Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

How not to go deaf for a living

There was a fair bit of coverage in the last 24 hours about that survey which claims that 51% of people listen to their MP3 players at dangerously high volume levels. The survey was published to plug Hearing Awareness Week, …

Tue, Feb 2, 2010, 15:13

   

There was a fair bit of coverage in the last 24 hours about that survey which claims that 51% of people listen to their MP3 players at dangerously high volume levels. The survey was published to plug Hearing Awareness Week, a campaign from the Irish Deaf Society in association with hearing aid company Hidden Hearing.

The headline figures from the survey, which was compiled by Red C and backed by European Union and World Health Organisation reports (though the latter report was published back in 1997), are fairly startling: one in five people are blasting their ears with sound levels of 100db or more (the equivalent of hearing a pneumatic drill 10 feet away); 11% of MP3 player users and 35% of people attending gigs and concerts say they have experienced ringing in their ears and 40% of MP3 players tested reach sound levels over 100db – listening at this volume can cause damage to your hearing after just 30 minutes.

The stat about live gig-goers stands out a mile to me. I can’t even begin to contemplate the damage which I’m inflicted on my hearing over the years (and I’m not just talking about the amount of shite bands I’ve had to endure). Without even going for a hearing test, I know that years of heavy-duty gig-going have taken their toll. For instance, I’ve now reached the stage where I don’t even try to have a conversation with someone while a band are onstage because I know I won’t be able to make out a word they’re saying. And I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

But it’s never too late to do something about it. Reading Tenacious Tim’s account of his battle with tinnitus was one of the big impetuses for me to buy ear-plugs to use at gigs. It took a bit of effort to actually (1) remember to bring them with me and (2) to actually use them, but the more I have used them, the more comfortable I have become with them. All that’s turned down is the volume: the sound quality is as clear and unmuffled (provided the soundman is doing his job right) as it would be without ear-plugs. It’s also worth noting that more and more gig-goers appear to be plugging in. Suffering because of bad music is one thing – suffering because of tinnitus or ear damage is quite another.

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