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Ear Protecton, using in ears and loud stage volumes, Help!!

kimos55

Follow your dreams turst your heart
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
598
For the past 2 years I have been playing with very loud stage volumes 5 sometimes 6 nights a week. I use in ears, between stage volumes and my in ears, my ears are starting to feel the effects and I am going to be screwed if I don't change something soon.
I am using Shure in ears with a wireless system, I am close to the drummer so there are no drums in my mix, I have keys, bass, vocals and my own guitar in my mix, I think I have everything turned down as much as I can. The stage mix is loud and the lead singer needs it that way.

I think in order to hear my in ears even though I have my in ears turned down I am still turning up to overcompensate for the loud stage and my ears are getting blasted.

One last thing to add is it tried just putting in Foam ear plugs and they worked much better but then I had a problem just hearing the bass on the other side of the stage, Another thing happens; The keyboard and bass are on the other side of the stage and the drummer and I are together and there is actually a delay between both sides.... I used the Foam protection and my ears felt better but it was so hard to do the show.My guitar is always running through the house and I mic a Fender Deluxe on 3 so with the foam it was hard to hear my guitar too. Sucks doing a solo and not hearing your amp.

About two months ago we played a Fair with no in ears or soundcheck, I didn't have my foam earplugs and I had a ringing in my ears for days. Since then there have been a lot of other gigs that the same type of thing happened, different sound guy different systems etc.. blah blah.... I went to a ear Dr about 5 months ago and my ears were still in the normal range but I can tell I have had some serious damage in the last two months,

Other then quitting the Band, What should I do? I need real help here from my GP brothers..
 

stevel

Member
Messages
14,741
Loud sounds are damaging, period. There is some difference between sustained loud sound over long periods of time versus short loud bursts of sound, but the end result is the same.

You know, I wonder how many painters stare at the sun for an hour a day?

I'm 48 and have played for years in too-loud bands. At the time I was playing in one, I also had a medical problem with one ear and actually had hyperacuity, making loud sounds even painful. However, because hearing was reduced too, I didn't really realize the damage that was being done. I can remember, for a long time, I wouldn't turn the radio on in the car and I remember getting up in the morning to go to work and my right ear was just screaming at me.

After a few years, the "screaming" eventually actually died down thankfully, but now my Right ear is - well, let's face it - I'm fairly deaf in my Right ear, except I can hear the tinnitus ringing better than any outside sounds. Using a cell phone on my right ear - it's hard to distinguish a conversation. I can put headphones on and hear sound, but things like a guitar solo in the right channel - I don't hear any of those old Hendrix cuts "in stereo" with phones on. I have to listen on open speakers to hear both sides of stereo now.

I was recently in another way too loud rock band - louder than anything I'd ever been in before and foolishly didn't wear any plugs. The guy before more was using in-ears but it's a huge investment for me, and I'm not sure they'd do me any good - I might end up in the same situation you are.

But I had a scare with my left ear, and since then, I definitely notice a decrease in high frequencies. Those issues, coupled with normal aging means, I've got to be really careful. I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert and brought plugs with me but didn't use them, because I felt like it was "tolerable". But the next day I felt like I woke up with cotton stuffed in my ears. So no more of that. I auditioned with a band the other day and they too were "louder than they need to be".

I quit the too loud band. There were other issues too, but after the ear scare and with the knowledge that they're not going to reduce their volume, I just had to get out.

The band I auditioned for the other day - I think they want to play loud too, and it's not for me anymore.

Now, in the too loud band, I started wearing earplugs after "the scare". In fact, the first time, I HAD to wear earplugs or I couldn't have even played the gig. From then on, I kept them except one time on a super huge stage.

I bought "shooters plugs" - the ones that cut by the largest decibel amount I could find.


I also tried the foam squishy ones, but they did nothing (in that situation). I bought a 3M brand just like the ones above and they worked as well, but were not gel so not as comfortable for 3 hours. I also bought 2 types of Etymotic which don't cut as much, which were fine for reasonable volume bands.

For $3.00 to save your hearing though...pretty good investment I'd say.

The "good" news for playing was, since the stage volume was so high, I could still hear everything fine (though singing was problematic because in my own head, my own singing was so overwhelmingly loud I couldn't do it).

Interestingly, I could actually hear my solos better than before, and I even wore them during breaks (and during load-in/out at a club blaring music and on the drive home once!). I could also hear conversations in the club during breaks when background music was blaring.

Many times, I kept the plugs in the whole show, and went out and sat in the silence in my car during breaks so I didn't have to listen to the also-too-loud break music.

Years ago I had tried earplugs (like decades ago) but stuff would happen like I'd turn down the tone knob for song and then not realize I had forgotten to turn it back up - couldn't hear it. Same thing with things like a chorus effect - I'd realize I'd forgotten to turn it off and couldn't hear it to tell.

Well, now, I had no choice (and really had no choice earlier in life, but...)

The best advice I got here was to pick a pair and use them and get used to them. I did, and that worked. After only a gig or two (becuase the first one was done with the buzzing in my ear from the problem) I was able to easily tell the difference between chorus and non-chorused sound and so on. I was playing keys in that band too and once I did have the wrong patch called up and it took me a couple of bars to realize it was the wrong sound but it was too late then.

If you are using in-ears, you need ones that completely isolate your ears from the outside world, and then pipe in sound from whatever mix you want.

The problem does come if you can still hear drums or bass leaking in and have to turn up the volume in the in-ears to be over that - which is what it sounds like is happening.

If the in-ear volume is high enough to be damaging, you're not solving anything and may be doing just as much if not more damage.

The ear plugs may help, but if you can't hear the other side of the stage you're going to need to get that piped into your monitor so you can. That's going to be the only way the plugs will work unless you either A: find the exact level of cut that lets you hear, but still protects you, or B. learn to live without hearing what's going on on that side of the stage.

The REAL solution is to get rid of that ambient volume. If that won't happen, and none of the in-ear or plug solutions work for you, you're going to have to decide whether your hearing is worth it to you. If you're 20, you may not care, but you should (trust me). If you're 60 and your hearing is almost gone anyway, well, you may want to bite the bullet as you may only have a few gigging years left anyway. But the younger you are, and the longer you intend on continuing to play music, the more concerned I'd be about protecting my ears.

If you were in a position where you were about to "break big" and you were going to be a "rock star" soon, and have a 10 or even 20 year career, then it may be worth it to just go deaf - Clapton, Townshend, they probably never dreamed they'd have 50 year careers so never thought once about it (plus, they were young, and we didn't place the emphasis on hearing protection back then like we do now). But honestly, gone are the mega-rock-star days - killing your ears is just a recipe for not hearing the outside world, and only hearing the ringing in your head screaming at you.

Right now, the outside sound is louder in my Left ear than the tinnitus in that ear (which is some slight ringing but also a kind of hum like a ceiling fan motor might put out) which means only when it's very quiet in whatever room I'm in do I notice it. But, that makes me realize that if (or rather, at this point, more likely when) my hearing goes in that ear, the outside noise won't eclipse the tinnitus, meaning all I'll hear in both ears is tinnitus sounds, and no outside sound.

Sounds like a recipe for insanity.

If the whole band could go to in-ears, that would be great. If they did so, the ambient sound probably would come way down anyway.

Even if the singer could just do in-ears, that might help a lot.

But realistically, the stage sound needs to be quieter, or you need to block more of it out. If you can't block it out, and they won't turn down, quitting the band, or irreversible damage will be your only options.
 
Last edited:

giltgitguy

Member
Messages
509
Maybe you need to find some in-ears that are more isolating than the Shures,so that you aren't having to fight to get above the ambient volume level on stage. Custom fit in-ears are more expensive, but they do work better than off the rack ones.
 

Bradmeister

Member
Messages
1,003
Yes, you need custom molded in-ears. I actually need to add some drums into my mix because they isolate so well. I can keep the volume low, too. Too-Loud stage volume on a New Year's gig drove me to them, and they have worked great ever since. My band is fairly loud on stage, but we only have a single monitor for the drummer now.
 

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,766
I use in ears as well and my ears are doing great, even at 65 years old. I believe (and I'm not an expert) that the reason these are working for me is that I have molded in ears that reduce outside sound to almost nothing, I control my own in ear mix from an iPad and I keep the volume very low.

My mix is typically all vocals with mine about 2-3Db louder, guitars, bass and a little bit of drums, keys if we have keys.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
33,344
I mic a Fender Deluxe on 3
Something is missing in your stage description.
A Dlx on 3 is not all that loud yet you say the stage mix is loud.
You can't hear the bass on stage but the stage mix is loud?
You use in ears but the stage mix is loud?
Are there stage monitors, too?
Is anyone else having problems?
Can't this all be fixed?:confused
 

JoeB63

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,804
For the past 2 years I have been playing with very loud stage volumes 5 sometimes 6 nights a week. I use in ears, between stage volumes and my in ears, my ears are starting to feel the effects and I am going to be screwed if I don't change something soon.
I am using Shure in ears with a wireless system, I am close to the drummer so there are no drums in my mix, I have keys, bass, vocals and my own guitar in my mix, I think I have everything turned down as much as I can. The stage mix is loud and the lead singer needs it that way.

I think in order to hear my in ears even though I have my in ears turned down I am still turning up to overcompensate for the loud stage and my ears are getting blasted.

One last thing to add is it tried just putting in Foam ear plugs and they worked much better but then I had a problem just hearing the bass on the other side of the stage, Another thing happens; The keyboard and bass are on the other side of the stage and the drummer and I are together and there is actually a delay between both sides.... I used the Foam protection and my ears felt better but it was so hard to do the show.My guitar is always running through the house and I mic a Fender Deluxe on 3 so with the foam it was hard to hear my guitar too. Sucks doing a solo and not hearing your amp.

About two months ago we played a Fair with no in ears or soundcheck, I didn't have my foam earplugs and I had a ringing in my ears for days. Since then there have been a lot of other gigs that the same type of thing happened, different sound guy different systems etc.. blah blah.... I went to a ear Dr about 5 months ago and my ears were still in the normal range but I can tell I have had some serious damage in the last two months,

Other then quitting the Band, What should I do? I need real help here from my GP brothers..
I had a similar problem with in-ears. Instead, I'm using Westone molded earplugs with -15dB filters. I put everything I need to hear in my monitor, at a volume where I can hear things at a comfortable level. The -15dB plugs bring the drums down to a decent level.

Someone else here hinted at a good idea: Give your in-ears to your lead singer. If he used them, he wouldn't need a blaring monitor. Then see if you can do something to convince the drummer to play with a bit less volume. Combine that with good earplugs and you should be fine.

Speaking of blaring monitors. In my classic rock band, no one but cares about keeping stage volume in check. They all crank their monitor levels, so much so, that....

...last weekend, the band's prior guitar player showed up at the gig. I let him sit in on my rig at the start of set 3. I took over the iPad to run sound. First song.... overall volume is just a little too low, other than the bass player's vocals, which are at the right level for the venue. I tried adjusting various levels, but things weren't really getting better, as I'd expect. Then I noticed ---- THE MAINS WERE MUTED. I turned them back on, and all was fine, but the point of this story is that the bass player was generating enough volume at this monitor, that, even though it was facing backward, it was loud enough to carry the venue. That's just stupid.
 

JoeB63

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,804
Are you using molds or just regular in ears? Big difference in isolation/protection.
Most of the molded ones offer up to -26dB isolation. The Sensaphonics are -37, I believe. You can get that same level from the universal Shure models, unless you're not putting them in correctly.

The problem is that even with the ambient reduction, you're playing loud enough to hear yourself clearly over the (reduced) ambient noise, which is still likely going to be too loud at your ears.

Or so it seems to me.
 

Fulldrive-1

Member
Messages
5,822
I played in a punk band. I had 2 marshalls, dimed. Bass player had several cabinets, 2x15 and 4x12 driven by a 900 watt amplifier.

I used industrial ear plugs. I could hear fine and, more importantly, still can.
 

kimos55

Follow your dreams turst your heart
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
598
Can you talk to the guys about stage volumes?
We have tired but the powers to be lends it self to the leader of the band the singer, the stage volume always reverts to LOUD. He can't hear!


UPDATE: I changed my in ears covers to the smaller ones and they fit better so I had more isolation. My ears are still feeling funky, I can't be sure after one night.
 
Last edited:

GuitarGuy66

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,247
Ah yes. I'm guessing custom molded IEMS will be the answer. Or get the singer on some IEMS.
 

pickdropper

I am Soldering Iron Man
Vendor
Messages
7,296
All things being equal, custom molds don't actually give you any more attenuation from outside noise. In reality they often work better because people aren't getting a proper seal with the universal fit eartips. Custom molds can be more comfortable, which often makes then worth it.

Before you buy anything else: have you tried all the different tips that came with your IEMs? Usually, there's at least one set in there that will allow for a seal. At first, don't worry about comfort, just focus on getting a good, deep seal. Then see how much sound it attenuates. With a foam tip, you should get 35-40dB of isolation. If you rub your thumb and forefinger together right next to your ear and you can still hear it, you don't have a good seal.
 

Tomm Williams

Member
Messages
964
These situations can be quite difficult to resolve if half the band isn't seeing it. You are smart to take steps to protect your hearing as it won't come back.
Problem is there is only so much you can do to isolate yourself from the stage volume while still hearing what you need to hear.
If I'm reading your thread accurately, seems to me you and your band may be too far apart to figure this out.
The answer is quite simple, turn down but they won't so......
No matter what you decide, make the protection of your ears a priority. There will be other opportunities to play.
 

kimos55

Follow your dreams turst your heart
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
598
This week I changed the size of the in ears, I am getting the best isolation from the stage volume I have ever had in the past!
It is crazy that It took a year to realize I was had the wrong size ear bud in my ears. My ears will need a lot of quiet days to
recover but I am on the path to saving my hearing. Once again the GP helps point me in the right direction. Now I just need to
get another guitar, Ha ha ha ha.
 

pickdropper

I am Soldering Iron Man
Vendor
Messages
7,296
This week I changed the size of the in ears, I am getting the best isolation from the stage volume I have ever had in the past!
It is crazy that It took a year to realize I was had the wrong size ear bud in my ears. My ears will need a lot of quiet days to
recover but I am on the path to saving my hearing. Once again the GP helps point me in the right direction. Now I just need to
get another guitar, Ha ha ha ha.
Fantastic news. I'm glad you are protecting your hearing. You only get to lose it once.
 

BADHAK

Member
Messages
9,023
What size stages are you playing,and how far apart are you to cause a delay in hearing your bandmates ??
 

Teleplayer

Moder8er
Staff member
Messages
19,941
Been playing 42 years. Did my first gig around 1980 or so. Can't remember ever being in a band and not wearing solid hearing protection. Had a thorough ear test about a year ago - ENT doc and Audiologist both said I had the hearing of a 9 year old, and had better hearing than any of the doctors or audiologists at the practice.

Played in a couple excellent bands and played some nice size stages - we always managed our stage volume, and let the FOH sound system carry the volume. Even on a big stage, I rarely had a monitor in front of me. I used ear plugs (Etymotics or custom molded - sometimes heavy duty shooters head phones if we were practicing in a small space; my hearing was always most important to me) and simply was able to hear the band live - because we all controlled our volume so we could hear each other on stage.

I read threads on here about ear issues and loud stage volumes, and it makes me cringe. Could not imagine walking through 40-50 years of life with my ears ringing.
 




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