Tinnitus, Good Practices, and Amp Volume

UpstateDon

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Maybe my questions are stupid..but here we go. I'm fortunate to have places to play at volume (garage/barn)...with a Deluxe Reverb, Maz 18, and my 20ish watt old Supro...this aren't crazy loud amps, but I'm learning they're certainly loud enough to damage your ears. I try to play in those open spaces with doors open when the weather is nice. However, I'm noticing some tinnitus after play loud, for maybe 5-10 minutes afterwards. I got earplugs - they work for the most part. I'm trying to sit further from the amp and not in the line of fire...that works too, especially if done with the earplugs. But, at this point, I'm almost scared to play at any real volume inside. I'm not playing with tons of gain...we're talking a DR on 4. Maz with master at 9-10 oclock and volumer at 10-11 oclock. Not totally cooking, but enough juice for the amp to breath and sound stout.

Is this just going to be the new reality, now that I'm getting older? Maybe if I just sit further away..what else do folks do to preserve their ears? I used just crank my amps up inside all the time without issue (probably why my ears are sensitive now). Maybe it's a good excuse to invest in an old champ (or an attenuator). Kind of a bummer, because it is fun to play louder and open an amp up.
 

DavidP

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FWIW, I have the amp facing away from me toward a wall, so I get the back and front wash (all my amps are open-back combos). Helps a little but definitely invest in some quality musicians earplugs.
 

FaithNicole

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I do my best to having anything that is 'live out' to point away from me. My bass amp shoots past my feet, plenty of volume left to hear even though the tone I hear isn't what the dancers hear. You simply can't get far enough away from the stage are to hear it right.

I don't use a monitor, the deaf guys in the group have theirs loud enough for me already :p I did some jams with overly-loud deaf people. I always carried good musician ear plugs to attenuate without ruining the sound.
 

Euphonica

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Two options -

1. Custom molded earplugs. Speaking of which - which company is best? I have a set of Westones but they are so utterly terrible at customer service that I’ll never patronize them again.

2 - Mic up the cab and room and wear Sony HN-7506 headphones ($450). I sometimes BLAST two Showmans with these on, and while my body feels the bass vibrations, I can hear the tone clearly. (I am a location sound guy so I already had a few pairs of these [when they were $300!].)

B3FD17D3-D4A9-4A16-907B-D0F8F345E743.jpeg
 

Dismalhead

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Permanent hearing loss and tinnitus here. During the lockdown I stopped trying to get gain from my amps and have learned to play at very low volume with pedals. Can carry on a normal conversation in the room without having to turn down. Once you get to used to it it's really not bad.

I just wish my jam buddies could do the same. I leave with my ears ringing whenever we play.
 

UpstateDon

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Two options -

1. Custom molded earplugs. Speaking of which - which company is best? I have a set of Westones but they are so utterly terrible at customer service that I’ll never patronize them again.

2 - Mic up the cab and room and wear Sony HN-7506 headphones ($450). I sometimes BLAST two Showmans with these on, and while my body feels the bass vibrations, I can hear the tone clearly. (I am a location sound guy so I already had a few pairs of these [when they were $300!].)

View attachment 1003623
I like that #2 idea. That sounds fun.

I also just realized something...I sit when I'm playing...so my ear is close to amp level. Maybe standing is a good idea too...what a dilemma..because I love playing sitting!
 

Telekarster

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FWIW - I used to be pretty much immune to loud sounds. Even target shooting with buddies etc. didn't seem to bother me (none of us ever wore ear protection. Back then it wasn't really a thing LOL :eek:), nor did loud amps and venues bother me. However, right around my late 30's early 40's, I noticed that my ears started becoming more and more sensitive to loud noises. Decades later, I have to wear ear plugs today. I can hear just fine, just as I always could, but I just can't tolerate loud anymore...
 

UpstateDon

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ugs. But, at this point, I'm almost scared to play at any real volume inside. I'm not playing with tons of gain...we're talking a DR on 4. Maz with master at 9-10 oclock and volumer at 10-11 oclock. Not totally cooking, but enough juice for the amp to breath and sound stout.

FWIW - I used to be pretty much immune to loud sounds. Even target shooting with buddies etc. didn't seem to bother me (none of us ever wore ear protection. Back then it wasn't really a thing LOL :eek:), nor did loud amps and venues bother me. However, right around my late 30's early 40's, I noticed that my ears started becoming more and more sensitive to loud noises. Decades later, I have to wear ear plugs today. I can hear just fine, just as I always could, but I just can't tolerate loud anymore...
yeah - I'm turning 37 in two weeks, and just starting past year. Never an issue before. Aging is fun.
 

OldPup

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I am in the same boat as everyone else - tinnitus wasn't a problem until it was. I'm getting fitted filtered ear plugs, which will be here in about 3 weeks. The audiologist told me they will have a few filters I can change out depending on what I am protecting my hearing from. Apparently musician clients use and like them. Regular earplugs block out everything. I hope the filtering plugs don't permit too much noise to pass through.

OP, you say you have earplugs. Do your ears ring after a jam when you use them? What kind of plugs are you using?
 

UpstateDon

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I am in the same boat as everyone else - tinnitus wasn't a problem until it was. I'm getting fitted filtered ear plugs, which will be here in about 3 weeks. The audiologist told me they will have a few filters I can change out depending on what I am protecting my hearing from. Apparently musician clients use and like them. Regular earplugs block out everything. I hope the filtering plugs don't permit too much noise to pass through.

OP, you say you have earplugs. Do your ears ring after a jam when you use them? What kind of plugs are you using?
I got a fender pair and an eargasm (I know...the name) pair. They seem to work well. I think I just need to be more diligent. Sometimes i wear only one earplug for the side of my heading facing the amp...but that's not a great idea.
 

985plowboy

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@UpstateDon: Take serious care now. Lots of us were that way... occasional ringing after practice. And then it was constant. And it never changes after that.
…and it never changes after that.
And that my friends is the truth.

Skeptical people, trust those of us who have already crossed the line.
Protect your hearing.
Protect your hearing.
Protect your hearing.

I’m repeating it a few times for you.
Get used to having to ask people to do that.
 

loopfinding

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i do serious/drilling practice either unplugged or through a modeler. aside from band practice i only play out of the amp to test pieces or just play for fun.

for loud band practice, i use 3M shop earmuffs, because i don't like sticking stuff that's been rolling around in my dirty hands in my ears (i don't want an ear infection).

but practice with a quiet band or playing for fun, usually do my tweed deluxe through an attenuator just below halfway. definitely brings the tinnitus up just a smidge after finishing, but it goes back down. i don't think it's a concern as it's infrequent, and it's most likely not above 90db, which is the OSHA max for an 8 hour workday. since getting tinnitus, i'm just more sensitive to changes in it, but i think this is a perceptual thing and not really a damage thing given the levels.
 

cyclopean

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Here’s a question:

My hearing seems ok-ish, but i have a touch of tinnitus and a little bit of trouble following a conversation in a loud room.

There are a couple of local bars with what i assume are very cheap PA systems, and I always seem to be the only person there who finds the absolutely excruciating. And this is coming from someone who likes noise, industrial, and power electronics.

Is this a result of hearing damage?

I’ll be the only person who seems to be bothered by this but it feels like someone is trying to drill a hole through my skull.
 

cyclopean

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Also one of these bars is always playing awful music (it’s one of my friends’ favorite bars in the town they live in, not my pick of a place to go), and, as a lifelong fan of punk, metal, hardcore, industrial, and other abrasive music, i feel like i finally understand why it’s easier to think something is “too loud” if you don’t want to hear it. Like I’d be perfectly fine with Motörhead at that volume but i can’t stand hearing the Dave Matthews band that loud.
 

NoTeleBob

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Yes, @cyclopean. That's hearing damage. Especially the part where you have difficulty hearing conversations when there's a little background noise.

You can get tested and they can tell you which frequencies you're missing and how much hearing you lost. It's a good idea to do that if only to get a baseline.

As mentioned above, it's time to start protecting your ears. Otherwise it will only get worse. Even with protection it probably will get worse as you age.
 
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