing with ear plugs in would be a world with awful sounding ensembles at all levels.

I dunno harrison.... they really are not that bad to play with. Its not ideal, but the more you do it the better you get at it. If you look at how much sound exposure you are supposed to take in a day, it really does not leave much practice and performance time for brass players if you are not protecting your ears.

I have been lucky to perform with a handful of professional orchestras as well as other high level ensembles, and whilst I dont think most players use ear plugs its really not that uncommon now.

I even use ear plugs for certain practice sessions in small rooms. Its not neccesarily that its "too loud" but if you spend most of your day practicing as well as rehearsing or performing its just a huge amount of noise exposure without you even realising sometimes.

Personally I think people who never use ear plugs are crazy. It doesnt really matter if its loud, its the time you are exposed that really counts. All orchestras would be approaching levels that would reach a daily dosage of sound quite quickly. Probably faster than you realise.
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 23, 2017, 10:30AM »

For sure, my hearing is absolutely being damaged over time. But I also know for a fact that I can't play or hear myself with plugs in. Put out a bad product? I don't want to do that!
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« Reply #5 on: Nov 23, 2017, 10:32AM »

For sure, my hearing is absolutely being damaged over time. But I also know for a fact that I can't play or hear myself with plugs in. Put out a bad product? I don't want to do that!

Then practice with earplugs more often. It's an acquired skill, not something you do well right away.  Don't know
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« Reply #6 on: Nov 23, 2017, 10:32AM »

The Army does check my hearing every year, and it's apparently better than 7 years ago ...

 Don't know

I usually don't see guys in an orchestra section using them. In a rock band, usually the mix is good, and I need the click, so I use them there.
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« Reply #7 on: Nov 23, 2017, 10:44AM »

The Army does check my hearing every year, and it's apparently better than 7 years ago ...

 Don't know

I usually don't see guys in an orchestra section using them. In a rock band, usually the mix is good, and I need the click, so I use them there.


The Military told me my hearing was good also.... I am suspicious of their test and to be honest their agenda is to say you have good hearing anyway  Don't know

I think you would be surprised with orchestra players. A lot of plugs are very discreet now and unless asked, players usually dont talk much about it.

Its your body of course, you know yourself best, but I want to echo burgerbobs statement.... ear plugs suck at first but its just a matter of getting used to them. I sucked at trombone when I first picked one up..... still working at that  :D
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« Reply #8 on: Nov 23, 2017, 10:46AM »

I've got an inexpensive pair of musician's ear plugs that are said to attenuate sound pressure by 15-20 db evenly across the frequency range.  

I tend to use them mostly for the 15 minutes or so prior to the start of a rehearsal, when everyone seems to be bent on playing as loud as they can. I also find them helpful when I've got trumpets aimed at my head. Or if the seating arrangements have me in front of the tympani.

In some respects, I can hear myself better, especially on trombone (I also play guitar). Way better than the cheap foam plugs sold in the drug store.
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« Reply #9 on: Nov 23, 2017, 11:23AM »

Maybe the "Chicago Sound" is because they are partially deaf?
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« Reply #10 on: Nov 23, 2017, 01:05PM »

Maybe the "Chicago Sound" is because they are partially deaf?


Maybe. Or they are just really good at their jobs. Probably one of those.
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« Reply #11 on: Nov 23, 2017, 02:56PM »


Maybe. Or they are just really good at their jobs. Probably one of those.

right, no one is doubting how good they are. But the Chicago sound being as it is, a bit bigger than other orchestras...

 Pant
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« Reply #12 on: Nov 23, 2017, 03:26PM »

right, no one is doubting how good they are. But the Chicago sound being as it is, a bit bigger than other orchestras...

 Pant

Haha maybe, Whatever that means I suppose. Ive seen videos of some of the woodwind section from Chicago advocating particular brands of ear plugs, and talking about how they help. I dont know if anyone from the brass section uses them in CSO, but there are other brass players in many orchestras who do.

Why not commit to a "2 week trial"? Do one practice session every day wearing them and maybe a rehearsal to two every day for that period. Cant hurt you and you might find it actually helps! Worse scenario you find out its not for you and you take the rist of hearing damage later in life.
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« Reply #13 on: Nov 23, 2017, 04:35PM »

One of my favorite musician stories told to me by a percussionist in the U.S. Navy Band back in the 60's ----- One of his colleagues in the Navy Band goes in for his "discharge physical" where they check you out to see that any disability that you might have acquired was possibly caused by your duty responsibilities.  The doctor asked, "What is your problem" ?  Sailor says, "I have a severe hearing loss".  Doctor assumes he's on the gunnery staff of a battleship and asks, "What ship were you on" ?   Sailor says, "I was never on a ship, I was in The U.S. Navy Band in Washington, D.C.".  Doctor asks, "How could you have suffered this loss if you were just in the Navy Band" ?  Sailor says, "Sir --- I was placed very close to the bass drum in the band and I think it was the principal cause of my problem".  Doctor says, "If you were aware that this was potentially damaging to your hearing, why didn't you ask to be moved to a different place" ?  Sailor says, "I couldn't".  Doctor asks, "Why not" ?  Sailor says, "Because I was PLAYING the bass drum"!
 Don't know  Disability DIS-allowed ! Bad dog.  No Biscuits.   True ?  It's up to you to decide --------- Cheers !!
   
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« Reply #14 on: Nov 23, 2017, 05:05PM »

Haahaahaha. Ear plugs only work if you've got a great mix coming through an in ear monitor. Otherwise, you've gotta be kidding. Impossible to get a real sense of your sound with ear plugs in.

Only my opinion, but a world where 5th graders start playing with ear plugs in would be a world with awful sounding ensembles at all levels.

My experience with trying to play in ensembles with ear plugs is similar.  Maybe it's because my hearing is already diminished but I just can't hear well enough to balance and play in tune with ear plugs in.
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« Reply #15 on: Nov 23, 2017, 05:59PM »

The Army does check my hearing every year, and it's apparently better than 7 years ago ...



Unless there's some special test for bandsmen, the Army test only goes to 4000 Hz.  You lose from the high end.  My 16kHz is gone, my 8kHz is only half what it used to be, but my 4K is still okay, so I would pass the Army test. 
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« Reply #16 on: Nov 24, 2017, 09:06AM »

Unless there's some special test for bandsmen, the Army test only goes to 4000 Hz.  You lose from the high end.  My 16kHz is gone, my 8kHz is only half what it used to be, but my 4K is still okay, so I would pass the Army test. 
There is a high frequency hearing test that can be requested, and the standard test given during a physical will probably not be the high frequency, high definition test. A visit to an audiologist may be needed.
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« Reply #17 on: Nov 24, 2017, 04:10PM »

I don't wear mine when I practice, but ALWAYS wear them in rehearsal.  I still want to be playing in 10 or 20 years.
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« Reply #18 on: Nov 24, 2017, 04:28PM »

I did wear mine once, my musicians ear plugs, in big band. The lead trumpet was so unbelievably loud that I didn't care what I sounded like.
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« Reply #19 on: Nov 24, 2017, 04:37PM »

Having played all types of gigs in all types of situations, I think earplugs are an essential item for any working trombone player.  I don't use them on orchestral gigs, but they are really handy on salsa gigs, big band lead bone gigs in tight quarters, rock stuff, etc. 

I had to practice with them for a couple of weeks to get used to the sound, but after that I didn't notice them.  I use some custom made impressions with 9 db filters, not the foam kinds.....

$200 well spent.

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« Reply #20 on: Nov 24, 2017, 04:48PM »

I did wear mine once, my musicians ear plugs, in big band. The lead trumpet was so unbelievably loud that I didn't care what I sounded like.

I think you'd find you sound pretty much the same with them in.
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« Reply #21 on: Nov 24, 2017, 05:12PM »

I keep a pair of good ear plugs in every instrument case.
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« Reply #22 on: Nov 24, 2017, 06:53PM »

I think you'd find you sound pretty much the same with them in.

That's the issue. I only hear the horrible sound from within my head, due to the ear plugs, and that changes the way I play. I know trying to correct for it is 100% wrong, but I have no way to know what the sound is in real time without a monitor, and since I play based on what I hear and feel ... it is not practical at all. Impossible really.
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« Reply #23 on: Nov 24, 2017, 07:19PM »

Practice solves many issues, even habits.  :)
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« Reply #24 on: Nov 24, 2017, 07:27PM »

Practice solves many issues, even habits.  :)


We need a "like" button for quotes like this :D
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« Reply #25 on: Nov 24, 2017, 09:59PM »

Then it wouldn't be the way I play.
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« Reply #26 on: Nov 24, 2017, 10:08PM »

That's the issue. I only hear the horrible sound from within my head, due to the ear plugs, and that changes the way I play. I know trying to correct for it is 100% wrong, but I have no way to know what the sound is in real time without a monitor, and since I play based on what I hear and feel ... it is not practical at all. Impossible really.

I came to the conclusion a while ago that in an environment where earplugs are really needed, no amount of beautiful tone really matters, because that's not going to come through. It's best to just wear the ear plugs, and play with good time, pitch, and articulation, and ignore tone.

I also observed that in bad, loud environments, I sometimes hear better with earplugs than without. Less distortion effects (specifically due to loudness) on the eardrum and the rest of the amplification mechanisms in the ear.

I'm also done with going to rock/pop concerts. Some of those things get so loud that ear plugs don't even protect my ears enough.

I'm also highly suspicious of movie theatres. Some of them have really stupid, loud sound setups, and some of them are OK.

Because my work occasionally takes me to factories here and there, I keep a couple sets of earplugs for factory environments. Even a moderate din in a factory can really tire out the ears without protection after a few hours.
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« Reply #27 on: Nov 24, 2017, 10:17PM »

And not just the violas in front of the trombones, either

New research: All orchestra players should wear ear plugs



My crit would be the framing of the discussion as if it were primarily a professional symphony musician problem, whereas it's a problem that starts as early as 5th grade beginner bands where some students' ears are placed just inches in front of trumpet and trombone bells.

Also, a criticism: the level at which sound causes hearing damage is a bit more complex than briefly described in that abstract. 90Db can generally cause harm, but at a sustained 90Db over 12 hours. Higher decibels cause damage after shorter durations. And there is individual variation, although it's obviously a good idea to err on the low side for those people who are more prone to loudness-induced hearing damage.
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« Reply #28 on: Nov 24, 2017, 11:31PM »

Then it wouldn't be the way I play.

Then maybe it's time to change it.

Want to sound good for another ten years, and then have no ears to continue? Or sound just as good for another 40 or 50? I honestly don't understand your position on this.

I got my first set in 2011. I hated them. I couldn't hear anything and it made me too aware of my oral cavity, so I pinched and tired myself out.

So then I used them constantly, especially in practice but also in any loud performance situation, to get used to it. I play a lot better now than I did then, that's for sure.
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« Reply #29 on: Nov 25, 2017, 07:10AM »

I honestly don't understand your position on this.

I got my first set in 2011. I hated them. I couldn't hear anything....

 :/

I got my first set in 2011. I hated them. I couldn't hear anything....

I play a lot better now than I did then, that's for sure.

Most confusing "serious" post I've ever read here (knowing that I write a lot of bogus stuff here).

"I started shooting blindfolded in 2011. Couldn't see the broad side of a barn, but I just kept wearing my blindfold exclusively. I definitely shoot better now than I ever did."

I get that you like ear plugs. I don't think everybody can learn to cope with them. I did wear mine in one big band, because it was obnoxious. Rock band has in ear monitors, so I wear them when I play in that sort of thing too. But concert band? Orchestra? BQ? It's not like I'm playing in the Blue Falcons DCI band, or whatever it's called. I think wearing them in real chamber ensembles just helps perpetuate playing that is bad or too loud. And if you really need, we use sound shields.
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« Reply #30 on: Nov 25, 2017, 07:34AM »

As said in the article to start this thread, sound shields don't work.

Have you ever sat in front of timpani? Bass drum? Glockenspiel?

All I'm saying with my post is that practice makes things better. Of course they will be hard to play with at first. No one is debating that. You are being willfully obtuse.
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« Reply #31 on: Nov 25, 2017, 07:36AM »

First off, I think some of us are overestimating the volume of a symphony orchestra.

I hate earplugs.

I had to go to classes on this stuff when I was a musical director for a cruise line. From what I remember, it's 90 dB at 8 hours total exposure (over 24.) Every extra 5 dB cuts allowable exposure time in half.

If we give an Orch an upper limit of 100 dB (which is pretty loud for most orchestras), according to OHSA a person can only be exposed to that level for 2 hours - if I'm remembering my tables right.

That's the upper limit. I don't do many orchestral gigs, but I don't remember seeing FFF written all over the place on any of them. Generally the amount of time the orchestra is actually in that upper limit is small, measurable in seconds - minutes at most - over the course of a rehearsal or concert.

I know the trombone is capable of a hell of a lot of volume. I've had fun with dB meters. The F above middle C is pretty easy to cause pain with, and I can put it at 106 without much effort. I've never had to play anywhere near that loud in an orchestra or big band.

OHSA tables were put together for industrial work conditions that most of us are never exposed to. If you've ever been on a factory floor, you'll notice that the noise is interminable. It's loud and it doesn't stop. These aren't the conditions in an orchestra. They never are.

Some people are overly sensitive to noise. These people probably shouldn't play in large ensembles, but if that's the case ear plugs are probably the only remedy for those with a physical disposition towards noise sensitivity.

Certain sounds (percussion, sitting with your head right in front of a brass player, sitting right in front of the drummer, etc.) are very loud in their attacks and can cause acute damage, and if this is a normal situation one might want to consider ear plugs or some kind of barrier. Those loud attacks tend to do the most damage to your upper frequency range. That's the register where you here "shhh" sounds, transient things like the ping of a cymbal, jangling of car keys, etc. Even though we commonly list the range of human hearing as 20Hz-20KHz, Most people are limited up to 16KHz by the time they reach adulthood and most of us regardless of our occupation lose more of that high range over time.  Our sensitivity to this range is different from person to person - frankly, I don't want to be able to hear that register too well, that'd definitely cause over-sensitivity.

If you're playing in groups with amplified instruments, it may be a good idea to invest in good musician's plugs with a customizable rolloff. Amplified rock bands tend to stay around that 100 dB threshold and stay there longer. Over the course of a 4 hour gig you're very likely doing some damage. Good mixing and noise canceling headphones can help this tremendously.

 Jazz groups - depends on the group. Acoustic bebop, trad group - shouldn't get too loud for too long. Organ trios, fusion groups tend to get loud. Blakey style groups can get big although they should stay as acoustic as possible which mitigates that noise level somewhat.

Salsa groups often get loud, but that tends to be more due to the sound engineers than the group. Acoustically most salsa groups are actually quieter than big bands. Good salsa groups blend really well and manipulate dynamics to the extreme. When the sound engineers get involved and they aren't on top of it all hell breaks loose.

Take care of your hearing, but buy a dB meter and make sure your fears are justified.
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« Reply #32 on: Nov 25, 2017, 08:18AM »

To be clear, I have more rarely worn earplugs in performances with orchestras. Performance spaces are much more open and easy on the ears. Rehearsals in smaller rooms are where the issue comes from.

Again, why take the risk? If you can play well with earplugs in in a situation that may or may not be safe, I would choose the plugs every time. I need these ears in 40 years.
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« Reply #33 on: Nov 25, 2017, 08:46AM »

Again, why take the risk? If you can play well with earplugs in in a situation that may or may not be safe, I would choose the plugs every time. I need these ears in 40 years.

If you can play with plugs with no problems, that's fine. For you. It's not fine for me, nor Harrison I assume. I usually know from experience what the safe and unsafe situations are. If I'm not sure, I'm using a dB meter. I need to hear the full range of frequencies to dial in my sound and attacks for the gig so I'm not using plugs unless it's necessary. I know I'm not overly sensitive, and it could be the scarring on my eardrums has had an added benefit of giving me a dB or two of natural rolloff.

Again, if it works for you use it! Plugs don't work for many of us. I know they don't work for me, and it's not for lack of practice. When I know I need to use them I spend a few days on them to get used to it, but I've never been able to adapt to it. It'll always be uncomfortable and plugs will always be my last resort.

There is no need to over-state the risks to make a point. Know the risks, know they can be different for everybody, and know that there are ways to mitigate the risk. When in doubt, get a dB meter so you know what you're being exposed to - and know that the exposure risk is measured in dB and TIME -Time is almost always left out of these conversations and without the time of exposure, these discussions just serve to propagate bad information.
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« Reply #34 on: Nov 25, 2017, 08:58AM »

A few random observations:

Occupationally induced hearing loss tends to occur in relatively low frequencies. In fact, that is one if the ways they distinguish occupational hearing loss from aging.

Leaf blowers and blenders can be loud enough to get into the danger zone.

There was a case in the local symphony where one of the trumpet players unsuccessfully claimed worker’s compensation benefits for hearing loss he said was caused by sitting in proximity to the trombones. I can’t recall the reasons but it’s likely that the hearing loss wasn’t consistent with the effects of constant exposure over time. That being said, I bought HP when sitting right in front of tympani for one concert. Haven’t needed them since in orch. I could have used them the other night when Mr Jazz Trumpet Soloist was playing directly at my ear but  that was pretty short. Shite solo too.

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« Reply #35 on: Nov 25, 2017, 09:39AM »

I suddenly can't read any longer because my hearing aid just ran out of battery. Gimme a sec ... !
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« Reply #36 on: Nov 25, 2017, 10:02AM »

Some comments based on my experience with earplugs.

To me it is much better to play without earplugs because the sound of the trombone (and everything else) is of course very different (to me) when using earplugs. There are also other effects such as hearing more "what´s going on inside your head when you're playing" when using plugs. It think this is the effect BurgerBob is mentioning earlier in this thread.

There are also very different types of earplugs to be found. The custom ones moulded to fit your ears cannot at all be compared with more standard types. The custom ones fills more of the ear canals so you do not get that occlusion effect ("cotton"/stuffy feeling) but instead it feels like everything is just more dampened down.

The ones I use are custom made (from ACS) and I am quite happy with these. I use them not only for playing but also when attending concerts where I know the volume will be high. I found this a good investment - compared to the horn(s), mouthpieces etc they are not that expensive.

When using earplugs when attending concerts it seems that details in the music are becoming more clear when putting the plugs in the ears. On big concerts the sound can be quite "blended" and "muddy" and the plugs are maybe doing some filtering and thereby improving the sound, I don't know...

Regarding sound and hearing damage I think it is not only the volume (dB) itself that counts but what frequencies and type of music we are talking about. If you are standing close to a timbales player or a guy hitting a cowbell for 2 hours you are guaranteed 2 days of ringing ears afte the gig. The high frequencies (cymbals, high frequency percussion instruments) are more damaging than lower frequencies. My understanding is that the high frequencies are also those that disappears first when it comes to hearing loss.

It is probably possible to get used to playing with plugs if one does this very much, but - I think you will never have the same experience as if you play without.  


So in summary:
- I prefer playing without earplugs but I try to judge the occation and if there will be much sound and high frequencies I use plugs. (Unless I take my chances and maybe have ringing ears after the gig)
- custom earplugs are quite good in my opinion and are also useful when attending concerts.
- Overall I think you sound pretty much the same with or without plugs. But your own experience is different.
- be careful if there will be lot of percussion in the band and try to get as far away from the drummer as possible :-)

I should also say that I am an amateur player, playing in a couple of latin/salsa bands. I also have got some tinnitus from playing, normally I do not notice it but I try to be careful and not get more of it.
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« Reply #37 on: Nov 25, 2017, 11:02AM »

My understanding is that in normal aging the higher frequencies go first. If it’s due to exposure the frequencies lost depend on the frequencies one is exposed to. Eg. Industrial noise is relatively low frequency.
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« Reply #38 on: Nov 25, 2017, 07:26PM »

It is probably possible to get used to playing with plugs if one does this very much, but - I think you will never have the same experience as if you play without.  

Sorry to harp on this, but why does this keep coming up? No one who advocates wearing ear plugs is saying that the experience is the same. That's not the point.  Don't know
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« Reply #39 on: Nov 25, 2017, 10:25PM »

A long time ago I got into a habit that I think has saved my hearing.  I wear earplugs AFTER the gig, driving home.  That allows recovery time, which is effective.

I almost never wear earplugs on a gig, but I've been experimenting with some options.  Etymotic makes some electronic "earplugs" that I like.  They're more like hearing aids with a limiter.  Everything sounds almost normal at lower volume or even for conversation, but at increased volume it still sounds the same, not louder.  The perception of your own sound is closer to normal than it is with regular earplugs.

https://www.etymotic.com/consumer/hearing-protection/mp915.html

They're not cheap but it's better than losing your hearing, and I like them a lot better than earplugs.
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« Reply #40 on: Nov 26, 2017, 04:47AM »

A long time ago I got into a habit that I think has saved my hearing.  I wear earplugs AFTER the gig, driving home.  That allows recovery time, which is effective.

I found early in my career with a rock band that I would listen to music on the way to rehearsal but I would turn it off on the way home.

I believe a study I heard many years ago that it takes 8 times longer for the ear to recover from the duration of a loud noise.

Also, symphony musicians seem to suffer greater hearing loss from high frequency instruments like piccolos and violins than from loud instruments like tympani and trombones. It might be safer to be a rock musician provided the duration can be controlled.

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« Reply #41 on: Nov 26, 2017, 07:05AM »

A long time ago I got into a habit that I think has saved my hearing.  I wear earplugs AFTER the gig, driving home.  That allows recovery time, which is effective.

Wow, why haven't I tried this? This sounds like a great idea!  Good!
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« Reply #42 on: Nov 26, 2017, 10:42AM »

First off, I think some of us are overestimating the volume of a symphony orchestra.


You are correct when speak about duration being a bigger factor than volume. The district I work in has a full time audiologist. We are are requiry to have our hearing checked every year. I have also had state L&I officials follow me for a day.  The levels I experience are much higher than what is recommended, but because of the large amounts of time between classes (Itinerate elementary band) it is evened out. BTW, the person from the state recommend that I do exactly what Doug does; keep things quiet in the other areas of your life.
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« Reply #43 on: Nov 26, 2017, 01:29PM »

I have a set of decent earplugs that I wear when in situations that require it, mostly big band rehearsals/gigs. They change my sound perception enough that I don't wear it unless its absolutely necessary, so I only put them on when the charts call for the ridiculous lead trumpet fireworks, or if the trumpet player somehow ends up with his bell 3/4 in away from my ear.

I only started wearing them after an incident where our university big band had to play in a bar setting crammed into a corner... A loud lead trumpet soli came and I felt a short sharp stinging pain in my ear for half a second and then my ears were ringing after the gig. I did what Doug did and as soon as I got off the gig, I went home and went straight to sleep in complete silence. That seemed to have helped. My hearing tests are still as good as they were before the incident, so I think maybe that had something to do with it (although I didn't realize it at the time).

I would like to try the "hearing aids with a limiter" at some point to see how effective those are for myself.
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« Reply #44 on: Nov 27, 2017, 01:37AM »

A long time ago I got into a habit that I think has saved my hearing.  I wear earplugs AFTER the gig, driving home.  That allows recovery time, which is effective.

I almost never wear earplugs on a gig, but I've been experimenting with some options.  Etymotic makes some electronic "earplugs" that I like.  They're more like hearing aids with a limiter.  Everything sounds almost normal at lower volume or even for conversation, but at increased volume it still sounds the same, not louder.  The perception of your own sound is closer to normal than it is with regular earplugs.

https://www.etymotic.com/consumer/hearing-protection/mp915.html

They're not cheap but it's better than losing your hearing, and I like them a lot better than earplugs.

Thanks for sharing, Doug. These plugs are fascinating! For bands that cover a wide dynamic range (i.e. not simply a loud rock band) these sounds like a good concept. Given the expense, I'll do a little more homework, but I'm tempted.

Andrew
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« Reply #45 on: Nov 27, 2017, 01:43AM »

They do use hearing aid batteries, and there's no real convenient way to save the batteries when you're not using them except to to open the battery compartments between uses.  I find it nearly impossible to handle those tiny batteries.
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« Reply #46 on: Dec 03, 2017, 03:58AM »

Talking about hearing, I'm reading a book at the moment by Len Beadell.  Len was a Government surveyor who in the late 1940s and 1950s, surveyed and supervised the construction of the first roads through the desert country in the centre of Australia to Western Australia.  The requirement for this road construction was partly driven by the British and Australian Government's plan to construct a rocket range at Woomera in South Australia.

Once the location for the rocket range had been decided, an airstrip was constructed and supplies for the road and construction crews were flown in by DC3.

In the course of construction of the roads, Len met a few groups of Aboriginal people who had not had previous contact with Europeans and others who had recently come into contact with cattle men.

He mentions a few times how the Aboriginals knew a plane was approaching at least 10 minutes before anyone else was aware of it.

The author doesn't say so but I think this is because the Aboriginal's hearing at that time would have been unspoilt by contact with noisy machinery or for that matter, entertainment equipment.

Perhaps we don't realise how much of our aural sensitivity has been lost simply due to the western lifestyle.

Just a thought.

 
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« Reply #47 on: Dec 03, 2017, 06:56AM »

Well, yeah...

Hey, if a didgeridoo isn't "entertainment equipment," what is it?
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« Reply #48 on: Dec 03, 2017, 11:38AM »

Well, yeah...

Hey, if a didgeridoo isn't "entertainment equipment," what is it?


Ha!  So true.

Played rock gig last night that was so loud I had to put in earplugs just to hear myself.  With a monitor!
It was top 5 on my loudest gigs list😂. 

The plugs saved my hearing......

DD
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« Reply #49 on: Dec 04, 2017, 05:09AM »

Well, yeah...

Hey, if a didgeridoo isn't "entertainment equipment," what is it?

That's a pretty good classification for it.

You couldn't call it loud when played in its natural setting.

In the context I mentioned previously, that would have been the loudest man made sound that they were subjected to.
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« Reply #50 on: Dec 14, 2017, 01:38PM »

This is a better write up of the study:

https://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/news/ear-plugs-essential-orchestral-musicians-study-finds/

My problem with it is that they seemed to make some assumptions that weren't warranted.

The fact that these levels are produced by the players’ own instruments alone means the hazards are present regardless of screens or positioning, rendering earplugs the most effective option for hearing protection.


They seemed to ignore the fact that brass instruments are highly directional. We all know that it's much louder in front of the bell than behind the mouthpiece. The study doesn't seem to take that into account at all.

Another problem:

“A hypothetical scenario with surround screens shows that, even when shielding all direct sound from others, sound exposure is reduced moderately with the largest effect on players in loud sections."

O.K., but the smart way to do it is to have screens behind players to protect them, not putting screens around the loud instruments. For example, instead of putting a screen in front of the trumpet, you put a screen behind the oboe player, or whoever is affected by the sound coming from the trumpet. The study doesn't seem to have modeled this at all. I much prefer having a sound shield behind me over having to wear earplugs. With earplugs, I'm not really hearing my own sounds, I'm just hearing the vibration of the sound wave inside my head, and it's impossible to really play musically that way.

The video is very interesting. I was surprised to see that the flutes are just as loud as the trombones, although we somehow always seem to get the blame for being the loudest. Flute is omnidirectional, so it's interesting to note that they may be responsible for their own hearing loss. High frequencies are more damaging, so I would suspect that the cymbal is the most dangerous instrument, both for the player and for the people around him.
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« Reply #51 on: Dec 14, 2017, 02:01PM »

Picc is loudest, by far!
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« Reply #52 on: Dec 15, 2017, 06:38AM »

Another thing that is always left out is that WITHOUT earplugs there's a good amount of cancellation due to the balance of sound from inside your head to your own sound coming back from outside.

WITH earplugs you're getting the full force from inside, with no cancellation.  You have protection from other instruments but your own sound is considerably MORE damaging. 

I'm guessing that would be true for brass and reeds, but maybe not flute or any other instruments.
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« Reply #53 on: Dec 15, 2017, 08:08AM »

Hmm. 

That would make something like Silent Brass potentially damaging too.

Certainly we hear internal sound, do we know how harmful it might be? 
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« Reply #54 on: Dec 15, 2017, 08:22AM »

I've often wondered about "cancellation" but it's unlikely that could work for all frequencies.


A Doctor on Quora has a somewhat different explanation of why the internal sound gets louder with ear plugs.

Quote
Q: Why is it that if I hum… "mmmmm"… and close off my ear, with the palm of my hand, the sound seems to move to that ear and become much louder?

A: To explain this, let me tell you how sound reaches the ear. The sound you utter conducts through 2 pathways- air and bone .

Bone conduction is when the you tap on your head and you actually hear the tap. Since the sound “hmmmmm” utilizes the nasal cavity effectively, the facial bones conduct the sound and the sound reaches the middle ear, your eardrums vibrate and you hear it.

Now when you close the ear and say “hmmmmmm”, you actually trap the sound waves inside the outer ear, amplifying them . The sound waves hit the eardrum and now you hear the hum louder in the blocked ear as compared to the other.


When I've previously brought up the problem of internal sound and ear plugs, commenters insisted it was all my imagination.  Yeah, RIGHT.


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« Reply #55 on: Dec 15, 2017, 08:24AM »

Not me Rob. Ear plugs are for the birds. Except in rock band. When you've got in ears. And the mix is good.
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