Diagnostic Audiology Program
Musician's Earplugs are custom-fitted hearing protection devices that are designed to reduce sound levels at all frequencies evenly. That is, they are "flat-frequency" attenuators. If made well, they preserve the natural resonance of sound in a person's unplugged ear canal, so the music sounds as crisp and clean as unplugged, but greatly reduces risk for hearing loss.
They sound much better than foam earplugs that you can buy over-the-counter in a drug store, which over-protect, and muffle high-pitch sounds more than low-pitch sounds (give a listen to the difference below).
Not all Musician's Earplugs are made the same way... if the ear canal is not long enough, or the opening is too small, or there is a leak between the ear canal and the earplug, the sound can be very "muddy" and worse than using a foam earplug (give a listen below to a poorly-fitted ER-15).
Musician's Earplugs come in three different levels of sound reduction: 9 decibels (ER-9), 15 decibels (ER-15), and 25 decibels (ER-25). Most exposures warrant fitting with an ER-15, but your audiologist can help you determine which is right for you. You can also be fitted with different levels of sound reduction, depending on the need.[read more]
Click on the link to any sound file marked as "no earplug" and adjust the volume of your computer speakers to a comfortably loud level (a little above the level of a conversation). Don't touch the volume control then for the rest of the sound files.
|Rolling Stones, no earplug|
|Rolling Stones, foam earplug|
|Rolling Stones, poorly fitted ER-15 Musicians' Earplug|
|Rolling Stones, good fit ER-15 Musician's Earplug|
|Bach, no earplug|
|Bach, foam earplug|
|Bach, poorly fitted ER-15 Musician's Earplug|
|Bach, good fit ER-15 Musician's Earplug|
In-ear monitors are earphones that plug into a belt-pack for musician's to hearing themselves (monitor) on stage, instead of needing to use floor-mounted "wedge" loudspeakers. Used correctly, they can greatly reduce the levels to which a musician is exposed. Used incorrectly, they can do significant damage quickly.
Custom in-ear monitors are made to fit snuggly in the ear and provide excellent sound isolation, allowing the musician to set his or her monitor levels at moderate loudness - high enough to hear and enjoy, but low enough that they don't do damage.
Non-custom in-ear monitors are a less expensive alternative, and (as shown) can have a custom-fitted sleeve to provide good sound isolation.[read more]