Although many snub the topic as overblown, the matter of hearing issues caused by loud music is still very much present among the fans of live concerts and those circulating in such environments.
As a matter of fact, the latest Pitchfork
report strongly suggests that by not using proper protection, chances are that passionate concert-goers will suffer from tinnitus, a medical condition resulting in constant ear ringing."A few months ago while photographing a concert in Montreal, I saw something I'd never seen at a show before: audience members covering their ears,"
the aforementioned Molly Beauchemin
feature kicks off. "That image came back to me a little while later, when Grimes revealed her struggle with tinnitus and tweeted that the ringing in her ears was so loud she couldn't sleep."I thought of it again when I read an interview with Zach Hill of Death Grips, in which he mentioned the ear blockage he experienced as a result of lifelong exposure to loud music. Then I came across a story about a music fan who killed himself over chronic hearing damage incurred at a concert. And another. And then, eight others - before unearthing a jarring world of message board threads dedicated to suicidal thoughts that result from tinnitus."
As often pointed out, tinnitus is not a disease, but a neurological issue. It is also permanent, as the cell damage can't be repaired. At the moment, about 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus, 2 million of which are unable to function normally due to severe ringing noise.
The report further notes that average shows at Saint Vitus bar in Brooklyn range from 98db to 115db, which is louder than a power drill and can even result in hearing loss at sustained exposure.
As an obvious solution, many point at earplugs. But there's even more of those who insist that earplugs are a buzz-killer, as they block some of the crucial frequencies for enjoying the concert.
According to the same source, this is not entirely true. As audio expert Nick Cageao
stresses, earplugs can even benefit the experience if properly worn. The quality of the plugs plays an important role. Top-notch custom models are made of silicone and by taking the impression of one's ear, filtering the frequencies in much more effective manner."It seems like the largest resistance to earplugs is cultural,"
the report concludes. "Our social climate relegates earplugs to the same category as sunscreen and contraceptives - proactive measures that are easily mocked only because we secretly know how important they are."
Do you think we should wear earplugs at concerts? Share your thoughts in the comments.