The Importance Of Hearing Protection For Musicians

"Oye...I didn't hear you!"

Growing up playing in a metal band and hanging with the crazy community of musicians in Mumbai, one of the first things I realized is that most rock and metal musicians and sound engineers I knew were partially deaf. This still holds true. Permanent ear damage is a serious problem in the Indian music industry.

One of the most important pieces of musical equipment, and one of the most neglected, is proper ear protection. Ear protection, up till fairly recently, has always been a hush-hush subject. You didnt hear big-name rockstars talking about the importance of hearing protection. No big-time ear plug endorsements. It was, and still is to some extent, a subject of embarrassment to many musicians.

I was fortunate to have a drummer who was studying medicine and actually bought earplugs for the entire band form his college medical store. Back then, in 2001, I'm pretty sure we were the only band in Mumbai who practiced wearing earplugs. I remember getting a lot flak from other musicians about it. In 2014 I got a ear-test done as part of my THX Level 2 Certification, and I was extremely relieved when I scored above average on all frequency ranges. This wouldn't have been possible without ear protection after playing in three metal bands, and engineering over 300 loud gigs over the last ten years.

To give you an idea of how easy it is to damage your hearing, let me give you a simple comparison. The decibel level of a normal conversation is about 60. A local train station is 90 decibels. A dance club is about 110. A jackhammer is 120 decibels! Guess what? So is a typical rock/metal jam or performance. 120 decibels. For Every 10 decibels, volume increases extimes 10. So, 20 decibels is 10 times louder than 10 decibels, 30 decibels are 100 times louder than 10 and so on. So, with a difference of 80 decibels between normal conversation and a rock concert, that would make a rock concert of 120 decibels 10 million times louder than normal conversation.

That's serious damage, and you need to avoid it.

Musicians have unique needs when it comes to hearing protection. They need to protect their hearing, but they also need to be able to hear their own music clearly, as well as hear other musicians’ music and voices while performing, While conventional hearing protection can reduce very high frequencies, this amount of hearing protection is typically not needed for musicians. Most musicians do not need maximum protection. What they need is mid- to low-frequency protection. This can be accomplished through ear plugs that are specifically designed for musicians.

Here are two great earplugs for musicians. These are honestly the most important part of your equipment.

Check out our selection of hearing protection earplugs here:


Ashutosh Pande
Ashutosh Pande




January 13, 2015

This topic needs more coverage and encouragement, specially from websites selling merchandise.
Good article.

Raghav Somani
Raghav Somani

January 06, 2015

Very insightful. We never really think too much before turning up the volume! I guess using proper Hear Protection needs to be a essential part of the gig bag now. Im sure, its even more important for DJ’s playing every night at very loud clubs!

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