Wednesday, January 23, 2008

For the discriminating ear...

In June of 2007, Mix Magazine published a great article titled Bring Down the Noise, advocating hearing protection and awareness for anyone in the audio industry. I brought that article to the readers of this blog, primarily my students and folks who can't shake loose audio idée fixe, for one simple reason: Your ears are the most important tool you have as an audio professional and damaging them is irrevocable.

I thought it was crucial for the Rec Arts students at Flashpoint to understand that so we began the program last September with a guest lecturer, Michael Santucci, president of Sensaphonics, Inc., a Chicago-based hearing conservation company that provides audiophile-quality in-ear monitoring for hundreds of high-profile musicians and protection for anyone with a few bucks to spend on a lifetime of hearing safety. Now, a new group of students have started at FP and it seems appropriate to once again bring to the fore hearing conservation.

Stand on any street corner in the Loop and you'll hear the roar of the city in which we work and live. Move from point A to point B using the city's mass transit and you're likely to encounter loudness levels exceeding accepted OSHA standards. Take a look ahead and behind and you'll see a world of iPod users, donning earbuds that can produce sound pressure levels at particularly important frequencies well beyond what would be considered safe practice. Go to a club to "hear" a show and it's almost a certainty you'll need a day or two for the ringing to stop. The list goes on. And on. What it all adds up to is a recipe for disaster if critical listening is a job requirement. And if your hearing isn't what puts food on your table, then at least consider quality of life.

The bottom line is that unlike just about every other major organ/part in your body, your hearing system comprised of the outer, middle, and inner ear does not repair itself if damaged. Ever. And very much like the things we as humans often seem to do even though it's nearly effortless to avoid them, protecting you're hearing isn't that intrusive. In fact, it's downright pleasurable to go to a show with -15dB earplugs in.

It's really pretty simple. If you need them, protect them.

Sensaphonics, Inc.
Discover what hearing loss sounds like with this online simulator:
Learn more about OSHA’s Occupational Noise Exposure Guidelines:
Get more information about tinnitus from the American Tinnitus Association:
For more about ear physiology, hygeine and safety, visit the House Ear Institute’s resource pages: