Live concerts, loud music, headbanging on the frontline. As music lovers, we have all experienced these moments (or most of them, I have never been frontline!). Even though live music makes me feel alive, I always used to face the consequences when I would get home. Trying to fall asleep with that loud ringing in my ears is a scene from one of my worst nightmares; it kept recurring until I decided to take action.
The more concerts I would attend, the louder the ringing would get. I was in a dilemma of either stop going to concerts, or not caring about my ears. However, none of them were an option.
My roommate introduced me to some new, hi-tech earplugs, which until then, I had never seen before. I used the foam ones in the past, but the sound quality was horrible. I love to hear the crisp hi-hats and trebly vocals, but with those, I could barely hear anything. My ears might have been protected, but at the cost of not hearing the music. His pair of custom-molded earplugs had a variable decibel reduction level, for any occasion. The music was crisp to his ears, and he never heard any ringing after using them.
The moment he showed me, I wanted to get my own! However, I could not afford a pair of $250+ earplugs. On the other hand, the ringing was getting worse, and it was the start of my tinnitus; a problem that still haunts me to this day.
A little background from the American Tinnitus Association, tinnitus is:
the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. While it is commonly referred to as ‘ringing in the ears,’ tinnitus can manifest many different perceptions of sound, including buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing, and clicking. In some rare cases, tinnitus patients report hearing music. Tinnitus can be both an acute (temporary) condition or a chronic (ongoing) health malady.
A cure for tinnitus has not been found, and in most cases it stays with you for life. You will get some random ringing or hearing loss for a few seconds, then it disappears. For others, it could be longer or shorter. What you should keep in mind is that you have a fixed amount of sensory cells in your cochlea, and that they deplete as you are getting older. How long do you want to be hearing your favorite tunes? I personally never want to stop listening to music, it’s my life.
Exposure to loud decibel volumes does a lot of damage, and this nifty charts breaks it down for you:
A club ranges between 103-109 dB, and as you can see even a five minute exposure to those levels can cause damage to your ears. If you want to be hearing music till you have grandkids, you might have to break the bank and buy custom ear plugs.
You are in luck though! Many companies saw this gap and started producing affordable ear plugs, so you can still buy concert tickets and protect your ears. With many choices out there though which one is the right for you?
Choosing the right pair is about what you want out of them. Many companies offer earplugs for a mere $30, but which has the best sound fidelity and enough decibel reduction to protect you? When we talk about hearing protection, the most important feature is a flat response curve across all frequencies. In simple words, you want the same dB reduction from the bass to the treble frequencies.
This graph shows the response curve of a few ear plug brands:
Some brands do not have the same dB reduction across all frequencies, especially the low ones. Bass frequencies do the most damage to our cochlea and are the most important to protect our ears from.
A good set of earplugs will protect your ears throughout the dynamic hearing range, at the same levels. A minimum of 10 dB reduction should do the job, even if you hear the music really low when you just put them on. Your brain gets used to the lower levels and it is a matter of minutes before you start enjoying the show again. However, a few more dB would ensure you can dance to your favorite acts for longer.
Earlove is one of the companies that offers a flat response across the frequency spectrum, and a minimum of 12 dB noise reduction rating. Founded in 2004 by Carolynn Travis, the company was created to bring ear protection at an affordable price to the masses. Developed along with Etymotic Research, one of the pioneer companies of insert earphones, the earplugs promise high-fidelity sound, while protecting you from tinnitus.
At a mere $24.95 for their XO model, or $20 for their classic version, Ear love is affordable to anyone. Compared to the price of custom molded earplugs, these are definitely a bang for the buck. You can check out the whole Earlove line here.
We are very lucky to offer you an opportunity to win a pair of Earlove XO, since they sent us a pair for a giveaway! Please enter your email and follow us in our social media for a chance to win a pair.