Buyers Guide: How do I Choose the Right Hearing Protection?
If you asked a musician or fervent music-lover what they'd prefer to lose, their sight or their hearing, they'd probably say sight. If you love your ears, you need to take care of them while on stage, in a venue, or at a festival. Exposing your ears to loud music and high decibels in particular can cause permanent damage to your ears. So be prepared with hearing protection!
The most affordable and quickest form of hearing protection are foam ear plugs. These are made of yellow or orange soft, malleable foam, and are available in various colours by different brands. You insert them by squeezing and then twisting them into your ear canal. The foam then slowly expands, filling the contours of your inner ear perfectly. These are a fast, cheap solution if you work in a noisy environment or find yourself too close to the PA at a loud concert. Foam plugs are not designed to be re-used. What's more, they mute the same amount at every frequency, so the music is just inaudible and muffled. If you're a regular festival goer, it's probably a good idea to invest in better hearing protection that doesn't have a negative influence on the music itself.
Ear plugs are more expensive, but offer many benefits as opposed to foam plugs. They're usually made of a soft rubber-like material and are cone-shaped. When inserted, the material also expands to fit the contours of your ear perfectly just like foam plugs, but because ear plugs are so small, they close off your ear canal thoroughly, and the sound is filtered through them. As a result, your ears will be much better protected from damage than with foam plugs. More importantly though, ear plugs offer a different amount of attenuation for each frequency, so the music will sound better as well. By dampening the bass, mid, and high frequencies in different amounts, the music sounds exactly the same. You can even hold a conversation without raising your voice while wearing in-ears. Another advantage is that they're re-usable, so you can clean them with water and use them again and again.
Ear plugs are often equipped with filters. The silicone closes off the ear completely, but leaves a small canal open to allows sound to come through. This is where a filter is placed. The specific properties of the filter have an impact on the sound reproduction. Some ear plugs have interchangeable filters, so you can choose which level you want to filter depending on your own preferences, or the type of event you're attending.
Ear plugs expand to fill the inner contours of your ears, but you can also have them custom made. These prevent any rogue sounds from slipping through and causing damage to your ears, and they also offer the best possible fit, particularly for those who wear them for extended periods of time.
If you want your ears completely closed off, a set of ear muffs is a good alternative. These are often used on construction sites where people work with noisy machinery. Ear muffs have lined ear pads and a headband, and look just like over-ear headphones. Wearing ear muffs means you won't need to stick anything in your ears, but at the same time, they're not as subtle-looking.
Children's ears are much more sensitive than those of adults, which means they are more susceptible to hearing damage as well. Here at Bax, we carry hearing protection that's especially designed for kids. There are ear plugs that are designed specifically to fit smaller ear canals, as well as ear muffs for kids and even babies. The headbands of these ear muffs are made to fit smaller heads and are usually adjustable, so they can be used for years. These ear muffs are often implemented in busy classrooms for children who have trouble concentrating.
Hearing damage occurs as a result of exposure to a noise level above 80 dB for an extended period of time. The sound of machinery or a cheering audience, as well as an acoustic instrument are all capable of exceeding this amount. At a concert or festival, this level can quickly exceed 110 dB, which is where hearing damage starts to become a real danger. What is the best possible protection? The hearing protection products above all offer a minimum of 20 dB dampening, which is enough to prevent acute damage. We also carry products that offer a higher level of attenuation, the exact amount is listed in the specifications. When, where, and how often you want to use hearing protection is up to you.