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Doc told me I need musicians ear plugs

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Shad87, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. Shad87


    Oct 16, 2013
    Doc just told me I have Tympanosclerosis and its from scar tissue as a result of ear infections as a kid, and that a good option is musician's ear plugs. They need to be the kind that are calibrated and most likely molded to the shape of my ear.

    I figure you guys would be a good place to ask about all the different models out there since I see you've already been talking about them. Is there anything good that isn't easily noticeable, without any clunky wires hanging out of them? This is 2013, with all the technical advancements we've made there's got to be something like that.

    I'm desperate here, my head is constantly in pain from the shock of loud noises, but at the same time I don't want to be "that guy with the things in his ears". Gee... that's really romantic. Can anyone please help me?
  2. Shad87


    Oct 16, 2013
    It looks like very thing I find has wires for some reason... my doctor did a really crappy job of explaining how they work. Actually he didn't tell me anything. Do they all have wires? What are the wires for?
  3. Those with wires are usually speakers, like "In Ear Monitors" or ear buds. The ear plugs just keep noise out.

    These, and others like these, do not have wires hanging out of them.
  4. Nothing wrong with wanting to protect your most valuable asset, mate. I'm 25 and have been wearing plugs to prac, gigs and shows since I was 15. I used to get weird looks but now I find more and more younger people are using plugs at shows for more reasons than one.

    As for finding them, I don't know about where you live but I know a few places here in Australia that specialise in custom molded earphones.


    I got mine from these guys a few years ago and they work brilliantly. Very comfortable and very effective molds that cancel out all the harsh noise but don't completely muffle away the good stuff.
  5. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    It may help to know where you are located, as someone close to you may have gotten molded plugs and can help you out. If you're in So Cal, I have a place that can help you.
  6. waynobass


    Feb 27, 2008
    If you get them in clear or beige, they'll be almost invisible. A good investment!
  7. dlegault


    Nov 11, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I have the etymotic plugs, they're awesome. I have the 15db version and everything is still crystal clear, just not as loud.

    They basically are clear soft silicone plugs with the filter system molded into them, and the filters are replaceable if you find you want to change the db level. They come with a small short piece of plastic that sticks out - it's still clear - that can be used to remove them after you're finished, but this can be cut off with a scissors quite easily if you find it offensive. I can make a photo of them and post if anyone would like when I get home from work.

    The process is to find an audiologist near you that participates with etymotic (or whatever brand you choose), and have ear impressions made. You then pick a color if you want (or clear), and the filter level. In a couple weeks you go back, they fit the plugs, and you take them home. I had 30 days to take them back and have them re-molded if they didn't fit right for whatever reason.

    Lots of really good info in this stickied thread on hearing loss and ear plugs.
  8. I use the disposable etymotic ones. They come in a few different reduction levels. You might try them out before investing in the customs. The clear stalks are nearly invisible and so what if they are spotted!

    One of my drummers has clear custom molded ones, next to unnoticeable. I think he got a bit crazy with the NR level, he is a bit "deaf" behind his kit, says himself he should have got less.
  9. Shad87


    Oct 16, 2013
    Before I go on I guess I need to give you guys more details. I didn't know about all the different kinds of ear plugs that are made.

    This isn't to protect my ears from getting damaged, its to protect them from certain sounds that hurt my ears because they're already damaged in a certain way unrelated to music. Tympanosclerosis is basically scarring on the ear drum from infections. Normally the ear drum is flexible like a trampoline, but this makes it harder for the ear drum to move and when I'm around loud noises it actually causes pain. Setting a coffee cup right next to me on a tile counter (loud clank!) or laughing loudly near me, or even just a loud TV or a boom box can give me a splitting headache that can last anywhere from a hour to several days.

    I need these for every day life, to protect me from certain noises and loud noises that cause me pain, while letting me still hear whats going on around me and hearing people talk... like say a class room. I have ADD which makes it worse, since that makes it harder for me than other people to ignore annoying noises that break concentration. Since I'm going back to school, its very important that I can concentrate but also hear people talking in a class room. I can't wear something that will just lower ALL sound, only sound within a certain range. That's why the doc wants me to use musicians ear plugs... but I don't know if they're the electric kind or not. Someone in the office told me they don't know what models they use, but they are the custom fit ones by Westone.... even though they make a lot of different ones. They said it would cost a little over $200? $211 I think? I called the Audiology department and the woman there didn't know the name of the model. *sigh* I left a message to someone there who would know but they didn't get back to me before closing.

    With that in mind, does anyone know what model they could be talking about? I don't think its one commonly sold for musicians in stores. Its probably tailored more for the medical market.

    Sorry, I should have asked what you guys know about these devices and what the different kinds are. I'm just panicking cause I don't want to look like I just got off the short bus. I'm afraid their going to try and fit me with some big cheap clunky old design that looks awful. I have reasonably good health insurance, and I'm pretty sure they'll help with the costs. They told me I can look elsewhere for one and go to them to have it molded for me. But first I think I need to calm down and try to talk to this guy "Chris" about what model they want to fit me with. I saw a picture of one that sounds like what they were describing and it was this giant skin clunky model sticking way out of the ear with a giant cord coming out of it. NO WAY IN HELL am I wearing that!

    I'll post again when I know more.

    Also, I'm in Richmond Virginia. The poopiehole that time forgot and the last place on earth to get internet.
  10. Chill! Muso plugs ideally cut all frequencies evenly. In a busy bar I hear conversation very much better wearing mine.

    From what you are saying, you actually need hardcore protection from specific frequencies? This would make everything sound weird but your brain would probably deal with it over time. I guess they customise filters but I don't know anything about that.

    The custom musician ones my drummer has are nearly invisible. If cutting everything down 15 or 20dB works for you then damn straight you won't have any problem with wearing them.
  11. So, I just read your post again. I think doc hasn't explained musician earplugs to you very well.

    It's like a volume knob for the world. Everything is there but quieter. In loud environments our ears shut off to protect, which distorts our hearing, like taking away colour and replacing it with grey. The plugs restore the colour.
  13. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    I know nothing about them, but I would advise you to not worry about being "That guy". Do what your doctor tells you.
  14. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    It sounds like you need something very specific, and custom made for your condition. I don't think you're going to get that kind of info here at TalkBass. I suggest making an appointment with an audiologist and take it from there.
  15. Shad87


    Oct 16, 2013
    Well they told me I can actually buy something else... but I don't know what exactly the requirements are. When I get more information from this Chris guy, I'll let you guys know. I need to find out what kind of specs I'm looking for. I build computers for fun, and this seems no different than that. Find out what type of product and specs you need, do the research, find the best model vs price, and get it. Only difference is it'll probably have to be molded to fit me.

    Sorry I think I was freaking out cause the doc I went to was being sort of a douche, then saw the pic of the giant cheap clunky thing that sounded like what they were talking about. I think its because they only buy one of the cheaper medical models through that company, instead of one of the nicer more modern invisible ones which will most likely cost more.... but it'll be worth it. They told me specifically I don't have to get the model they buy through that company, and that I can buy them somewhere else then bring them back and they'll handle getting them molded and working right for me. Other than that, I know nothing else. I hope I can through to this "Chris" guy in the audiology department tomorrow.
  16. I think this is a wise route. Find the local audiologists in your area and contact them. Make appointments. This could be partially covered under your health insurance too, since it is for medical reasons. These ear plugs cost in the range of $200-$400.
  17. If you are looking at the Westone plugs, the little "wires" are actually little pull tabs to get them out of your ears a bit easier, since they are a snug fit.
    The plugs themselves are not pitch selective, just a general decrease of all db levels. Yo ucan still hear everything, it just cuts the volume down across the board. During rehearsals, I don't need to take them out to hear people talk.
    I've used them while conducting as well, when I was getting particularly sensitive to flutes (for whatever reason). I actually found more definition to the sounds I was hearing, as I wasn't being knocked over by the volume.

    They were made two years ago, with a -15db rating, custom fit, and only ran $125 from the local audiologist.
    I'd recommend them to anyone looking to save their hearing, without losing a full range of frequency.
    These, but clear colored.
  18. hsech

    hsech Work hard. My Social Security needs a raise.

    Jun 27, 2012
    Central Iowa
    I wear them from time to time. My hearing is already damaged beyond repair and I wear hearing aids when not playing or practicing. When I was in the Air Force in Vietnam I worked in close proximity to jet engines. All we had were either in ear canal plugs or over the ear muffs. Both were reasonably effective for lower noise levels, but jet engines were really bad on your hearing.
  19. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    First, go see an audiologist. Get a hearing test. Now you have a baseline for future tests to see if you are doing any further damage. For custon plugs, Etymotic Research makes the filters and they make them in different levels of attenuation. I have both 15db and 25db depending on the gig (or a concert). Realize that no matter who makes the mold, Westone, Sensaphonics (who are musicians), all the filters all come from ER. It is important for the audiologist to know the purpose of the earplug, how often you'll where them, etc as they can make a mold that fits your needs. My wife is a Doctor of Audiology. I've been wearing plugs, as needed for many years.
  20. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I would start here:
    and do some reading.

    Then I would find a local audiologist who isn't a jerk.

    Then follow through with that new doctor and see what course of action they suggest.

    Lastly, don't freak out. You've identified a problem and now you need to educate yourself and deal with it in a rational manner. The last thing you should be worried about is what the plugs look like. Your hearing is not replaceable!

    I've used Etymotic custom molds for years. They run about $180 and I use the 15dB inserts for playing music. They work very well, sound fairly natural and don't look very obvious. Probably the most important music investment I've ever made.

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