It plagues nearly half a million people in the UK each year. It causes untold sleepless nights and has no known cure. It makes DJ Eddie Temple Morris brand stereos “sonic weapons”. Tinnitus – usually in the form of a constant ringing in the ear – is a serious affliction. The solution? High-tech earplugs.
If you want to avoid being in the 10% of people in the UK with mild tinnitus – or the half a million with severe symptoms, you’ll need ear protection. There are two choices: cheap, foam earplugs or a hi-tech, customer moulded, filter-based solution. Needless to say, we’re more interested in the second kind.
To create the ideal aural conditions for lowering volume, a custom mould has to be taken of your ear – so you can forget about importing. There are plenty of audiologists in the UK ready to cast your ear though, but such is the precision involved in creating them there are only around three labs in the country certified to produce the plugs.
The reason for all this effort – and a cost of £185 – is due to fidelity. Cheap, foam plugs block more of a noise’s higher frequency than lower, so you’re left with unbalanced sound. Custom plugs ensure that the fidelity remains, so you’re only reducing volume, not song quality.
British Tinnitus Association frontman, DJ and mash-up artist Eddie Temple Morris can attest to that. “I tried the foam ones, but they completely cut out the ‘tsch’ sound of a high-hat. Since I used this to mix, it made things impossible.” The custom fits work perfectly, however, and let ETM work without issue. “They’re great. I keep mine in a condom inside my watch pocket. You’ll never know when you need it.” ETM believes in safe aural.
Protecting ears is a personal quest for Eddie – he knows the suffering tinnitus causes first hand: “I can hear it now, even while we’re talking. It’s worse in quiet places – or when I’m stressed. Then it gains another level, like a backing track.” Tinnitus struck ETM aged 35, instantly and with no warning signs. Worryingly, he explained that it wasn’t due to years of abuse – just a normal amount of gigging and music-listening any interested teenager might do.
If we’ve scared you enough, there are three types are available: -9, -15 or -25db. The number reflects their decibel-reducing properties. It’s important to note that exposure-time to noise halves by an increase of 3db, so a -9 will allow you to go eight times longer in a loud situation than before. Most gig goers grab a -15db set, though. And if you’re working underneath an aeroplane that’s taking off – move up to -25db.
To get a pair, check out some here
More information? http://www.tinnitus.org.uk/