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Thread: Ear Plugs in with Over the Ear Headphones for DJing? Hearing Protection

  1. #1

    Ear Plugs in with Over the Ear Headphones for DJing? Hearing Protection

    Hello,

    I've been DJing for a 10 1/2 years now and I'm definitely cautious now about my hearing. I've been using in-ear monitors BUT I notice I always like to DJ with them loud. Someone told me that after a while the ears get fatigued and so you keep them loud... and four hours a night doing it 5 nights a week can probably take a toll on hearing loss. I know in-ear monitors for DJing can actually be worse if used this way. Several professionals have told me that the best way to do it is to use ear plugs with over-the-ear headphones on.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Moderator pete's Avatar
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    I would hate IEMs for DJing. They block the ear canal, which is very unnatural and stops the natural cleaning of the ear.
    No natural cleaning = increase in buildup and bacteria. So your ears don't function correctly, and you turn up the volume even further.
    I would only use them for specific purposes, like really large events, not on the regular.

    Using a good over-the-ear leads to the cued music being audible, and the ambient noise to be vastly reduced.
    Besides... for DJing, all you are checking should be the timing of the track (you should know if it will mix well beforehand) and the track name is displayed on PC so it is not like in the past, hunting on whitelabels for a specific b-side. So with just checking the timing, plus with waveforms on the screen, loud volume is not necessary.

    Using earplugs will...block your ears, leading to the same issues with IEMs. Plus you would have to raise the volume of the headphones to compensate.

    There are some earplug that are "specifically created for musicians" to "only block out harmful frequencies" letting you "still be able to perform". I don't think this is really possible, but then again, I have never tried them.

    I think, at the end of the day, DJing is a high-noise environment. It is going to damage your ears over time. Take reasonable precautions, avoid infecting your ears, always think before you turn up the monitors, and give your ears time to relax in quiet environments outside of work.
    bored, curious, deaf or just bad taste in music?
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  3. #3
    Hmm well I play in loud environments often. LOUD.

    I've tried just using over-the-ear headphones but after years of taking them off and on between songs I developed issues in my shoulder. So then I switched to in-ear monitors. It definitely helped my shoulder issue, because I no longer had to remove the headphones between songs...

    But then I started noticing the volume in my in-ears was almost consistently louder and brighter than that of the club...

    then 3 professionals... one signed to Spinnin' Records, another a pro sound engineer, and some other guy had told me to ditch the in ears and use ear plugs with over the ear headphones. I plan to keep them on the whole time.

    I tried comparing it here at home in my practice room and noticed that it's actually not that bad. I hear all the frequencies but the piercing frequencies are not nearly as loud as they were with using in-ear monitors only.
    I do have to turn the headphones up a bit, so I assume my headphones won't "last" as long but so far it seems less "bright" and "piercing" using this method. I haven't tried it in a loud club environment yet, but I will try it this weekend.

    I'd still love to hear your opinions. Thanks! Hearing protection is real and so is hearing loss! I don't think the topic is discussed enough!

  4. #4
    New Member happydan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    I would hate IEMs for DJing. They block the ear canal, which is very unnatural and stops the natural cleaning of the ear.
    No natural cleaning = increase in buildup and bacteria. So your ears don't function correctly, and you turn up the volume even further.
    I would only use them for specific purposes, like really large events, not on the regular.

    Using a good over-the-ear leads to the cued music being audible, and the ambient noise to be vastly reduced.
    Besides... for DJing, all you are checking should be the timing of the track (you should know if it will mix well beforehand) and the track name is displayed on PC so it is not like in the past, hunting on whitelabels for a specific b-side. So with just checking the timing, plus with waveforms on the screen, loud volume is not necessary.

    Using earplugs will...block your ears, leading to the same issues with IEMs. Plus you would have to raise the volume of the headphones to compensate.

    There are some earplug that are "specifically created for musicians" to "only block out harmful frequencies" letting you "still be able to perform". I don't think this is really possible, but then again, I have never tried them.

    I think, at the end of the day, DJing is a high-noise environment. It is going to damage your ears over time. Take reasonable precautions, avoid infecting your ears, always think before you turn up the monitors, and give your ears time to relax in quiet environments outside of work.
    Are you seriously suggesting people shouldn't use ear plugs?! That's like the anti-vax of the music world. If you're worried about your ears not cleaning, clear them out with saline and wax remover once a week or something. This advice is just ridiculous.
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  5. #5
    New Member DJTonyT's Avatar
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    I never use or used earplugs, I use over the ear with no complaints.

  6. #6
    Supermod pea Manu's Avatar
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    I use my headphones as protection from the PA, but I always ensure the speakers are beyond me so I don't get most of the sound. My monitors are set just so I can hear, it doesn't need to be loud. For everything else I use ear plugs. If you're in a loud environment, use them or face the consequences later. It's all nice and dandy when you're in your twenties, another story when 40 and beyond. You only have one set of ears...

  7. #7
    Moderator pete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by happydan View Post
    Are you seriously suggesting people shouldn't use ear plugs?! That's like the anti-vax of the music world. If you're worried about your ears not cleaning, clear them out with saline and wax remover once a week or something. This advice is just ridiculous.
    I didn't say to never use earplugs, I just said to use them with precaution and be aware they are not a prefect solution to ear damage.
    Plugging up your ears every day of the week is not good for them, neither is exposure to loud environments.
    Being careful generally is the best solution. If earplugs work for you, then all the better for it. If IEMs under ear-defenders work, great. If buying some headphones that isolate well, then modifying them to isolate even better, works, wonderful. If keeping the noise down in the headphones works and managing without turning them up, its all good.

    Blocked ears is no joke, I've had it. It is no fun being deaf in one ear and under excruciating pain.
    Neither is tinitus or loss of hearing.
    These days people wear headphones more often than in the past and we are exposed to high sound pressures in the ear canal.
    Personally I dislike IEMs and prefer to invest is good headphones, but I am not an expert or ENT doctor.
    bored, curious, deaf or just bad taste in music?
    finally a mix by me
    and what's this, another shoddy mix...another dull mix

  8. #8
    Member b.ill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suprarick View Post
    Hello,

    I've been DJing for a 10 1/2 years now and I'm definitely cautious now about my hearing. I've been using in-ear monitors BUT I notice I always like to DJ with them loud.

    Thoughts?
    Ever since I started using phones with active noise cancellation I don't monitor nearly as loud anymore. And I'm at this several nights a week like you - in high SPL clubs.

    To many clubgoers, there's something about the look of a DJ with phones. We're supposed to have them. Anyway I'd suggest looking into it.

  9. #9
    Alright guys I tested it out... Sunday it worked quite well. The ear plugs blocked out a lot of the high end piercing snares that were killing my ears every night. I still have to test this theory more... but so far it seems my ears aren't as fatigued after 4 hours as they were with in-ear monitors alone. Using ear-plugs inside my ears with external over the ear headphones gave me that extra confidence in protecting my hearing. Sure I had to turn my headphones up a bit more, but even then... my ear plugs did a good job of preventing some of the piercing frequencies from coming in. I'll continue to DJ this way in hopes that it actually is working.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    I would hate IEMs for DJing. They block the ear canal, which is very unnatural and stops the natural cleaning of the ear.
    No natural cleaning = increase in buildup and bacteria. So your ears don't function correctly, and you turn up the volume even further.
    I would only use them for specific purposes, like really large events, not on the regular.

    Using a good over-the-ear leads to the cued music being audible, and the ambient noise to be vastly reduced.
    Besides... for DJing, all you are checking should be the timing of the track (you should know if it will mix well beforehand) and the track name is displayed on PC so it is not like in the past, hunting on whitelabels for a specific b-side. So with just checking the timing, plus with waveforms on the screen, loud volume is not necessary.

    Using earplugs will...block your ears, leading to the same issues with IEMs. Plus you would have to raise the volume of the headphones to compensate.

    There are some earplug that are "specifically created for musicians" to "only block out harmful frequencies" letting you "still be able to perform". I don't think this is really possible, but then again, I have never tried them.

    I think, at the end of the day, DJing is a high-noise environment. It is going to damage your ears over time. Take reasonable precautions, avoid infecting your ears, always think before you turn up the monitors, and give your ears time to relax in quiet environments outside of work.
    Interesting take on the whole infection thing. I have noticed that my ears do get a little funky after using IEMs. You should also keep in my though that some people aren't a big fan of laptops. I try to play music with my ears not my eyes

    I also have tried those "Ear plugs for musicians" they don't do much in terms of blocking out a loud club playing some bass heavy EDM but, when you are playing rock music it works wonders when the drummer is right next to you!

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