Topic: Earplugs: Pros and cons  (Read 4140 times)

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Offline Big Yummy

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Earplugs: Pros and cons
« on: August 27, 2009, 08:32 AM »
First, a question.  If everyone in the band is wearing earplugs, why not just turn down?  Is there really any benefit to playing loud?  I figure the amps are just monitors, and the house P.A. is supposed to provide the volume.  No?

To me it seems the more ear protection we use, the louder we get.  So what's the point? 

Second, I recently tried out some "filtered" ear plugs and I bought a pair of custom made "musicians earplugs". 

The $25 filtered plugs (by Vater), were vastly better than foam earplugs.  I was amazed.  I wish I'd started using these years ago.

The $200 custom made plugs are better, but not so much as you might think.  They're more comfortable and the sound is clearer, but the $25 version comes fairly close (although some people find them too uncomfortable).

So if you can't afford the custom made plugs, at least get the $25 version.  They're a great buy.

If you check out different brands, including plugs marketed to guitarists, you can pick the NR factor you want.  NR25 is recommended for drummers, but that seems like overkill to me.  I'm happy with NR15.

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Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2009, 09:05 AM »
In regards to the "why" play with earplugs when all it does is make people play louder.

As drummers and percussionists, we are directly on top (so to speak) of the instrument. The volume that we may need to play in order to reach the audience, fill the room, etc., can really damage the ears. Even at moderate volumes, the SPL (sound pressure levels) are enough to cause ear fatigue and hearing damage.

Ear protection does not cause me to play louder or harder. I do think that many young people who want the music LOUD will play harder/louder when using ear protection. If you are used to not using ear protection, the audible change may be unfavorable at first. I personally think it requires some getting used to, and reprogramming your brain; changing your aural preferences.

Do some research or ear protection and fatigue; that will answer your question as to "why".

Offline Big Yummy

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2009, 09:57 AM »
Ear protection does not cause me to play louder or harder.

I hear ya.  (Sorry for the pun.)  I was thinking more of the amplified instruments.  I figure I should have moderate hearing protection and the other players should need little or none.

I can't see the logic of playing so loud that everyone in the band needs hearing protection (and I need to amplify the bass drum).  Why not just turn down the amps?
"Some people say I ain't so super groovy.  Why don't I leave the music alone?"  Black Uhuru

Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2009, 12:40 PM »
Why not just turn down the amps?

I agree with playing at lower volumes in general. It's a dominance game; everyone is trying to be on top (the loudest). True musicianship is using your ears to blend the parts. Just think what an orchestra would sound like if every instrument play at the same volume all the time.  :-\

Offline Chip Donaho

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2009, 01:07 PM »
Just think what an orchestra would sound like if every instrument play at the same volume all the time.  
Ya, the flute solo parts would be pretty bad.  :P
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Offline Nathan Cartier

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2009, 02:13 PM »
There are no cons.

Ear protection keeps your ears from getting fatigued 3 songs into a set in a loud bar.

Ear protection keeps Ol' Man Tinnitus at bay.

Ear protection filters the sound when watching live concerts.  It brings out the vocals, and cleans up muddy bass and guitar mixes.  Lets face it, basketball auditoriums, large v shaped metal amphitheaters, and oddly shaped clubs are not acoustically ideal.  But they are fun!

Ear protection tames on-stage volume, which is often very different from what's happening out front.  Especially when you are 3rd in a 4 band night.  And the previous drummer only wanted guitar in the drum wedge.

Ear protection gives me thinking space.  I love putting my plugs in when I'm setting up in a bar.  I can tune out all the patrons and focus on getting my drums up.  

If you are putting ear plugs in, and playing louder...that's not the plugs' fault.

Turn down?  Well, if that's your thing, and if it's necessary for the venue.  I like loud music.  I like soft music.  I don't expect an orchestra to sound like a rock concert, and I don't expect a rock concert to sound like an acoustic jazz concert.  

Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2009, 02:24 PM »
Turn down?  Well, if that's your thing, and if it's necessary for the venue.  I like loud music.  I like soft music.  I don't expect an orchestra to sound like a rock concert, and I don't expect a rock concert to sound like an acoustic jazz concert.  

The point isn't about playing soft, it's about balance and not competing to be the loudest thing when it's not appropriate for the music. Most young or novice players don't know how to blend, so if they can't hear themselves loudly, they turn up. Ear plugs will give them the perception that they are too soft (to their ears), so they turn up. I see it time and time again.  You're right Nathan, it's not the plugs fault, it's the individual ... but the plugs give a false reality to the player if he/she doesn't use their brain. If they aren't used to plugs, they'll play louder.

I like loud music too, but I also like hearing at the age of 45 and hope to be able to continue on that path for the next 45.  8)

So we are in agreement; ear protection is a positive.

Offline Nathan Cartier

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2009, 02:29 PM »
Indeed, we seem to be in agreement. ;D

However, we're going off on a tangent about balance.

You heard it here, Yummy, earplugs are good.  A solid investment for any musician.

Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2009, 03:22 PM »
However, we're going off on a tangent about balance.

Well, I don't agree that it's off tangent ... not when the original question was regarding why should we use earplugs when everyone just plays louder.

Bottom-line: Use earplugs to protect your hearing and don't play louder just because you can't hear yourself as well with the earplugs.

Offline Big Yummy

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2009, 08:04 AM »
However, we're going off on a tangent about balance.

Nah, that's what I was trying to get at.  The drummer always needs some ear protection, of course, but why play so loud that everyone needs earplugs?

It's like cranking the air conditioner to its maximum setting and then sitting around in a parka because the room is too cold.  Why not just turn down the A/C and lose the parka?

If the sound is much more crisp and alive at low volume with no ear protection, why not leave it there? 
"Some people say I ain't so super groovy.  Why don't I leave the music alone?"  Black Uhuru

Offline NY Frank

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2009, 05:32 PM »
Most of the players I have played with in my life - don't get volume management. 

In my region, Most of the bands are playing louder than the audience wants.  They want a situation where they can have a drink and have a conversation - without shouting.  When they want to dance, they cozy up to the band area.   Most bands in my region - do Not deliver this.

I miss a bandmate/leader from several years ago.  He Got volume management more than anyone else I have ever played with.
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Offline Adam Wedgewood

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2009, 04:46 PM »
I started using ear protection about 5 years ago and cannot live without it now.  I wear $30 high fidelity ETYMOTIC and they last about a year, granted you clean them and store them in their case properly.  They are always uncomfortable for the first week and then they're pretty good after that.  When I first began using them I remember saying to people something like "It makes everything sound a little less tonal but it's worth it".  This perspective only lasted me a few months and I now if you ask me, I'll tell you it's like adding compression/noise reduction to the WHOLE room.  Another great thing thing with the High Fidelity it that it lowers everything consistently,  so you won't have any problems like not being able to hear someone speak.  In fact you could put these earplugs in while the bar is in full swing and you'll never have a problem carrying on a conversation with someone without yelling. 

Offline Big Yummy

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2009, 12:19 PM »
If you want to splurge, consider getting the custom made musicians' earplugs.  They're more comfortable and the sound is better when you're playing. 

The difference in quality doesn't seem that huge when playing drums, possible because there's so much racket from the kit anyway.  If you're in the audience at a loud concert, though, that's when they really shine.  Everything sounds way better than with the $30 plugs.

Dollar for dollar, though, the $30 plugs are probably the best investment a musician can make.
"Some people say I ain't so super groovy.  Why don't I leave the music alone?"  Black Uhuru

Offline Buddy Bryan

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2009, 10:27 PM »
Unless I'm using in-ear, I use Doc's Pro Plugs that attenuate 20dbs. Not a problem.

Offline Donald Mcnany (boomerweps)

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2009, 09:31 AM »
Over my "career" drumming, three things got rid of most post gig pains for me and I won't do without them:
1. A decent throne. I got a Roc N Soc moto seat with backrest. Great support and reminds me to sit up straight. That heavy son of a gun is worth the haulage hassle compared to a small traditional seat.
2. A Crown CM311A headset microphone. No more twisted neck to sing while drumming, no loose boom for swinging the mic in and out, no ducking and dodging the mic.
3. Etymotic ear FILTERS. 1.5 feet above a rock snare is a bad place for ears, especially since you play it at a level that everyone in the venue can hear. While trying to sleep after a gig, I'd hear that ringing in my ears and usually wake up with a headache, even with NO alcohol consumption. Not anymore.

Now if only I could get that anti-gravity lift for the subs I'd be real happy ;>)

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Offline Rylie

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2009, 08:19 AM »
Over my "career" drumming, three things got rid of most post gig pains for me and I won't do without them:
1. A decent throne. I got a Roc N Soc moto seat with backrest. Great support and reminds me to sit up straight. That heavy son of a gun is worth the haulage hassle compared to a small traditional seat.
2. A Crown CM311A headset microphone. No more twisted neck to sing while drumming, no loose boom for swinging the mic in and out, no ducking and dodging the mic.
3. Etymotic ear FILTERS. 1.5 feet above a rock snare is a bad place for ears, especially since you play it at a level that everyone in the venue can hear. While trying to sleep after a gig, I'd hear that ringing in my ears and usually wake up with a headache, even with NO alcohol consumption. Not anymore.

Now if only I could get that anti-gravity lift for the subs I'd be real happy ;>)

Boomerweps

Ditto on the Roc-N-Soc w/backrest. I've had the Nitro Lunar model in my music room for a couple of years but it never left the house. Because of the weight of it, I always left it in favor of a cheapo Pulse moto seat...which is fine for about 20 minutes before my back seizes up and my focus turns to the pain rather than having fun at the kit.

I finally bought a manual adjust Roc n Soc with a backrest and took it to our Florida gig a couple of weeks ago. After the first set, I stood up and left the stage before I realized that my back was pain free and my legs were still loose. Best money I ever spent. Makes playing more fun.

For hearing protection, I use these that cost $4.99 for a pack of 3 pair...they work just fine, and I don't have to buy insurance against loss or theft. I also have a pair of Hearos that cost 10 times as much per pair, and I can't tell the difference between them and these, plus these have a neck string which is good for me:

http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200381524_200381524
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Offline Chris Whitten

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Re: Earplugs: Pros and cons
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2009, 03:16 PM »
I agree, no cons to ear protection.
My only concern with the cheaper, non-custom fit earplugs is that you may be fooling yourself into thinking you're protecting your hearing when you are not.
When I had my custom earplugs fitted, the audiologist stressed the need for a deep, tight and 100% perfect fit. She said this was essential and made me fit my new earplugs several times in her office before leaving so she was certain I was doing it properly.
I wont say the cheaper earplugs don't fit properly though.
In my case and with my ears, I couldn't guarantee perfect ear protection with anything less than custom made earplugs.
If you are different you are lucky. But be certain those off the shelf plugs are really doing what they say on the box.

 

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