Natural attenuation earplugs
Iím going in to the audiologist tomorrow to be fitted for Ďnatural attenuationí earplugs. I wondered if anyone had a suggestion for what level of attenuation is best? I have a choice of -9dB, -15dB, or -25dB.
My main use at the moment will be jazz classrooms, where I am on bass, standing next to a drummer who may or may not have a light touch, and across from five or six horns. At the moment, Iím coming out of a couple of hours and my ears feel distinctly tired. Not ringing, but ... tired. And the week after next Iím going on a week-long jazz camp.
Iím inclined to go for -9dB. That seems like it should be about right for acoustic jazz with anything but an idiot drummer. Does that sound about right?
I'd definitely go for the least in that situation. It's not like you're dealing with screaming electric guitars and a drummer who's competing with that.
Been wearing the -15db for years [decades]. I play in both loud and acoustic bands, seems to be a happy medium.
+1 on the -15db. I've had them for 7 years and use them regularly. They have the flattest frequency attenuation. I think the -9db would be helpful as well but they are less linear.
Another +1 on the -15 dB - A good amount of protection for any usage. You will be able to hear fine.
This is a smart thing to do - the loud transients over time - even from an acoustic band - can cause damage. I always wear plugs for practice and sometimes for shows as well.
For your useage definately the -9 db plugs.
I think you'll find the -15db plugs too much.
One of my gigs is playing EB weekly with a rather loud bar band and I've found that the -9db plugs work very well.
I'd still rather play without, as the sound is a lot better but my ears don't like the volume.
I feel slightly disconnected but comfortable.
FWIW the drummer in the group uses -15db plugs, and I've found that when he puts them in he tends to play a lot louder because he can't hear himself as well.
Thank goodness I don't need them on my Jazz gigs.
Thanks for all the replies. That is really useful.
I am also able to buy just the filters, which are then swappable within the earplugs. that is interesting for having options.
lcdck - where did the chart you posted come from?
From here: www.etymotic.com
I have both the -15 and the -25 filters. The -15's are suitable in most situations, and would be the best overall choice. I only pull out the -25's in those now rare situations when I go to see a very loud show.
Kind of late here but I have the 15 db's one. Probably the best piece of musical gear I ever purchased. They are flat response. Put them in before you start playing, and you will forget you are using them.
Just wondering if there is a significant advantave over standard soft foam earplugs. I'm not talking about the HomeDepot jive, but softer ones which I get on Ebay for like 20 pair for ten bucks. I haven't tried the audiologist offers. I have heard good feedback. But I just can't believe that they merit the incredible prices.
In my plugs, they are interchangeable, so I have 10 and 25. To be honest, the only way I am comfortable using them is in one ear at a time. Using both earplugs really muddies up the bass, IME. Mine are quite old now, so maybe the technology has improved...
+100. They have an even frequency response, just quieter, as opposed to foam which filter out mostly high end and high mids, and really change the way everything sounds. These plugs are used by a lot of orchestral players in large symphonies. They need to hear exactly what's going on, just quieter.
I think mine were -12, it was great for ROck shows, not so much for the softer music but i did not wear them for that anyway. YOu can always swap the filter, so its better to start lower and add more if its not blocking enough.
+1 to everything above.
I think I paid about $130 for mine and have zero buyers remorse. They are comfortable and it's nice to actually be able to hear what's going on (in all frequencies). My only regret is not getting made with buttons flush. I've had them for a few years now and the buttons are kinda loose/pop out easily. I'm afraid I'm going to lose one.
I use the -15 db filters. Without the molded earplugs I would have quitted music 7 years ago.
One time I even practiced (by myself at home) with them in. Just to get acclimated. I couldn't hear much of a difference, since they are flat response.I know Rufus says to practice with an amp sometime so why not with the earplugs? Like everyone said, they are great.
Thanks for the replies on this. I thought I should follow up with some additional information.
I spoke with the audiologist when I picked up the plugs. He said we should particularly worry about the low frequencies. Although they are not as noticeably painful as high frequencies, over the long term they are more damaging. So even though a trumpet or cymbals can hurt my ears, the bass can also do some real damage.
Iíve been playing with a decibel meter Ė just an iphone app, so not a scientific grade instrument, but still interesting. Sitting the iphone on my left shoulder near my ear, playing loud pizz like I do practicing, I can get peak transients of 105 dB. I donít know about you, but Iím shocked at how loud that measures. And Iím getting averages of 94-95 dB playing heavy pizz, with no amplification.
Playing heavy arco, I can easily hit 98-100 dB averages at my ear. Spooky loud.
This page is interesting, listing dB ratings for common orchestral instruments, and the safe exposure limit at volumes. http://www.etymotic-media.com/sliderule/
So, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. But after talking to my audiologist and undertaking some measurements, Iím think Iím going to start using the -9 dB plugs for my regular practice, not just for gigs and classes. I'm practicing five or six hours a day - that's got to have some effect over time.
Iíve also discovered, since I ordered the passive plugs, active musicians earplugs.
So these have an active filter that responds to sound levels, and provides a gradual increase in attenuation as sound levels increase. No sound is cut until 70 dB, then a gradual transition to keep in-ear volumes to a safe level. Instantaneous response to loud sounds like a cymbal crash.
Thatís really clever. Given how impressed I am with these passive plugs, Iím going to save a few dollars, and buy some active ones as soon as I can.
Yes, they are so vastly superior to the foam builders supplies earplugs. The foam plugs cut a bunch of sound level at weird frequencies, so the world sounds muffled.
The flat response filters cut equal sound levels at all frequencies, so the world sounds exactly the same, but quieter. It's an amazing thing. I can happily practice with them in, and get all the subtlety of a solo double bass.
As well as the custom fit ones, which are the expensive type, it seems that you can get none-custom plugs with a flat attenuation.
-20 dB attenuation, which is quite a bit more than the -9 dB or the -15dB, but may be a cheap way to try the technology if you are sceptical.
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