Websites, media and other sources say use ear protection if you’re in damaging high level environmental noise whether that’s mowing the lawn, going to a concert or stadium event or doing some hunting or shooting. This couldn’t be more general or vague.
It depends on if you need to hear in noise. Do you want to enjoy music clearly? Do you want to talk more easily? Do you need to hear prey, predators, or hunting partners? If yes, you need high fidelity hearing protection.
Experts now estimate at least 70 dB average noise or higher is a hearing health risk. If you think it’s too loud, it’s too loud. If you have to raise your voice to talk, it’s too loud.
Regular ear protection is fine if you don’t have to listen to anything or talk to anyone; for example, using a loud blower for yard leaves or using power tools for a woodworking project. Regular earmuffs. Foam earplugs. Cut as much noise as possible.
If you want to hear music or have conversations then regular muffs and all foam plugs only distort the sound. Nobody wants to hear distorted music, especially if you’ve paid for concert tickets or to get in to a nightclub. Nobody wants to strain to understand conversations or strain their voice loudly talking back and forth while enjoying a sports game, monster truck show, or MMA fight. Nobody wants to go out hunting and not be able to hear what they need to in their environment.
There are lots of manufacturers offering high fidelity products. They range in cost from lowest with pre-molded earplugs to highest for electronic ear protection. Products with a battery may stop working when using if the battery dies, so that is one thing to consider when choosing. For earplugs, custom musician’s type earplugs from audiologists fit well especially for people who can’t get a good fit with pre-molded earplugs. Here are some sources and reviews for different types of hearing protection:
Safety Supply Stores (good prices and good selection of high definition earmuffs/earplugs)
Hearing Health Clinic e.g. custom fit by Audiologist or hearing healthcare professional
ShootingandSafety.com Best Ear Protection For Shooting
Etymotic High Fidelity/Hi Def Hearing Protection
Sonicbids.com Best Musician’s Earplugs
Etymotic Custom Molded Musician’s Earplugs**
Earmufs.com Best Electronic Earmuffs++
HeadphonesCompared Best Electronic Earplugs**++
For more detailed musician’s hearing protection resources: www.musiciansclinics.com
Note: Active Noise Cancellation is for low to moderate not hazardous steady background noise or hum of activity e.g. travelling by airplane, transit, office noise.
Review: The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones
What happens if you don’t protect your ears while enjoying that concert or football game at the stadium? At first the damage is permanent. Frayed hearing nerve fibers. Hidden. Invisible. Painless. Maybe some temporary hearing loss for a day or two after. Maybe some temporary ringing in the ears (tinnitus). But every time you’re in noise with no ear protection, the damage keeps getting worse. Turning your high fidelity hearing sound system into a low fidelity hearing sound system with distortion, static and missing parts. Your favourite music won’t sound so good after all.
Prevent damage before it happens. Always make sure to use properly fitting hearing protection every time you need to protect your hearing. Keep your hearing system high fidelity by avoiding noise damage to hearing health and communication.