Protect Yourself From Tinnitus With ACS Custom’s Hearing Protection Technology
Until recently, unless you were the drummer, wearing earplugs at rock gigs might have been considered pretty lame. However, it does seem that next generation of music lovers and makers are much more aware of the dangers of being exposed to loud music for long periods of time. This is thanks to important work by the World Health Organisation, the British Tinnitus Association and dedicated international hearing protection manufacturers like ACS Custom.
The bottom line is this: the outcome of too much loud music over time will destroy your hearing, which for anyone who loves and makes music is a disaster. Imagine not being able to hear your favourite Guns & Roses track with all the frequencies, not enjoying a gig, having to give up your beloved instrument, or just not being able to hear and join in conservations when out with friends. Think about it, as that’s the reality for a lot of people out there.
Hearing is one of the most sensitive human senses and naturally very important, especially if music is your life… There are two forms of damage that can occur together or separately. When the sound level is too loud it flattens down the tiny sensory hair cells in the cochlea in the inner ear, which send sound nerve impulses to the brain. Basically, if you keep flattening these down, after time they die off and don’t grow back. The sensory hair cells all respond to different frequencies. So when you damage them you don’t go totally deaf but lose different tones across the auditory bandwidth, which is usually the mid and high frequencies. This is called Music Induced Hearing Loss. Imagine turning the treble or mid tone control down on your amps — the music becomes less clear and muffled right? That’s what can happen to your hearing. More often than not if there has been damage to the cochlea sensory hair cells you can end up with tinnitus too, which is a constant perception of ringing or buzzing sound in your head. This for some people can be major problem both in their personal and professional life.
What musicians and gig goers alike should be aware of is two crucial impact factors. The sound level and your exposure time. Sound is measured in decibels (dB A) and it’s important to realise that that is a logarithmic measurement of sound pressure. So a 3dB increase in sound level is twice as loud. Now, if the volume is twice as loud then, you should halve your exposure time. Simple. So here’s an example: An acoustic drum kit not even being played with a hard metal groove is about 94dB. Your safe exposure time, would you believe, at this volume is approximately 1 hour. So, if you increase the sound level by 3dB to 97dB (A) then your safe exposure is now 30 minutes. Most venues or clubs will have sound levels louder than this at around 100dB, which is very common, so your safe exposure time is just 15 minutes!
Hearing protection technology has changed a lot in the last 10 years or so. You can now buy earplugs that basically turn the volume down and keep the quality. You can still hear the music almost perfectly and it increases your safe exposure time. So, like the examples above, let’s now do the reverse. If you decrease the sound level by 3dB you double your exposure time.
There are many different earplugs on the market and you should buy the best that you can afford. Don’t forget that this is your hearing you’re trying to protect. Some are a universal fit but if you are serious about sound then custom fit is the way to go. The benefit is that they fit your ears perfectly, forming a seal that will not allow any excess sound through. Don’t forget that everybody’s ears are different shapes and sizes so universal fit earplugs won’t always guarantee a proper fit and a specific level of protection. Custom moulded earplugs give you the best acoustic seal in the ear canal and you also have a choice of attenuating filters to turn the volume down by different amounts depending on your musical environment — without compromising music quality.
ACS Custom has some of the best custom hearing protection on the market. Their Pro 17 earplug, which turns the volume down by 17 dB(A), has an almost flat frequency response and has been hailed as one of the most natural sounding earplugs in the world. It’s perfect for musicians, gig goers and even sound engineers. And if you want to be a little bit different, ACS are now developing ‘glow in the dark’ earplugs in a range of luminous colours so you can be seen, be safe and still hear tomorrow after that concert last night.
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