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.)”
Ear Angels ear plugs are designed with earring wearers in mind. They easily attach to the back of your earring without pulling or adding unnecessary weight. If you want to take them out for a period of time, they are right there when you want to put them back in–no fumbling around in a small case when you are in a dark venue. Priced at $7.50 on Amazon with free shipping, they also come at a very affordable price.
Since Ear Angels is a brand new company, their ear plugs are not yet NRR rated. Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is a unit of measurement used to determine the effectiveness of hearing protection devices to decrease sound exposure within a given environment. Classified by their potential to reduce noise in decibels (dB), a term used to categorize the power of sound, hearing protectors must be tested and approved by the American National Standards (ANSI) in accordance with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). The higher the NRR number associated with a hearing protector, the greater the potential for noise reduction. Without this rating we are not quite sure exactly how many dB these earplugs take the sound down, which is an important factor when you are a serious concert-goer.
I’ve tried a couple other pairs of high fidelity ear plugs I like a little bit better than Ear Angels, however, the other girls that used these liked them very much, more than the pairs I personally thought were better. I was the odd-woman out. Hearing protection selection is very much on a personal preference basis. Everyones ears are shaped different and different products may fit better and therefore work/sound better for you.
Are They Worth It?
Ear Angels are comfortable, light weight, convenient, and most importantly help protect your hearing at loud concerts. The company has found a way to make hearing protection an easy part of your concert-going lifestyle. At only $7.50/pair I would urge all girls (and earring wearing guys) to give these a serious look for festival season 2015.