Pete Townshend on hearing loss and headphones
Jan 3, 2006 at 6:25 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 87

Turnaround

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Note from Mod: This thread has been merged with the one started by Markl on the same topic. See post #6 for the direct quotes from Pete.

Pete Townshend on hearing loss and headphones --

I saw this posted on the Steve Hoffman forums (stevehoffman.tv). Thought it was worth posting here.

http://www.petetownshend.co.uk/diary...231&zone=diary
 
Jan 3, 2006 at 6:35 PM Post #2 of 87

allenf

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"But today, this very morning, after a night in the studio trying to crack a difficult song demo, I wake up realizing again - reminding myself, and feeling the need to remind the world - that my own particular kind of damage was caused by using earphones in the recording studio, not playing loud on stage. My ears are ringing, loudly. This rarely happens after a live show, unless the Who play a small club. This is a peculiar hazard of the recording studio.

The point I'm making is that it is not live sound that causes hearing damage.

Earphones do the most damage."

I believe that - coming from Pete.
Great link.
 
Jan 3, 2006 at 6:36 PM Post #3 of 87

jagorev

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Quote:

I have unwittingly helped to invent and refine a type of music that makes its principal proponents deaf. It takes time, but it happens. This is, I suppose, no worse than being a sports person or dancer who knows they have a limited working span, and their body will suffer. The rewards are great - money, fame, adulation and a real sense of self-worth and achievement. But music is a calling for life. You can write it when you're deaf, but you can't hear it or perform it.


Very interesting. I'm in the middle of a similar self-imposed 36 hour break now to compensate for listening fatigue. I think he's quite right that the increased use of iPods will lead to terrible hearing loss problems for this generation down the road. Most iPod users have their stock earbuds turned up way too loud to compensate for the terrible sound and for external noise. Be careful, fellow head-fiers, and please don't use non-sealed headphones in any kind of noisy environment.
 
Jan 3, 2006 at 6:42 PM Post #4 of 87

crazychimp132

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Thanks for the link. It's interesting and a good warning. I wonder if headphones do cause hearing loss at significantly lower levels than speakers, or if he just listens to headphones at very high levels, perhaps as a method to drown out the already loud live instruments. I try to keep things at a pretty low volume to avoid hearing loss.
 
Jan 3, 2006 at 6:42 PM Post #5 of 87

skudmunky

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jagorev
Very interesting. I'm in the middle of a similar self-imposed 36 hour break now to compensate for listening fatigue. I think he's quite right that the increased use of iPods will led to terrible hearing loss problems for this generation down the road. Most iPod users have their stock earbuds turned up way too loud to compensate for the terrible sound and for external noise. Be careful, fellow head-fiers, and please don't use non-sealed headphones in any kind of noisy environment.



I use my portaPros outside in downtown Boston, because I don't have anything else to use. I don't crank my music up though, I keep it at a volume level of about 13-15 (out of 25 - Zen Micro). I just want to hear my music barely above traffic noise, I don't want to blast my eardrums out.

I'm still looking at IEMs though. Gotta save up.
 
Jan 3, 2006 at 7:54 PM Post #6 of 87

markl

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Saw this over at SH Forums, thought I'd re-post here. Most fans know that Pete's been having hearing problems for years, one would assume it was due to playing incredibly loud live shows, but he seems to think otherwise:

http://www.petetownshend.co.uk/diary...231&zone=diary

Here are selected quotes:

Quote:

I've often said that although the Who have a reputation for being loud, as a live band we were usually only as loud as everyone else. We were, with Pink Floyd, simply one of the first UK bands to develop effective PA systems. People often confused the size of the rigs we started to use with loudness, not improved quality. By the way, this is not exclusively a British disease: the main leap in volume at live shows started in San Francisco with Bill Graham and the Grateful Dead.

But today, this very morning, after a night in the studio trying to crack a difficult song demo, I wake up realizing again - reminding myself, and feeling the need to remind the world - that my own particular kind of damage was caused by using earphones in the recording studio, not playing loud on stage. My ears are ringing, loudly. This rarely happens after a live show, unless the Who play a small club. This is a peculiar hazard of the recording studio.

The point I'm making is that it is not live sound that causes hearing damage.

Earphones do the most damage.

In a studio there are often accidental buzzes, shrieks and poor connections that cause temporary high level sounds. Playing drums with earphones on is probably a form of insanity I think, all those gunshots, so much louder than a real gunshot, but how else can a drummer hear the other musicians? When I work solo now I often avoid using a drummer, simply to keep the overall sound levels lower. Also, one might have to work for several hours to perfect a studio performance. As the work progresses, the ears shut down and one needs a higher volume. If you stop to rest your ears (and you need to do so for at least 36 hours to do any good) you lose the current performance. It is a tough call.

I have unwittingly helped to invent and refine a type of music that makes its principal proponents deaf. It takes time, but it happens. This is, I suppose, no worse than being a sports person or dancer who knows they have a limited working span, and their body will suffer. The rewards are great - money, fame, adulation and a real sense of self-worth and achievement. But music is a calling for life. You can write it when you're deaf, but you can't hear it or perform it.

Last night, I was working with a piece of music that depended on me finding a correlation between the harmonic clusters in a piece composed using a computer - rather electronic in nature - and the overtones of a normal acoustic piano. With my hearing rolling off severely now at around three or four kiloherz, I don't have much luck with high harmonics or piano overtones (I can still hear speech OK). Needless to say, I didn't finish what I started. I drift back to the familiar tools of acoustic guitar and piano with my experimental tail between my legs.

Hearing loss is a terrible thing because it cannot be repaired. If you use an iPod or anything like it, or your child uses one, you MAY be OK. It may only be studio earphones that cause bad damage. I only have long experience of the studio side of things (though I've listened to music for pleasure on earphones for years, long before the Walkman was introduced). But my intuition tells me there is terrible trouble ahead. The computer is now central to our world. If downloading has a real downside it may not be the fact that musicians will get their music stolen - in truth, they appear quite ready to give it away for nothing. The downside may be that on our computers - for privacy, for respect to family and co-workers, and for convenience - we use earphones at almost every stage of interaction with sound.


 
Jan 3, 2006 at 9:19 PM Post #8 of 87

mattg3

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Had to return my grado sr60 based on ear ringing after use at moderate volume that i never experienced with sennheiser at higher volume.Liked the sr60 but too scary to keep.
 
Jan 3, 2006 at 9:21 PM Post #9 of 87

Beagle

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Quote:

Originally Posted by allenf
"Earphones do the most damage."

I believe that - coming from Pete.
Great link.



Uh no Pete, it would be an explosion from Moonies drum kit three feet away that would do the most damage.
 
Jan 3, 2006 at 9:41 PM Post #10 of 87

PixelSquish

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isolation is a good thing in regards to IEM's for portable use.
 
Jan 3, 2006 at 9:47 PM Post #11 of 87

shplorgh

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Beagle
Uh no Pete, it would be an explosion from Moonies drum kit three feet away that would do the most damage.


Yeah, I think his hearing loss is a product of playing 350,000 db concerts, being in the who, and having Moon's drum kit explode and light his ears on fire, not headphones.
rolleyes.gif
 
Jan 3, 2006 at 9:51 PM Post #13 of 87

tschanrm

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Interesting article, although he does not exactly explain how headphones caused damage. I'm guessing, as others have, that he used non-sealed headphones to try and drown out the other musicians during a recording. This would have caused him to have the headphones playing at a very loud level. Rock Concert's can reach 120db, so I definitely think going to concerts can damage your hearing just as badly as headphones. Think of how loud his headphones must be playing in the studio to cause as much or worse damage than while he is on stage.....
 
Jan 3, 2006 at 9:56 PM Post #14 of 87

kramer5150

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Wow thats scarry... I listen to all my cans at VERY low volume... on my govibe, I turn it up to just above the level where the channel imbalance kicks in.

Thats why I love my grados, IMHO they dont need loud volumes to sound dynamic. Same goes for the titanium Koss portables, but to a lesser degree. I love my HD580... but I have to turn it up louder to achieve the same level of enjoyment.

My dad just got a hearing aid for his left ear, so I'm paranoid now.

Hopefully this will help someone...
 
Jan 3, 2006 at 10:02 PM Post #15 of 87

kidicarus74

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you can't forget either that the sound on the stage isn't nearly as loud as the sound in the first few rows. The loudest mains speakers are pointed toward the audience, not the artists. Generally speaking, stage monitors (including in ear monitors just like the ety's and ue's) aren't nearly as loud as the gut churning speaker stacks pointed towards the attendees.
 

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