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Hearing damage, tone and live sound.

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Bass Boy, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. I have always worn hearing protection when I play in a live environment that is excessively loud (or even moderately loud) I have been lucky to not lose too much of my range. Something I have noticed, especially when playing with players over 40 in more "rock" environments is that I am usually the only one wearing protection (hearing, that is). After I set up my stage sound/volume I sometimes get comments that the sound is muffled or doesnt have enough highs. When I listen there is plenty of tone, range and IMO more treble than I need! I also find these same folks, when doing the FOH sound have piercing highs that cause me pain. Unfortunately when I mention that they may be using too much high end as a result of hearing loss over the years they are less than receptive. Too me it seems obvious that decads of loud guitars, drums and stage volume is gonna take its toll. Just venting here but anyone else run into this? (Maybe I just been playing jazz for too long ;) )
  2. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    I'm in the same boat and have this issue in my country band. 2 Guitar players and a pedal steel who all mic their tube amps. I'm totally IEM. When they turn their amps on, it's OMG.. LOUD, LOUD, LOUD !!
    I'm pretty sure they have hearing loss.
    A band I ran sound for (they have been together since 1974) switched to another "provider" when I got back into playing again.
    I went to see them earlier this year (while I was between bands) and their sound guy was horrendous. Boosted mid's and highs, almost to the point of pain. Not good :(
  3. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I do have quite a bit of tinnitus, but last time my hearing was checked it showed only minor hearing loss. I worked for over 25 years as a professional bassists and audio tech. I wore ER15 ear plugs on almost every gig as a bassist. Normally I mixed in settings where the volume was low enough, or I could set up far enough from the speakers that excessive volume was not an issue. But, there are a few occasions where I mixed with the ER15s in.

    In my opinion the ER15s drastically color the sound and also compress dynamic range. It's not enjoyable to use them, but I am confident I would have major hearing loss if I had not been so diligent about using them. I usually carry them with me if I go to bars, night clubs or any other social setting where loud music will be present. I also use ear plugs or protective ear muffs when I ride motorcycles or work in the yard with power tools or loud hand tools such as hammers.

    I am not a huge concert goer, but several of the large touring acts I have heard were obviously mixed by an audio tech with significant hearing loss. My observations match yours.

    Regarding the tinnitus. I take comfort in it, because when it stops it will likely mean I have lost hearing at the offending frequency. A few weeks ago, I created a new dominant frequency. I was testing a pair of omni mics that I recently bought and one of them had a weird mechanical resonance. During testing, I accidentally increased the gain enough for one of the mics to feedback through my headphones. If you ever decided to run IEMs, this is why it's important to use and properly configure a peak stop limiter. A feedback hit like this can do a lot of damage really fast.
  4. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Thankfully, most (if not ALL) wireless IEM receivers I have researched have built-in brick wall limiters.. the upper end receivers have adjustable limiters whereas those down-line tend to be fixed.
    The one on my Senn G3 most certainly blocked the impact when the drunk singer (last month) dropped the wireless mic during the first song of our last set.
  5. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    I heard this was a problem with British sound guys. May or may not be true, probably from back in the day and certainly not limited to limeys.

    Makes sense that as you damage a certain frequency you increase it and cause further damage. I usually find a harsh high mid quality to mixes done by long time musicians which hurt my ears. With my tinnitus my ears are so sensitive I have to use plugs in any live music situation that’s not an Unamplified acoustic guitar.
    HolmeBass and Wasnex like this.
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    This is exactly why I prefer tweeterless bass cabs. I don't want to be responsible for frequencies that I can't hear.
  7. I dont mind the custom earplugs. I have used the er9, 15 and 25 filters depending on the gig. The er9 were great for big band gigs!

    I have always been nervous about IEMs for this reason. I have worked with enough monkey soundguys to not trust my ears to them!

    Its funny, a few years back I walked into a club a drummer friend of mine was running FOH at. IMMEADIATELY I felt the treble ice pick in my ears! I walked over to the board, said hello, and was told by my buddy- "man this system sucks, I cant get any high end out of it! "
  8. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I am sure my perception of cymbals is no longer accurate. Old rock dogs can no longer judge the upper range of the human voice, as their ears have been ravaged by the spikey upper mid range response of many popular guitar speakers. For example, here the response plot of the Celestion Greenback.

    The spike is in the range I would describe as ice-pick-in-the-ear.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018
    Conkal, David Jayne and Bass Boy like this.
  9. I am shocked how many musicians will deny they have hearing loss. When I bring this up, and I do it gently, almost all of them deny it, say they have had their ears tested and they are fine etc. I feel it is highly unlikely if you are over 40, have played moderate to loud music all your life and never wore hearing protection that you still have most of it left. I mean those would have to be some amazing genes... ;)
  10. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Most common hearing tests don't evaluate the full 20-20kHz range. Occupational health types are primarily concerned if you can understand people talking, so I think regular hearing tests typically top out around 8kHz.
  11. Interesting- I didnt know that. My audiologist gives me the "musicians special" !
    Cowboy in Latvia and Wasnex like this.
  12. alanloomis1980

    alanloomis1980 Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    Im in a trio now and im the only one who wears plugs. I was in a funk band of 12, i think 2 or 3 of us wore plugs. Its crazy! Do they fear not being cool? Or they think they cant hear?

    I just got some Hearos. Around 10 bucks / pair. Seem better than the spongy ones. Haven't tried the custom molded.
  13. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    IMHO, the ear plugs degrade the musical experience, so people don't like wearing them. It makes sense to wear ear plugs if you are more concerned with preserving your hearing over the long term than having the best possible music experience in the present. Basically choosing to wear the ear plugs is a form of delayed gratification.
    Fretless1! and HolmeBass like this.
  14. For me the molded plugs with filters were a revelation. I used to spend alot of time in the studio and am quite used to using heaphones. Even on doublebass sessions I LOVED being in the isolation room with headphones. This may be why I dont mind the custom plugs with filters. Its also nice to be able to hear all those frequencies they say only 17 year olds can still hear- like the ones they would play outside 7-11 etc to keep the kids away ;)
  15. I have been openly mocked by the owners of a corporate band for wearing my er25s. Dont care. I got to mock them for spending big $$$ on stereos they cant really hear ;)
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018
  16. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    IMHO it's pretty juvenile for anyone to mock you for using protection, but it happens...peer pressure as well.
    HolmeBass and Conkal like this.
  17. It was juvenile and due to many other juvenile behaviors I quit the band awhile back!
    HolmeBass and Wasnex like this.
  18. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    A lot of old rockers (Keith Richards, Pete Townshend) played guitars with humbuckers in their youth. More recently, they gravitated to single coil guitars. Years of loud music tend to make one a bit deaf at high frequencies.

    Protect your hearing. Most of you will, one day, become old (I'm pretty much there). Still being able to hear and play music at my age is really worth it.
    Bass Boy likes this.
  19. masonsjax

    masonsjax Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2010
    Frederick, MD
    I seem to be losing some hearing in the exact frequency range of my wife's voice :)

    Seriously though, I have mild amount of tinnitus and probably some slight hearing loss in the upper-mid frequencies. I wear plugs every time now, but didn't when I was young and dumb. I already know sign language and am involved in the Deaf community, but I'd like to keep playing and hearing music for as long as possible. Cool or not, I'm wearing plugs.
  20. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    That was the most common social thing that got my dad's coworkers medically retired or disarmed and sat on a desk until they hit minimum retirement.

    Something about "being a man" and lighting off 125gr 357's in cider block training structures.

    When the old man's Service transitioned to M4's from submachine guns there was a new wave of guys blasting themselves deaf in one or both ears.

    There's also the idiots not wearing eye pro when everyone was getting copper jacket fragments embedded in their vests from riccochets....and some guys not wearing played bc they were from my dad's era where "men don't wear body armor".

    Either way I wear ear pro and don't care what people thing in multiple hobbies. I'm not 14 anymore, don't have that much I wanna give up to look cool.
    Bass Boy and Wasnex like this.

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