Audiology Hearing Aids Speech Pathology
Serving Orange County, California, since 1993

Certified Member, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Custom Ear Plugs for Musicians
& Other Professionals


Michele Wilson, Ph.D.
Irvine Office Location
Why a certified audiologist
Hearing Loss
Understanding hearing loss
Dangers of hearing loss
Hearing evaluation
Hearing Aids
Hearing aid technologies
Hearing aid tune-up & repair
Realistic expectations
Ear Plugs & Ear Buds
Protective ear plugs
Custom musicians ear plugs
Industrial & shooters plugs
Swimmers ear plugs
Custom-molds for ear buds
Living with Hearing Loss
Better listening & speaking
Communication strategies
Talking to hearing impaired
Speech Pathology
Speech, language & voice
Head trauma recovery
Stroke recovery
Myofunctional disorder
Other neurological disorders

Whether you're into Mozart or Metallica, if you ruin your hearing, the music's over.

Perhaps Bach is your forte. It could be you like to march along with Sousa. Or maybe you just want to bang on your drum all day at ear-shattering volumes. Whatever your taste in music, every musician shares a common problem: your hearing is at risk.

Don't think that if you avoid the sheer volume of rock or brass bands that you're in the clear. Even the piccolo generates sound levels up to 112 dB -- roughly equivalent to a jackhammer at 30 feet. This high volume can, over time, result in moderate to severe hearing loss and/or risk of tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Musicians' earplugs consist of an ear mold that is custom fitted to each fitted to each person, plus a replaceable filter (or attenuating) element. Available ear plug elements in stock in Michele Wilson's office are ER-9 (9 dB attenuation), ER-15 (15 dB attenuation) and ER-25 (25 dB attenuation). These attenuate (or reduce) sound equally across all frequencies. This means that you still hear your music accurately, but at a safer level. For example, if the sustained sound level is 100 dB, you'll hear the music at 85 dB with the ER-15. According to OSHA, this is a safe level for eight hours of continuous exposure. You also avoid the occlusion effect -- sounding like your voice or instrument is in a barrel -- common to generic, over-the-counter earplugs. The ER-25 is your ear mold if you're into ear-splitting volume. It provides 25 dB attenuation -- 60% more than the ER-15.

The ear mold is custom-fitted to your ear (the shape of every person's ears is different) to provide the ultimate in comfort, fit and acoustics. If music turns you on, your hearing is your most precious resource.

Benefits of Musician's Ear Plugs:

  • Designed to provide sound attenuation at all frequencies.

  • Sound quality remains clear and natural.

  • Fidelity of the original sound is preserved.

  • Fatigue associated with noise exposure is reduced.

  • The world doesn't sound muffled.

Which Musicians' Ear Plug is Right for You?

  ER•9 ER•15 ER•25 ETY•
Source of Harmful Sound:
Small strings   Own instrument, other strings
Large strings   Brass
Woodwinds     Brass, percussion
Brass   Own instrument, other brass
Flutes     Percussion
Percussion   Own instruments, other percussion
Vocalists   Own voice, speakers, monitors
Acoustic guitar   Drums, speakers, monitors
Amplified instruments   Speakers, monitors
Marching bands     Multiple sources
Music teachers     Multiple sources
Recording engineers     Speakers, monitors
Sound crews     Speakers, monitors

Safe Sound Exposure Levels

    Noise-induced hearing loss is a function of exposure time, the average noise level, and the peak level of very loud sounds. Some people seem to be more susceptible to hearing loss than others, so that protection on the basis of an average time and sound level exposure will only protect the "average" person. The following table includes data for the more conservative 85 dB equal energy (EE) approach as well as the U.S. OSHA standard. We assume that at least 10 dB of protection for the ER-15, 15 dB of protection for the ER-20, and 20 dB of protection for the ER-25 is achieved in most ears with these attenuators in place.

    Damage to the ear can be caused either by very loud sounds in short duration (such as gunshots) or by moderately high-volume sounds that are longer in duration. The louder the noise, the less time your ears can tolerate exposure to it before some degree of damage occurs. But the diagram reveals the reality about the nonlinear relationship between levels and exposure.

    With just a 3dB increase in sound levels, the safe exposure time is cut in half … and each subsequent increase of 3dB cuts the safe time by yet another half.

Audiology Hearing Aids Speech Pathology
Certified Member of American-Speech-Hearing Association

4000 Barranca, Suite 250 (at Culver), Irvine, California 92604
Phone: (949) 510-6292
E-mail: Web: