Interesting case on hearing damage - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 19 Old 04-17-2019, 04:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Interesting case on hearing damage

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-47965734
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post #2 of 19 Old 04-17-2019, 06:41 PM
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Not surprising that players are injured this way.
What is next? Earplugs for players? How do you tame 130 dB?
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post #3 of 19 Old 04-17-2019, 07:18 PM
 
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Unlike typical foam ear plugs there are ones designed for musicians where they want some sound blocked, but not all, and they want to maintain an even frequency response:
https://www.amazon.com/Etymotic-ETY-...0015WJQ7A?th=1

P.S. This same company also makes cutting edge, military grade electronic earplugs which safely blocks the sound of gun fire yet maintains normal situational awareness. IIRC they cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

P.P.S. This appears to be the consumer grade version: https://www.amazon.com/Etymotic-Guns...gateway&sr=8-1
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Last edited by m. zillch; 04-17-2019 at 07:27 PM.
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post #4 of 19 Old 04-17-2019, 11:55 PM
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Well, participants in rock concerts wear earplugs, so I'm surprised those in the orchestra pit don't.

And yes, you can tame 130+ dB - plenty of people need to work in louder locations (especially around jet aircraft).

The occupational safety people draw up their guidelines based on SPL, they never say what source it could be - noise sources like engines, or musical instruments, or highly powerful speakers.

Electronic hearing protectors aren't new - electronic ear defenders for shooting enthusiasts can be had quite easily - prices range from $100 through $500. Not earplugs, mind you, these are the standard over ear units who electronic circuits that cut down the gunshot noise but pass through normal conversation. First time I've seen in ear units though.
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post #5 of 19 Old 04-18-2019, 12:30 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worf View Post
First time I've seen in ear units though.
Plus this isn't any old company. They make top level earphones.
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post #6 of 19 Old 04-18-2019, 05:38 AM
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Earplugs of any sort are an issue in an orchestra as so much depends upon hearing subtle low-level cues to stay in time and in tune.

The conductor should have dealt with the pit arrangement though there are limits to what you can do in the space you've got (pits can be painful in many ways). When I was playing in an orchestra the clarinets and bassoons in front of the brass line did use earplugs occasionally, the low-attenuation wideband type @m. zillch suggested. Etymotic has been around a while and is probably the best-known. Big band stuff was not as bad as we (trumpets) were usually standing and the bones and saxes in front of us sat. Some musicians use custom hearing protection either active or passive to limit exposure. A friend of mine got a custom hearing aid from an audiologist many years ago; he uses it in bands and when shooting or hunting.

A number of companies make nice active (electronic) sound suppressors, in-ear and over-the-ear, with prices ranging from maybe $150 to as much as you care to spend. I have not looked recently but a few years ago the price for a good unit was around $300, about the same as a pair of good noise-cancelling headphones. The catch for us (musicians) is you need to keep the sound level reasonable (not too soft) while attenuating peaks, not just null all steady-state sounds.
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post #7 of 19 Old 04-18-2019, 06:54 AM
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As a trombone player, I have played with a blast shield behind the player in front of me. I'm not going to pull back my sound if someone is sitting right in front of me. I have suffer some hearing lose in one ear because of people playing beside me but I feel sorry for anyone directly in front of my bell as I was measured at 126dB at one rehearsal for Bruckner. For Wagner I would be wearing my big boy pants. I tried ear plugs and they just do not work for me and I have tried the acoustical ones above and even just one ear.


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post #8 of 19 Old 04-18-2019, 11:44 AM
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Well, working around aircraft wearing earplugs and headsets for communications is easy and they are not in front of an audience.
Same applies in noisy industrial applications, no audience watching your performance.
Try that with an orchestra, sure would look very curious.
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post #9 of 19 Old 04-18-2019, 04:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesJ View Post
Same applies in noisy industrial applications, no audience watching your performance.
Try that with an orchestra, sure would look very curious.
The exterior stem on the Etymotic "musician's ear plugs" is a clear stem and hardly noticeable except at very close range:


Front row people might notice if they look for it but considering there are now lawsuits popping up I doubt anyone would question their use.
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post #10 of 19 Old 04-18-2019, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
The exterior stem on the Etymotic "musician's ear plugs" is a clear stem and hardly noticeable except at very close range:


Front row people might notice if they look for it but considering there are now lawsuits popping up I doubt anyone would question their use.
What dB reduction does it offer?
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post #11 of 19 Old 04-18-2019, 07:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesJ View Post
What dB reduction does it offer?

IIRC the standard Etymotic (model 20 or something like that) is ~20 dB of fairly broadband reduction for about $20. They also make active versions that are two or three hundred dollars (have not looked recently). There are a number of problems wearing earplugs and playing with a group, however. It can put a lot of pressure on your ears, it makes it very difficult to stay in tune with the group as it is harder to hear fundamentals and the all-important "beat" tones and buzzing that tell you when you are in tune, it is harder to hear musical cues from the rest of the orchestra, etc. Some people opt for cheaper foam plugs with about 6 dB reduction just to take the edge off.

Edit: Etymotic's web site = https://www.etymotic.com/
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post #12 of 19 Old 04-18-2019, 08:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesJ View Post
What dB reduction does it offer?
The ER20 NRR [noise reduction rating] is said to be "12 dB". There is some variablitity and in my use of their similar earphones, not ear plugs, I find insertion depth changes things quite a bit.

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post #13 of 19 Old 04-18-2019, 09:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post
... It can put a lot of pressure on your ears, it makes it very difficult to stay in tune with the group as it is harder to hear fundamentals and the all-important "beat" tones and buzzing that tell you when you are in tune, it is harder to hear musical cues from the rest of the orchestra, etc. Some people opt for cheaper foam plugs with about 6 dB reduction just to take the edge off.

Edit: Etymotic's web site = https://www.etymotic.com/
I wondered about that as well. After all, playing in a music group you must hear the others besides the sheet. Hard to compare them to airport ground crews, etc.
6 dB from 130 is not much of a benefit. Even 20 db you can still be exposed to 110 dBs. Tough business.
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post #14 of 19 Old 04-19-2019, 05:33 PM
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Well, the idea is to not have a trumpet (or trombone) blasting right in your ear like that. Change the seating, or something.

I checked and the ones I had in mind were the ER20SX under the musician's tab on the Etymotic site. They claim 20 dB of broadband attenuation. I have several friends who own and use them at times but very rarely in the orchestra. I do not have a pair, keep thinking about them but since I'm on the back row and behind the bell it's less an issue for me. Back when I played more gigs I sometimes used plugs with the rock bands -- can't believe how some of the guitar players stand to play right in front of their amps.

https://www.etymotic.com/er20xs.html

They make a number of models targeting different applications.

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post #15 of 19 Old 04-19-2019, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Bessinger View Post

As someone who struggles with tinnitus and hyperacusis, I feel for this guy.



Tough to figure out solutions given the exigencies of live orchestral performances. I'd think that some re-seating scheme where people don't have the loudest instruments blasting right behind them would be a good start though.
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post #16 of 19 Old 04-19-2019, 09:11 PM
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This was a pit orchestra case, more compact (e.g. crammed) and less room to space out the players to avoid being in the direct line of fire. And risers are not an option to get the back row up a little higher so we aren't playing directly into row in front. This case does sound a bit extreme; a very loud piece on a very small (relatively) stage (pit).
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post #17 of 19 Old 04-20-2019, 12:45 AM
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Otoh, I now know why I some times see shields around certain sections of the orchestra when they're on stage - like the drummer might be enclosed by plexiglas panels. I always wondered why that was done, but I guess it makes sense to protect the rest of the orchestra from the volume.
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post #18 of 19 Old 04-20-2019, 10:32 AM
 
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Plexiglass drum shields aren't really meant to protect people's hearing, although that may happen to be a side benefit [for everyone except the drummer].

If you place a mic on each performer you'll find that because the drums are so outrageously loud that trying to isolate, say the vocalist, you simply can't do it, in some settings, because the drum kit's sound bleeds over to the vocalist's mic. Raising the level of the vocalist's channel on the mixer doesn't cure it because as you raise their channel of sound you also raise the bleeding through drum sound as well. The solution? Isolate the drums so the sound picked up by the vocalist's mic is minimized.
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Last edited by m. zillch; 04-20-2019 at 12:13 PM.
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post #19 of 19 Old 04-20-2019, 11:24 AM
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I still have my Norton Sonic II plugs I got when I was a teen and flew with my dad in a Citabria Bellanca aerobatics plane. Used them for years while flying in the USCG, underneath my headset so that I could hear my radio comms but also had additional protection from jet aircraft noise (the frequencies and decibels from which were destructive if you didn't have multiple levels of plugs). I once helped on an engine test of a Falcon 20 with the windows removed. I suspect that was the loudest I'd ever been exposed to, talk about a banshee scream that was seemingly trying to penetrate 2-3 layers of hearing protection.

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