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Ear Protection

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I wasn't sure if this would fit better in Sound Sciene or not, made a random-ish choice.

I am an actor/singer going into University, singing mostly classical and musical pieces. (Choral, Lieder, Arias, Operatic, Sondheim, etc.) I am currently part of a show choir which often works with the school band and orchestra; the band is my real concern.

We often sing in close proximity to the band and drum line, and stay there after our performance. The volume produced by those guys often causes me headaches and general discomfort, so I worry about my hearing. More over, working with the drum line has me frightened, the snare drums really feel uncomfortable to me. Knowing that several of my friends in band have had their hearing damaged is more concerning.

So I am looking for the best means to protect my ears. Ideally I would like something discrete and durable. I don't want to be oblivious to what's going on around me I am just looking for some serious volume reduction.

They would also be used in a stadium environment and construction environment as I am frequently building sets for theatre.

I know Ultimate Ears makes custom ear plugs. But don't really know my other options. I would like something which is reusable and easy to clean (no serious wax problem, just a clean freak).

In fact this, from the UE site sums up what I am looking for nicely
Custom Earplugs with acoustically tuned filters were developed so that you can be in loud environments yet still listen at a safer, more comfortable level. The changeable filters lower the sound levels equally across all frequencies — a sonic equivalent of turning down the total volume level. And since Custom Earplugs reduce all of the frequencies evenly, they avoid the skewed, muffled sound effects common to over the counter earplugs. Whatever I get needs to be durable as well, ideally pocket-able.

post #2 of 13
From what I understand Etymotic makes some of the best earplugs around.

Etymotic Research, Inc. - ER•20 High Fidelity Earplugs

I have a coworker who has some and he's mentioned that they're the best he's tried. (Whether or not that's entirely true I couldn't say, but I'm sure they work rather well)
post #3 of 13
About the best low-dollar good earplug that will keep sound fairly close to what it really is just quieter would have to be etymotic's earplugs. Etymotic Research, Inc. - ER•20 High Fidelity Earplugs
post #4 of 13
+1 for the Etymotic ER-20. It's become absolutely essential for me when I go to gigs/concerts. Compared to foam earplugs, they don't muffle the sound, everything still sounds clear, just quieter.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the quick and helpful responses.

Goodness, those Etymotics look like exactly what I need, ten times cheaper too, and no need to visit an audiologist.

Not to dimish the previous recommendations, but just to cover my bases: anything else out there?
post #6 of 13
Other than a customs, the Etys are the best bet for your situation. The Etys will not muffle sounds like foams, plus they'll be more comfortable over long time. Also, the silicon flanged ear plugs are washable(unlike foams).
post #7 of 13
I'd also recomend the alpine music safe pros, marginally samller than the etys and have three pairs of filters for different attenuation levels (low medium and high). I use them if going to gigs and they cut down the music volume by quite a bit (as do the etys).

Alpine MusicSafe Natural Sound Ear Plugs: Made for Professionals, and Now Available to Everyone! - Music & Concert Plugs
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your input and recommendations. I have decided to go with the Etymotics as I won't have to keep track of filters and they are from a company whose products I have used and enjoyed before. Also the low price means I won't feel burned if they don't work exactly as I hoped.
post #9 of 13
If you're singing, you might find that you will experience the 'occlusion effect' with the ER-20 earplugs. It makes your voice sound louder in your ears because they are partially blocked.

If it bothers you, see an audiologist and get some Etymotic ER-15 (blocks 15dB) or ER-9 (blocks 9dB) and ask for the earplug to seal in the second bend of your ear canal. This will stop your voice being louder. Of course, the customs are more expensive, but a lot cheaper than hearing aids!

The earplugs that Ultimate Ears make use the same filters and construction as the Etymotic ER-9 and ER-15. There are companies all over the world that do the same thing - they buy the filters from Etymotic and make the earmould to the same specifications. Just have a look at Etymotic Research, Inc. - High-fidelity Earphones and Hearing Instrumentation

PS: I have the ER-15s made by a company in Australia, and I take them every time I go to see live music / play with a loud band / go out to a club - they're great!
post #10 of 13
I didn't even think of that. If you're gonna be singing, it would be a good idea to ditch the earplugs. The occlusion effect is killer with earplugs. I find it weird just to talk, couldn't imagine singing.
post #11 of 13
I use the "QuietEar" earplugs. (they also make "Silent Ear") I wear them to almost every concert that I attend. They work absolutely great!

QuietEar Variable Noise Reduction Ear Plugs<br><font size="2">Selective Noise Reduction Ear Plugs from HearTech</font> - Motorcycle Ear Plugs
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I had no idea about the occlusion effect, I haven't sang with them in yet. I suppose I will have to wait a bit to get custom plugs though.
post #13 of 13
Originally Posted by nickdawg View Post
I didn't even think of that. If you're gonna be singing, it would be a good idea to ditch the earplugs. The occlusion effect is killer with earplugs. I find it weird just to talk, couldn't imagine singing.
If you have earplugs that seal in the second bend they won't cause this effect as badly. Also choosing filters with the lowest possible attenuation (so it's still safe) reduces the effect. If you're singing with a band, better to get earplugs and learn to sing with them than to go deaf anyway!
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