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Thread: Ear Protection & Drums. How Loud Is Too Loud?

  1. #11
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    No need for an SPL meter. It you play in a live band, you need hearing protection. I played in a live band for 25 years and I ALWAYS played with industrial ear protectors (30 db reduction). It's a no brainer. I was the drummer. I would even wear my industrial ear muffs at live shows. My band mates would hate it that I would wear them because it didn't make me look like a cool rock n roller, but I didn't care. I had to protect my ears.

    Plus, it really tightens up the sound. Get's rid of all the ear piercing, cymbals, vocal screams and guitar squeals and leaves nice tight, punch drums and bass.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chili View Post
    The expanding foam ear plugs work well and they are really cheap. (Hint: don't buy them at Guitar Center)
    I recommend a hardware store, in fact. A bag of several dozen ear plug costs $15.

    Quote Originally Posted by raybbj
    I would even wear my industrial ear muffs at live shows. My band mates would hate it that I would wear them because it didn't make me look like a cool rock n roller, but I didn't care. I had to protect my ears.
    You should probably accessorize your ear muffs. Drummer in generic ear protection? Boring and not very rock'n'roll. Drummer in shiny, bedazzled ear muffs? Kinda cool.

  3. #13
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    I will agree with; emphasize; and expand upon what a few others here have said:

    1. If you are playing in a live band that rehearses in nearly any room with amps and a drummer (i.e., not headphone/IEM rehearsals), you need hearing protection, no question about it;

    2. Forget the meters; it's a function of time, i.e., length of exposure. Sure, a really loud (120db or more, like a nearby thunderclap or gunshot from a pistol on the smaller side) but short sound can damage your hearing much more quickly than the same sound at a lower volume, but long-term exposure to even 75db (like a running lawn gas-powered lawnmower) of sound pressure can damage the nerves that comprise part of our hearing system. Noise is considered one of the most common occupational hazards of modern times, and that's just in general; think about about what that means for musicians.

    I've been a professional musician (both touring and studio work/production/etc) for nearly 20 years, and I've used Westone custom earplugs the entire time. I can't recommend them enough. It'll cost ya, but they are worth every penny: my ears get sore from those cheapo foam earplugs meant for construction sites, and the foam cuts out way too much audio information. The Westone earplugs are a perfect fit; I can sleep with them in. Used to do it in the tour bus all the time. The filters they use are attenuated such that it's just like turning down the volume: it's an even cut across the frequency spectrum. The only drawback is the filters are pricey and are damaged or destroyed by moisture. I sweat like a whore in church when I play onstage, so when I was touring a lot, I went through a lot of filters. Thank you, sponsorship.

    I know guys who are so protective of their ears, they wear earplugs when walking down the street in cities like Chicago or New York; they claim the sound of bus air brake systems damages their hearing. And if you're standing next to the drummer (especially on the ride side of the kit), that's a lot of potential hearing damage to protect yer ears from, mate. (And yes: I would say the sound of clanking/clattering shopping carts will definitely damage your hearing at certain frequencies over time.)

    Have you ever heard a persistent ringing or high buzzing/whining in your ears that goes away after a short time? That's the last time you'll ever hear that specific frequency: it's the sound of that nerve dying. Those nerves rarely grow back, and if they do, it's at a snail's pace. That's how tinnitus starts.

    So don't wait: use foam earplugs until you can get yer ears fitted for a proper pair of earplugs, and then protect them once you gots 'em.

    Hope that helps.

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  5. #14
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    OMG, 115.7 dB! Every song was 115 point something, except one at 111.3dB, this reading was right next to me not at the kit. As well as that on one song she went absolutely ape whacking it and I could feel my ear getting aggravated badly by it. I didn't get this reading because I had accidentally pressed MIN on the meter instead of MAX and got the minimum reading instead. This would have been louder than 115 for sure! I will be getting ear protection for sure! I'll post what I get and how it feels to play with. I don't think I will be able to hear my vocal properly with the plugs :-( but we shall see!

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    Good deal Gareth. Plus you now know that you are nowhere close to overloading the Spirit's 130dB limit, which was the original concern in your other post. It HAS to be just too high of a preamp setting if your are getting distorted recordings. Simple matter to turn down the knob or hit the pad, both of which should fix the problem

    The SPL meter will also be handy when you play out. This past summer we had 3 major concert series locally, Bourbon and Beyond, Hometown Rising and Louder than Life. Each is a 3 day weekend concert, and there were a lot of poeple from neighborhoods complaining about the "noise" from the festival. In each case, the promoters could prove that they were staying within the sound levels specified, which were 105dB at the sound mixer position. It would probably be prudent to do a quick SPL check at your soundcheck, just to make sure you aren't assaulting the audience!

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    Thanks. The Aston worked like a dream this time and all I changed was using the -20dB setting. It was a bit further from the kit than the meter (and me) but not a lot so it would have got pretty much the same SPL. 105dB for a gig outside? OMG. It would be louder than that on stage if we played!

  9. #17
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    Remember that SPL drops 6dB every time you double distance, so you could do the math. The 105dB was at the mixing board, which is about 30-50 yards from the stage. It has to be that far back due to the majority of the sound coming from the flying PA speakers. I could hear the soundcheck of the drums at my house (about 3 miles away).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails loudertnlife-jpg  

  10. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gareth Williams View Post
    I don't think I will be able to hear my vocal properly with the plugs :-( but we shall see!
    Actually, plugging yer ears with those foam earplugs is a lot like plugging yer ear with a fingertip: it will make it easier to hear yer vocals when you are singing. I'd be more concerned about hearing your bandmates' playing with the construction earplugs than I would about hearing yer own singing.

  11. #19
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    That concert area looks pretty big Rich, but I was just wondering, when you said the 105dB is measured at the mixing board, which is about 30-50 yards from the stage, is that also 30-50 yards from the speakers? Like are the flying PA speakers at the stage, like at the side of the stage?

    Johnny, I don’t like the foam plugs. I’ve tried them at work. They’re annoying and start to fall out by themselves. I think I have quite small ear holes! I’m going to try to find something that definitely won’t come out when I’m playing. As I play guitar I won’t have my hands free to fiddle with them.

    I’ve been looking at a few, and watching some vids on YT about them. I also what to see what they’ve got in my local music shop as then I can actually see them properly before buying. I think it will take a bit of experimentation to find the best ones for me. As always with music gear it’s never straight forward! :-)

  12. #20
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    Try Westone, mate. Just Google it, they come right up. They partner with audiologists all over the country to provide the molds and all that jazz. Trust me, it's worth every penny.

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