I already have my work cut out writing visualist blog CreateDigitalMotion.com, and occasionally on CreateDigitalMusic as well, so I hope you won’t mind, dear Edgys, if I “re-purpose” some content from those sites from time to time.
This is a particularly timely piece of repurposing though, with the triumphant Edge Launch last Friday night, and loud, shouty bands like DZ playing, I was a little concerned that we weren’t providing hearing protection. Not that this is necessarily the responsibility of the venue, but I think it’s something that caring Places Of Noise should do, and I’ll be talking to our staff about getting a supply of cheap disposable ‘plugs for patrons of our shows.
If, however, you’re someone who sees a lot of gigs, cares about how those gigs sound, or who cares about not disposing of things which don’t necessarily need to be thrown away, then you should invest in a slightly more permanent solution. Enter the Etymotics ER-20 High Fidelity earplugs.
As a VJ and live performer, I’ve spent lots of time on stages and in clubs, and always worn hearing protection. Usually the disposable foam ones. They protect your ears well, but provide an uneven attenuation of sound, removing too much high-end. In non-audio-geek terms, this makes the music sound muffled, like it’s coming from the next room, or it’s being played through some speakers which are buried in blankets.
Higher quality earplugs have a more even attenuation, which makes the waves delivered to your ears sound much more natural. I’ve actually found that using them makes loud gigs sound even better than barebacking. When exposed to a loud sound, your stapedius reflex slightly closes your inner ear. This makes things sound different, and it’s why your hearing is muffled after a loud show, but it’s not enough to protect you from permanent hearing damage.
The ER-20s aren’t quite as comfortable as the soft, squishy ones, but the better sound more than makes up for this, and it protects the world from soft, squishy landfill. I actually had a hearing test done on Tuesday morning, less than 12 hours after seeing Phoenix at the Entertainment Centre. It was an extremely loud gig, yet my test results were all well within the normal range.
So. Hearing protection = compulsory. Higher quality hearing protection = lovely. If you’d like to know more on the subject, my original post on CreateDigitalMusic has loads of comments from musicians and performers around the world, both heaping love on Good Earplugs, and lamenting the fact that they didn’t know about them until Too Late.
If you’d like to get some of your own, you can order them for AU$35 (inc. delivery) from Headphonic in Australia.