Hearing protection amongst musicians seems an obvious issue, one which is not up for debate. After all, everybody knows one must protect his or her hearing as otherwise it may not last for the entire duration of one’s musical career. On the other hand, every once in a while, we learn of yet another musician who has developed significant hearing impairment due to years of abuse. Last year, it was singer Brian Johnson’s case that made newspaper headlines all over the globe. The hearing loss he was experiencing forced him off the road with AC/DC, which resulted in Guns ‘n’ Roses lead singer W. Axl Rose taking over.
In Poland, there are three basic parameters with which to characterize occupational noise. Those are as follows:
1) Highest Permissible Noise Level – its value of exposure is measured with reference to an 8-hour working day or a 40-hour working week, and the maximum level is 85 dB
2) Range A – very well heard by humans. Its maximum permissible level is 115 dB
3) Range C – less audible to humans. Its maximum permissible level is 135 dB.
A few years ago, the National Labour Inspection commissioned a test of noise levels at the Krakow Philharmonic, and the Krakow Opera (Krakow is a city in the south of Poland). At the Philharmonic, the orchestra and choir were tested for a total of five days, whereas tests on the orchestra and choir at the Opera took two days and one day respectively. Depending on the repertoire being performed at a given time, excessive values were registered at the Philharmonic for all the three parameters for occupational noise levels. The musicians at the Opera were exposed to excessive noise only as far as the HPNL was concerned. As the test shows, the loudest instruments are percussion (a gong cymbal generated 110,1 dB) and brass (a trombone-generated sound reached 103,7 dB, while a trumpet generated 99,9 dB). As we all know, nobody measures the noise levels inside 30-square-meter rooms or garages where rock and heavy metal bands practice. Whether those are noisier than the two respectable institutions or not, Drummers and Drummerettes can easily guess. Just take cymbals alone… Also, when attending a concert as a viewer and listener, it is highly advisable to bring a pair of earplugs.
We review Zildjian HD earplugs
The Polish Zildjian distributor – the ADA Music company – has recently sent us a set of earplugs to be reviewed. As the name Zildjian HD by Ear Peace suggests, a company called Ear Peace has been commissioned by Zildjian to manufacture this piece of hearing protective equipment. Let us see how much of that peace a potential user can actually enjoy.
Let us begin with the first impression.
1. The packaging
The product comes in a modern-looking, side-lid box, which allows a prospective buyer to see the whole set without taking it out. Having taken the contents out, we have at our disposal:
- an aluminum carabiner case with a Zildjian logo
- three skin toned earplugs
- two sets of attenuation filters.
2. The product
The Zildjian HD by Ear Peace earplugs are made from soft, strong, hypoallergenic silicone, which come in three skin tones, i. e. light, tan, and dark. Their cone-like shape suggests they will fit tightly inside the ear, which only makes us more anxious to try them out. The earplugs are accompanied by two sets of attenuation filters. One of them includes skin toned filters (according to the manufacturer, they offer medium protection) while the other is comprised of red filters, which provide a high level of protection (again, a manufacturer spec). From the visual point of view, the entire package presents itself very nicely. Also, it was the producer’s aim to make the earplugs invisible.
3. Service and performance
Let’s get one thing straight. We don’t really care if our earplugs are skin toned (and thus camouflaged and more discrete) or not. What we do care about is whether they perform the role they are meant to perform. These do. The plugs truly fit inside the ear and do not fall out. The muffling effect is very comfortable, i. e. there is no sense of “underwater listening”. High frequencies are still audible, but without irritating the ear, complementing the mid and bottom end. One could say the high range has been nicely mixed in together with the mid range and the low frequencies. This feature would have an especially benign effect at a rehearsal where the drummer does not have a Benny Greb Signature cymbal set, fighting the guitars and vocals to find some space in the mix with the help of brilliant finish cymbals.
We have also tried out the Zildjian HD by Ear Peace plugs during a concert we were recording. One member of our team spent the entire sound check and concert time on stage, while another was at the mixing console. We can safely say that, after a few hours, the strain was much smaller than having used usual earplugs, let alone having none (which we always avoid doing). During that time, the plugs did not fall out of our ears at all. Not even once. Having taken them out upon completing our work, there was no feeling of discomfort connected with the cone being impressed in the ear.
Taking the plugs out is very simple thanks to the patented ‘pull tabs’, which are integral parts of each silicone cast. All the earplugs can easily be placed inside a nice-looking, two-chamber carabiner case with a Zildjian logo. It can be attached to a belt, lanyard, or a stick bag. Additionally, it is made from anodized aluminum, which means the user does not have to worry about its durability. A very practical solution indeed.
Obviously, we would not have been able to conduct a test similar to the one we described above, and have merely stated our personal impressions. As far as actual figures expressed in decibels go, we have to rely on the specs provided by the manufacturer. For this reason, we include a performance grid we got along with the product. However, our ‘by-ear’ impressions are very positive.
Distribution in Poland: http://www.adamusic.pl
- High quality level
- Tasteful design
- Reduction of ‘screaming’ high frequencies
- No discomfort in the ear