Custom Earmolds and In-Ear Monitors
Sudden or prolonged exposure to noise can cause damage to your hearing and is one of the leading causes of hearing loss. Hearing loss from prolonged noise exposure is often detected too late, meaning the hearing loss is usually irreversible.
Hearing protection is extremely important for anyone who is regularly in a high-noise environment, including target shooters, motorcyclists, pilots, musicians, construction workers and factory workers. The truth is that anyone subject to noise exposure may need to wear hearing protection to protect their long-term hearing.
The following noises are especially dangerous with repeat exposure: lawn mowers, truck engines, motorcycles, garbage trucks, chain saws, pneumatic drills, musical concerts, gun shots and jet engines, to name a few.
Though over-the-counter earplugs offer some protection, custom earmolds and earplugs offer maximum protection as well as a comfortable fit that is designed specifically for your ears. They offer more security in knowing that your ears have the best possible protection against hearing loss.
Earmolds come in a wide variety of sizes, colors and types. Some earmolds are solid, and some are soft or spongy. The most popular styles are full-shell and half-shell. Full-shell earmolds are generally for high-level noise exposure, while half-shell are for mid-level noise exposure. The type of earmold your Audiologist recommends will depend on your individual needs.
Some earmolds come with a filtered attenuator, allowing for verbal communication while still protecting hearing, which is popular with musicians and others who work in noisy environments. These types of earmolds come in both electronic and non-electronic models. Earmolds are also popular for fitting over certain earbud headphones, under pilot boom-mic headsets, and other specialty uses.
As the name implies, custom earmolds are made custom to fit the unique contour of your ear. If you cannot get a comfortable or secure fit with off-the-shelf earplugs, custom earmolds may be for you. They offer some of the best hearing protection available.
Earplugs are hearing protection that are designed to be worn in the canal only. Some earplugs are solid, while others allow for more sound to pass through. Specialized earplugs are available for musicians and medical professionals who still want the ability to hear most of their surroundings while protecting their hearing.
Specialty earplugs can be custom fit for your ear canal and are typically more comfortable than non-custom earplugs. Custom earplugs can be equipped with handles or detachable cords.
Earmolds and earplugs are not just for those who wish to protect themselves from high noise levels. Custom solutions are also available for other hobbies and activities, such as custom earplugs for swimmers, hunters or to be worn while sleeping.
Whatever your unique lifestyle, your Audiologist has custom solutions to fit your needs. Your hearing is important. Take care to protect it for today and for the future. If you work in a high-noise environment, it's important to have regular hearing appointments to check for early indications of hearing loss. Speak with your hearing specialist today about the right solution for you.
Earplugs and Monitors for Musicians
Musicians have unique needs when it comes to hearing protection. They need to protect their hearing, but they also need to be able to hear their own music clearly, as well as hear other musicians' music and voices while performing.
Conventional store-bought earplugs are great at providing hearing protection. However, they often provide too much protection for musicians, muffling speech and sound in the process. They make music and voices very unclear and unnatural to listen to. While conventional hearing protection can reduce very high frequencies, this amount of hearing protection is typically not needed for musicians.
Most musicians do not need maximum protection. What they need is mid- to low-frequency protection. This can be accomplished through earplugs that are specifically designed for musicians.
Musician's earplugs come in both custom and non-custom options. Ready-fit musician earplugs can reduce sound levels by approximately 20 dB, enough to reduce harmful sound without distorting speech or music.
These type of earplugs are deep in order to allow the earmold to seal within the bony portion of the ear canal. This deep fit reduces what is known as occlusion, a hollow or boomy sound in the musician's own voice that is sometimes experienced with lower quality earplugs. These type of deep-fit earmolds are popular with musicians because of the quality of sound they allow them to hear while practicing and performing.
Musician's earplugs are not just for musicians. They are also a popular hearing protection option for:
- Sound crews
- Recording engineers
- Band teachers
- Airline personnel
- Athletic coaches
- NFL football players
- Medical professionals
- Construction workers
- Industrial workers
- Truck drivers
In-Ear Musician Monitors
For musicians who perform for large audiences, in-ear musician monitors (IEMs) are the current standard in musician technology. They allow the musician to clearly hear the music they are making as the audience would hear it while still protecting the musician's ears from extremely loud amplification systems and audiences.
IEMs work best if they are custom molded to fit each musician's ears personally. However, there is still the option of universal fit musician monitors. Universal IEMs typically come with interchangeable foam or silicone tips to allow for a semi-custom fit.
Both earmolds and IEMs can be custom made (using a mold) to fit your unique ear shape by your hearing healthcare provider.
The ear impression that is used to make the earmold or in-ear monitor is the most important part of the process in getting a good custom fit. The quality of the ear impression material and technique directly impacts the sound quality, sound isolation, and comfort that is achieved with the earmold.
Because this part of the process is so crucial, it's important that you hire someone who is experienced and trained in making impressions for high-quality musicians earplugs. Most hearing healthcare providers are trained in this process and know the importance of a good fit.
Speak with your hearing healthcare provider about his or her experience in custom fitting patients with musician's earplugs and IEMs and about your options for high-quality occupational hearing protection.