IT'S ABOUT TIME
God bless you and your staff for the article on hearing loss. I used to love to record, getting the sound just right, then I got the ‘T' [tinnitus]. That was two years ago, and it's still hard to deal with today. Since then, I've sold all of my recording gear, which was very painful to get rid of. I just hope more people will get the information you provided in other media ways.
LEARNING TOO LATE
I played in some pretty loud bands and did not use hearing protection. I actually bought a pair of Etymotic Research musician's earplugs with a 15dB attenuation and didn't wear them; they made me feel like I was playing in another room. Looking back, I feel bad. I wear two hearing aids now. By the way, good hearing aids are very expensive. I have a major hearing deficit between 1 and 6 kHz. I have to ask people to say things over because I might not understand it the first time. Also, because of this, my hearing is inaccurate. Forget mixing. I don't trust my ears (with great reason).
What would I have done differently? On concert days, I should have worn the plugs starting mid-afternoon so that I would have become adjusted to the different dB level and would not have freaked out onstage when the music started and removed the plugs. Once your hearing is gone, it's never coming back.
I was really glad to see your article on audio therapy (“Insider Audio,” May 2007). I am an audio engineer on the product-development team for Advanced Brain Technologies. The company's primary product, The Listening Program (TLP), was designed for home use under direction of a certified professional, and the flexibility gained has huge implications.
I was a little disappointed that the AIT practitioners “don't talk much about the technology.” We want people to understand exactly what TLP is doing and why it works. ABT set up a Website just for this purpose (www.thelisteningprogram.com). I've found that even we audio professionals underestimate the impact that sound has on the brain and body. Occupational therapists, neurologists and other health professionals are really at the front lines of realizing the dramatic impact that controlled frequency can have on an individual.
This is a field that needs more research and attention given by our industry. Good for you for devoting an entire issue to audio-related health — both ours and those whom our industry can rightly take responsibility for!
Lawrence Lockhart Studios
Advanced Brain Technologies
WHEN HEARING DAMAGE HURTS
I work for Hosa Technology, but in my “former life,” I was a keyboard player/saxophonist in a loud dance band. For four hours a night, five or six nights a week, my unprotected ears withstood the onslaught of the drummer's ride and crash cymbals (which were set up pretty much exactly at my ear height), as well as our guitarist's Strat/Twin combination, which were always “dimed,” not to mention my own 15-and-horn-amplified synth setup.
Now, at age 57, I have developed a severe hearing condition called “recruitment,” in which certain audio frequencies sound painfully loud to me. Certain voices “cut through me,” and I have to ask the speaker to talk more quietly, especially if there is any other sound happening at the same time. Something as seemingly innocuous as the sound of a person opening a plastic bag of chips can force me to plug my ears. Restaurants with lots of “live” surfaces are particularly brutal. The sound of plates and silverware clinking, the murmur of many voices, the background music system all combine into a monolithic roar in my ears.
If I had worn foam earplugs during all of those years of abuse onstage, I could have prevented this condition that severely reduces my current quality of life. Now, the only relief is to avoid those sounds and situations that exacerbate my symptoms. And yet many of those situations, like eating out at a restaurant, are things that used to give me great pleasure. To you guys in your 20s who insist upon monitoring loud and who frequent the clubs, and whose car stereo systems' decibel levels rival those of live venues, and whose iPods are plugged directly into the ear canal for hours a day, I say this: You must protect yourselves. You wouldn't repeatedly jam your thumbs in your eyes, would you? How important to you is your hearing and your future quality of life? Get smart now or pay the price.
Hosa Technology, VP/general manager
IT'S JUST TOO LOUD
I'm writing about the earplug poll [at mixonline.com]; it is quite revealing. If two-thirds of musician/sound techs who love music and live for audio have to wear earplugs at concerts, is this not a huge wake-up call that concert volumes have gotten severely out of hand?
A little time [of listening at] over 100 dB, our ears begin to auto-compress and shut down. If we're at a concert where SPLs are over 110 dB, we cannot “hear everything,” as the poll suggests. Our ears are already in self-protection mode, though not equally across the frequency spectrum. Pro studio mixers who want to hear everything mix at low to mid-volumes, and rarely above 85 dB. Much above 100 dB for very long, and we may lose some hearing permanently in a part of the frequency range. I understand that some concerts will run up to and even over 115 dB! I can only assume that those running sound and those in attendance have already damaged the sensitivity in their ears and are by now already suffering from at least partial deafness.
I would hope the concert industry wakes up. No way should an engineer mix with earplugs: His sense of balance is impaired. Also, it is a dead giveaway that he's simply running things too loud and people closer to the speakers are getting their ears damaged. Let's bring the music back to listenable levels.
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