Ear Monitors / Tinnitus

Witterings

Silver Member
I use Shure Sound Isoloating Headphones for playign along along to records and have been amased at how much outside noise ie the drums they cut out and how low you can have the volume of accompanying music coming through them to get a reasonable mix.

I've been doing this for over a year but recently though I seem to be suffereing from Tinnitus and it seems considerably after I've been playing along to records.

I bought a set of headphone style protectors as well which I now put over the sound isolation headphones / IEM's to further reduce the sound of the drums so I cna in turn lower the volume of the music even further but it doesn't seem to have helped.

Does anybody know if putting the sound so deep imto your ear may have a detremental affect and could be causing or has anybody else had anything similar ???

I really do have the volume low to the extent that if you were just listening to music for pleasure through normal headphones you'd probably have the volume quite a bit higher.

Any help / input appreciated, I have just ordered some custom IEM's to see if they help at all.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Ah, another in-ear question!

Even though you say your music is at a low level, there is a length of time factor that can fatigue the ear drums, too. And yes, as I stated in another thread, sticking a foreign object into your ear canal really leaves no where for that sound to go but to bang against your ear drum mechanism, so you say it's low, the ear is still taking it all in!

Definitely get with your doctor and have that tinnitus checked out. You do know that once you get it, it doesn't go away. The doctor will help you find ways to keep it from getting worse, or maybe there's some kind of cure for it nowadays, but do get it checked. It sucks not being able to hear.
 

Witterings

Silver Member
Ah, another in-ear question!

Definitely get with your doctor and have that tinnitus checked out. You do know that once you get it, it doesn't go away. The doctor will help you find ways to keep it from getting worse, or maybe there's some kind of cure for it nowadays, but do get it checked. It sucks not being able to hear.
Fraid so, I've seen and searched and found many other threads but they're more can tinnitus be cured oreintated as opposed to do IEM's make tinnitus worse.

From what I've managed to find I'm sure there's not a cure yet although they believe they are in the early days of developing one so will still be a while and as you say - "find ways to keep it from getting worse" - is what I'm currently trying to do as some days its a lot worse than others (normally following using the IEM's) and the days when it's not bad whilst marginally annoying it's certainly liveable with and my hearings not that bad - - - - - - - - YET.

I wonder if the high quality sound isolating headphones may be better as they're not shoved right into the ear, I bought some others a while ago but the sound isolation wasn't high enough and just ended up turning the volume up so much so the drums weren't drowning the sound out that the female vocals were very definitely causing it to be bad !!
 

Witterings

Silver Member
It may be safer altogether to get some moulded earplugs with 20dB protection and use headphones on top.
I'm in the process of getting some earplugs made with 25db protection, they can either be used with a speaker plugged in like IEM's (which was what I Mainly wanted them for but may reproduce the same issue) or remove the speaker and replace the hole with a 25db plug - - - I hadn't thought about using them as plugs and then putting normal headphones over the top so could certainly try as you suggest.

http://www.earplugs.co.uk/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=1299

Has anyone tried either of these and if so any idea apart from one giving 24db and the other 29db protection what may warrant the higher price of the Metrophones ???

http://www.wembleydrumcentre.com/Catalogue/Drum-Centre/Electronics/Metronomes/Metrophones-Isolation-Headphones-with-Metronome-AMP

http://www.rockemmusic.co.uk/product/vic-firth-korg-survival-pack
 

jonescrusher

Pioneer Member
It's impossible to say whether having the monitors directly in-ear is what's caused the tinnitus -everybody has their own definitions of what 'reasonable volume' is. There have been studies showing hearing damage can be caused by prolonged exposure to high volume delivered from in ear walkman buds, although as I remember, this tended to cause loss of hearing rather than tinnitus. I use Exinor 25dB plugs which are good, and expensive enough to ensure total protection, although many dislike that level of attenuation. I think avoiding in-ear exposure to sound is the best way to go. You may be lucky and find the tinnitus passes, or at least reduces with time.
 

Lucho

Member
I use the in ear 25db protection and they are great for live. When I practice at home I'm constantly switching between my in ear plugs and noise isolating headphones (different than the ones posted above) so that I can play along with music sometimes and other times just play myself.

I find for live situations the in ears are the best because they seem to allow me to hear the most of what's going on around me (ie everyone else)

For practicing I don't think it should matter but you just need to be careful what kind of volume you're cranking everything up to and take breaks so your ears don't get tired or worn out.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Fraid so, I've seen and searched and found many other threads but they're more can tinnitus be cured oreintated as opposed to do IEM's make tinnitus worse.

From what I've managed to find I'm sure there's not a cure yet although they believe they are in the early days of developing one so will still be a while and as you say - "find ways to keep it from getting worse" - is what I'm currently trying to do as some days its a lot worse than others (normally following using the IEM's) and the days when it's not bad whilst marginally annoying it's certainly liveable with and my hearings not that bad - - - - - - - - YET.

I wonder if the high quality sound isolating headphones may be better as they're not shoved right into the ear, I bought some others a while ago but the sound isolation wasn't high enough and just ended up turning the volume up so much so the drums weren't drowning the sound out that the female vocals were very definitely causing it to be bad !!
I own and love my GK Music UltraPhones. Best dang investment I ever made - and I didn't originally buy them for my drumming. I bought them because I had a job mixing a band from behind them! The mix position was stage left right behind the band so I needed something that would block out everything else and allow me to hear what I was sending out into the house - and these excelled at that. When I started to use them for recording my drumming it was so nice to leave the volume down low and not worry about not being able to hear the tracks. This would be my best recommendation, get these. Good luck!
 

Brundlefly

Senior Member
Any help / input appreciated, I have just ordered some custom IEM's to see if they help at all.
I have the same concerns/issues you have. I use isolation phones and custom IEMs together. The custom IEMs do the best job in terms of cutting down external sources so that I can reduce my in-ear volumes. Wearing isolation phones over top improves on that quite a bit. In order to still be able to hear what I'm playing, I have the kit miked and mixed in with whatever music source I'm using so that I can very carefully control volumes.

There have been times when my symptoms seem worse after a practice session, but it is difficult to determine how much my practice sessions themselves are contributing to the problem because there can be so many other contributing factors:

  • Tiredness/lack of sleep
  • Wax buildup
  • Inflammation/allergies
  • Asparin
  • Caffeine
  • Stress/fatigue

So you may find that it will take a multi-pronged approach. Just lowering the volume by itself may not fully address the problem. You may need to cut down on the amount of contiguous time practicing, cut out caffeine or be mindful about playing when you are run down or fatigued, and so on... And of course, see a doctor if you haven't already.

At any rate, my observation is that my current setup allows me to radically reduce the volume, is more comfortable and I can hear what I'm playing more accurately than ever before. And reduced volume level is reduced volume level, whether the source is in your ear or not, so this is all good stuff. However, I can't say that my tinnitus symptoms have been affected one way or the other, just that everything else is much improved.

As such, I recommend EIMs. I tried a number of them at NAMM 2010 and picked these.
 
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toddy

Platinum Member
if you're going to use IEM, then make sure if you gig with them you take a limiter with you and put it in your signal chain. you don't want someone blowing your ears.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
It may be safer altogether to get some moulded earplugs with 20dB protection and use headphones on top.
This!

...BUT, you have to watch out that you don't crank the volume up too high. You can still suffer hearing loss from bone conduction. Make sure that the music is just loud enough to hear, blending along with the sound of your drums, but not too much louder...
 

Witterings

Silver Member
if you're going to use IEM, then make sure if you gig with them you take a limiter with you and put it in your signal chain. you don't want someone blowing your ears.
That's actually incredibly good advice and something I hadn't thought about !!!!!!

Just come back from what O would describe as this bands 1st great gig where it actually came together, have started using normal ER 20 plugs all teh time playing live, not only does it protect but also makes it more "similar" to what I#m used to and think I actually play better with them !!!!!

It may be safer altogether to get some moulded earplugs with 20dB protection and use headphones on top.
Just to double check that I'm understanding this right you mean plugs like ER 20's and NOT IEM's with any sound coming through them and the you put normal headphones over the top but have to turn them up a smidge more as you're wearing plugs ?????? Is that what you and caddywumpus meant ???
 

Mike Armstrong

Senior Member
The less 'outside noise' (outside of your IEM's, headphones, ect) making it's way into your ears equals the less volume you need to comfortably hear what you want. Eliminating 'outside noise' altogether would be the best scenario for your ears in terms of volume needed, best that is, 'if' you keep that incoming volume at a 'safe level' for the 'length of time' your using them.

I think the best scenario would be one which blocks out the most outside decibels. That scenario would be, custom molded IEM's together with sound isolation headphones. Many IEM's nowadays will give you up to 26 decibels of isolation and there are several sound isolation headphones that give you 30, or more, decibels of isolation. With 56 decibels of outside noise being blocked out your volume can be at it's lowest and clearest yet plenty loud enough to hear what you need to.

From what I've read and been told a Limiter is a must with IEM's. The opening of that IEM is pointed directly at your ear drum like a loaded gun, a dropped mic or inadvertent brush up against the wrong knob and faster than you can yank those IEM's out you can have permanent hearing damage.

My concern with a Limiter, which I'm currently researching before my own custom IEM's arrive, is how are they set at a safe 'decibel' level? In other words, we all turn up the volume to what seems a safe level but there are well established maximum safe decibel ratings not to exceed to protect your hearing.

For those that are using a Limiter, can the upper limit decibel level arriving at your IEM's be preset? I haven't found one yet but is there a Limiter with a decibel meter of some type so even though it doesn't sound loud you can know for sure your not exceeding safe levels?
 
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