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Can anyone recommend hearing protection for musicians?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Mike Sorr, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. Mike Sorr

    Mike Sorr "Play I Some Music" Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2012
    Brick, NJ
    I play in a rock band that is fortunate enough to have our own rehearsal space. It's a room in my guitar player's house that is big enough to comfortably fit us all in with our gear, but it gets really loud in there when the drummer starts bashing away. I have been begging them to at least attempt to rehearse at a lower volume, but they insist on playing ridiculously LOUD! The excuse being that you can't lower the volume on drums. The drummer seems willing enough to try a few things, but the guitarist's volume creeps up throughout the session time to the point where I may as well be playing air bass. I have used so called "musicians ear plugs" before, but they're uncomfortable and make it sound like I'm rehearsing at the bottom of a pool. I may just be using the wrong set of plugs. Any recommendations? My ear drums thank you in advance.
  2. I use basic tree-shaped earplugs by Alpine, the MusicSafePro series (easily obtainable here). Three changable filters, -10db/-15db/-20db. They do their job, fit my ear comfortably and cost 20€/$ or so. With the -20db's I've shot concerts from the photopit, with parts of a large outdoor festival PA blazing straight at me from a couple of meters distance. If a band practice needs heavier protection than that, you're definitely doing things wrong (unless you're Sunn O))) ) . Most of the time I use the -15db filters.

    Other options that come into mind re: hearing protection would be made to fit -plugs or these: http://www.clarkforest.com/media/uploads/cat-276/peltor-optime-2-head-band-ear defenders-1250.jpg

    I don't know much about anything, but have you guys tried
    - raising/tilting the guitarists cab so he can hear himself better
    - positioning yourselves better
    - EQing things (ie. get out of my frequency and I'll get out of yours -treatment)
    - padding the drumkit or getting a plexi in between the drummer and the rest

    If the guitarist keeps creeping up his volume and you can't hear yourself without a bazzillion watts and turning up to eleven, hearing protection probably won't solve the problem.
  3. Bisounourse


    Jun 21, 2012
    Gent, Belgium
    I use taylor-made earplugs, they cost me about 120 €, but they last about 4 years. The ones I have, have a -19 db filter.
    I have to say; they work great: I can still talk to and hear a person next to me when wearing them, and even in louder gigs I only get the feeling that the volume has been lowered. (But I still have the physical experience in some cases).
  4. I invested in custom fitted natural sound plugs.


    They're expensive. But no more so than eye glasses.

    I find really deep bass still gets through a little more than the highs. But that's actually beneficial for bass players trying to hear themselves.

    I find they sound much better and are way more comfortable than generic musician's plugs.
  5. Bob Palmer

    Bob Palmer

    Apr 17, 2013
    When in that kind of situation, I use a -30db set of earplugs with an in ear monitor so I can hear my bass.

    But on a side note... Drummers can control their volume. If a drummer is unable to control their volume, then they need to go back and learn their instrument. And a guitarist who keeps pushing the volume up is just being disrespectful, and needs to learn to play.

    My band just fired our lead singer/guitarist because he had a serious volume issue to the point where I told him, flat out, if I have to walk over and pick up ear plugs again, I will be walking over to pack up my gear and leave. And the drummer was right behind me.

    Once had it so bad that I just started playing random notes, and even the drummer started changing the beat to see if the gui**** noticed. He did not. Ironically, our drummer used to run sound for some very large international acts, and even for heavy bands, stage volume was a whisper.

    Ultimately, you'll have to make the call on whether or not this is a hill you want to die on. Me personally, I refuse to sacrifice my hearing, and if I have to wear plugs at rehearsal, then it's a red flag and I'm probably not having fun. YMMV.
  6. Bob Palmer

    Bob Palmer

    Apr 17, 2013
    Another note :) One of my other projects, both the guitarist/singer and drummer are both also sound guys. And despite running through a large PA in a small room, we can actually hold a normal conversation while playing led zeppelin. They both always reinforce that you cut, never boost. Makes for a phenomenally better playing experience.
  7. b-rock


    Dec 13, 2010
    Arlington, VA
    I really liked the vented Doc's Proplugs.. The trick is getting the right size. You can order the combo packs that come with a variety of sizes, or just put the size chart up next to your ear and choose that way.. They are the best inexpensive option available. They block the really loud lower frequencies but the vent hole allows you to hear voices better. For me that was key because I couldn't hear queues and direction from my guys and would just wind up taking out my traditional plugs hence defeating the purpose...

  8. That's B.S. Do the 2cm drop experiment. Hold a drum stick 2cm above the skin and let it drop, gravity powered, to the head and bounce up. That is the low volume with sticks. With hot rods it will sound even quieter. Then there are brushes. The skilled drummers can play with drive, and at a low volume.

    It is sooo easy for an electric guitarist to play quiet, use the volume knobs!

    Wear earplugs if the others can't play quiet. If the band sounds bad because of the players, then who cares if the foams plugs cut out the mids and highs more than the bass? You'll hear more bass. :bag:

    I have the Vic Firth ear plugs. Sound good, re-usable, nice metal container for transport, slighty uncomfortable after 2 hours. About $20. There are others...
  9. TRyan5289


    Jul 18, 2012
    Davenport, Iowa
    Etymotic Research. Take a look, relatively cheap, and work great. I'm using ER-20.
  10. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Ditto, on the ER-20 Ety plugs. I buy 'em here.
  11. lakefx

    lakefx Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    I went to the audiologist and had them order custom ear plugs (etymotic). It was the same price as the DIY kits and this way I had a professional do them. This is some of the best money I've ever spent. I spent the extra to get -9db, -15db, and -25db filters. I wear the -25db filters for rehearsal and I've been amazed at the clarity that comes with custom plugs. I can have a conversation at normal volume with them in because the sound is that clear.

    I've even worn the -9db filters to a local movie theater that seems to crank the volume to the point my ears would be ringing at the end of a movie.
  12. marmadaddy


    Oct 17, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    I always have some ER-20 Ety in my gig bag. Still, with today's technology there's no need to play at earsplitting volumes. And I agree with the other posters about "you can't lower the volume on drums". That's pure nonsense.
  13. halfjackson


    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston, MA
    I need to check out some of these links too. The generic earplugs that I've always used don't quite cut it. Thanks for the info.
  14. Obviously the best solution is turning down and acoustic room treatment helps - but I always keep a box of standard -30dB ear plugs in my gig bag. Nothing fancy, just standard ear plugs work fine for me (I just wiggle them in my ears a little until I fine the best fit/sound).
  15. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay

    Its funny how sometimes the stupid-simple solution can actually be the best one.

    Ive spent hundreds of $$ trying different hearing protection gizmos, and after all the setbacks and failures, guess what ultimately works the best (super-low cost notwithstanding)?

    Foam plugs. they greatly cut out the shrill screeching guitar licks, and the mid-rangey keyboard, but the bass comes through unscathed. Ideal solution , imo.


    edit: the downside to foam plugs is they also attenuate speech and make your voice resonate in your head when you talk or sing. *sigh*
  16. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
  17. ben23c


    Aug 2, 2013
    I use winchester headphones that are really meant for shooting rifles and such...couldn't work better
  18. nubs


    Mar 1, 2005
  19. LeeNunn

    LeeNunn Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2012
    Charlottesville, VA
    I called an audiologist who does lots of in ear monitors for national acts. I asked about hearing protection and they recommended custom molds for $175 but suggested that I might start with ETY Plugs for $10 a pair. I bought a pair of the ETY Plugs, which come in two sizes: Medium and large. I have small ears, and the lady at the front desk showed me how to position them in my ears for maximum effectiveness. I'll wear the ETY Plugs to rehearsal this Sunday and hear what happens.