Saturday, January 06, 2007

Hearing protection, for music players

I live in a noisy world. This is my conclusion.

Most of the time, when I walk into shopping malls, I could often hear disturbing background noises. I presume those background noises occur due to loud music played by the individual stores of the shopping mall, and the poor acoustics of the mall.

I think VivoCity is a fine example of a poor acoustics (but beautiful, though) mall. When I was at VivoCity on Christmas Day, my ears kept sending me signals that the place is horribly noisy!

My home is a noisy place, unless everyone else is sleeping or not at home. I have parents whom I think have hearing problems but who think that I am too fussy in insisting that the volume of the television shouldn't be too high. To add to my woes, I have brothers who play mahjong. I don't mind the occasional noise when the mahjong tiles have to be shuffled, but I do mind the volume of the television and radio which were switched on to provide some entertainment. The volume is far too loud than I could sanely bear.

With ears sensitive like mine, it is often a painful experience to bear with noises. The bad news is that I heard that one corner of my workplace would be undergoing some refitting and renovation works. Noises again.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, human ears can only endure seven-and-a-half continuous minutes at 115 decibels before hearing damage begins. (View my source)

But I think I am living in a world where I may be subjected to such noise hazards many of the times.

One of my blog friends has been very kind to offer to get me ear filters to protect my hearing and offer some relief to my ears. The best part is that she was so thoughtful that she took the trouble to show me the various available designs of ear filters so that I could choose the one that would best suit my needs. She brought to my attention that there is something special about these ear filters. I have yet to find them in any other music shops in Singapore. Anyway, these ear filters are suitable for musicians to use while playing!

I felt so privileged to even browse through each of the various kinds of musician earplugs. I found myself reading away the instructions on the packagings.

Come to think of it, earplugs designed for the musician will come in handy. If I were to be sitting right near the tuba or trombone, no matter how lovely the instruments are played, the volume can still be pretty loud at some juncture. This evening, while catching a concert by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, I actually saw one of the double bassists who was sitting very near the tuba putting on earplugs just before the end of the intermission.

Some years ago, I had the opportunity to play the double bass with a jazz band, I was so put off by the loud volume from the amplifier connected to the instruments of the band that I had not been playing with any other jazz band since. Normal ear plugs didn't work for me then since it was difficult to hear some parts of the music using normal ear plugs. On the other hand, the HiFi HEAROS ear filters that my blog friend showed me today are designed to reduce the volume level without changing the frequency balance of the music that musicians would hear while playing. Hey, I realised that I love understanding how things work.


Eventually, I chose Xtreme HEAROS Ear Filters for it has a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 33 Decibels. I figured that I will need ear filters with higher Noise Reduction Rating to bear with the noises at home.

Having gone through so many kinds of ear filters and knowing the functions of these ear filters, I realised it was hard to resist buying one of these ear filters for my orchestra's double bass tutor, GM, as his birthday present. Furthermore, the personnel at that music shop have been friendly, attentive and customer-oriented to share with me information on how such ear filters could help protect the sense of hearing of musicians, at my pace. The informed knowledge of the product got me to decide on getting the High Fidelity HEAROS for my tutor. It costs $28 per set, and I think it is value-for-money for its technology and the hearing protection that it offers.

Information on the packaging of the High Fidelity HEAROS

When I got home and surfed for more information about the ear filters, I realised that many of those ear filters for musicians can also be used in contexts where one is subjected to loud noises. Knowing this made me feel even more thankful to this blog friend of mine who is so kind to get me a set of Xtreme HEAROS Ear Filters as a gift. I am feeling blessed to get such an ideal, practical gift. Here's to thank this blog friend once again.

I like the gift because it comes with a free case for the ear filters. I think this is a great idea. I had often faced a problem of carrying earplugs around because those earplugs that I had bought from the pharmacy are usually kept in cardboard casing or do not come with any case. Now, I shall be a proud owner of the HEAROS Ear Filters, and I shall proudly show you how a pair of the ear filters would look in the case.

By the way, while surfing HEAROS website, I chanced upon a Musician's Article on HiFi HEAROS. I think it is an interesting read to check out.

In case any of my Singapore-readers would like to find out where to get this rare find of mine, here is the location of the store where you can purchase HEAROS ear filters, right in Singapore:

35 Selegie Road
 #03-09 Parklane Shopping Mall
Singapore 188307
Tel: 63381210/ 63381220
(Please call after 10 a.m.)

(Update on 25 Mar 2013: Please take note that Music Ensemble has moved to a new location.)

(Nearest MRT station: Dhoby Ghaut)

If you have tried it and like it, please spread the word around. Our hearing and our ears are precious enough to be given the due protection.

URLs that you may wish to read:


mistipurple said...

Thank YOU! you're a dear! :)

Ivan Chew said...

I didn't know they had these. But I was thinking if rock musicians would wear one of these. Not too cool to have earplugs. Sadly, it's a fact that between looking cool and protecting our hearing, rockers like to choose the former.

oceanskies79 said...

Misti: :)

Ivan: You may be surprised. I think these HEAROS ear filters look cool. I especially like the case that came with many of the designs.

Furthermore, the technology of the Hi Fi HEAROS is so interesting, that I think it is cool. I think the reason why many rockers don't use it is that they don't know about such ear filters for musicians, and that they don't understand how these ear filters could help serve them to play and protect their hearing.

In fact, I think it was so practical and cool, I went to the shop again yesterday to get a set for another double bass tutor of mine, MJ, my personal tutor.

I have tried the ear plugs to reduce the disturbance from the mahjong session that one of my brothers and his friends had, and it worked. The background noises is dramatically reduced to a bearable level.

So if you like it, you could spread the word around. I think earplugs are cool. It is cool to protect our sense of hearing.

Simple American said...

Very interesting. Hope they work for you. I guess you can find out as you practice for the concert.

I have not worn ear plugs since I left the army. Had to wear em on the rifle range back then.

Lion said...

woo stuff. I think a lot of people could do with ear filters. maybe i should get one too.

oceanskies79 said...

Lion: Yes, it helps a lot....especially when I go out and had to face loud noises. It helps that the ear filters come with handy-case.

Benedict said...

Hi! I was looking for HEAROS earplugs when I happen to chance upon your blog. Since you have used the pharmacy earplugs before (which I'm currently using), I was wondering if there was any perceivable difference between the pharmacy variety and the Hearos Extreme? Do they last longer etc? Washable? Would really appreciate your comments, thanks!

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Benedict, what I like most about HEAROS earplugs is the container that keeps the earplugs (if one were to buy the earplugs in sets with the container). It makes earplugs so much portable that I can bring it wherever I go.

I usually have a problem finding ear plugs sold at pharmacy that has a portable container that can keep the ear plugs clean even if I were to throw it into the depths of my bag. As such, HEAROS earplugs' container is a great solution that meets my needs.

I find HEAROS earplugs easy to roll, and it does help to reduce the background noise. For me, I prefer earplugs that are easy to use and to put on, so this feature helps. It is also comfortable when put on. I perceive it is much softer than most of those earplugs that I have tried before from the pharmacies.

Certain models of HEAROS ear plugs are not meant to be washable, e.g. the one that I am using: Xtreme HEAROS Ear Filters, so I would dispose of them when they are dirty. But the High Fidelity HEAROS model is washable, I am aware.

In terms of blocking the sounds, I perceive Xtreme HEAROS Ear Filters has about the same strength in blocking off sounds when compared to the very good quality ear plugs (of similar Noise Reduction Rating) sold at pharmacy.

I have no immediate need to use High Fidelity HEAROS, but I have heard a few good reviews about it from musicians.

Benedict said...

Hi, I got the earplugs today. Was just wondering if you wear them in public too? I find that TV Mobile on SBS buses is very distracting to whatever one might be doing.

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Benedict, I wear them in public where needed.

For e.g.: Last week, I atended one of the National Day Celebration dinners organised by one of the grassroots, and I wore the ear plugs throughout. That helped to keep the most of the noise level out.

I also wear them at certain roadshows which are too noisy.

That is why I think it is important for the ear plugs to be portable.

Joe Goh said...

I came across this blog while searching for earplugs in Singapore and this came up. I bought two packs of HEAROS earplugs today (and i'm using one now actually) and they are GREAT.

Thanks for writing this blog entry!

oceanskies79 said...

Joe: My pleasure. I dislike noises, and needed help to protect my ears from noises. :)

Anonymous said...

hi! =)... i'm hoping to buy the hi-fi earplugs for jamming and stuff to protect my ears but without compromising the tone. The jam room is pretty loud and i'm wondering if 12 decibels is really enough. pls help?? thanks! =D

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Anonymous: I have both the Hi Fi HEAROS and Xtreme HEAROS Ear Filters.

When I used the Hi Fi HEAROS, because it can reduce the volume level without changing the frequency balance of the music, I don't seem to realise that there was a significant reduction in volume UNTIL I take off the Hi-Fi-HEAROS and then I start to realise the difference in volume!

Hi Fi HEAROS has worked well for me so far. I generally play classical music in an orchestra setting (with trombone and tuba playing nearby me).

12 decibels protection can make sometimes a lot of difference to keep the noise level within the safe level for the ears.

Lyca said...

This is a wonderful find! Thank you so much for sharing. I find my environment very noisy too and have been using my earphones (without my player on) to reduce some noise. But that wouldn't work in a band practice. If only I knew about this earlier, my poor ears would have been abused a lot less.

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Lyca, you are most welcome. Perhaps it is better late than never to know of such ear plugs. :)

Anonymous said...

thank you you save my life!!:D

oceanskies79 said...

Anonymous: I am glad that you have found this post useful. :D

Dawn said...

Thanks for posting. I stay in Singapore too and there is some renovation work going on in our neighbourhood. The noise totally rattles me. I'm gonna get my earplugs!

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Dawn,

In the ideal situation, it would be best if the renovation doesn't emit any noise. Thank goodness for invention like ear plugs, it helped to reduce the effects of noise on us.

You may wish to get the washable earplugs (Rock & Roll series), they last longer. Otherwise, the Xtreme version is great too (just not washable).

lynn said...

i am so glad u shared abt the ear plugs,i m facing the same kind of prob as you as i hv sensitive ears and mostly everything was sensitive to me so thank you and do tell me how do you cope with other sensitivity if u have any too.

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Lynn, thank you for your comments. It's my pleasure that my sharing has in some ways helped you a bit.

Nature has the power to soothe. So when I do feel a bit too hyped up, it helps me to be in the arms of Nature.

When I do so, I would tend to be grateful for my sensitive ears because they allow me to appreciate the beautiful sounds of Nature. The Botanic Gardens is one accessible and nice place to visit. I love the sounds of the man-made waterfalls, the sounds of leaves rustling in the wind, the birds chirping, the occasional chatter by children, the sound from the lakes and more.

I find it a nice idea for us sensitive folks to find ways to celebrate our sensitivity. I hope this may be relevant to you?

Of course, earplugs will come in very handy for us when the sounds get too noisy for the human ears.

Quanxiang said...

Thanks very much for this recommendation. I was just looking for musician's earplugs (as I play percussion in Bloco Singapura). I'll be sure to check out music ensemble and get a pair of suitable earplugs for myself!

oceanskies79 said...

Quanxiang. You're most welcome. Yes, protect our precious ears. Happy playing!

hearing hard said...

Thank you for sharing. You have no idea how you have help :)))

oceanskies79 said...

Hearing hard: You are most welcome.

Jon Low said...

Hi there, I intend to buy the HIFI HEAROS. But is the etymotic research (ER) earplugs better? I heard its gaining popularity too. As i play the piano for long hours, will u reconmmend me the HIFI HEAROS? and is it comfortable to wear HEAROS? as i havent tried in-ear earphones before, so the earplugs might be a pain.

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Jon, I have yet to use the etymotic research (ER) earplugs you were speaking about. In fact, this is my first time hearing about it. Do you know where to get it in Singapore, so that I can make a comparison.

Thus far, my experience with HEAROS ear plug is that it is comfortable. I find the Hifi Hearos work well to reduce the volume of sounds. Yet, when you use it, you may not notice the difference that Hifi Hearos will make. However, when you take it off, you will hear and experience the difference. I am not sure if it will be necessary to use a Hifi Hearos if you are using a normal acoustic piano. But I suppose it helps if you are playing fortissimo most of the time!

Jon Low said...

Thanks alot!! Yeah, Etymotic Research ear plugs are sold at Jaben at The apheldi or Stereo at Plaza Sing. But Im probably getting the HEAROS. I went to the musical ensemble pte ltd but it was closed!! Im gona get a hifi ear plug probably on tuesday. I need 1 badly, I dont wana go deaf when im old !! :)

oceanskies79 said...

Thanks Jon for the information on Etymotic Research ear plugs. I can sense that your ears and sense of hearing are your precious assets that you wish to protect. :)

I think you could give a call to Music Ensemble at Tel: 63381210/ 63381220 before your visit. Normally the friendly folks there will return your call if they have missed your call, as best as I can recollect.

Anonymous said...

Hi PY,
Thank you kindly for this post.
We will be shifting to Parklane Shopping Mall, #03-09, the building next to PoMo. Customers can still call us at the same numbers.
Here's wishing you and your readers a Prosperous Lunar New Year!
-Music Ensemble