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Should I Wear Earplugs to Concerts?

Should you where ear plugs to a rock concert?Can a few hours around some loud music really damage your ears?

After all, you go to a concert to actually hear the music, right?

So, should I really wear ear plugs at a concert?

The most common cause of hearing loss is noise-induced hearing loss.

26 million Americans have noise-induced hearing loss that could have been prevented. It doesn’t take a lifetime of attending concerts or loud events to cause a hearing loss, you can damage your ears in just one event.

Normal levels of conversation are around 65 decibels loud. Concert music levels can reach between 100 and 120 decibels loud. At a level of 110 decibels, hearing loss can occur after only two minutes of exposure.

The longer you are exposed to levels that loud, the greater chance of hearing loss you have. So, if you plan on going to a 2-hour concert, you risk significant damage to your ears. Not to mention an all-day music festival.

Loud music at concerts can cause permanent hearing loss and/or tinnitus.

Hearing loss and tinnitus can cause a significant decline in overall quality of life. It can lead to reduced cognitive function, depression, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of falls.

So, the answer is “yes”. You should wear earplugs to a concert to protect your hearing. But, not just any ear plugs. Some earplugs are better than others.

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The best earplugs for a concert

When you attend a concert, you want to be able to hear the music with good quality. It is important that the ear plugs you are wearing don’t sacrifice the clear quality of the music you are there to enjoy.

That is why some earplugs are better than others when it comes to listening to music. The generic foam ear plugs that you pick up at the drug store are going to make the music softer, but also muffled. Leave those for sleeping or shooting.

When attending a concert, high fidelity music earplugs are the best. This type of earplug allows for a flat attenuation of the sound so that the music quality remains the same, just at a lower volume. This will preserve the quality of the music but make the volume within a safer listening level.

These can be purchased over-the-counter, or be custom made by a hearing healthcare professional.

Over-the-counter

These ear plugs can be purchased in a drug store or online. They are generally either one-size-fits-all or come in a few different size options. You want to look for the earplugs that say “high fidelity” or “musician plugs”. A few of our favorites include:

Etymotic High-Fidelity Ear Plugs

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

These earplugs come in two size options: Standard and large. They are reusable and provide 20dB of high-fidelity attenuation. They are great over-the-counter ear plugs to use at concerts or music events to preserve sound quality.

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

Earasers Musician Plugs

earasers-musicians-plugs-640x360

The Earaser ear plugs are made of a medical-grade silicone material and fit discreetly in the ear canal. If you don’t want anyone to know that you are wearing earplugs at the concert, then these are for you.

They are reusable and provide 19dB of high-fidelity attenuation. They come in four size options: X-small, small, medium, and large.

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

For a more complete list, check out our article on all types of ear plugs here.

Custom ear plugs

Custom ear plugs are typically made by a hearing healthcare professional after taking an impression of your ear canal. This provides a custom fit for your specific ear shape and a more reliable attenuation.

Custom musician ear plugs (sometimes called in-ear monitors) can include interchangeable filters so you choose how much volume reduction you need depending on the music environment that you are in.

Because they are custom made for your ear, they tend to be more comfortable than the over-the-counter musician plugs. Be aware that custom ear plugs can take 2-3 weeks for delivery.

In recent years, companies like Radians and Decibulz have created a custom ear plug kit. They won’t be as high quality as a pair made by a hearing healthcare professional, but they won’t be as expensive either.

Musicians of today have become smarter about protecting their hearing around music. More and more musicians and DJs are beginning to wear earplugs. Now, it’s up to the music fans to protect their ears and prevent hearing loss.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc

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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