Looking After the Most Important Tools for Live Sound Engineering

Everyone knows how important listening is in the music industry. Using your ears is what you do every day, whether you’re playing an instrument, mixing in a studio or indeed mixing for a live sound event. What is often forgotten is that your ears need to be looked after.

As anyone would agree, after playing your instrument (especially acoustic drums, which you aren’t able to turn down with a knob or fader), listening to loud music from speakers or going to a loud gig your hearing isn’t the same. What usually happens after dealing with loud exposure to noise is ringing in the ears, which is known as Tinnitus. If you hear ringing in your ears, which can be of any frequencies ranging from low, medium and high than it would be a good idea to so something about it.

“Once you have a little bit of hearing loss, especially noise-induced hearing loss, you are more vulnerable to more noise-induced hearing loss.” – Jovie Havard Strzelecki


Here are ways of preventing hearing loss or Tinnitus:

  1. When you’re not playing your instrument, mixing in the studio or going to live gigs try to minimise your exposure to loud noise. This can include: not listening to music on the journey home after exposing yourself to high levels of noise and having moments in the day that are quiet or silent. This will give your ears time to recover from the loud noise.
  1. Keep hydrated. Exposure to high noise levels for long periods of time causes fatigue. A good way to minimise fatigue is to drink plenty of water regularly and in small amounts. As well as hydration regular breaks from sound sources helps. This is evident when mixing in a studio for hours as you start hearing sounds, which aren’t there or think something sounds good when in fact it sounds completely different to what you first thought.
  1. Take a hearing test. It’s best to have a check up now so that further damage can be prevented. Going to an audiologist will help pinpoint if your hearing is bad or good and can show which frequencies most affect your ears. This will help when buying ear protection.
  1. If your working as a live sound engineer as a full time job than buying ear protection is invaluable. There are different types of hearing protection from headphones, in-earplugs and ear buds. Having custom moulded in-earplugs is the best way of having a comfortable noise reduction. Furthermore, custom moulded in-earplugs mean that there is more reduction in noise as it covers up the whole ear and not just part of it. For a full time working musician or live sound engineer, it is worth paying £500 for in-earplugs, as it will help in the years to come.

These points were gathered from – http://www.sounddesignlive.com/3-simple-ways-busy-sound-engineers-can-protect-hearing/?hvid=3GFhIO



    1. No, not yet Nathan but I plan on going to see one in the near future!

      Your interview with Jovie Havard Strzelecki was really interesting to listen to. It made me realise how important our hearing is and how fragile it can be.

      I think I have some sort of case of mild Tinnitus as I play the drums so I get a high pitch ringing in my ears for around 15 minutes after playing them. I also get ringing in my ears once or twice every 3 or 4 weeks that can last for a minute or two, which isn’t great.
      I wear ear defenders that I got from ebay for under £10 when I’m practicing the drums at home, which is useful as they really cut out those sharp frequencies from the snare drum and cymbals.

      I will invest in some moulded earplugs in the near future when I have the money because I know they will last for many years. I’ll be sure to wear them when I perform and go to gigs!

      Also I would like to say that your blog posts from Sound Design Live are great and are helping me with my University work and general knowledge of the live sound industry, so thank you Nathan! 🙂


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