Good sound and hearing are two of the most important things in a music lover’s life. I love loud bass music; Bassnectar, Datsik, Excision, Destroid, Cookie Monsta–the harder the better. Front row, headphones on max, windows down in the car with the system all the way up, you can’t tell me to turn down. Everyone wants to feel immersed in the music. To literally feel moved by the beats of their favorite artist. Loud, awesome music that cuts right to your soul and makes your body feel feelings is definitely cool, but after the sanctions imposed on Red Rocks and Zedd‘s hearing loss, it’s time to redefine cool. The science and design behind high fidelity ear plugs have finally paved the path to practical hearing protection you’ll actually wear.
We are going harder, louder, and longer than any audiences before us and if we want to be able to party this hard when we’re 30 we’re going to need to protect our hearing. Why do we choose to not wear ear plugs? You think you look stupid, you think your friends are going to make fun of you, and even worse than that those crappy foam earplugs just muffle the music and you can’t even enjoy it. All of these reasons make ear plug use totally impractical and therefore not even a part of the EDM lifestyle, but now it can be.
What if I told you they now make high fidelity, low profile, sound filters that fit in your ears that do not muffle your favorite music and can barely be seen when looking at you? That they only filter out the harmful frequencies and harsh levels without distorting your favorite songs? Would you consider protecting yourself then? I did and I’ve never been happier with my decision.
Let’s take a look at sound:
- – The softest sound the human ear can hear is 0 dB
– Normal talking is between 40-60 dB
– Headphones are 110 dB
– A normal rock concert is between 110-120 dB. Could reach as high as 140 dB
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has stated that 90 dB (comparable to a “loud office”) for 8 hours is all the human ear can stand without suffering permanent hearing loss. At any given EDM show, decibels of over 110 dB are commonly found for hours upon hours. I stress “at any given EDM show”–that could be your Alesso shows, your Nicky Romero shows, your Pretty Lights shows, but, at any given Bassnectar or Excision show–who knows? No one throws down harder than those two bass masters and crowds can never get enough… but they should.
Risk of hearing loss is measured by several factors:
- – How loud the sound is
– How close you are to the sound
– How long you are exposed to the loud music
– What kind of headphones you use (earbuds vs. over-the-ear)
– Family history of hearing loss
World renowned concert venue Red Rocks understands the importance of keeping sound at safe levels to protect its customers. All of their future shows and artists have agreed to keep their shows within these limits:
- Show noise levels shall not exceed 105 dB for longer than 1 minute after midnight on weekdays and 1am on weekends and holidays
- Bass levels cannot exceed 125 dB at the low frequency levels of 25-80 hertz for 1 minute averages after midnight on weekdays and 1am on weekends and holidays
Michal Menert agrees with these rules and doesn’t find them to be an imposition at all. He implores that it will bring out the dynamic sound–the ups and downs, the loud the soft, the crescendos of the set that the artist wanted to convey to the audience in a more appealing manner:
“If anything, this is going to bring more dynamic out in the music because it will allow more frequencies to breathe… It will be less in-your-face sound coming at you and more dynamic.”
I spoke with Dr. Susan McTyiere Au.D., CCC-A about the dangers of loud sound and what we can do to protect our ears without taking away from the music. Are cheap $1 foam earplugs enough?
“Standard earplugs at concerts will help, but are not ideal. Always look for the noise reduction rating (NRR) on non-customized ear protection. It will vary depending on material, model, etc. as well as how well they are utilized by the wearer. Proper insertion is essential to achieve the noise reduction rating, especially on non-customized ear protection. Also, if you want the very best in ear protection, have custom ear protection made by an audiologist specific to the activity (hunting, concerts, factory work, etc.)”
After a lot of personal research, I’ve found that high fidelity ear plugs seem to be the way to go for loud music. They can range from $10-$150+ depending on if they are personally fitted by an audiologist or just bought at the store. They provide balanced sound reduction with very little disruption of frequency response. Definition of mid and high frequencies can be heard clearly for a safer yet unmuffled listening experience. I recently tried Downbeats high fidelity, low profile earplugs and I was very happy with how they functioned at a show.
I really liked the case. Small, compact, stainless steel and could easily hook on to your belt loop if you wanted to be sure you didn’t lose them. They also easily fit into a fanny pack without taking up too much room. Bringing them with me did not feel like a hassle at all, and I am the kind of person who likes to take very few things to a show.
The low profile design means you can barely see them in your ear, which I really like because who wants to look like some sort of weird alien when you’re mingling in a crowd? They fit into my ears comfortably and it wasn’t hard to find the correct position they should rest in for optimal sound filtration.
To be honest I didn’t expect to like wearing ear plugs, but high fidelity ear plugs really didn’t take away from my listening experience at all. I still heard every song clearly and without distortion, harsh levels were noticeably filtered out, I could hear my friends talking to me better without them having to scream and no one noticed I even had them in with their sleek design that hid them in my ear. The whole experience exceeded expectations. I can’t find a downside to using high fidelity, low profile earplugs. For only $10 I would and have recommended Downbeats earplugs to my friends. Enter below for a chance to win a pair, or if you don’t want to wait, cop yourself a pair here now.
Why do we love a drop so much? They start off slow and quiet… and then suddenly pick up tempo and loudness and then BAM! Exhilarating, mind numbing music that you can’t help but move your body to. Excitement was built up within you during that change in dynamic. You can’t enjoy the highs if you don’t have the lows; and you can’t enjoy any of this if you can’t hear. Downbeats wants to help you protect your hearing in style. Enter the contest below to win a free pair of their high fidelity, low profile ear plugs.