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How do I determine if my inears are damaging my hearing?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Head
 

Question How do I determine if my inears are damaging my hearing?

I've been using a Behringer MicroMON MA400 and ZST Pro Dynamic Hybrid Dual Driver in-Ears, a combo I can very highly recommend. I use these for guitar and vocals, it lets me hear everything perfectly in a live setting, and only has a $43 price tag. (The shure se215s are absolute garbage, I had issues with one side cutting out with three different units, and two of my bandmates had the same issue, luckily we all got our money back)

I couldn't seem to find a spec for the db isolation level, but they sound basically like normal earplugs when they are in place and I have no signal going into them.

My one concern: I do have to really crank the MA400.

I'm wondering if I'm damaging my hearing with every show I play.

I own an inexpensive db meter. I was thinking perhaps I could take some measurements.

What is the right way to do this? Measure the sound coming from the earbuds at, say, 1 inch, 2 inches, and 6 inches, then somehow extrapolate to the db level that is present in my ear canals?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foul_owl View Post
I've been using a Behringer MicroMON MA400 and ZST Pro Dynamic Hybrid Dual Driver in-Ears, a combo I can very highly recommend. I use these for guitar and vocals, it lets me hear everything perfectly in a live setting, and only has a $43 price tag. (The shure se215s are absolute garbage, I had issues with one side cutting out with three different units, and two of my bandmates had the same issue, luckily we all got our money back)

I couldn't seem to find a spec for the db isolation level, but they sound basically like normal earplugs when they are in place and I have no signal going into them.

My one concern: I do have to really crank the MA400.

I'm wondering if I'm damaging my hearing with every show I play.

I own an inexpensive db meter. I was thinking perhaps I could take some measurements.

What is the right way to do this? Measure the sound coming from the earbuds at, say, 1 inch, 2 inches, and 6 inches, then somehow extrapolate to the db level that is present in my ear canals?
There are two parts to this; the output, which you have highlighted, and the input, which can remain a problem even when you think you have addressed the main issue.

What are you feeding into the h/p amp? Is it from an aux send? Is there any kind of limiting available? Is the dynamic range (quiet to loud) very wide? When you say guitar, do you mean acoustic or electric? Acoustic can involve some serious transients, particularly if piezo equipped and not carefully EQ'd.

I can probably provide more questions than answers at the minute, perhaps others will be more directive.

Can't help with the measurement question but your approach sounds a bit hit and miss.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 

I don't know anything about the particular system you're using, but if you are having discomfort and/or serious concern, (which apparently you do) I strongly suggest you stop using the system immediately until you know for sure that you're not causing damage. Do not take risks with your hearing as damage can sometimes be catastrophic and permanent...go see an ENT specialist or audiologist who can probably offer better advise than you can get here.

It requires expensive, specialist equipment to accurately measure the SPL output from IEMs, some audiologist may have the specialist equipment required to accurately measure the SPL from IEMs. Note: generic ear buds generally offer less isolation, less bass response and require more level than custom earbuds.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
Two factors to be aware of OP: peak levels and duration/length of time of exposure. A variable is the quality of the monitoring: is it fatiguing/distorted? Is there a safety limiter? Does the device fit into the ear correctly?

I recently visited an audiologist for a hearing check and it's a pretty straightforward and quick procedure involving listening tests through headphones. It's good to get an all-clear and have a plan to protect hearing for life using technology and good work practice.

Currently I'm reviewing 3 products from Earproof who specialise in passive earplugs and also custom active earplugs: the Rockit review is published, and soon to follow: the Concert 15dB, and the PRO 15dB.
These passive ear protection plugs are different from what you use but the reviews themselves may have some extra info about the ear, audition and ear health that's relevant to you.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
The OP didn’t say he had discomfort, he seemed to be concerned about the knob positions on his equipment. I saw the issue as “I’m turning the knob up a whole lot. Is there a reason to be concerned about that?”
I’m not a guitarist, but I do some live recording and live sound work. In most live band rehearsals and performances without in-ears, the C-weighted SPL level at the performer’s position is often in excess of 120db. And these are not “stacks-o-Marshalls” loud bands. In-ears allow much lower levels to be clear and loud-sounding to the musicians. The musicians I’ve worked with say they have no ear fatigue or ringing from making the switch. If each musician gets an individual mix, or if they can all agree on a common mix, everyone gets happy very quickly.
Two caveats: 1. You CAN turn in-ears up to damaging levels if you are stupid or deaf enough to think that is a good idea. 2. If you cause feedback in the in-ears, you can do significant damage before you can disconnect the in-ears, so you have to have a setup that does not tend to have issues with feedback.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 

We don't need to have discomfort to damage our hearing, and getting our ears checked by an ENT specialist or audiologist never hurt anybody. The sensible thing to do is check with a specialist before there is a problem.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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i'd be seriously concerned using any gear from a manufacturer that does not even publish complete specs so you cannot know whether you have a proper gain/level structure between your equipment! then you say you have to crank the headphone amp (and earpieces cutting out you previously used)... - scary!
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