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Plug Your Ears and Rave

Loud music is great…as long as you’re careful.

When I was 17, my dad came up to me and said, “Stop leaving the volume turned up in your mother’s car. And stop putting the bass higher. It hurts my ears.” In that moment, I had no clue what he was talking about, but he didn’t believe me. “Just turn down the volume before you damage your hearing,” he interjected as my mom came into the room.

As it turned out, it was my own mother who had turned the bass up, and left the volume on at full blast. While my dad simply shook his head as she confessed to throwing a mini rock concert in her car, my mom took the moment to teach me a lesson. “Keep laughing,” she said as I stood in the kitchen trying to compose myself. “One day it’ll be you leaving the volume turned up because your hearing will be too bad to notice. Just wait and see what happens if you keep going to those festivals without earplugs.”

I immediately stopped laughing, realizing that she had a point. I had been at a concert two days before and it had taken a full 24 hours for my ears to stop ringing. Until then I hadn’t thought much of it when I’d get back from a show, but after that conversation I suddenly became very aware of the ringing in my ears.

Tinnitus, the medical name for hearing noise when it isn’t actually happening, is brought on by loud music. Now I’m as big a fan of cranking up the volume as any other music lover, but it is hard to ignore all of the proof that says loud music is bad for our hearing. When world class DJs talk about the type of earplugs they wear while performing, you know it’s a legitimate thing.

Think back to the last show you were at. What was it like when you walked out of the venue and tried to speak? Did your voice sound distorted? Could you even hear what your friends were saying in response? Chances are it was tough to hear a word anyone said, and I’m willing to bet your ears were ringing for a good portion of the night, if not longer.

I was lucky enough to see Krewella play up in Toronto this past October as part of the Thriller Halloween show at The Guvernment. They played a phenomenal set, and I loved every minute of that night, but when we walked out of the club, I couldn’t hear a word my boyfriend was saying. After the 10 minute walk to the hotel, my hearing had finally readjusted, for the most part, but a terrible ringing had begun in my ear. When I woke up the next morning, the ringing was still there, although it had gone done in volume, thankfully.

There’s no way to know how loud the music got that night, but concerts average 115 decibels on average, so I would imagine it was somewhere around that. To put that in perspective, leaf blowers and chainsaws also give off 115 dBAs of sound. According to medical experts, it takes only 30 seconds of exposure to sound at 115 dBAs before hearing damage becomes a strong possibility, which is probably why you always see landscapers wearing earplugs.

To those of you who think wearing earplugs will distort the music and ruin the experience, remember that musicians have been wearing ear protection on stage for decades. Pros like Armin van Buuren, Zedd, and Above & Beyond have custom made earplugs, and many DJs at locals clubs will wear some sort of protection while standing behind the booth night after night. If the sound truly was ruined, there is no way the producers we love would risk their sets by wearing ear protection.

Earplugs aren’t the most glamorous accessory, but they are definitely one of the most important. The way I see it, if someone as big as Armin deems custom earplugs worth the investment, then the least I can do is pick up some disposable earplugs for a buck before going to shows.

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Tags Earplugs Tinnitus

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