Read Audio: 5 things to remember about hearing protection

We quiz Read Audio's Mat Jones for his essential tips on protecting your hearing...


As a musician, your ears are an essential part of your livelihood.

This obviously means they need protecting, particularly as they are exposed to continual loud volumes when performing either on stage or working in the studio. But what are the best ways to do so?

Ahead of his latest ICMP visit to talk to our students, we caught up with Read Audio's expert Mat Jones to find out all you need to know when it comes to hearing protection... 

You don’t have to spend a fortune to protect your ears

Our message to emerging musicians and artists is you should be wearing something in your ears.

Spending lots of money on expensive plugs isn't something you need to do: it doesn’t necessarily mean you are better protected." 

One of the most effective things to put in your ear is a foam ear plug because they fit all different shapes and sizes of ears. They’re usually comfortable and, because they are full of air pockets, they’re great at insulating against outside noise. They’re also very inexpensive.

You can wear ear plugs and still hear clearly

Custom fit ear plugs alleviate the problems that come with foam ear plugs. The latter can be so good that they muffle all sound.  

So with custom fit for musicians, we try to address that by letting in high and blocking out low frequencies. 

Custom fit can also take on two of the problems created by universal fit. One of them is that they don’t fit or they are uncomfortable for long periods of use. That will be solved by custom fit: every ear plug is tuned to the ear it goes in. 

+3dB = twice the sound and half the time!

This is the basis on which we decide how much hearing protection someone needs.

The scale we measure this on is a curve: 

85dB is about the same as you get on a busy London street. The guidelines say you are safe at this level for up to eight hours. If you stay in this environment for longer, then the chances of you getting hearing damage increases." 

So for every 3dBs you add, you double the intensity of the sound. If you were to go to 88dB, then that’s twice as loud as 85. So your safe exposure time halves.

Eight hours sounds like a long time but the moment you get into a gig, your safe time is dramatically reduced… 

Your ears will adjust so put your plugs in early

If you go to a gig and you only put them in when you go through the door, then your first experience of that gig will be quiet and probably muffled.

People will then take out their plugs. So because your ears adjust, we recommend that you put them in about 20 minutes beforehand. Then go with it - by the time you're in the gig, your ears will hopefully have adjusted their sensitivity and got used to the environment.

Putting them in early is  a way of keeping your plugs in your ears which is ultimately what this is all about.

Your hearing doesn’t grow back

If you go to a gig and you come out with ringing in your ears, over a period of eight to 24 hours it subsides, then it goes away.

I was always under the impression any ringing in your ears is a bit like a hangover: after some rest, your body sorts itself out and you’re good to go again. But it’s not the same."

When you’re in a loud environment, your hearing shuts down. In a quiet environment, your hearing turns up the sensitivity, so it has a gain control. It’s very clever so it does adjust to its surroundings.

When you get tinnitus, your hearing mechanisms learn to cope with it and block it out. The next time you get it, your ears will do it again and keep on doing this. But eventually, they might not be able to compensate and that’s when you get lasting damage.

For us, it’s about people having a basic understanding of these hearing protection principles. You know what to do if you have a cold or flu, or a headache. You understand how your body works this way and we want to educate people to know the same about their ears. As long as you understand this, you understand the risks and how long you’re exposed for and the amount of time you can spend in a particular environment... 

Visit for more information. 

ICMP students receive visits from Read Audio for discounted ear plug fittings. Find out more. 

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by ICMP staff writer
October 9, 2018
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