Devin Townsend to Musicians: 'Protect Yourself, Protect Your Investment, Wear Earplugs'

Musician talks of hearing problems he now suffers from not wearing earplugs.

Ultimate Guitar

Devin Townsend has been talking to Rock Hard Magazine about the importance of wearing earplugs.

As the singer/guitarist notes, it's a question of protecting yourself:

"If you don't wear earplugs, your ability to hear those nuances that you want other people to connect with as emotional experiences that you're trying to represent through your music ... it's not gonna happen. Protect yourself, protect your loved ones, protect your investment. Wear earplugs."

Townsend states that, as a result of not wearing earplugs for many years, he now suffers from severe tinnitus when he tires to sleep:

"Do I wear earplugs? Absolutely not. In fact, I don't think I've worn earplugs on more than seven occasions liveā€¦ The thing is, when I go to bed at night now, as a result of years of traumatizing sound pressure levels and monitor men that have this button, I think, located conveniently under their thumb that says "feedback in the monitors", I go to sleep at night with the sound of someone frying bacon and another person blowing a rape whistle...

"To summarize, wear earplugs, because there's a good chance you're smarter than me."

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30 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I've been seeing this subject come up quite a lot lately, but to hear it from Devin like this is really making me stop and think. I'm 22 and have probably damaged my ears beyond repair at least a little bit, but perhaps I'm still young enough to prevent a lot of future damage...nice to see articles like this on UG
    I had tinnitus for a few weeks once. It is unbearable and you will NOT be able to focus at all on anything. Imagine a loud fast consistent heartbeat in your ear. It's not good.
    Quick question...You see a lot of musicians that wear the in-ear monitors. Is this helpful by limiting the other noise on-stage and being able to control the volume of what you're hearing? Or would it be better to stage monitors and wear earplugs?
    From what my singer/friend has told me, the in-ear monitors do reduce other sound but you usually only wear it in one ear. So he recommended an earplug for the other ear.
    In ear monitors (IEM) should be worn with both ears in. If you don't you will probably have to run the IEM at a really loud volume to combat the stage volume, thus defeating the reason for having IEM, which is to reduce the overall volume reaching your ears. Plus, if you're going to wear an earplug in the other ear, you may as well wear both sides of the IEM. IEMs are very useful in limiting the noise that reaches your ears. If you get molded IEM, you are effectively blocking out the whole of the outside world, so the sound that reaches your ears from the IEM is clearer/purer, and can be listened to at a much lower volume. The problem with IEM is you could do with a good sound engineer to mix them for you, and you need to put all the instruments through the mixing desk so that you can hear everything you need to. This isn't practical on some gigs, especially pubs and the like. The disadvantage is wearing earplugs and using stage monitors is that no earplugs are flat response, so you can lose some definition to what you are hearing. Typically guitars and vocals sound less distinct, as a lot of earplugs reduce somewhere in the 2-5kHz more as they are danger frequencies. In the end, earplugs and IEM take some getting used to, and as a drummer/guitarist/sound engineer myself, I highly recommend getting used to them.
    I use 1964 Custom moulded IEM's and they are great. They are extremely comfortable and do reduce stage noise a lot. I also use them whilst flying or taking the train, even at low volumes they still block out a lot of background noise
    I'm glad to hear a respected musician making a statement like this. I can't count the number of times I've heard people mocking me at a concert for wearing earplugs. I've even heard the opinion that anyone wearing them doesn't deserve to be at the concert, let alone in the front row. Great message, Mr. Townsend. You don't owe the public anything but this is just good advice coming from an experienced source.
    Those people are idiots, you can get some really nice earplugs that just reduce the Dbs and filter out the harsher frequencies, I use them all the time for band practice and occasional for gigs too, they're fantastic.
    I wear earplugs for sound clarity. If you can't convince yourself to protect your future ears, just think of the sound clarity when you put them in. When I go to shows at small clubs that CRANK the volume, I can identify every instrument, and every note when I use earplugs, same with my bands practices (and we practice LOUD).
    That is actually true. I don't even like loud music, because it just makes the music sound like one big mess + it hurts my ears and makes me feel uncomfy.
    I am happy that UG is putting more stuff on the website about protecting your hearing. My tinnitus is driving me mental. Especially at night (as it is now), these articles are making me think twice about using me earphones as much, and just looking after my hearing. I usually listen to my Ipod everyday with the volume up at nearly full volume, I know realise that this has done my hearing some damage. As music is very important to me I am getting rather annoyed at the fact I can not listen to it without a high pitch whistle all the time.
    My ears are already pretty damaged, and there are probably '14ers here that have more live experience than I do. It doesn't take much. Practicing in a tiny room with a huge drum kit and a pair of 100-watt combos at half volume will do the trick.
    Me too man. Even from blasting my iPod in my ears as loud as possible on the way to school when I was younger. How I wish I'd just turned it down even a little bit! lol oh well.
    Understandable at huge gigs. At bar gigs, like an old band I used to be in about 2 years ago, (and a lot of amateur bar bands) they think they sound better to turn their stuff all the way up. Sometimes people need to learn to control their volume and adjust their sound better.
    I completely agree with Hevy Devy--protect your ears. Too many 'tards blast their music out and root their ears. It's entirely foolish. Be smart: look at the long term, and look after your body and your mind. They're gonna be with you for your whole life. \m/
    I think whoever does the proofreading for UG needs to schedule an eye examination with a doctor. "Tires to sleep"???
    I don't even understand how people are able to sustain so much volume. I can't handle a concert (me in the public) without airplugs, so I can't even imagine how the guys on stage handle that. Since the last Airbourne + Black Spiders show, I'm pretty sure some of my inner ear cells got killed...
    Is there an official word for Devin Townsend fan-boy? Because I am that. His style... the music, the smart-assy way he speaks in interviews, pretty much everything. That said, he could make a fortune as the voice on audiobooks. Whatever the book, I would listen. I would just hope that the Dev would have the good taste and courtesy to select books that aren't, I don't know, frickin Twilight and the like.
    Check it here, use the HD version
    I heard all frequencies, but after under 30 i could only hear crackling noises and not a continuous beep... i'm turning 25 this year
    I don't fully understand this concept. In real environment you are never going to hear sounds that high. I like the beep test. These high frequencies just make me feel uncomfortable.
    I currently have otitis externa. The ear canal is swollen. I got it from basically scratching the inside of my ear with sharp objects and using cotton swabs the wrong way. I learned my lesson I guess. Hopefully it'll be better within the next day or two.
    I have the same condition, left ear. The sharp object was my fingernail... but luckily, I have better than average hearing.
    Saw Dream Theater on the 13th, late in the day on the 14th and my ears are still ringing. Lesson learned!!!