Musicians, and those who work closely with them, are very specialized listeners. Unfortunately, what musicians love to do, play music (often loudly), can permanently cause ear damage.
Music-Induced Hearing Disorders (MIHD) are a series of symptoms that result from prolonged loud noise exposure. They are also known as Noise-Induced Hearing Disorders. What this means for musicians, sound engineers, and audiophiles is much more than just hearing loss.
Loud noise exposure, even musical exposure, causes issues such as tinnitus (constant ringing/buzzing in the ears), hyperacusis (hypersensitivity to sounds), diplacusis (hearing the same tone differently in both ears), and of course hearing loss. Beyond all this, though, is the loss of hearing clarity and preciseness – pitch perception is dependent on a properly working hearing system, which is easily damaged with loud sound.
So what do we do about it? At Audiology Associates, we strongly believe that all musicians should have regular hearing exams. We have a specific protocol just for our musician patients. We also specialize in the products that help musicians listen, and practice their craft, for a lifetime – from custom musician plugs to in-ear monitors, our expert providers can help you decide which products will work best for you.
Need Custom Hearing Protection?
Audiology Associates offers a wide range of custom hearing protection, from solid earplugs for industrial settings, to headphones meant to block out background sound while on a motorcycle. We do it all!
Let us explain the process. It’s easy.
1) Make an appointment
When you make your appointment for custom hearing protection, you may be asked if you’ve ever had a hearing test. This is important, because we want you to take charge of your hearing health, and be aware of what you’re protecting. You can opt out of a hearing test, but our audiologists strongly recommend a baseline exam.
Make sure you tell us why you’re seeking custom products. Are you a musician? Perhaps you are a hunter. Just need plugs to keep the snorer in your life at bay? No problem, but the more we know up front what it is you need, the more research we do to educate you on your options.
2) Come in for impressions
Your appointment will be to make impressions of your ears. We put a small foam or cotton block in your ear canal and fill the remainder with a soft silicone. After about five minutes, the material will harden and we’ll have a perfect mold of your ear. Viola!
When we take an impression of your ear, the process is relatively quick, but may take up to an hour if we are including a comprehensive hearing exam.
When you come in for any specialty hearing protection as a musician, you will probably asked to bring in your mouthpiece if you play an instrument, or make the faces you might make when you rock out.
Here’s the nitty-gritty. Custom products are paid for at the time of the impression because devices are fit specifically to you; they cannot be returned to the manufacturer, as they cannot be remade for someone else. Cost varies based upon what you intend to order; we can make several devices from one set of impressions, but make sure you discuss what you’re looking for with the audiologist for an accurate quote.
- Most custom products have a warranty that accounts for things like how well it fits; if your custom device doesn’t feel quite right, it can be remade or altered within the warranty period at no extra cost.
You’ll make another appointment just to come in and make sure things fit, that you can tell the left from the right, and take care of things correctly. Some devices are more complicated than others; solid plugs have a very short fitting time, while custom headphones may have more intricate procedures for cleaning and care. Your audiologist will teach you all you need to know so you can listen safely for a lifetime with your custom product!