As a Phoenix event photographer, I go to my fair share of exciting events, but they’re often hard on the eardrums. It’s important to protect your hearing, or you can suffer from tinnitus.
Tinnitus is no fun. Hearing loss, a constant ringing sound, headaches, and more, plague people who haven’t taken care of their ears in loud environments. I have to pay close attention to this for my work in Phoenix, so I’ve been looking into the best ear plugs for event photographers. It’s also important to note, I routinely get my ears checked at a local doctor. It is ok to do this annually depending on if you have health insurance or just feel like paying out of pocket.
First, there are the ear plugs you can get at many drug stores and super markets. These are generally off-brand items that won’t stand up to long-term use.
- Price: About $4 or $5.
- Comfort: These fit in your ears gently as soft foam. After several uses, they tend to dry out and become less comfortable.
- Safety: Most of these options have a noise reduction rating of 33 decibels.
- Pros: These are the cheapest options out there, and they’re good for muffling sounds that bother you. Many users buy these to help them sleep on a noisy airplane or next to a snoring spouse.
- Cons: Some people who already suffer from tinnitus complain that foam ear plugs actually amplify the persistent sound in their ears because there are fewer sounds to drown out the ringing. The muffling can be tricky, too, if you want to have a conversation with anybody.
I’ve been using a brand of ear plugs called Earasers. These are great alternatives to custom-made ear plugs because they protect against harmful sounds while still letting me hear what’s going on.
- Price: About $40.
- Comfort: Earasers use soft silicone to create a gentle plug that can be cleaned and will stand up to regular use. Many users say they forget they’re wearing them at all.
- Safety: These promise a 19-decibel protection. That’s not as much as you might get with a foam plug, but they’re designed to protect the ear while allowing you to hear naturally at the same time.
- Pros: They come in different sizes to fit a variety of ear shapes, and they let safe sounds in without damaging your hearing.
- Cons: They aren’t a custom fit, and some users may want to muffle more sounds for increased concentration or protection.
Finally, professional-grade earplugs allow performers to protect their hearing while still being able to receive natural sounds.
- Price: Up to about $300.
- Comfort: Because these ear plugs can be custom made, users often find them pretty comfortable.
- Safety: Based on different tests, these can offer anywhere from 12 to 22-decibel reduction.
- Pros: Custom-made ear plugs focus on reducing harmful sounds while still allowing the user to hear naturally. No muffling!
- Cons: These are pretty pricey. Unless you’re in a band, you can probably do fine with the moderate price.
Whatever you decide, make sure you protect your ears when you go to loud events. The damage that can be caused is often irreversible yet avoidable.