From the Outside: Protect Ya Ears
How many times do you think about your hearing when you’re at a show or festival? If you’re like me, not many—or maybe not at all. In all the months I’ve been writing this column, the issue of hearing loss hadn’t crossed my mind once until someone mentioned it to me recently as a topic worth covering.
It’s a problem most of us have been warned about so much that we tend to brush it off as a risk worth taking. Hell, I probably have some hearing loss myself by now. Apparently, one in five American teens already has hearing loss, so that doesn’t look good for adults like me at all. However, there are ways to prevent this damage, and, thanks to advances in design and technology, they don’t have to include giant earmuffs or geeky earplugs sticking out of your ears.
The latest news in ear protection is that EDMX Global EDM Guide, an app to help you catch up on the latest EDM news and connect with fellow fans, has teamed up with EarPeace, a company that makes modern fitted earplugs, to make protecting your hearing simpler than ever. And no, neither of these companies is giving me money to write this (I wish!). However, I do think what they’re doing is a really good idea. EDMX founder Scott Richmond started this partnership because of his personal experience with damaged hearing, which motivated him to help other people avoid his situation. Now you can buy EarPeace earplugs through the EDMX app, making protecting your hearing simple and convenient.
Look, I get it. Those flesh-toned earplugs your parents used to wear to drown out snoring aren’t exactly going to go with your festival outfits. And you shouldn’t have to go to tacky lengths to keep your hearing safe. But the Earpeace/EDMX option looks discreet and doesn’t affect sound quality—it just makes it quieter. (At least, that’s what they claim.) I haven’t tried them myself yet, but I’d give it a shot. They’re a bit pricier than your average earplugs (about $13 for three plugs, in case you lose one, and a carrying case), but worth adding to your concert budget. Because once your hearing starts to go, so does your ability to enjoy an artist’s live set. Plus, popping a pair of fancy-looking devices out of an aluminum case and sticking them in your ears when you’re ready to party might look kind of cool and science-fiction-y, don’t you think?
However, hearing loss doesn’t just happen at live shows. Other contributors to hearing loss include everyday activities such as listening to loud music in the car and wearing headphones. I’d never tell you to give up all those habits—driving without loud music kind of sucks! But I actually gave up headphones a long time ago, not out of concern for my hearing, but because I decided it wasn’t the way I wanted to hear music anymore. I know a lot of you headphone-lovers out there are calling me crazy right now, but hear me out.
I like my music to be a part of the world around me and something I can share with other people, not just something coming from a wire that’s plugged into my earholes. There’s a big difference between deliberately putting on a song you love or an album you haven’t heard yet, devoting your full attention to it, and just shuffling background music through your iPod while you run errands. I found that not constantly having headphones on made me more mindful and attentive when I did listen to music. Plus, I like to be able to fully hear the world around me when I’m out and about—birds singing, a song playing in a restaurant, or, you know, an oncoming car when I’m crossing the street.
I know I’m a bit weird about this, but I recommend giving it a test run. When you don’t have headphones in all the time, your relationship to music changes—at least that’s what I found. Anyone down to experiment and try quitting headphones for two weeks? Or try out those fancy earplugs and tell me what you think? Whatever approach you choose, it’s probably worth putting in a little extra effort to keep your hearing preserved for years of concerts and festivals to come.