John Bohlinger’s “Last Call” column last month got me thinking more about hearing protection, which I admit I don’t use very often. The band I’m in is not into blaring stage volume, and rehearsal is usually even quieter. And, unless I’m opening up a big amp to hear what it can do (or when Brett Petrusek is around), I don’t find myself dealing frequently with uncomfortably loud
music. But some of my favorite amps do require high volume to really sound their best, and I did hear Bohlinger pretty clearly reminding me that volume doesn’t have to hurt before it starts doing damage.
The problem I always have with earplugs is that even when they’re comfortable enough to wear for long periods, they leave me hearing only a “thuddy” low end and muffled mids with no high end to speak of. And taking the soft foam plugs out to make EQ adjustments and then holding them in until they expand into place again—it’s not an easy way to spend an afternoon testing amps.
As luck would have it, we had recently received a few sets of High Fidelity Series earplugs from Hearos. These are designed to provide flat attenuation, and are made specifically for musical application. With average attenuation across the frequency range falling somewhere around 20dB, they don’t provide the greatest amount of noise reduction available. But they do allow you to hear a more balanced frequency spectrum. After trying several different kinds of hearing protection while testing amplifiers, I can say that wearing these is much like wearing a set of studio headphones. Of course, they don’t weigh as much, but the sound is as balanced, and they don’t take a lot of time to install correctly. They’re also washable and reusable, and they’re comfortable enough that they won’t drive me crazy if I wear them more often.
Hearos High Fidelity Ear Plugs