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Hearing Advice -- Crabby

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It's not cool when you can't hear

It's no secret that today's society exposes us all to a lot of noise. Exposure to excessively loud levels of noise can't always be avoided, but we can do things to prevent damage to our ears. Recent studies have shown an increased incidence of hearing loss among grade school students and musicians. At work and home we can be subject to levels of noise that threaten our hearing. Power tools, factory noises, fireworks, and of course loud music, are all potential sources of noise that can cause irreversible inner ear damage.

At first, the hearing loss may only be temporary, with hearing returning to normal after several hours or days. But, if exposure occurs repeatedly the ears will eventually lose their ability to bounce back, resulting in permanent hearing degeneration.

Safe Sound

Many people don't think twice about getting their eyes examined on a regular basis, readily purchasing glasses or contact lenses if necessary, and yet neglecting to take care of their ears. While hearing loss might not be as noticeable as sight degeneration in the earliest stages, the long-term damage can be more severe if left unchecked. What's more, many people don't realize that their increasing communication problems are caused by their own inability to clearly understand others, leading to misdirected irritability, anger and frustration.

One way to reduce hearing damage is by paying attention to noise levels and realizing when they are too high. According to the United States Safety and Health Standards, workers should not be exposed to more than 90 dB over a period of eight hours. Most audiologists would like to see that standard modified to 85 dB. If you work in a noisy environment, check out the decibel level you are being exposed to and take the proper precautions. Have your hearing evaluated at least once a year by a hearing health professional. Turn down the volume, or remove yourself from the noise area when possible. Give your ears a rest for 24 hours after exposure to dangerous levels of noise, and get yourself some hearing protection.

A variety of ear protection devices are available today. Over-the-counter earplugs can be purchased at most drugstores and shooting supply stores. They range from foam variety to rubber, silicone, and wax. They're all affordable, comfortable, disposable, and provide important help in reducing the dangers of exposure to excessive levels of noise.

The problem with conventional earplugs

1. Existing earplugs attenuate more than necessary for much of the noise in industry and the environment.
2. Regardless of their exact construction, existing earplugs produce 10 to 20 dB of high frequency attenuation and the result is that people often reject them because they can't hear speech clearly.
3. Conventional earplugs make the wearer's own voice sound hollow (known as the occlusion effect).
4. Many people risk their hearing by either wearing earplugs loosely or wearing no protection at all so they will be able to hear voices, machinery or music more clearly.

Custom fit earplugs, worn by many musicians, are made from an impression of the ear canal taken by an audiologist or other hearing health professionals. The impression is then sent to a lab where the final earmold is made. Custom earplugs are comfortable, easy to insert correctly, and filter sound better than disposable plugs. The ER-15 and ER-25 models are popular with musicians because of a special filter that lets the listener hear music at a safe level without sacrificing quality. Instead of cutting out the high frequencies, musician's plugs attenuate all the frequencies evenly in relation to your hearing. For an audiology appointment near you check out the H.E.A.R. Partners page.

Musician's earplugs are not intended for maximum attenuation. For that application, conventional foam or fully sealed premolded hearing protectors or ear muffs are recommended.

Finally, cotton and tissue are useless. They only reduce sound by less than 7 dB.

There's some type of ear protection for everyone. Just decide what you want, what's best for you, and go get it. No more problems, no more worries. Just good music.

Musician's Plugs--Who Needs Them?

There are two types of people who could benefit from Musician's Ear plugs. The first group are those exposed to 90-120 dB sound levels for various time periods and who need to hear accurately. This group includes musicians, their sound crews, recording engineers, nightclub employees, and other music industry professionals. The second group consists of people outside the music industry, including loud-music listeners, persons with tinnitus or hyperacusis, spectators at sporting events, some construction workers, motorcycle drivers, and regular airline or auto travelers. These people often have high-frequency hearing loss but refuse to wear conventional hearing protection because they need to hear more clearly.

With Musician's Plugs, sound quality is clearer and more natural. Musician's Ear plugs help to reduce fatigue associated with noise exposure.

Free download Musician's earplug brochure

Theory and Design of Flat Response Attenuator

A flat-response attenuator must have a frequency response that follows the shape of the natural frequency response of the open ear, but at a reduced level. Both the Musician's Earplug ER-9,ER-15 and ER-25 use a diaphragm, similar to a passive speaker cone, to achieve the desired response curve. To reduce the occlusion effect, a deep seal of the plug in the second bend of the ear canal is necessary.

The ER-20 uses a tuned resonator and acoustic resistor. The ER20 is a readyfit plug for music attenuation.

ER20 HiFi Plugs/ UltraTech PRODUCT: Shop H.E.A.R.

Mack's Hear Plugs, High Fidelity Earplugs with Natural Sound
Technology. Shop H.E.A.R.

Mack’s® Hear Plugs™ have a unique membrane designed to replicate the
resonance of the natural ear canal. This patented technology provides an
undistorted perception of speech, music and ambient sound, while blocking
out harmful noise.

Conventional earplugs attenuate too much in the frequency range most
important for speech and necessary for high fidelity sound. Mack’s® Hear
Plugs™ allow the wearer to hear the full range of sound, music and


The NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) is a single-number estimate of hearing protector attenuation, which is required by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) for all non-custom hearing protectors. Custom hearing protectors (ER-9, 15 and 25) do not carry an NRR rating.


The ER-20s provide approximately 20 dB of attenuation across frequency for the average user. The NRR is different because the mathematical calculations used to derive it are based on certain assumptions: The NRR estimates the minimum noise reduction theoretically achieved by 98% of laboratory subjects. To this end, the formula requires subtracting two standard deviations from the average attenuation value. The NRR calculation assumes the noise spectrum is a constant "pink noise" (equal octave bands across the spectrum). An additional 3 dB is subtracted from the average attenuation value to prevent over-estimating protection in industrial noise.The ER-20s have flat attenuation (equal across frequencies), and the NRR tends to be artificially low for earplugs having flat attenuation.


The bone conduction path is approximately 40 dB done from the direct ear path. If you put in a 30 dB earplug, the primary noise path is still through the ear. The noise arriving through bone conduction is 10 dB below that. This becomes important when you are wearing double hearing protection, earplugs and ear muffs. This is common in the military near jet aircraft where our Servicemen are preparing jet aircraft for launch. This is frequently at fullpower with noise levels of 148 dBA at the shoulder.





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