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Ear Fatigue

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Remyd, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    I've been through the sticky (WEAR EARPLUGS) but I can't use the cheap ones so I thought I might get some opinions about an interim solution.

    I'm a mostly acoustic player but one of my more recent projects ($) is playing slab in a rock/blues cover band. I don't usually get into electric projects, but the drummer on this one was kinda impressive and our first few sessions went fabulously. Right now, the band is still getting stuff in order (read: flailing around like useless idiots). Soon (I hope) we'll be booking at least a little and I've got a bit of a problem. When we practice, we play at gig volume, as we should. It's loud enough to carry a medium sized bar with our in-place PA. Practice space is in a basement, but there's some sound treatment. It's loud but not painfully so.

    Except I'm mostly a DB guy. Gig volume for DB guys is the same as practice volume is the same as jam volume. Even amplified significantly, acoustic bands are still way on the left side of the dial. I haven't played in such a loud band since the mid-90's when I jacked up my hearing in the first place.

    The rig for this project is my cheap Ibby through a Zoom B1on to a 200w GK backline into a Hartke 410. It's not quite enough to keep up with the two guitars and the hard-hitting drummer without farting out a little even with HPF. It's certainly not the sort of gear that would make me worry about my hearing.

    Except I'm worried about my hearing. It didn't start off in great shape due to previous hearing damage/surgery/being a sound tech/etc, but this is getting to be a problem.

    During the 2.5-3 hour sessions, I've got full hearing for the first hour, lose some definition in the next, and just pray that the bass sounds at least OK for hour #3. By that time, I have no fine detail left, have trouble parsing any sounds with any background noise, and say "What?" so often that I'm thinking about getting it tattooed on my forehead. The next morning, recovery is nearly perfect. No tinnitus, no blood, I can hear my kids complaining about school, etc. This makes me think that it's "fatigue" rather than "permanent damage".

    Foam earplugs don't work for me because my left outer ear canal is shaped funny from multiple surgeries and is at least 3 times as big as usual. I used wax plugs at the last session, but they made the attenuation even worse and I couldn't hear any detail at all, much less vagaries of tone. I am waiting on an appointment with the audiologist, but I don't think that my insurance will cover the molded plugs, and I'm a poor musician, so that may not go to my liking.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a (hopefully cheap-ish) intermediate solution?

    PS: If you're going to post "turn down" then don't. I've already explored that avenue quite thoroughly and this group would rather switch musicians than listen to the pansy-ass bass player b*tch that his ears hurt. It's not ideal, and it might end up to be a deal-breaker, but that's the consensus right now.
  2. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
  3. samson3382


    Apr 26, 2009
    Boise, Idaho
    Wear a beanie to hold them in?
    Remyd likes this.
  4. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    If you have isolating earbuds that fit, you can do a wired IEM system.
  5. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Drop by Home Depot and pick up a package of shims. :D

    I see they have custom fit available, but they are really spendy, but hearing aids are about 4 times a set.

    I have some that were custom fit that I got at a Gun Show. IIRC, they were less than $50.00.
    I also goggled custom hearing protection and got a lot of options.
  6. You could try the Large size Etymotic for the big ear. About a 20 dollar experiment.

    Btw. 200w of 410 vs loud guitars is definitely in the hearing loss zone.
    Gearhead17 likes this.

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