Whether you’re a mathematician or not, you don’t need to fully grasp the logarithmic function of the decibel to know when you’re in the presence if really loud noise.

In fact, the two fears baby’s come out of the womb with instinctually are a fear of falling and a fear of loud noises.

But dismal repetition in a job, a disdain for inconvenient safety habits, or a passion for music can have life altering longterm effects that you never think about when you’re young.

Shoot, who doesn’t love feeling the music? There’s nothing quite like low end pumped through 20″ speakers a few feet from your gut. Or how about that electric guitar blowing you off your feet? (Need I bring up Back to the Future?).

After yesterday’s review on my Alien Ears, I got a great note direct from Andre Belloise, head of AE. Aside from his (and Yolanda’s) kindness, he mentioned some things I felt were worth passing along.

With his permission, I’ve pasted them below:

“Musicians must be made to realize how important it is to protect their hearing.

“This is my mission in life now. I have severe hearing damage (higher end freq) and really, really loud tinnitus

“It sad that I am supposed to be wearing hearing aids now at the ripe old age of 47! Drumming and singing in loud nightclubs did it to me, especially banging cymbals around.

“If you get a chance, tell all your musician friends to get into some sort of hearing protection!”

Notice he didn’t say “buy my IEMs!”

Just get hearing protection.

I grew up playing 4 hours of drums everyday; but my dad made me wear big shotgun earmuffs. Today, I make Judah wear the same things. But after 20 years recording and touring – while I’m sure I have some damage – I’m in much better shape due to my father’s firm belief in hearing protection, which became my belief.

Gang, if you’re habitually around or listening to loud music, watch your listening volume (there are even free SPL measuring apps for the iPhone and Droid that are pretty accurate). And for goodness’ sake, use some ear plugs, or better yet, visit alienears.com ch:



Will · 18 Oct ’11 at 9:04 am

I have a 1000W JL Audio system in my truck, and I LOVE music, so I likely overdo it now and then…okay I definitely do. Do you know what a safe SPL range is?

    Christopher Hopper · 18 Oct ’11 at 9:24 am

    Remind me to come sit in your ride. πŸ˜‰

    OSHA allows for 8-hours of listening at 91db before any permeant hearing loss occurs. Time allowances go up dramatically from there (ex, only a few minutes at 110db).

    Download SPL Meter for your iPhone, then put your system up and see what peaks you get using A-weighting and slow response. (http://www.studiosixdigital.com/spl_meter.html)

    Then report back! Would love to know where you’re at.

      Will Farr · 18 Oct ’11 at 6:01 pm

      Very exciting – I will play with that tonight!

      And yes, you should sit in the truck and have a listen sometime – your “Lyric” album sounds especially clean.

Andrew · 18 Oct ’11 at 10:37 am

Musicians who play their music loud are propagating the same damage to their audience. If you love others like yourself, turn down the volume on your speakers too. I wear ear plugs at concerts (because they are unnecessarily loud) and still enjoy them.. headache/ring free afterward.

    Christopher Hopper · 18 Oct ’11 at 2:22 pm

    Great point, Andrew! Thanks for sharing this simple truth.

wayne thomas batson · 18 Oct ’11 at 5:45 pm

In that case, NEVER EVER go see Motorhead live. Aside of trashy lyrics, the band prides itself in defeating any earplugs you can muster.

–This public service announcement brought to you by Metalheads with Minds
Wayne Thomas Batson, Chairman and CEO

    Christopher Hopper · 18 Oct ’11 at 5:52 pm


    Thank you, good sir, for your duly noted public service to the public. Errr-

Christian Fahey · 18 Oct ’11 at 7:31 pm

Astute and responsible–especially coming from a musician having played drums from a child. It is interesting that Paul Stanley of KISS, who’s congenitally deaf in one ear to begin with, is on a crusade to preserve hearing around our country. I’m sure Pete Townsend (and a slew of others, known and unknown) wished he’d taken care of his hearing, especially in the young, reckless and loud years. I couldn’t help but note, Christopher, how your father’s insistence (and yours with Judah) that you wear hearing protection when drumming is a manifestation of a fully integrated view of the sanctity of life. Because life is precious, not only do we not abort the pre-born and euthanize the aged and infirm, but we also do things like protect our hearing and shovel snowy sidewalks. This was not simply interesting but salubrious πŸ™‚ as well!

    Christopher Hopper · 18 Oct ’11 at 8:12 pm

    “…but we also do things like protect our hearing and shovel snowy sidewalks.”

    What an incredible impetus to bring up while teaching people on stewardship and excellence: that we not only preserve life in the political high-life, but in the mundane (if not more so). In fact, it may be argued that certain ones who so adamantly endorse a particular political movement may conversely be guilty of failing to promote and guard life through means of daily diligence.

    I’d never thought of this.

      Christian Fahey · 18 Oct ’11 at 8:37 pm

      I’d mentioned this quote to you recently but here it is (about fully integrated view of sanctity of life): “”Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practise them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator”. Apologies, C, for taking up so much space but it says it all. Even hearing protection fulls under sanctity of life. Great post C!

        Christopher Hopper · 18 Oct ’11 at 9:20 pm

        You never need apologize for posting anything, my friend. Welcome additions indeed.

        Say, would you consider being a guest blogger?

          Christian Fahey · 19 Oct ’11 at 7:35 am

          Yes! Thanks so much. Lemme know what you’re looking for (topic). I’ll be succinct (200 words or less). I’m honored C! πŸ™‚

          Christopher Hopper · 19 Oct ’11 at 9:54 am

          Anything that has to do with “living life big” in the realms of creativity, family (legacy), and/or applied theology (practical perspective).

Dave Buckles · 18 Oct ’11 at 10:50 pm

Love this pic! And. Couldn’t agree more on wearing hearing protection! What an amazing sense we’re given to hear! We should protect what we’re given, plus who wants hearing issues early in life?? Or ever?? Wear hearing protection yo!!

    Christopher Hopper · 19 Oct ’11 at 7:02 am

    Say, when do you want your kit back, yo?!

    Glad you agree; although, being a chopper pilot, I’m sure you’re loaded with noise info. I can hear those sucka’s miles away! Whomp-whomp-whomp…

Erin · 21 Oct ’11 at 9:10 pm

And PLEASE turn down those earbuds. A good rule of thumb: if you can’t hear what’s going on around you while you’re listening to music through them, they’re already at damaging levels. It seems extreme, but even constant fatigue causes major damage. Also, do not turn up the volume after listening for some time – the inclination to turn it up is an indication that your ears have started naturally compressing the sound they’re receiving in order to protect themselves. Aka the music is already too loud.

Just a recording major/sound science geek’s two cents…

    Christopher Hopper · 21 Oct ’11 at 10:41 pm

    Thanks Erin! AMEN!

    I actually remember reading an article on a monitor engineer who used an SPL meter inside a film canister lined with foam to set decible levels for all the IEMs under his care before they went on stage and in ears. Wish I could resurrect it. ‘Twas brilliant.

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