Should I take care of my ears?

Every time I say I’m a music photographer the next few questions are about gear. What type of lens do you use and stuff like that, but when I’ve been asked about what is the most important item on my bag I always say the earplugs. This answer creates a little bit of confusion but I swear it’s the truth. Maybe they are expecting me to start talking about a release of a camera or a new app that nobody knows yet and is gonna be a game changer, but nothing but earplugs. Well, you asked and I answered!

Download festival Sydney.

As a music photographer I love music, I like listening music all the time, and of course, having a healthy ears is a huge part of that. When I started taking photos with my favourite hardcore bands I clearly remember coming back home hearing a ringing sound that was really annoying, even the next morning after the show. I learned this really annoying sound means something, it’s not only something that drives you crazy! After reading a few articles and asking an specialist -because at that time we didn’t have Internet- what I found if I was to continue to attend shows, I needed to take care of my ears.

I’m not gonna lie, the beginning wasn’t easy. The earplugs market was extremely small and expensive (if you were looking for quality). Basically I found three options. The foam earplugs (designed more for sleep and stuff like that) the custom earplugs, although good quality expensive as hell and then something in between which in the end were really just something really similar tothe foam ones but more expensive.

Of course I tried them all and finally I stuck with the custom earplugs, until recently, but I’ll tell you about that in a sec. If this wasn’t enough I had to deal with my friends comments because apparently I was over acting using earplugs in punk, metal or hardcore shows, I stuck to my guns and and didn’t pay attention to anybody’s opinions – my gut was telling me to take care of myself. I haven’t regretted that decision after more than 20 years attending live music shows.

High Tension

Without being too technical the consequence of not wearing hearing protection is not only loss of hearing (if that’s not important enough for you) but damaging your ears resulting in tinnitus.Described as ringing, buzzing or a combinations of sounds, this could be a symptom of hearing damage. If it’s something that happens accidentally -and not quite often- you probably will recover the next day. I’m not saying is not important but is something everybody has experienced every now and then. But if you are someone where “high volume” is part of your life as a fan or as a part of your job that’s something completely different because the continue high volume exposure is damaging your ears and this damage is permanent. The bad news is that there is no medical cure for sensorineural hearing loss due to noise damage. So should we have fear of the high volume? Absolutely NOT. Should we take care of our ears? Absolutely YES.

A few months ago, due to this COVID-19 situation I started to miss live music so much. I was cleaning my equipment, and then I saw my earplugs. Yeah, the custom ones I’ve been using for the last years.With the custom earplugs they create a silicone mould of your ear canal and with that mould they finish the earplug with a small filters. Then you can expect a perfect fit and a good sound quality a few frequencies lower than the actual volume. And for me that’s the biggest problem. No matter where you are located you’ll always have a lower version of the volume available at that moment, but you don’t have any chance to interact. I guess you are wondering why I’m saying this?

Rise Against.

As a photographer, or even as a fan I’m not always in the same spot. Sometimes I’m in the photo pit (extra high volume), sometimes front line (high volume as well) but sometimes I’m in the middle of the crowd or sometimes I’m at the back. Do you follow me? So with my custom earplugs I feel that sometimes the protection is alright but sometimes is too much and I end up taking off my earplugs in order to fully enjoy the show. Ans this on and off situation is a little bit annoying.

As I said I started to think… well, let’s be honest! I started to overthink about live music, shows, festivals etc etc because I miss it so much, and I realised I hadn’t dug into the earplugs world for the last years and it’s not a secret that it’s changing drastically. With more free time in my hands as usual I started to have a look. I knew what I was looking for; something with better sound quality and if it was possible, having the chance to control the volume in order to enjoy the sound no matter where I’m located in the venue or festival. After an intensive search, reviews, specifications I found a possible winner.

Even though I found all the info on their website I flicked them an email with a few more questions. A few hours later I had the reply in my inbox. A few emails back and ford and the next thing was a package from USA in my hands with the Eargasm Slide Earplugs. 

Steel Panther.

At this point you should be thinking I’m another guy trying to convince you to buy something. Not at all! The idea of this is to share what I’m doing and trying to help you out because I remember when I started, and I’d have loved to read something like this back then.

The reasons because I’ve decided to leave my custom earplugs on my drawer and start working with Eargasm are:

1/ I can finally control the volume moving the slider to one or two settings.
2/ These earplugs come with three different sizes and colours of eartips that provides a perfect fit because we are all different.
3/ And then, this is not crucial but it says something about the people who’s working behind, the earplugs have a little magnet that keeps the earplugs together when you are not using them, plus a connector cord (if you want to use it)
4/ And last but not least a small aluminium keychain earring case with a waterproof rubber seal that keeps your earplugs free of dust, moisture or any liquid can be dropped over you in a show -you know what I mean!

The only fear I had was the size of the actual earplugs, I didn’t want something too chunky on my ear but it turns out the size is quite small, not too big and not too small so the earplugs are easy to put in my ears.

Thanks for your time if you’ve read the article, I hope this help you out to make a decision to find the right earplugs for you. See you in the photo pit!



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