What is your hearing worth? I mean, if you had to place a value on one of your senses could you? Hearing is something that most of us take for granted. It is something we also often abuse and push to the limits. Just how loud was that last concert you attended? How about the siren from the ambulance that just passed you? Maybe constant traffic sound, or the jets at the local airport. Our ears can only endure so much. The longer the exposure to loud sounds, the more potential long-term damage you are facing. BTW, that concert you loved last night…easily in excess of 100db. That’s well within the damage zone.
So why is there a story about hearing protections on Christian Concert Photos? Well, frankly because it is a very important part of what we do. At every concert we shoot, we use hearing protection. Why? Because once the hearing is damaged it just doesn’t come back! The choice at CCP is the ETY-plug from Etymotic Research. While you may not have heard about this company, these are the people who invented the in-ear earphones in 1984. Etymotic Research, Inc. is an engineering-driven research, development and manufacturing company. The name “Etymotic” (pronounced “et-im-oh-tik.”) means “true to the ear.” Mead Killion, Ph.D. founded Etymotic Research in 1983 to design products that accurately assess hearing, improve the lives of those with hearing loss, protect hearing, and enhance the listening experience of musicians and music lovers everywhere. The company provides a wide range of hearing protection solutions along with an outstanding selection of earphones and headsets to meet the most demanding uses.
So, back to the hearing protection. Those of you that know me, know that I have a technical background. That can be a good thing or it can be a fault in certain situations. For the following, I will do my best to keep it as non-technical as possible. Bottom line here is that it would be my desire for you to understand some of the key choices and make an informed decision. The one thing that bothers me the most about most earplugs is that they just plug the sound. Foam or other plug types will completely deaden certain frequencies, and pass through others.
The end result with that approach is that everything becomes “muddy” sounding. You can’t hold a conversation, you can’t really hear what is going on around you. If someone wanted to talk while wearing most earplugs you just have to pull one out or off of your ear to hear what they are saying. In certain situations this might be okay, but in a musical application, it just makes no sense. I love music. I love music with clarity. Today’s modern sound systems at events allow a higher quality of music than ever before. As a listener I want to enjoy that music to the fullest. The answer then becomes a sound attenuation. Rather than shove some foam or cotton into my ears to kill the sound, lets reduce the sound while maintaining the fidelity. While it still may remain loud and worth your monitoring, knocking 20db off the soundlevel has a huge impact.
ETY plugs do just that; reduce the sound entering the ear canal without changing sound quality. You hear things exactly the same way as without protection, only quieter. The benefit here is reduced exposure to damaging levels of sound. The plugs are also reusable and available in two different sizes. Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to use these plugs many times and I do not hesitate recommending them! No longer do I finish shooting a show with my ears ringing, or needing time to adjust back to normal levels. I can hold a conversation with someone in the pit and actually hear what they are saying. I have no doubt that after far too many years of very loud concerts, airshows, flight decks, etc. my ears are relieved. I’ve stopped subjecting them to unnecessary damage. Lets face it…none of us are getting any younger and the damage we have been doing to our hearing will catch up. Use protection now so you can hear later!
Check out Etymotic Research for more complete information including the location of a dealer near you! You won’t regret the small investment in protection. While you are there, be sure to check out the complete line of hearing protection. You will find models for musicians, outdoor sports, kids and more! Be sure to also monitor this site for future Ety information. I’ve had a chance to use their fantastic Bluetooth headset, and also hope to try some of their world-class earphones.