If you're a musician or you're studying to become a professional musician, you need to take proper measures to protect your hearing so that you can enjoy music for years to come.
Sounds are considered safe until they reach a sound level of about 80 - 85 dB. Essentially, that is about 10 dB greater than a busy restaurant.
Most concerts clock in at around 125 dB. Over time, this level of noise from loud concerts can cause irreversible noise-induced hearing loss.
However, being a musician does not have to be harmful to your hearing, and you can enjoy a long career in the music industry like Bon Jovi or Eric Clapton as long as you take the proper precautions.
In the article below, we will go over a few ways you can protect your hearing as a musician.
Table of Contents
- Be Informed
- Wear Earplugs
- Use Noise-Canceling Headphones
- Don't Stand by the Speakers
- Rehearse at a Safe Volume
- Turn the Volume Down
- Be Aware of How Loud Your Music is
- Get Your Hearing Checked
The first thing you should do to protect your hearing from loud music is learning how it can impact your ears. Permanent hearing damage is no joke.
Loud noise damages the tiny hair cells in the inner part of your ear called stereocilia.
Your stereocilia are responsible for converting sound waves to electrical energy that is translated by the brain as sound. Once these hair cells are damaged by loud music, these hair cells do not regenerate.
This can cause permanent damage to your hearing and lead to necessary assistance like a hearing aid.
One of the simplest things you can do to protect your ears from loud environments is to wear earplugs.
It can be a one-size-fits-all product from the pharmacy or a custom-made earplug crafted from a mold of your ear. Either way, wearing earplugs is the simplest and most effective way to protect your hearing from loud noise. From rehearsal to on stage, this is the way to go.
Earplugs made specifically for musicians absorb the noise pressure that can cause damage to your hearing without compromising the sound quality.
Other earplugs work by decreasing the decibel level without altering the clarity of the music.
Use Noise-Canceling Headphones
Noise-canceling earbuds and headphones have become a hot product in the music industry to protect folks from loud sounds.
These headphones do a great job of eliminating excess sounds from ambient background noise so you can focus on the music you're listening to.
Noise-canceling headphones allow you to enjoy your music clearly without cranking up the volume when your surroundings get too loud.
There are two different types of noise-canceling headphones, active and passive.
Active Noise-Canceling Headphones
Active noise-canceling headphones utilize a power source and do a better job of reducing lower frequencies.
They are typically more expensive than passive noise-canceling headphones due to the advanced technology that goes into their design.
Passive Noise-Canceling Headphones
Passive noise-canceling headphones don't require any power. Instead, they use insulation and sound-absorbing material to reduce background noise.
They do an excellent job of reducing higher frequencies.
Note: This is different than choosing great studio headphones, which we have created an article about, as well.
Don't Stand by the Speakers
Another great thing you can do for your hearing health is to take a step back from the speakers. Whether it's a hip-hop show or a rock concert, you don't want to be crowding the speakers for too long.
It may not be possible to escape the booming stadium speakers at your concert completely, but you can strategically position yourself to avoid standing right next to them.
If your music is too loud, reposition yourself to help prevent post-concert tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and music-induced hearing loss. Also, contrary to what many people might think, louder does not automatically mean better.
Rehearse at a Safe Volume
Hearing issues can also be avoided by turning the volume down while you rehearse. We know, we know - that's no fun.
Everyone wants to go all out for a sold-out show, but that doesn't mean you should risk permanent hearing loss during a rehearsal.
Playing music quietly can also help you break down the song's structure so you can hear how the different parts work together.
Turning your volume down even just a little bit can help protect your hearing. If you don't rehearse in a studio or professional space, your neighbors will probably thank you, too.
Turn the Volume Down
Speaking of turning the volume down, your inner ear will eventually suffer damage if you always listen to loud music.
Your ears cannot build up a resistance to loud noises so you're always at risk of hearing loss. But, you can very easily turn down the volume.
Don't make a habit of practicing at excruciating volumes or listening to music too loudly in general. We're looking at you; dude drumming on his steering wheel and blasting music during stopped traffic on the highway.
Chronic exposure to loud noises can snowball into irreversible hearing damage that will affect you later on in life.
Be conscientious of the volume you subject yourself to and try to turn down the volume when it gets too loud or at least wear proper hearing protection.
Be Aware of How Loud Your Music is
There are two main ways to tell if your music is too loud for your ears.
If you have to raise your voice for others to hear you, your music is too loud. And if you can't hear someone 3 feet away from you, your music is too loud.
Of course, sometimes these situations are unavoidable for musicians.
However, if you regularly play in settings where the music is dangerously loud for your ears, you should take note of the tips we've provided and begin taking steps to protect your hearing.
Get Your Hearing Checked
Professional musicians should regularly get their hearing checked to prevent severe hearing damage and detect any onset hearing loss.
Get your hearing tested right away if you are consistently exposed to loud noises and are experiencing the following:
- muffled sounds
- ringing in your ears
- any other difficulties with your hearing
Regular checkups will help you better understand your hearing health and prevent severe damage. As you can see, it is critical for musicians to take care of their ears.
Put Yourself in the Best Situation to Succeed
The world is a better place because of musicians, so please protect your hearing so you can keep making music for as long as possible!
Protecting your hearing is just one way of putting yourself in the best situation possible to succeed as a musician. Another way you can accomplish this is by attending an accredited music college like the Atlanta Institute of Music and Media.
AIMM offers a variety of music programs, such as:
- Music and Technology Associate Degree: Concentration in Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Drums, or Keyboard
- Music Production and Audio for Media Associate Degree
- Performance Certificate in Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Drums, or Keyboard
- Online Certificate in Music and Technology: Concentration in Guitar or Bass
- Certificate in Music Production
Put yourself in an immersive music atmosphere where you'll learn from industry-leading instructors. You're guaranteed to elevate your craft and advance your techniques.
You even have the opportunity to earn your AVID Pro Tools Certification.
If you're passionate about music and want to turn your drive into a successful music career, click below to discover how AIMM can benefit you.