Earplugs and Monitors for Musicians
Musicians have unique needs when it comes to hearing protection. They need to protect from hearing loss. But they also need to be able to hear their own music clearly, as well as hear other musicians’ music and voices while performing.
Conventional store-bought earplugs are great at giving hearing protection. However, they often give too much protection for musicians. As a result, they muffle speech and sound in the process. They also make music and voices very unclear and unnatural to listen to. While conventional hearing protection can reduce very high frequencies, musicians don’t often needs this amount of hearing protection.
Most musicians do not need maximum protection. What they need is mid- to low-frequency protection. They can do this through earplugs that are specifically for musicians.
Musician’s earplugs come in both custom and non-custom options. Ready-fit musician earplugs can reduce sound levels by roughly 20 dB. This is enough to reduce harmful sound without distorting speech or music.
These type of earplugs are deep in order to allow the earmold to seal within the bony portion of the ear canal. This deep fit reduces occlusion: a hollow or boomy sound in the musician’s own voice that they can sometimes have with lower quality earplugs. These type of deep-fit earmolds are popular with musicians because of the quality of sound they allow them to hear while practicing and performing.
Musician’s earplugs are not just for musicians. They are also a popular hearing protection option for:
In-Ear Musician Monitors
For musicians who perform for large audiences, in-ear musician monitors (IEMs) are the current standard in musician technology. They allow the musician to clearly hear the music they are making as the audience would hear it while still protecting the musician’s ears from very loud amplification systems and audiences.
IEMs work best if they are custom molded to fit each musician’s ears personally. However, there is still the option of universal fit musician monitors. Universal IEMs typically come with interchangeable foam or silicone tips to allow for a semi-custom fit.
Your healthcare provides can custom make (using a mold) earmolds and IEMs to fit your unique ear shape.
The ear impression to make the earmold or in-ear monitor is the most important part of the process in the material fitting well. The quality of the ear impression material and technique directly impacts the sound quality, sound isolation, and comfort that is achieved with the earmold.
Because this part of the process is so crucial, it’s important that you hire someone with experience and skill to make impressions for high-quality musicians earplugs. Most hearing healthcare providers are trained in this process and know the need of a good fit.
Speak with your hearing healthcare provider about his or her experience in custom fitting patients with musician’s earplugs and IEMs. Also ask them about your options for high-quality occupational hearing protection.