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Should I Wear Earplugs to Concerts?

Yes. Yes you should.

Unsurprisingly, hearing loss is closely connected to the amount of noise a person is exposed to over the course of their life. 90% of hearing loss is sensorineural, which is a kind of hearing loss closely tied to sound exposure.

In fact, 26 million Americans have some form of noise-induced hearing loss that could have been prevented through easy measures. In fact, if you’re reckless enough, you can do serious damage to your hearing in just one day.

Earplugs are only one aspect of aural hygiene, however. If you’d like to know more about how to protect your ears at concerts or just throughout your daily life, then you can't go wrong by booking a free hearing consultation with a qualified specialist.

Why should I wear earplugs at concerts?

I go to concerts to hear the music! Why would I pay all that money and go all that way just to stop those sweet, sweet melodies from entering my ear canals?

Well, if you don’t protect your ears now, you might not get to enjoy any sweet, sweet melodies further into your life. And not just music – you might not be able to fully hear speech, birdsong, or many other kinds of sound that you like.

Loud concert

How does this happen? How can a few nights of audio indulgence lead to permanent damage? Let’s look at the facts.

As you may know, sound is measured in decibels (dB). What you may not know is that the decibel scale is logarithmic. This means that 100 dB is drastically louder than 80 dB, whereas 40 dB is only slightly louder than 20 dB.

Now, keep this logarithmic scale in mind as we go over the following information.

A normal conversation reaches dB levels of around 65. Damage can be inflicted upon the ears from sound levels as low as 85 dB. So when we tell you that most concerts are constantly clocked at between 100 and 120 dB, that should raise alarm bells in your head. (Hopefully these alarm bells are below 85 dB.)

Some concerts have gone even beyond 120 dB, with the Guinness Book of World Records recording a 136 dB performance from Kiss in 2009. The reason that this record is from ten years ago is that Guinness has stopped accepting records related to the loudest performance, so as not to promote practices that could damage people’s ears.

Some concerts are the definition of deafening, and you can see how it’s entirely possible to irreparably damage your hearing by not taking proper care. And remember – hearing damage is irreversible, so it always adds up over time.

I can’t enjoy concerts without being covered in music!

Despite what we’ve said, you might be staunch in your opinion that concerts need to be au natural to be enjoyed. Well, maybe a 2014 study in The Hearing Journal can change your mind.

Special earplugs were given to various people attending a concert, and feedback was collected afterwards. It was shown that most participants adapted quickly, as the ease of use and comfort from wearing the earplugs improved.

The majority of the participants also agreed that they could “enjoy the music” with the earplugs in, and actually preferred the volume of the music.

Outdoor concert

With the only negative being communication with other concert-goers (which can be easily offset with the use of cell phones), this is a clear win for earplugs. So next time you’re at a concert, bring some earplugs along and try them out!

With that said, let’s move on ear plugs themselves.

Best earplugs for concerts

You’ve no doubt seen the free earplugs you get at concerts or other events – they’re a distasteful flesh color, they always come loose, and they just barely do the job for one night before they lose their form and become pretty much worthless.

Which is fine, since they’re free, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But if you want to take the utmost care of your precious ears, then you might want some high fidelity ear plugs, also known as “musician plugs.”

Here are some great places to start:

Etymotic High-Fidelity Ear Plugs

etyomotic-research-er20xs-high-fidelity-ear-plugs-640x360

These come in two size options: standard and large. These reusable guys are great over-the-counter ear plugs to use at concerts or music events to preserve sound quality.

They also come with a carrying case, as well as a cord (in case you want to take them in and out and hang them around your neck like glasses.)

Earasers Musician Plugs

earasers-musicians-plugs-640x360

The Earasers are made of a medical-grade silicone material, and fit snugly in the ear canal. If you want to protect your ears at a concert while also giving off the vibes that you’re an uncaring rocker, then you should be springing for these.

They are reusable and come in four size options: extra-small, small, medium, and large.

Here are some other examples of ear plugs we like:

6 more over the counter ear plugs for concerts

RankPictureNameTypeNoise Reduction Rating (NRR)
1Etymotic Research ER20 ETY-Plugs Hearing Protection EarplugsReusable12dB
2Etymotic Research ER125-MP9-15-BN MusicPRO High-Fidelity Electronic Musicians EarplugsElectronic9-15dB
3DownBeats Reusable High Fidelity Hearing Protection Ear PlugsReusable18dB
4LiveMus!c HearSafe Ear PlugsReusable23-29dB
5Earasers Musicians PlugsReusable19dB
6DUBS Acoustic Filters Advanced Tech EarplugsElectronic12-24dB

Custom earplugs

Custom ear plugs are made by a hearing healthcare professional after taking a silicone impression of your ear canal. This provides a custom fit for your specific ear shape.

Since they’re made from intimate molds of your ear canal, they tend to be more comfortable than over-the-counter musician plugs. But you should know that custom ear plugs can take 2-3 weeks to produce, so you shouldn’t look into getting some the day before the concert.

Overall

All this to say: yes, you should wear earplugs to concerts. You’ll still be able to enjoy the music – maybe even more so with the knowledge that you’re being a responsible listener!

Remember – if you want or need additional advice on how to protect your ears at concerts or in other loud environments, a free hearing consultation is a good place to start. If you fill out our form via this link, you’ll be able to arrange a free consultation with a hearing specialist to discuss your aural safety options.

Lindsey Banks

Audiologist

Lindsey Banks is a graduate of the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at the University of Florida. She uses her diverse experience in hearing healthcare and her passion for helping people to provide credible information to those with hearing loss who visit Everyday Hearing.

Comments

  1. Jeff says:

    Can you die from this much noise

    1. Jack says:

      No, it has been calculated you need 194 decibels to die, however 136DB (which has been achieved in concerts) will do alot of damage to you, and your ears.

  2. Wow, I honestly never heard of wearing ear plugs to concerts, but I guess that makes sense. I’ll have to check out my local drug store before going to my next concert, thanks!

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