Musicians Earplugs and Monitors
Musicians have unique needs when it comes to hearing protection. They need to protect their hearing, but they also need to be able to hear their own music clearly, as well as hear other musicians’ music and voices while performing.
Conventional store-bought earplugs are great at providing hearing protection. However, they often provide too much protection for musicians, muffling speech and the sounds they need to hear in the process.
Multipurpose hearing protection may make music and voices very unclear and unnatural to listen to. While conventional hearing protection provides greater protection at different frequencies or pitches, musician’s earplugs provide a flat frequency response, effectively acting like a volume dial on the radio. This allows for the benefits of reduced noise exposure without the added distortion often found from standard hearing protection.
Musician’s Ear Plugs
Musician’s ear plugs come in both custom and non-custom options. Ready-fit musician earplugs can reduce sound levels by approximately 20 dB, enough to reduce harmful sound without distorting speech or music.
These type of ear plugs are deep in order to allow the earmold to seal within the bony portion of the ear canal. This deep fit reduces what is known as occlusion, a hollow or boomy sound in the musicians own voice that is sometimes experienced with lower quality ear plugs. These type of deep-fit earmolds are popular with musicians because of the quality of sound they allow them to hear while practicing and performing.
These earplugs often incorporate a changeable filter, which allows for varying levels of protection, depending on the type of music or instrument the wearer will be exposed to. Higher noise reduction filters are typically used for more percussive instruments or music such as drums. Lower noise reduction filters are used for wind or string instruments or for vocalists looking to protect their hearing but continue to hear the nuances of the music they are producing.
Musician’s ear plugs are not just for musicians. They are also a popular hearing protection option for:
- Sound crews
- Recording engineers
- Band teachers
- Airline personnel
- Athletic coaches
- NFL football players
- Medical professionals
- Dental professionals
- Construction workers
- Industrial workers
- Truck drivers
In-Ear Musician Monitors
For musicians who perform for large audiences, in-ear musician monitors (IEMs) are the current standard in musician technology. They allow the musician to clearly hear the music they are making as the audience would hear it while still protecting the musician's ears from extremely loud amplification systems and audiences.
While musician’s earplugs work on a passive filter system to provide noise protection and enjoyment of reduced-distortion music, IEM’s use active speaker systems to provide real-time monitoring of the musician’s performance while providing noise reduction.
IEMs work best if they are custom molded to fit each musician's ears personally. However, there is still the option of universal fit musician monitors. Universal IEMs typically come with interchangeable foam or silicone tips to allow for a semi-custom fit.
The Importance of Custom Fit
Both earmolds and IEMs can be custom made (using an earmold) to fit your unique ear shape by an audiologist.
The ear impression that is used to make the earmold or in-ear monitor is the most important part of the process in getting a good custom fit. The quality of the ear impression material and technique directly impacts the sound quality, sound isolation, and comfort that is achieved with the earmold.
Because this part of the process is so crucial, it's important that you consult with someone who is experienced and trained in making impressions for high-quality musicians earplugs. Our audiologists are trained in this process and know the importance of a good fit. We also employ verification measures to ensure a proper fit of your custom musicians earplugs or IEMs.
Speak with our audiologists about his or her experience in custom fitting patients with musician’s ear plugs and IEMs and about your options for high-quality occupational hearing protection!