Hearing Damage Prevention
I usually play with a big fat earplug in my left ear, a practice that I have started a few years ago due to ear pain post-practice, around the time when I got a really good violin.
Today, in my search for better listening abilities, I tried as an experiment to play without the earplug for some time. As far as I was concerned, I was able to hear my sound much better, and my playing subsequently improved by a whole lot, as I was much better able to control the sound with my ear.
I then got inspired by the dB experiments on the recent thread about the Russian hold, and decided to make my own dB measurement. Downloaded a dB meter app, and placed my phone with the bottom resting on the chinrest, near my ear. I got an average of 100 dB(Z) and that number alarmed me quite a bit.
With the phone placed on a stand, regardless of the distance (my violin has very good projection), the average was still about 85 dB.
Now 30 minutes later, after a few minutes of playing without the earplug, my left ear is ringing badly.
So obviously playing without the earplug leads me to much better results, but is also the highway to deaf-land, so I wondered, have any of you tried the ‘high fidelity’ earplugs that are on the market, and do they actually work?
If not, what else could you possibly recommend me?
If you havent already, try a practice mute. I use a rubber one, and the volume went down to about 60/70. Without it, my violin was at around 80 decibels. I have never used earbuds, so no idea about the more expensive ones.
The ringing is definitely a warning sign. I would heed it seriously and take steps now to prevent it from happening again.
Hey Jim, thanks for the great advice!
Playing solo, a musician's earplug in my left ear works well for me. Playing in a band, it doesn't - I don't hear other musicians well.
I would like to correct my decibel measurements. I put on a new set of strings and now the loudest I could play without a mute was 100 decibels. With my practice mute on it only reduced the sound by about 5 decibels. Not a huge difference, but it does help. I should also note that these measurements where taken from about a foot away.
Last night I was deputising at short notice in a rehearsal with a community orchestra I'd never played in before. The program was Brahms 2 and Dvorak's Carnival Overture, both of which I'd played as a cellist in the distant past but never as a violinist, so I'd be sight-reading.
I begin to notice ear discomfort after several days of playing a lot. Less and less time as I get better at making a good sound more and more. I bought a pair of attenuated ear plugs. They take a mould of your ear and then shape the earplugs to those moulds. They are somehow electronically attenuated to reduce dB In my case by 17 dB. But you can get them more or less. They work great for both solo play and concerts. The sound is reduced without being muffled so you still hear everything the same just as though it were not quite as loud.
Jessy, those earplugs sound really cool! Can you tell me where you bought them?
I have a pair of custom westone ear plugs. You can obtain filters of various attenuations, and the frequency response seems somewhat flat. I found an audiologist that sells these, however it looks like the whole thing can be done on line. They cost on the order of 150.00 .
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