National Hearing Protection Month
Oct 19, 2021 at 10:34 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 25
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Hello Head-Fi!


Did you know that October is National Hearing Protection Month? Probably not, but that’s ok! We don’t see too many fundraising walks for hearing health either. But let this sink in: the loss of hearing is largely irreversible, yet many types of hearing loss (such as Noise Induced Hearing Loss) can be mitigated or prevented altogether. Furthermore, did you know that the stress of loud sounds causes our ears to tense up and hear less clearly? That’s right, healthy hearing is Hi-Fi hearing!

We’re here to help start the conversation about taking hearing protection seriously. Maybe you will feel compelled to find a local audiologist to schedule a hearing test, start taking regular or musician’s earplugs to concerts, or get a refresher on the safe amount (and duration) of noise at work.

Of course, this post is not a substitute for medical advice. But if you made it this far, we’d bet you’re interested in preserving your hi-fi superpower. That’s right, your superpower! Remember, you’re the one everyone reaches out to for gear and music recommendations. That said, it’s easy to forget that hearing health and hi-fi are joined at the hip. Us audiophiles depend on our hearing for making sound decisions (pun intended), and hope to do so for as long as possible.

Below are some helpful links to kickstart your journey to healthier habits. You’ll find that starting an effective hearing protection regimen is surprisingly affordable and easy if you know where to look.

Audiologists​


A personalized hearing protection/compensation plan is the job of an audiologist, especially if you believe you’ve already suffered some hearing damage. Your physician can likely refer you to a reputable specialist, however that shouldn’t stop you from familiarizing yourself with who’s geographically convenient to you, or if you need to check insurance coverage ahead of time, etc. In the US, you can enter your zip code into this directory search if a Google search is hit or miss. The ASHA doubles down with speech-language pathologists in their directory. If you’ve experienced some hearing loss but do not require hearing aids, you might even get a recommendation for a Sennheiser assisted listening solution to make listening more productive.

Noise Exposure​


Whether at work or just enjoying life, our ears are constantly exposed to noise. Here are some helpful charts that will help you identify “red flag” situations so you can take preventative measures.

  • Yes, this chart was designed for kids but does a great job illustrating the types of noise that can cause Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). Page 20 of this guide gets really specific.
  • Working with tools? You definitely need hearing protection! Sound, when measured in decibels, is exponential—visualize it here.

Measuring SPL​


Knowing how loud a concert or job site is can give you peace of mind and inform you of the opportune threshold for mitigation. If you do not have a dedicated SPL meter with you (an interesting ice breaker on a first date, no?), a smartphone app can help in a pinch (though precise accuracy may vary, especially beyond 90 dB). Here are some top-rated Android apps to keep handy, as well as the official NIOSH iOS app:



Online Hearing Tests​


There’s no substitute for an audiologist-performed hearing test. Online tests are quite primitive without offering critically important professional-grade testers and testing equipment, so steer clear from them aside from novelty purposes. An audiologist, however, will not only test things like L/R perception but confirm your test results using standardized benchmarks. Wouldn’t you want to know what frequencies you have been missing out on, or if your ears offer varying levels of sensitivity (and by how much)? Lastly, if you’ve suffered hearing loss, an audiologist can offer an action plan custom-tailored to your needs.

Earplugs / Ear Muffs​


If you must be present in a loud environment for an extended period of time, formable plugs offer the best bang-for-the-buck protection by a wide margin. They’re inexpensive, work great, and can be bought in bulk to keep you prepared. The tip rollers here on Head-Fi should have no problem here, but getting a good seal is crucial to a formable earplug doing its job. Here’s a quick video on getting the best formable plug seal. If molded plugs are more your thing, here’s another helpful clip. Earplug benefits are obvious: a great seal in a lightweight, portable (and barely visible) form factor.

Ear muff-style protection (an aggressively closed headphone without the transducer) comes in a wide variety of shapes and brands. Many feature noise reduction ratings (NRR) tailored to applications (yard work, shooting, occupational, etc), however, there’s no such thing as too much protection. They’re clearly bulkier but non-intrusive if an in-ear fit is a concern (and can even be worn over earplugs!)

Hearing health is essential to longevity in the audiophile community. We hope you feel empowered to take control of your own hearing protection, as well as the confidence to use the resources available to demystify your current hearing health status.

What are some of your go-to hearing protection solutions? Please feel free to share recommendations, stories, pictures, and links!
 
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Oct 20, 2021 at 10:57 AM Post #2 of 25

lowtwo

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I wear my bose quiet comfort noise cancelling earbuds a lot, especially when traveling. I also have 3m peltor for yardwork. And I sleep with macks ear plugs. I'm afraid I am a little late as my right ear has tinnitus. Just trying to damage control now.

Can you link a good online hearing test?
 
Oct 20, 2021 at 10:57 AM Post #3 of 25

Vamp898

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I always use earplugs when leaving the house alone. Outside I only use isolating IEMs to listen to music so I can listen at low volume, even in noisy areas
 
Oct 20, 2021 at 11:04 AM Post #4 of 25

Vamp898

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I wear my bose quiet comfort noise cancelling earbuds a lot, especially when traveling. I also have 3m peltor for yardwork. And I sleep with macks ear plugs. I'm afraid I am a little late as my right ear has tinnitus. Just trying to damage control now.

Can you link a good online hearing test?
I personally recommend this app with an linear IEM. I don't know the English name, but just search for hearing test and check for that icon/symbol

 

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Oct 20, 2021 at 11:40 AM Post #6 of 25

Vamp898

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How to measure our main risk though: The sound pressure our IEMs are producing at our preferred listening levels?

drftr
Define preferred listening level

When I listen for longer times (like in train rides) I hover between 10-30 of 120 at low gain of my M11 Plus LTD with the FiiO FA9

The loudest I ever used was 100 of 120 at low gain.

If you think "that is loud", it's loud. Don't listen longer than one album and take a break afterwards.

If it's painfully loud, turn the volume down instantly
 
Oct 20, 2021 at 12:03 PM Post #9 of 25

Unseen Aura

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I wear my bose quiet comfort noise cancelling earbuds a lot, especially when traveling. I also have 3m peltor for yardwork. And I sleep with macks ear plugs. I'm afraid I am a little late as my right ear has tinnitus. Just trying to damage control now.

Can you link a good online hearing test?
Don't know nothing about online hearing tests (I did one a bit ago but no memory of it), but where doctors and other health/medical experts have failed me, YouTube has been egregiously (archaic definition) and exceedingly helpful and beneficial. I discovered the following video which has helped me tremendously. Granted I don't do them as regularly as advised, but even short-term it has brought about positive results. As in, my tinnitus isn't as bad as it normally used to be, but ever present:
 
Oct 20, 2021 at 12:23 PM Post #10 of 25

Unseen Aura

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I was ignorant of sound and ear and hearing damage when I was younger, and only after my mtb accident (less than 2 years ago) did I learn heaps about it. It affected my hearing greatly and is what led me to discover headfi and other audiophile stuffs. Did a lot of motorcycle riding without protection as well, hopefully that didn't contribute to my current hearing status.

I tend to wear 3M Worktunes Connect for noise isolation, paired with NR33 earplugs. I have these Moldex ones as well as these by Flents that do wonders. Use them individually mostly, unless I need to block out maximum sound, in which case both at the same time. Naturally, music is not always an option with that much noise isolation, so I wear Aftershokz for that bone conduction experience. I don't really leave the house, I don't interact with any humans outside of my wife, and with my ptsd and list of other issues, I am unable to go to most places I used to, such as the movies, so my audio control is quite extensive. Hoping this retains whatever good hearing I have left to juice out maximum enjoyment from my cans for the foreseeable future.

20200720_114048.jpg
 
Oct 20, 2021 at 12:59 PM Post #11 of 25

rantng

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How to measure our main risk though: The sound pressure our IEMs are producing at our preferred listening levels?

drftr
I imagine it would have to be a highly specialized device; everyone has different listening levels as well different ear anatomies, leading to different levels of pressure.

I normally get my hearing tested every year while I'm getting my full workup, but I've never asked to see the results of my hearing test, just whether my hearing is "fine". Probably a good idea to schedule an annual visit to the audiologist in addition to the annual physical and routine dental exams.
 
Oct 20, 2021 at 1:35 PM Post #12 of 25

tjlindle

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I keep a set of Etymotic ER20XS earplugs with me at all times now in case I find myself in a situation where there's either prolonged loud noise or sharp bursts of VERY loud noise.

The last concert I went to (Judas Priest) I sat in row 5 with two friends. I wore my earplugs the entire time and only took them out for the end of a certain song to get the full effect. It was awesome for about 30 seconds but yea that was enough, put them directly back in lol. The thought of two hours straight of that volume level blasting directly into my ears makes me cringe now.
 
Oct 20, 2021 at 1:43 PM Post #14 of 25

LongBeforeShort

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Personally i don't especially protect my ears outside the house, unless i'm going to some event, cinema which is too loud or really busy places. For that i wear earplugs with linear damping to get a good grasp of sound with good quality and different filters fro less or greater effect. I think that its really important for such events, partys, clubs or even working places to protect your ears, as well as control the time you spend per week listening with louder volume for certain albums or songs.
 

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