How important is it to wear ear protection at raves?
Did you know that 64% of live event attendees don't wear ear protection at raves and festivals? The results from last year's EDM.com poll are concerning, especially knowing the dangers that come with prolonged exposure to loud music. In Western Europe and The United States, there has been reported a rapidly growing number of 13 million people that suffer from tinnitus.
We know that wearing ear protection at live music events can be annoying and uncomfortable. It can muffle the sound and decrease the intensity of the experience, the whole reason we love live music so much. But health matters more, right? At least, it should.
That being said, let's try to understand why loud music can be damaging, how important wearing ear protection at raves is, and what else you can do to minimize the chance of noise-induced hearing loss.
Understanding hearing damage
The cochlea is a hollow, spiral-shaped bone in the inner ear that plays a vital role in the sense of hearing and the process of auditory transduction. It transduces sound waves into electrical impulses that the brain interprets as individual sound frequencies.
There are small nerve cells in the cochlea with thousands of tiny little cilia attached. With age, they get worn out, leading to age-related hearing loss. But the cilia can also get damaged by loud noises or frequent and prolonged exposure to noises over 80 decibels. At outdoor stages, the sound volume is mostly about 90 to 100 decibels, while in indoor music events, the sound volume ranges between 95 and 110 (or more). Exposing yourself to this loud music for more than 4 hours poses a massive risk of hearing loss.
Unfortunately, any damage caused by loud sounds is permanent, and to this day, there hasn't been found a medical way to repair damaged cilia. The damage is also cumulative, which means that the more raves and festivals you attend, the bigger the chance of losing your hearing.
What else can you do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a few ways to prevent ear damage when you attend festivals or raves:
Move or stay far away from the loudest sound-producing source—such as loudspeakers or cannons at college stadiums—especially with children.
Limit the length of time of exposure to loud sounds.
Pay attention to signs and information flyers warning of possible loud noise and the use of hearing protection.
Bring hearing protection devices with you. Keep them in your car, pockets, or other easy-to-access places.
Having this in mind, purchasing hearing protection, such as earplugs, should definitely be on your checklist before you go to any live music event or a multi-day festival where you know that the music will be loud.
But before you freak out and buy the first pair of earplugs you see online, make sure you know what you're getting. Not every earplug is the same. Some brands focus on comfort and fit, which is very important because if they don't fit well, they probably don't protect well enough either. Some focus on better protection, and some are so incredibly designed that they are excellent at filtering the best sound, and you won't even notice wearing them. Ultimately, you don't want to wear something that will block out the first thing you attend a festival for—the music!
So, what should you get?
The options out there are endless, but these are just a few of the best ear protection devices on the market:
Fender Musician Series Ear Plugs - These are considered to be the best earplugs to keep you safe from loud volumes, even when you stand close to the stage. They are made of silicone and provide Noise reduction to 27dB. They are reusable and budget-friendly ( $10). However, they might not be the softest ones.
Vibes High Fidelity - These ones focus on reducing volume, employing special filters to fine-tune specific damaging frequencies. With their slick design made out of silicone, these earplugs are suitable for all ear sizes and almost indetectable. You would look like you are not wearing any ear protection. Their price is $23.99.
Eargrace High Fidelity Earplugs - The combination of attenuation filters ensure you hear the full musical frequency spectrum but at a reduced volume. These silicone earplugs block out high-pitched noises and come with several handy accessories like a case, a cleaning brush, and a connecting cord, so you certainly get an excellent deal for $16.99.
Flare Audio Isolate Aluminium Earplugs - Considered to be the best earplugs for concerts and festivals, these earplugs offer versatile use for the price of $22.50. They have a durable build- a small aluminum block housed within the foam, allowing them to let in a reasonable amount of detail.
Alpine MusicSafe Pro Earplugs - Marked as the best earplugs for festival use, these popular ones are made of thermoplastic, and their interchangeable filters offer different levels of noise attenuation. The $29.99 kit comes complete with a carrying case, cleaning fluid, and a cable to hold them safely together. However, the definition of the sound may get lost at times, so be mindful.
Loop Experience High Fidelity Ear Plugs - If design matters to you just as much as protection does, then these ones might be for you. These super stylish silicone earplugs offer an 18-decibel reduction in noise. They come in a variety of colors, including black, rose gold, gold, and silver. The pack contains XS, S, M, and L silicone tips to ensure a good fit, along with a keychain carrying case. Their comfortable use and great design are definitely worth the price ($35).
Etymotic Music Pro Earplugs - at $299, this is definitely the priciest option on this list. However, it's probably worth the consideration for the value they offer. These earplugs employ an electronic circuit that automatically adjusts to changing sound levels, meaning noise below a certain level passes through freely. Still, if the plugs detect a raised volume level, they spring into life. They also come with a case, a cleaning kit, and a neck cord.
No rave is more important than your hearing. So now that we know how damaging loud music can be and how vital ear protection is, we hope that we have helped you make the right choice and pursue getting your preferable kind if you haven't already.