As artists, it is absolutely essential to your performance and well being to protect your ears. It may not look so cool to have plugs sticking out, but in the long run, you will thank you past self.

How does hearing become impaired to begin with?

The cilia on your inner ear, the eardrum and ear canal can become damaged with prolonged exposure to loud noise. What’s loud? Really, anything that is over 85dB will lead to damage. Damage will make it more difficult to hear high-end frequencies, and it will work its way down to the lower ones. Let’s set context.

  • Your ipod at it’s fullest volume is around 110dB-115dB. Trucks and powertools are around 100dB.
  • A concert can hit around 120dB.
  • Motorcycle 120dB

At 125dB pain will ensue. Short-term exposure to 140dB can cause permanent damage. Loudest recommended exposure WITH hearing protection.

  • A jet engine is 140dB.
  • 12 gauge shotgun blast 165dB
  • 194dB is as loud as it gets

Often, bass players and drummers receive the most damage. Levels can get up to 120dB. Take breaks in between playing, because it isn’t just the loudness you need to worry about, it is exposure time as well.

Look into getting yourself a solid set of earplugs, whether they are custom fit, or disposable. If you frequently go to shows consider protecting your ears even if you aren’t on stage. Lastly, look into some noise cancelling headphones if you listen to an mp3 player in busy places. You’re doing damage when you turn up your volume because of the hustle and bustle going on in the streets.

If you're worried about not being able to hear everything or muddled sound, consider getting custom fit ear plugs. Common models include attenuators, which allow the passing of certain spectral frequencies. It changes from person to person and instrument to instrument.

More information at:
http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html
http://www.hearnet.com/index.shtml