Obscene loud noises can cause permanent damage to our hearing system, and I’m not talking about only drummers. Any activity you engage in that produces loud noises is a hazard to your health, especially your hearing abilities. It is therefore pertinent that you take absolute precautions to protect yourself especially against any form of health hazard while engaging in your activity.
This leads us to ask the very important question, “why do drummers wear earplugs?”. Drummers wear earplugs especially to prevent causing irreversible damage to their hearing ability. This is a safety requirement for any job description where the participant is exposed to loud noises for long periods of time.
The ability of our ears to listen to loud sound is only limited to a certain amount of time. And yes, if you were wondering, a drummer playing at a very loud frequency, say a rock concert can and may cause permanent damages to his hearing abilities if he does so without using a protective earplug. Using an earplug can significantly reduce the amount of noise that goes into his ears.
This article seeks to shed some light on already existing truths about the need for drummers to use earplugs when on a drum. And as much as the ears are designed to have a form of self-protection against loud noises, it will cause more harm than good if you fail to use earplugs whenever you’re on the drums blasting away at high frequencies.
For the avoidance of doubt, there are a few diseases that can cause hearing damage, but this is generally due to prolonged exposure to loud sounds. Any sound above 120dB (dB meaning decibels i.e the unit measurement of sound intensity) can cause pains in the ears which is where the damage starts from. So, the next time you get behind a drum set, make sure you’re fully equipped with an appropriate earplug to protect your ears.
Why Do Drummers Wear Earplugs
Playing the drums has a lot of benefits; physical, mental, and what have you. But playing the drums without using protective earplugs is surrendering yourself to hearing damages.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
The human hearing abilities range from approximately 100Hz to between 20 and 40kHz. However, our ears are most sensitive to sounds between the 1kHz and 4kHz range. It is no ordinary coincidence that this happens to conform to the frequency of speech hearing, which is a topic for another day. What I’m trying to say is, there’s no real indication that damages can occur to our ears at a particular range more than others.
What is important is that our ears are more sensitive to certain frequencies than others. We may not be sensitive to extremely low and extremely high-frequency sounds. This should mean that while ear damage can affect the entire range of our hearing, it is most likely that it lies in that mid-range of frequencies because our ears are most sensitive to sounds within that range.
How Long Is Too Long To Listen To Loud Sounds?
Different experts would have varying opinions about this, even authorities in drumming, but the general idea is to try as much as possible to avoid listening to very loud sounds for a period of not more than 10 minutes max. There’s no specific definition of very loud sound, but any sound above the 120dB threshold is considered extremely loud and this includes standing in front of a stack of heavy speakers ( which is commonplace for most drummers ), gunshots at close range or being present at a Foo Fighters show.
Any listening period that goes on for longer than necessary has the ability to cause severe pain, and in most cases, irreparable damage to the drummer who is without any form of protective earplugs.
What Do Earplugs Do?
Earplugs are made in such a way as to protect the user from suffering any form of ear damage. They are padded with foams inside, which helps to absorb sound, and in turn, reduce the amount of sound allowed to enter the ears of the user. A drummer would have better chances of avoiding hearing damage if he always uses a piece of this not-so-expensive gear. The drummer should also take note that there is a proper way to wear an earplug. Just picking them up and inserting may not perform the function for which it is intended.
The Relationship Between Volume And Proximity
Not all hearing damages are attributable to loud volumes. Basic understanding of the relationship between how volume changes in relation to the distance from the source of the sound would be very handy to the drummer who wishes to protect himself from any form of hearing loss. A general idea is “every doubled distance between you and a source of sound amounts to a 6dB reduction in volume”.
This may ordinarily seem small, but it is a significant drop in the intensity of sound. Closeness to sound source has an adverse effect on the drummer, even if you’re using an earplug. It is recommended that you try as much as possible to stay far away from the sound source when you’re behind your drums (an example is setting up your playing space directly in front of a stack of speakers ). Long story short, if you don’t have proper earplugs, it is advisable you stay away from sound sources.
I would personally recommend you get a piece of foam earplugs from your local store or a dealer for your everyday use, whether for practice or for a standard concert. These little gears can come in handy. I carry a pair with me everywhere I go in my kit bag. They are cheap and can be very effective if properly worn.
For professional drumming, I love the Vic Firth Stereo Isolation Headphones. They are very comfortable to use with a wonderful noise reduction feature designed especially for drummers.
It is also advisable that you get your ears checked out regularly by an ear doctor. These actions complement your use of earplugs when you’re on a drum or are part of the technical guys at a concert.
The earplugs are a great companion for a drummer to have as they can be really helpful in preventing hearing loss. Earplugs protect the amount of sound entering the ears through the help of a protective layer around it (commonly a padded foam). If used properly, it reduces the chance of hearing loss for a drummer by a great deal.
Always use one, whether for a concert or just simple rehearsals, whether you’re playing loud or quiet music.