Earplugs for Gigs

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andypandyp Frets: 159
Hi folks.

Maybe a bit of an odd request, but I've found myself with mild tinnitus in my left ear that seems to have gotten progressively worse over the past year or so. It initially happened after a Mogwai gig a few years ago that was insanely loud but things recovered ok after a couple of weeks, but a spate of gigs close together in 2016 seems to have sent it over the edge so now I have the mild kind of "whooshing" noise when the ambient noise is absolutely silent. It's not really bothering me but I don't want it to get any worse and still really want to go out and see bands. So I'm thinking it's earplug time. :(

I'm looking for some cheap-ish gig friendly earplugs and was hoping someone here may be a sound engineer or musician who could offer some advice. I've used earplugs on motorbikes for 18 years but they are pretty crude and even trying my custom fitted bike ones at a gig didn't work very well - it muffled everything and it basically sounded crap. I've had a look around online but it's hard to tell what's what. A mate has some he got from amazon for something like £15 and reckons they're fine, I've also got a heap of disposable foam ones already... these may be all I need but any advice would help. I just want to reduce the dB level but still be able to hear what they're playing properly. Is this a can't have your cake and eat it job?

Cheers.

Andy
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  • not_the_djnot_the_dj Frets: 5069
    edited April 1
    The ER-20 are good "one size fits all". I used those before getting custom moulds. Miles better than the industrial foam plugs. 
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  • andypandyp Frets: 159
    Thanks man, I'll check those out. Cheers!
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  • GassageGassage Frets: 18582
    I'm off to see Lady Gaga in October so I'll probably get some of these.

    Donald Trump has spoken movingly about 7-Eleven. It reminded him, he said, of the way Americans came together in 1941 after Pearl Necklace.

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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 16243
    The ER-20 are good "one size fits all". I used those before getting custom moulds. Miles better than the industrial foam plugs. 
    I couldn't use ER20's because the fit is for an ear canal size that is smaller than mine.
    I've gone back to foam plugs for drumming- the moulded ones block out too much of the band and I can't hear what they are doing.
    Hopefully we are going to all more to IEM's soon.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6050
    ER20s are decent for the money.

    Always wear earplugs at rock band gigs. Almost every gig is loud enough to need them. 
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  • VimFuegoVimFuego Frets: 4446
    I use an ER 20 in my left ear for fiddle practise which seems OK to me, I don't notice any loss in tone per se, or have any trouble with intonation (well, I do but I can hear when I'm out of tune). I'm an old folky, we don't got to loud gigs so not tried em at a gig.

    I'm not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me.

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  • not_the_djnot_the_dj Frets: 5069
    ACS also do some called Pacato which come with a couple of different sized rubber moulds. I bought some as a back-up to keep in my gig bag just incase i forget my mounded ones (as i use those at gigs I go to not just the ones I play). 
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  • andypandyp Frets: 159
    edited April 1
    Really useful guys, thanks. The ER-20 are £12 on Amazon so I think I'll get some. Maybe I'm getting old at 37, but the last few gigs I've been at have been just that bit too loud. Especially Mercury Rev (who I'm not really a huge fan of but fancied seeing them)... they were insanely loud. So much so that I couldn't hear anything they were doing. Seemed all wrong to me as it's kind of ambient style music.

    I decided I better do something now, so the options were quit going to gigs or get earplugs.
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  • CarpeDiemCarpeDiem Frets: 63
    I bought some ACS Pro17's and my only regret is that I didn't buy them sooner. I have some ER20's which work well for lower volume gigs, but don't cut enough decibels at loud gigs. I used to use foam ones but they cut out too much top end for me.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1300
    andyp said:
    Maybe I'm getting old at 37 ...
    Bloody youngster
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  • andypandyp Frets: 159
    Sorry @Roland ;. Somehow 37 does feel old these days though.

    I'll take a look at those Pro 17s too, thanks @CarpeDiem ;
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 2134
    octatonic said:
    The ER-20 are good "one size fits all". I used those before getting custom moulds. Miles better than the industrial foam plugs. 
    I couldn't use ER20's because the fit is for an ear canal size that is smaller than mine.

    ER-20 s have a small size too (blue).  I got some for my gf a few years back.
    FOR SALE: Stephen Fry,  MYTHOSNEW EMG -mini-humbuckers;  :  Akai Headrush E2; Marhsall 1960a 4x12
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  • mudslide73mudslide73 Frets: 1442
    CarpeDiem said:
    I bought some ACS Pro17's and my only regret is that I didn't buy them sooner. I have some ER20's which work well for lower volume gigs, but don't cut enough decibels at loud gigs. I used to use foam ones but they cut out too much top end for me.
    I got my ears done at the Birmingham show for some Pro17s after @not_the_dj et al recommended them. I too wish I'd had em done sooner - I can't recommend them highly enough - the roll off is flat as far as I can tell. Rehearsals are basically at TV volume with them in. Just get em done lads. 
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  • LebarqueLebarque Frets: 451
    ER20s for me too. Band rehearsals and gigs (playing and watching). Don't care if mates take the piss - i had a scary incident a few years ago like you. Took a week for my ears to stop ringing after a loud gig.
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  • bbill335bbill335 Frets: 500
    I use earpeace, slightly more expensive than the er20s but much more comfortable and equally as (if not more) effective. 
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  • andypandyp Frets: 159
    edited April 2
    @Lebarque ;;;

    Yeah, to be honest pisstaking or feeling like I have to explain wearing plugs at a gig are two main reasons why I've not done it before. I often had a slight ringing for 24-48hrs but the last couple of loud ones I was at the ringing stretched to a week - or more even. My right ear is totally fine but my left is definitely affected now. It's not really bothering me as it is mild, but I'm pretty sure my hearing is worse than it was and I just don't want to make it any worse and wake up one day with it at an intolerable level.

    It's probably as much mental as anything, but when it is completely silent (like lying in bed or something) I find myself noticing it and then wondering if it's all in my head. It's not though as my right ear is completely silent so I know something is wrong with my left as it's not like that.

    Nearly 20 years on motorbikes and 12-15 years working in construction mean I'm well aware of tinnitus and always wore earplugs, yet here I am with it anyway...!
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  • shuikitshuikit Frets: 114
    Got some 'Thunderplugs' for a fiver at the guitar show in Birmingham and wore them at the last gig I went to. Complete revelation for me, beforehand I was concerned that it would sound odd, maybe certain frequencies would be cut out more or something like that, but I didn't notice anything detrimental.  No ringing in my ears, no headache.  I'm actually convinced that I enjoyed it more as it was at a comfortable volume. It still sounded loud though, maybe a bit higher than the loudest I ever have my earphones set if I'm listening to music. 
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  • VaiaiVaiai Frets: 339
    I use ER20s and can hear all the instruments and can chat with my mate at conversation level. Good for gigs too as you can still hear the others. I got some Flare Isolate and they really do block everything out and you can really only hear yourself - only use them for the proper loud gigs now. They Attenuate more than filter I think - ER20 is a great cheap option.
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  • andypandyp Frets: 159
    The ER20s arrived today from Amazon so I'll test them for fit etc. when I get home this weekend. I saw the Flare ones on Facebook I think, they look cool but think they're around £40 a pair and I'll probably only be going to 3 or 4 gigs this year.
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  • RocknRollDaveRocknRollDave Frets: 4196
    A wise purchase!
    I have some I got from Amazon, around the 15-20 quid mark. Pefectly good, save damaging my hearing any further and if anything improve my gig enjoyment as they remove any annoying harsh attack (which my ears really cannot take these days)

    For my own gigs I use in-ears and wouldn't dream of gigging without something in my ears to protect them from the reality of a live drum kit and a cranked guitar amp.

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  • ChrisCox1994ChrisCox1994 Frets: 148
    the planet waves ones are a good all rounder for me, they take less DBs away overall and i use them for playing and watching gigs. 

    I had some greater attenuating ones before that were overkill and took me out of the vibe in the room, be it playing or listening/watching. 

    A lot of people I think write off plugs because they get ones that are too severe and it kills the connection to the sound or vibe/whatever but if they just take off the harmfull loudest frequencies then theyre fine to gig and go to gigs with.
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  • UnclePsychosisUnclePsychosis Frets: 4621
    Er-20s are great, I've been wearing them for years. The only time anyone has ever said anything negative about them was one time at a Mogwai gig, needless to say three days later when his ears were *still* ringing and mine were absolutely fine he wasn't feeling like such a smartarse.  

    If you are still going to gigs regularly and already have tinnitus I would strongly consider getting yourself some custom fit ones.


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  • andypandyp Frets: 159
    It was Mogwai that started this problem for me too. After that I noticed the ringing took longer to go away and now I know there's a problem even though it's mild.

    I don't go to many - 5 or so a year maybe and generally spaced out rather than all at once. I think the 3 or 4 I went to close together relatively soon after Mogwai were the straws that broke the camel's ear. It's still the only gig I've ever been to that had signs up warning it was loud, and they had earplugs available on request. I didn't realise quite how loud it was until afterwards.

    If I get slagged I'll play the old card. :)
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  • UnclePsychosisUnclePsychosis Frets: 4621
    andyp said:
    It was Mogwai that started this problem for me too. After that I noticed the ringing took longer to go away and now I know there's a problem even though it's mild.

    I don't go to many - 5 or so a year maybe and generally spaced out rather than all at once. I think the 3 or 4 I went to close together relatively soon after Mogwai were the straws that broke the camel's ear. It's still the only gig I've ever been to that had signs up warning it was loud, and they had earplugs available on request. I didn't realise quite how loud it was until afterwards.

    If I get slagged I'll play the old card. :)
    Just play the "I'm not an idiot" card. There's nothing cool about being deaf. 
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  • VimFuegoVimFuego Frets: 4446
    af anyone mocks you for wearing ear plugs, they ain't no kinda friend. And you are fully enittled to tell them that, then sell them to people smugglers to be used as donors in the human organ black market.

    I'm not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me.

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  • andypandyp Frets: 159
    andyp said:
    It was Mogwai that started this problem for me too. After that I noticed the ringing took longer to go away and now I know there's a problem even though it's mild.

    I don't go to many - 5 or so a year maybe and generally spaced out rather than all at once. I think the 3 or 4 I went to close together relatively soon after Mogwai were the straws that broke the camel's ear. It's still the only gig I've ever been to that had signs up warning it was loud, and they had earplugs available on request. I didn't realise quite how loud it was until afterwards.

    If I get slagged I'll play the old card. :)
    Just play the "I'm not an idiot" card. There's nothing cool about being deaf. 
    You're 100% right, I was just kidding. I do wonder why some bands set up so bloody loud too.
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  • ReverendReverend Frets: 1431
    http://www.superdrug.com/Superdrug/Superdrug-Earplugs-20-Pairs/p/649851

    I use these. I tend to play loud enough for my amp to sound good, and with a drummer who is not holding back. Earplugs are essential. 
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  • andypandyp Frets: 159
    Mixed results from the gig on Friday... the earplugs definitely reduced the volume but it still sounded muffled to me. Not quite sure what to make of it. The gig wasn't loud for a gig, but the place was bouncing and it was quite a small room so the noise level in general was very high and it was really noticeable when I took them out. I think given that my left ear is still a bit woolly afterwards that I do need to wear plugs from now on, and it was a touch painful at the time without the plugs in. All this does is tell me that my left ear is a genuine problem now. Mrs. P was with me and didn't bat an eyelid at the noise, and she doesn't go to gigs often at all so it can't have been that bad, but I would've struggled without the plugs.

    I did feel massively self-conscious wearing them despite them being very subtle, I know this is daft but it's the truth. Which leads me to these that I've just seen these advertised (and although I hate clicking online ad's, I did click it) and they look pretty good. It's obviously an issue other people have too as these are coloured to be as invisible as possible.

    https://www.earpeace.co.uk/collections/high-fidelity-hearing-protection/products/ear-plugs



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  • CarpeDiemCarpeDiem Frets: 63
    I'd be doubtful that these earplugs would be better than your ER20's. If you're hearing is muffled in your left ear, I suspect the volume exceeded the ER20 threshold. My ACS Pro 17's are translucent, so still visible, but they work for me and at higher volume levels to my ER20's. Personally, I'd prefer not to suffer tinnitus and would laugh off any mickey taking. Also, consider how many band members wear ear protection, which in ear monitors also provide. As to your wife's hearing being ok after the gig, she may not have subjected her hearing to the same noise levels as you over the years.
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  • DeijavooDeijavoo Frets: 3078
    Mogwai did that to my right ear in 2001 at Leeds Met. 

    Saying that, seen them about 12 or 13 times now so only got myself to blame.

    ACS I got measured up for last year at the Guitar Show with 17 filters do me grand.
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