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Thread: Hearing Protection Suggestions

  1. #1
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    Default Hearing Protection Suggestions

    Going to see Chris Thile and Bela Fleck tonight, and am stoked! I won't need ear protection for this show, but have a couple much louder concerts coming up in the near future, and was wondering if anyone had suggestions for good quality ear protection that could be useful for concerts as well as a loud band setting. Classic foam plugs muffle the sound too much. I know there are much better options available, but it's difficult to sort through the hype in a Google search.

    My wife has a pair from a company called Eargasm (yes, that's their name, not being fresh) that she's not entirely happy with. They work well, but when she sings along she hears herself much better than the band she's trying to sing with. I think she bought them based off a drummer's review on Amazon...

    I don't necessarily need 400 dollar custom fitted plugs, but am willing to spend some cash for a pair that meets my needs and will last. Any suggestions appreciate!
    Chuck

  2. #2
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    I have had good luck with my earplugs from Etymotic Research. I use the ETY earplugs, being a fairly low-cost option. They do make some customized high-end hearing protection devices running upwards of $300, but the $12 set of ETY plugs works for most everything I need. I use them when playing my fiddle without a mute, for mowing the yard and weed-eating, being on construction jobsites, etc. They lower volume without killing the sound like foam plugs or other industrial-type plugs.

    Obviously, if you're looking for true musician-quality earplugs, you're going to have to spend some serious money. But the ETY plugs are a decent low-cost option.
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  4. #3
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    I've been using "Hearoes" brand plugs when playing in rock bands. They have a bunch of different models, they reduce the sound level without coloring it much, comfortable. Wide range of prices, I think they were about $10 a set. NFI on my part.
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    I like to sit in the first row of the balcony, the sound is best, not as loud and I bring binoculars so I can see what brand of instrument or an expression. Great view with no heads in the way and it is usually open so if the concert is not sold out those are the last seats taken, I just move there, tho sometimes I have to sit a row or two back from the front.
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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    I second Sheets recommendation of Hearos - good protection, without taking away from the overall pleasure of listening.

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  10. #6
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    My wife and I went to see Tom Petty recently here in Austin and I noticed one interesting side benefit to earplugs (I think they were there ETF's...around $10). It cut out a particular high frequency that came from the stupid small PA speakers that hung over our heads and to me, improved the sound. I wish they had just disabled the things. Then again, arena concerts are usually pretty poor places acoustically. You can be guaranteed that Chris Thile and Bela Fleck will make sure that is not the case with the venues they play. One of my all time favorite concerts was the Punch Brothers at the Cactus Cafe on the UT campus. It may seat 60 people at best and we had a front row seat. Next would be the Carolina Chocolate drops in their first appearance at SXSW.
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  12. #7
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    I had the custom ones made and they work really well.

    The part that's molded to and fits in the ear has a hole that accepts a specially made 'attenuator'. The attenuator is available in three 'sizes', each reduces db by a specific amount while letting in a fairly well balanced range of frequency from base drums to cymbals. They clip the volume to a specific level which has presented a bit of an issue with me and my band as I can't always tell when my electric guitar volume gets to high. But my guys don't hesitate to let me know!

    These are great for R&R rehearsals as well as gigs and concerts. I never use them with my mandolin work because the volume never gets too high.

    Billy

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    ps I got them from an audiologist.
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    I have these: Etymotic High Fidelity Earplugs and they work great. The best $14 you could spend to protect your hearing and not limit the enjoyment of music.
    Craig Mandola
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  16. #9
    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    Never used them while performing or attending concerts, but have used them
    while staying in motels with noisy neighbors close by. After many years of loud environments, I can hear a pin drop.
    I'd use the elcheapo foam or rubber type,
    and adjust the depth of insertion to your
    comfort level.

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  18. #10
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    For lawn mowing, power tools etc, (maximum decibel reduction) I (always) use the orange foam plugs which you can get 4 pair/$1 at the Dollar Store. (If you go to Walmart, the same plugs will be 25% cheaper if you get them in sporting goods as shooting plugs than if you get them in the hardware section.) I keep an Rx bottle with some foam plugs dangling by a shoelace from the mower handle. Fwiw, I also always wear gloves to keep the mower vibration from making the hands numb.

    I also have some Silencio NRR 7 plugs which Walmart used to carry years ago. But they are available elsewhere.



    For a bit more decibel reduction, I also have a pair of the Etymotic ER-20s.

    I use the Silencios and Etymotic plugs on gigs; overall stage volume determines which pair I use; I
    may change from one pair to the other during the night depending on sonic circumstances. In the last few bands (electric and/or semi-electric) I've played with, I was the only one onstage using any hearing protection, and would be the only who didn't have ringing ears at the end of the night. (I'll stick these in my pocket if we happen to be going to a club or concert to hear someone else. At the least, there's always some orange foam plugs kept in the glovebox in case it slips my mind.)

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  20. #11
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    Appreciate the suggestions, keep them coming! 3 Mangio, that's what I've been doing, but it muffles too much of the character of the sound, IMO. Great for shooting, not so much for hearing the nuances of a vintage tube amp.

    Sorry for typos, on phone. Thile/Fleck were spectacular. The venue was better than expected (typically does smaller draw off Broadway shows, but not an "acoustically perfect" room), but we were close enough that the amplification didn't matter...front row, so we could hear how they sounded without the mics. Simply phenomenal, both of them. I've always appreciated Bela, but he has himself a new fanboy (ok, I'm 42, eye roll). It's clear that he has influenced a generation of pickers, Pickles notably so.

    For the mando geeks (ok, all of us), Chris primarily played what looked like a TF 140, but also played what looked like a BC on a few songs. On one song he started on the Wegen, but switched to the BC after a very dramatic pause after the intro...cracked me up. Kidding aside, the musicianship was sublime. Even my generally banjo hating wife had a great time, and a great appreciation of how good they are...

    Pops, agree totally with your approach. But, in the pit at a Five Finger Death Punch show, or Linkin Park, which is coming this fall, I need some plugs!! (Yes, I have musical ADD)...
    Chuck

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  22. #12
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    I'm a drummer and the ear plugs I use are Earasers. They're the first ear plugs I've had that I actually use, because they cut out the damaging frequencies without making the rest of the music sound like you're underwater or something. Highly recommend them!
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  24. #13
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    For lawn mowing, power tools etc, (maximum decibel reduction) I (always) use the orange foam plugs which you can get 4 pair/$1 at the Dollar Store. (If you go to Walmart, the same plugs will be 25% cheaper if you get them in sporting goods as shooting plugs than if you get them in the hardware section.) I keep an Rx bottle with some foam plugs dangling by a shoelace from the mower handle. Fwiw, I also always wear gloves to keep the mower vibration from making the hands numb.
    Yep. I always wear gloves (and eye protection too) when mowing. After getting a piece of debris actually embedded in my eyeball once, I consider it an absolute requirement. It may seem dorky to wear full PPE for something as mundane as mowing a yard, but I don't care.

    I also have some Silencio NRR 7 plugs which Walmart used to carry years ago. But they are available elsewhere.
    I have those same earplugs too, but only use them as back-ups if I can't find my good ones. I hate them for two reasons. Firstly, they don't seem to work very well for damping noise. The white plastic insert has a hole in the end, and I had to put a piece of electrical tape over that hole to try to improve it (which didn't make much difference). Secondly, the shape of the earplug is painful! The part that goes in your ear seems very hard and non-forgiving. They give me a headache. The ridged pieces are stiff and don't bend very easily to conform to the ear canal. They may work for some folks' ears, but for mine they are terrible. It's like having a stick shoved in my ear, and does about the same job of damping the noise.
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  26. #14
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    Thanks, everyone. Will probably order some Earasers and either Hearos or ETY today. Greatly appreciate it!
    Chuck

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    Chief Moderator/Shepherd Ted Eschliman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    I used the Etymotics for a couple years, but graduated to the Earasers. My middle-aged ears have problems with the thunderous frequency of kick drum and bass. The contemporary praise music in our church was hard for me to enjoy Sunday mornings without this protection. Nice thing about the Earasers is they fit deeply and are hard to see, so I don't come off as "judgmental." I can also keep them and hear during the sermon. I also use them to keep me sane during the grueling 4-day din of the NAMM tradeshow floor.
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  29. #16
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    Just bought the medium standard ear erasers. Thanks Jill&Ted and all for the scoop. BTW for whatever reason they are 10 bucks cheaper thru Amazon than thru the website and if you click the see more button it reveals you can also get the storage cans with them for the same 39 dollar price.

    I have pairs of the cheap foam ones you buy in multi packs at Lowes but I never use them because I can't hear. Our percussionist used to only play cajon but now decided he wants a mini kit and he bangs the hi hat and/or snare like they need to be punished and I just cant take it. Sometimes he smacks them every beat. Maybe this will help me get through tight-spaced gigs where I feel he is playing in my ear (he sits right behind me).
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  30. #17
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    Invest in the Hearing Aid industry also.
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  31. #18
    Registered User Carl Robin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    I like: QuietEar Reusable Musician and Motorcycle Ear Plugs from Ear Plug Superstore online. Mine have inadvertently gone through the washer and dryer, again and again, and they are still fine. I can forget that they are in, because they are comfortable. The painfully loud sounds at work don't hurt wearing these. I can still have a conversation, even talk on the phone, loud sounds are diminished, but still loud. About $5.

  32. #19
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    The last few rock shows I've been to have been way too loud ... you guys sold me on ear protection. Went with the ETY ER20. It will be interesting to see how they work.
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  33. #20
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    I bought a set of Earasers this past weekend based on input from this thread. I had a chance to test them out yesterday in an electric format that utilizes way too much amplification, in way too little space. They work as advertised. A product well worth the price.

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  35. #21

    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Eschliman View Post
    … The contemporary praise music in our church was hard for me to enjoy Sunday mornings without this protection. …

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  37. #22

    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    Could be that only certain frequencies will cause you this discomfort while others will not. Might be worthwhile to have your hearing checked and buy plugs tailored to protect you accordingly. With me, there's a certain bass frequency that will have me propelled out of my seat and striding for the exit even before i'm aware of what I'm doing. It really, really hurts. Hope you can sort that out.

  38. #23
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    I received my ear erasers and tried them on just for comfort and yes --very comfortable and I felt I could still hear fine.

    I wonder how much good they do though. On the box it says they are rated as only cutting 5dbs. Elsewhere on the box (and in their web page ads) it says they cut 19 dbs of the ear damaging frequencies. I'm not sure what that means really as far as protection.

    Which one is it? Of course dbs are logarithmic so 1 db difference is a 10 x difference but if its only cutting 100 dbs down to 95 you still could be getting some damage.

    I guess I'll find out next time I play in front the drum kit.
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  39. #24
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    Astro, as I understand it, the Earasers don't provide the same level of noise reduction at all frequencies. They have what they call a "unique attenuation V-filter" which basically flatten the curve so that you get less noise reduction at lower frequencies and more reduction at the higher frequencies where hearing damage usually occurs.

    They have some fancy looking charts of it here: https://www.earasers.net/pages/specifications
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  41. #25

    Default Re: Hearing Protection Suggestions

    Old jazz players use cigarette filters.

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