Live performance

For people doing live shows, and I guess it would apply to DJs too, how do you protect your hearing?

Every time I am in a club or listening to a loud system I have fairly nice earplugs I bought. If you are performing though, and it is necessary to get an uncolored sound to do EQ work, how do you keep from getting ear damage? I know there are expensive earplugs you can get molded to your ear that reduce sound evenly across most frequencies, but I'm skeptical that many people actually have or use these.

Do you just accept that getting permanent ear damage with each gig is part of the job? I'm particularly interested in people producing music and doing live shows, and how this then effects them when they are back in the studio.
 

norty303

Member (Todger)
I've not got them yet but i'm intending to get some acoustic plugs with filters. They're much cheaper from the states and you can get the moulds made here and post them over. I think they're tax exempt as they're protective equipment.

I'm a lot more conscious of extreme sound levels now than i used to be and also aware of which ones cause the most damage and discomfort. I tend to be around high levels for a long time so the plugs are almost a necessity. I also ride a motorbike so get exposed to sustained high levels through that. A friend has just been diagnosed with quite high hearing loss due to work (panel beating) and play (parties) and it's brought it all home for me
 

soliptic

whirling mathematician
Live performance eh?

Well. Since I started doing paid gigging on a weekly basis at 14 its fair to say I've abused my ears massively in this fashion :Grin:

If you are performing though, and it is necessary to get an uncolored sound to do EQ work

Hmm. Well, see, for me, its just not, and it never has been. In a band context I really couldnt give a flying fuck what the EQ is doing, thats the engineers job! I suppose in a live psytrance PA I might be a bit more concerned for clarity of monitoring in that regard, but at the end of the day, the average monitor setup in a venue is very, very far from flat or uncoloured anyway!

Besides - if it was an electronic PA I'd be monitoring with headphones via my own mixer. And even if you add a mics for live instruments into the equation, i still say you shouldnt really be eqing them from on stage, thats a FOH job... So.... the more I think about it, the more I have difficulty justifying this as an issue.

Do you just accept that getting permanent ear damage with each gig is part of the job?

Sort of. I dont have tinnitus, but I do have "flashes" of it, where it kicks in randomly and then fades off after an indeterminate length of time. I know everybody gets these , but trust me..... I get them lots. I've literally watched them grow in regularity over the last decade, its a plainly observable pattern. So in that sense I suppose I accept it as a kind of unavoidable "collateral damage" of the profession, yes.

On the other hand, as it has got to this stage, I dont want to let it get any worse. I'm very careful with my earplugs these days.... I dont think it HAS to be the case you get "permanent damage" with each and every gig. It just was for me because I took 6 or 7 years to wake up to the situation. If you're responsible from the outset I think you could reduce the effects to an insignificant level.

how do you keep from getting ear damage? I know there are expensive earplugs you can get molded to your ear that reduce sound evenly across most frequencies, but I'm skeptical that many people actually have or use these.

Well, I dont. Altho two of my bandmates do (one of whom got them because he has developed full blown permament tinnitus).

I just use the 2 quid foam jobbies from Boots. It takes out the pain and thats enough for me!

These days I dont use em performing. I use em practicising, soundchecking, djing and also religiously just when going out as a punter. Honestly, once you get used to it, you cannot understand HOW (or why) anybody can ever go to clubs/raves/parties without earplugs. When I take em out momentarily , it seems 90% of sound systems' high end is all overdriven and just a screaming wail of hideous distorted white noise pain. I put em back in with great relief and look around and just think "how on earth are you people bearing THAT?"

I'm particularly interested in people producing music and doing live shows, and how this then effects them when they are back in the studio.

Well, its almost unheard of that I'm back in the studio the next day, because most gigs are sufficiently far from home to be an overnight affair.

Plus, I'm always wrecked up and in no state (mentally) for studio work, so my ears are a moot point.

If I ever do get a chance to fire up the sequencer the day after a gig, I usually find I simply cant trust my ears. If they dont really hurt / havent been ringing too much etc I might keep the volume low and concentrate on structuring or some such task that doesnt need precise critical hearing. Most times I just think "whoah, this isnt happening" and write it off.

Day after that is usually fine tho
 

soliptic

whirling mathematician
Oh , and one more small thing.

Every single time the stage is a horrible mess, we just ask for the ENTIRE monitor mix to go DOWN on ALL wedges, and usually everything is better straightaway.

And by that I dont mean better as in less-bad-for-your-ears (which it obviously is) -- i mean better as in better-at-its-job! You can usually hear everything a lot more clearly, and obviously feedback is reduced as well.

At the end of the day , there is just no doubt about it: quiet monitoring rocks.
 

saxopholus

Junior Members
Cotton wool seems to do the job for me. Problem I get with earplugs and playing the sax is that when u play u hear ur skull resonating, or whatever it is, but it feels like that. Anyway this is a little off-putting so cotton wool certainly takes the edge of the high frequencies (try with and without to test), i can hear what I am playing well enough, better than earplugs, and is cheap as u like.

I think the expensive ones are meant to be rather good at giving u a full range of frequencies, so I'm told by the 2 Soliptic mentioned.
 

norty303

Member (Todger)
One of the things i've always been fussy about is monitors - it really shocks me what some DJ's put up with in terms of sound quality and volume.

For example, i was at the SE1 in the main room, on the mezanine for about 6 hours one gig and had to ask the sound tech to turn the monitors down as my hearing was just not dealing with it and i was stuck there working. The EQ was terrible, far too much upper mid and treble and i was quite a way from them. I spoke to one of the DJ's just coming off, and asked if he thought they were too loud and he said 'Yeah, WAY too loud, really painful'.

What amazed me was that not one DJ through the night asked for anything to be done about it. I think clear, COMFORTABLE monitors are a necessity, not too loud and must have an EQ to tweak how they sound. A flat response in a club doesn't work, in fact i find EQ'ing monitors for DJ's especially tends to be quite extreme, depending on the kit used. A nice hump around the kick but roll off the bass low down as it'll never cut through the FoH, and take out a load around 6k to tame the hats, i personally find it's these and some of the cymbals that kill, especially in a nearfield environment where you'll have 500w of monitor within 3 or 4 feet, thats gonna be around 100w of pure top end of 3k and up. Try that in isolation to get a feel for how it sounds, it's horrible
 

seuss

Junior Members
i have a quiet ringing in both ears all the time.

it's not much really - lots of people have it worse - but i am getting a set of proper plugs made.

the boots foam ones are what i've been using for the past few months... and yes, they do make a difference; although they cut out so much that using them when DJing is difficult; that's why i'm going for the ER moulded plugs, which are designed for musicians.

saxopholus - cottonwool, i'm afraid, does little to cut out damaging frequencies :Sad:
 

seuss

Junior Members
hey andrew,

i've been wondering whether to go for the ER-15s or 25s... apparently you can change the filters, but i was wondering whether the 15s are ok for DJing use?

cheers!

-seuss-
 

andrew

open your mind
15s are good... that's plenty to block out a over zealous rig... 25's are for heavy rock drummers etc!!!!

For monitoring/djing, it doesn't really make much difference. You have to have the foldback or front of house(the tune that's playing) at a certain level to hear it so u can beatmatch. If you put your earplugs in you only have to turn the foldback up!...

Their best usage is for dancing I find.. I like to dance, with the earplugs i can be at the front of the party and not worry about my ears..

Andrew
 
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