Support and determination to get accustomed to hearing protector use are important factors in hearing conservation for musicians.

Despite a high level of sound exposure and a fairly large selection of earplugs available, musicians have often been reported to use personal hearing protectors only seldom. Musicians reported that earplugs hampered listening to their own and their colleagues' playing; earplugs affected either timbre or dynamics, or both. Additionally, several reasons related to discomfort of use were itemized.

The research therefore tested subjects. With the REAT procedure, the values obtained in sound field were relatively close to the manufacturer's nominal specifications. Then, subjects were tested with Bikisy audiometry to find out whether a sweeping signal would bring detailed information on earplug attenuation. Mean attenuation was found to be somewhat closer to the nominal attenuation of the ER-9 and ER-15 earplugs up to about 1 kHz, whereas REAT measurements in sound field revealed more even attenuation at frequencies between 1 and 6 kHz.

No significant association was found between earplug attenuation properties and earplug use.


Source: Symphony orchestra musicians' use of hearing protection and attenuation of custom-made hearing protectors as measured with two different real-ear attenuation at threshold methods. Huttunen, KH,  Sivonen VP,  Poykko VT ; Noise Health. 2011 Mar-Apr; 13(51):176-88.

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