Do you protect your hearing?

My Dad's hearing has been bad for a while and he recently had to get hearing aids. I'm a relatively young man and I know I have not used proper hearing protection throughout my life. This audio stuff is a wonderful thing and something I'd like to enjoy my entire life, so I have been more aware of noise in my everyday life. My job requires me to work in a sometimes loud environment and my other hobby is woodworking. For about the last 5 years or so, I have made a conscious effort to wear hearing protection when I'm in such an environments. Just recently I started to use hearing protection while cutting the grass, something I wouldn't have considered in the past. Has your interest in audio caused you to be more aware of hearing protection or am I the only anal one here?
I wear earplugs when using the vacuum cleaner, record cleaning machine, etc. I am definately more contious of it, because I want to be able to hear as much as I can as I get older. It is because of my audio hobby.
Yo, I tell you it's NEVER too early to start being concerned about this. I'm 52, and many of my friends, some twenty years younger, suffer hearing loss from noise exposure. Some of my friends that are woodworkers in their 30's have rather severe hearing loss already from their work environments. I split my time at work between working as a photographer and a sculpture fabricator. When I use power tools, vacuum cleaners, sandblasters, anything noisy, I use hearing protection. I remember reading about a study of people in the Andes who never were exposed to the sort of ambient noise levels we experience day in and out. The elderly Andean men they tested had hearing acuity equal to a teenage boys in our culture, with no evidence of high frequency hearing loss. I suspect the noise levels we are told to be occupationally safe are not at all safe long term. My wife suffers terrible congenital tinnitus and hearing loss and she is very careful to preserve what hearing she has. She teaches first grade and has had impromtu class discussions about protecting hearing. During these talks, she has turned off the flourescent lights and air conditioning and asked her kids to tell her if they hear tinnitus "crickets chirping" noises in their hearing. A susprising and alarming number of kids say they do. Of course, some kids may just be reacting to the power of suggestion, but the results of her non-scientific surveys do give you cause for consideration.
I've been using the disposable EAR plugs (29 dB) for years & have passed down the tradition to my children.

My kids use them when mowing, as well as safety glasses & I use the plugs while using power tools, shop vac, etc.

When I first started driving a truck I didn't wear them but wore them during the last million miles, although I stopped driving a few yrs ago.
Has your interest in audio caused you to be more aware of hearing protection or am I the only anal one here?

Yes, absolutely! I've been driving motorcycles for some 15 years now, and I never considered wearing hearing protection till I got into high-end audio about three years ago. The wind noise at highway speeds can really cause havoc on the hearing. About 10-12 months ago I started wearing ear plugs, but they suck and often blow out at high speeds. So I had custom ear plugs made about four months ago. They cost me $50, which is way overpriced for what they are, but they are wonderful. They inject silicon into your ears and you sit there for ten minutes while it cures, then they trim them up a bit. They actually cork screw into the ear so they can't fall out or blow out. I don't ride without them now. Well worth $50.
My only regret is not doing it years ago. I usually use a walkman at the gym while doing cardiovascular, but I recently stopped using it 'cause I am trying to preserve my hearing for the love of high-end audio.
Ive been wearing ear protection for years,mostly at work
Be especially careful of car stereos. The spl is daunting , it can cause fast permanent damage.
As a graduate student I worked in a psychoacoustic lab with the charter of research related to noise induced hearing loss, so I became aware of the problem in my early 20s. My masters and doctoral research dealt with auditory processing.

Long-term hearing loss occurs mostly from repeated exposure to high level of sound, but even single gun shots can be damaging. It has been reported that sound levels in rock concerts can cause damage. Avoid unprotected esposure to noise that is loud enough that communication is difficult. Provided a Walkman is not blasting, it probably will not harm your hearing. I find classical guitar music soothing when I undergo dental procedures.

Only when I am talking with my wife.
Huh? love the wife line!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My wife says I never listen to her..or something like that... :-)


Something I've wondered about for quite a while...assuming you've taken care of your hearing throughout your life(I have), when you get older does your hearing change such that you're more sensitive to sharp noises? This is relavant to this hobby as (if your hearing does change) it'll have a specific impact on how you interpret the relative 'quality' of any particular piece of equipment you buy. It's then normal to focus your interests to equipment that compensates for the change.

An example...I listened to a well known horn-based speaker for years and really enjoyed them. Eventually they seemed to be shouting at me regardless of volume. I couldn't listen to them anymore & sold them. The speakers didn't change..I did. Was the change just a switch in taste or would it have a physical basis? (A high-school friend had the same speakers, had the same experience, and also sold them. He replaced them with a much mellower sounding (non-horn) speaker, as I did. We're both in our late fourties).
A bit off topic, but the other day I was next to a very loud Harley Davidson motorcycle and the driver was wearing ear plugs. Why not just get a quiter exhaust? The rest of us would certainly appreciate it.
Jdombrow, you obviously don't understand the Harley Attitude. They are loud for a reason, so everybody can hear you coming from a mile away! My freind tells me that at one time Harley was going to try and patent the sound of their bikes! If you can belive that. I guess abit off topic, but I never cared for the Harley sound either. My friend loves the sound, makes him feel at peace. I on the other hand, like John Coltrane's Ascension for a peaceful experience. I guess everybody has there thing. Thanks for the thought. I will look into this as I am only 31, still young, especially on this site.
Actually, a loud exhaust on a motorcycle does not usually affect the rider (driver) anymore than a loud exhaust on a car or truck affects the driver. The exhaust is pointed AWAY from the vehicle operator.

The reason many motorcyclists and Harley bikers wear earplugs is because of the damaging effects of wind noise. Without protection, wind noise at 60 mph can cause you to quickly and permanently lose hearing acuity. Going helmetless or wearing one of those stupid little Harley half-shell caps leaves the ears totally exposed. Even full-coverage helmets don't offer complete protection against the damaging effects of wind noise, so smart motorcyclists wear full-coverage helmets AND earplugs.
Loud pipes save lives.
Loud pipes save about as many lives as loud car stereos.
Absolutely I use hearing protection. once you're aware of it, we're asaulted by loud sounds constantly.
I play raquetball, and the sound of the ball hitting the wall is very loud. I've considered earplugs during gameplay, but I believe it would hinder my competitiveness.
On my lawn tractor, TWO sets of protection: soft ear plugs and a pair of ear muffs used by marksmen. I do not intend on losing my hearing and missing decades of enjoyment of audio.
Even listening to one's sytem can damage your hearing. There will be a generation of men with hearing loss, the now boys who have pimped their econo cars with subwoofer drivers the size of their tires. When I can feel the bass inside my house (with windows closed) and approx. 200ft from the road, you know they're in process of losing hearing.
Motor sports are some of the worst. I remember going to a rocket car event at a drag strip when I was a teen. Mind scrambling noise levels! I sat for the evening with my ears packed with toilet paper and my fingers pushing the lobe of the ears over the ear canal! It was a hair's breadth away from excruciating! I avoid rocket car, monster car, etc. events. When at a concert, I always use foam earplugs. It may not sound as "perfect" but my ears still ring with tinitis for an evening after the show. Sign of hearing damage. A generation has caught on fire for Nascar and Harleys. Watch many of them go deaf in the next twenty years.

On principle I never attempt to recreate the concert experience at home. I do not listen to movies or music at "lifelike" levels. It's not worth the long term cost to hearing. I have had individuals demo their music in my HT. I used to let them have the volume remote. Not anymore. They would crank it up way past the point of sensibility (of course, the point of sensibility is completely determined by me). If they're listening at those levels, they'll be doing damage.
Finally, I believe many have suffered hearing loss simply due to driving on the freeway with windows down. It's very loud travelling with windows down, and I understand with todays more efficient cars, it's more economical to keep windows closed and use AC.

There is some argument about whether hearing changes with age absent exposure to noise, but if it does the loss is nearly always at higher frequencies. I suspect what you're experiencing is a change in taste. I find that I now tend to prefer music of small groups, e.g. quartets, to large orchestrations. My favorites now are Bach, Corelli, and some jazz, whereas the bombast of Pictures or the 1812 might have been more to my liking as a teenager -- still enjoy Let It Bleed, though. I'm 69, 14 years after FIRE.

I agree with Rex, it's all about wind noise. But I disagree on the helmet issue.
Perfectionist - what helmet issue?
I hear all the way to 18.5kHz so I preserve that with ear protection. I want to be confident in the performance assessment of my stereo.
This one Rex...
smart motorcyclists wear full-coverage helmets AND earplugs.
Perfectionist - it's not an "issue" for disagreement. It's a fact. Tests have been performed - results have been documented. The level of wind noise in even the best full-coverage helmet is high enough that riding for several hours at speed will cause hearing damage unless supplementary ear protection (i.e. earplugs) are used. The helmet alone is not enough.
Rex, your missing my point. No biggie. :-)
I am going to be a little off topic here to. What about te I-Pod that I will finally give in and buy. This is solely earplugs, perhaps the worst thing you can do to your auditory system. For a portable storage mediumn nothing is better ( except a record bag, Ha Ha) but to hold 5000 songs in the palm of your hand is amazing. We see kids & adults with those devices in ears for hours upon end. Is there any safe way to listen to an I-Pod (soley) without losing your hearing.
It's not the ear plugs that harm your hearing, it's the high levels that can be achieved. Keep the level down down and your hearing should not be harmed. If it sounds loud, it probably is too high.