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Hearing Protection: Some Real Life Sound Levels & dB Ratings

Sometimes you may not realise that you are in a situation or environment that is damaging your ears, we’ve all been to a nightclub and left with ringing ears, well, this is a form of hearing damage!

Below shows some real life examples and the typical expected dB levels - Some interesting information when you consider that your safe limit is 80dB for no more than 8 hours and that outside of these limits hearing damage will occur. Note that hearing damage is not something that will necessarily happen immediately but will certainly build up over time with increased exposure outside of the safe limits

To view the full range of universal and custom moulded earplugs on our site: Click Here

Shooting Ear Plugs UK

Shooting is an expensive yet exciting hobby! You’ll no doubt have the best gun and equipment so why would you put ineffective 20p foam ear plugs in your ears or wear clunky uncomfortable and annoying ear muffs?

The answer is you really shouldn’t, modern technology has moved on so much, the days of the ear muff hitting your stock should be long gone? Custom Shooting Ear Plugs should now be an essential part of your game or clay accessories kit and with prices from just £100 for 5 years of use, what’s to consider?

We offer custom shooting ear plugs that are both passive (non-electronic) through to state-of-the-art active electronic noise suppressors, we even have a modular option that allows you to purchase a custom passive shooting ear plug and then add at a later date the electronic modules for the greatest ear protection you could ever experience!

Passive vs Active: What’s the Difference?

Passive, so non-electronic generally means that a filter within your custom ear plugs will act as the noise suppressor, ie: when the gun is fired the noise level is suppressed to a safe limit of 80-85 dB. Gun shots can be in excess of 140 dB which is way beyond what is safe for your ears even at a distance of 1m, as you’ll know at least 1 of your ears will only be a few cm’s away! The filters also allow normal communication when worn, eg: speaking to people around you, using mobile phones, etc.

Active, generally means that the noise suppression (again to a safe limit of 80-85 dB) within your custom ear plugs will be controlled by state-of-the-art, very clever series of electronics and algorithms allowing for much greater protection, more features and less fuss! An example of these is shown below with the CENS range of custom shooting ear plugs, some of the features with them include:

• Flexible, medical-grade silicone material - extremely comfortable over long durations
• Battery life of up to 400 hours with low battery warning
• On / Off switch with volume control (for both left and right side)
• Power on delay (allowing the user to set the volume before placing in the ear)
• Activation melody
• Enhanced Ambient Sounds - Hear releasing traps / approaching game before anyone else
• Digital DSP Circuitry / Digital Compression
• Hear normal conversation and use mobile phones without removal

For any of our custom shooting ear plugs you will need to have ear impressions made...

What’s an Ear Impression and how do I get them made?

Click Here to read our Ear Impression FAQ’s

Our on-site and mobile ear impression services cover the South East of England including London, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex and West Suffolk, other areas will be considered depending on your desired product / purchase. For CENS Shooting Ear Plugs we also have a specialist mobile CENS agent who covers the South, South East, East Anglia, East Midlands and West Midlands. Outside of these areas please also speak to us so that we can connect you with a local outlet within the UK

We are also able to arrange demo sessions throughout the week (7 days) at your gun club, we can show and demo our complete range in addition to taking your ear impressions. Just ask the gun club owner or manager to speak to us and we’ll take care of the rest...

To talk to an expert or to book an appointment to see us, please call our custom department direct on 01920 876 958 (Lines Open: Mon - Sun, 9.00am - 9.00pm) - If you simply want to browse and shop then Click Here

Hearing Protection: What level of protection do I need?

Trying to work out what level of protection you need is not always as straight forward as you may hope but hopefully this guide will help. If you are unsure and need custom earplugs or any kind of ear protection and want some personal human-to-human advice don’t forget that we have a dedicated custom department, we’ll have all the answers to your questions, we can be reached on 01920 876 958

So, our previous posts should help a great deal but in essence the key factors for deciding upon the right ear protection are: volume level, time and distance

Volume will be the SPL (sound pressure level) measured in dB
Time, your exposure time to the volume mentioned above
Distance, the distance from the source will greatly affect the measured dB at your ear

In a semi-pro or pro environment you may have access to a sound level dosimeter which measures the dB for you or the venue may have taken care of these measurements, if you don’t then you would either need to choose a product that the manufacturer recommends for your specific scenario or use the chart on our previous posts that give approximate SPL measurements for different environments then allowing for the safe dB level (83dB / 4 hours) and your actual exposure time, eg:

If you are a DJ in a nightclub that has an SPL in the booth of 105dB and you are doing a 2 hour set, you would need a minimum of 19dB reduction, this allows for 86dB / 2 hours which is equal to 83dB / 4 hours - Our dB vs time chart can be found by clicking here and other real life example by clicking here

Minerva make life a little easier by offering 16 music earplugs as shown in the image below, click the image to be taken straight to their 16 music earplugs on our site. They also offer other custom earplugs for: Motorcycling (Click Here) | Sleeping (Click Here) | Work (Click Here)

Minerva Montage

ProGuard make earplugs using 3 different filter ratings that cover most uses, shown in the table below, to view these earplugs on our site for the:

8dB Click Here, the 13dB Click Here and the 17dB Click Here

Again, ProGuard make custom earplugs for many applications, to view the full range Click Here

ACS also make their own 2-way filter which helps to reduce the occlusion effect (hearing your own voice inside your head), their Pro range come in four different filter ratings a shown below:

Pro15 Acoustic: Ideal for acoustic and orchestral musicians - Click Here
Pro17 Voalists: Ideal for amplified musicians and vocal performers - Click Here
Pro20 High Noise: Ideal for motorsport and industrial applications - Click Here
Pro27 Severe Noise: Ideal for seriously loud environments - Click Here

Their complete range of custom products can also be found by Clicking Here

Hearing Protection: Universal vs. Custom Moulded EarPlugs

What’s wrong with conventional foam earplugs? Basically, they muffle speech and music. Conventional foam earplugs reduce sound more in the high frequencies than in the low and mid frequencies, which makes music and voices unclear and unnatural. Deeply-inserted foam earplugs not only muffle the sound, but can provide 30-40 dB of sound reduction when only a small amount may be needed - From a practical aspect they are harder to fit, harder to keep secure and often become dirty quickly also. So with foams discounted we are left with universal or custom moulded earplugs

Universal Earplugs

Universal Earplugs are a great cost effective quick fix - Something like the very common ER20 Musicians EarPlug at less than £10, make an ideal on-the-go hearing protector - They are designed to allow you to enjoy the fidelity of the music you are listening to whilst offering up to 20dB of protection

The graph below shows the dB reduction using an ER20 and also highlights the point above about using foam earplugs with an unbalanced attentuation

If having a universal is the best solution for you but 20dB is just too much you could also consider the EarSonics EarPlugs that offer 16dB of reduction

But what if you don’t always need the same level of protection? Alpine Hearing Protection will take care of this, they offer the MusicSafe Pro (includes 15, 17 & 18dB filters) and the MusicSafe Classic (includes 17 & 18dB filters) EarPlugs that offer on-the-fly exchangeable filters, both of which are under £20 per set

Custom Moulded Earplugs

Customs offer by far the greatest level of flexibility - With custom earplugs, being bespoke and moulded to your ear they will be the most comfortable, they’ll offer the best fit and are the best solution long-term. You will also find them easier to secure in the ear perfectly and not cause any discomfort when using for long periods

In addition, as they are custom made you can choose the manufacturer you wish to use but also what dB rating you need and who makes the actual filter - In most cases your earplug will also allow you to keep spare filters of the same or different ratings for on-the-fly adjustments! The most important item would be the filter though, ranging from 8dB to 27dB (average attenuations), all of which will offer different dB reduction curves, eg: Etymotic ER Filters offer a flat response (shown below) but reduced by 9, 15 or 25dB whereas ACS Pro filters typically offer more reduction as the frequency (Hz) increases

To view the full range of universal and custom moulded earplugs on our site: Click Here

Hearing Protection: When should I consider using EarPlugs?

So, when should you be using Hearing Protection?

Every day, we experience sound in our environment, such as the sounds from television and radio, household appliances, and traffic. Normally, we hear these sounds at safe levels that do not affect our hearing. However, when we are exposed to harmful noise - sounds that are too loud or loud sounds that last a long time - sensitive structures in our inner ear can be damaged, causing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). These sensitive structures, called hair cells, are small sensory cells that convert sound energy into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, our hair cells cannot grow back...

Being aware of decibel levels is an important factor in protecting your hearing, distance from the source of the sound and duration of exposure to the sound are also equally important. A good rule of thumb is to avoid noises that are "too loud" and "too close" or that last "too long"

Our previous posts highlight safe time limits, noise regulations and real life examples of dB levels all of which reinforces the above but ultimately highlights that you will not always know if you are damaging your ears - Care should always be taken in noisy environments never to exceed 80dB for more than 8 hours and that ideally exposure to any sound at 80dB should be limited or you should be protected! Over 80dB you should certainly be protected, be cautious of using the right level of protection and staying within the safe time limits also!

Whilst the law governs your workplace it doesn’t control you outside of that and so you are left to protect yourself, this could be something as simple as performing DIY whereby powertools will often have dB levels in excess of 90dB which with high exposure times will damage your hearing, or even motorcycle riding, other examples are shown below

To view the full range of universal and custom moulded earplugs on our site: Click Here

Hearing Protection: Safe Time Limits & dB Ratings

Some noises can damage our hearing irreparably in minutes or even seconds. Other noises we can withstand for longer, but are nonetheless just as destructive. Below you can see the noise volumes and how long we can bear them

You will notice that for every increase of 3dB you are effectively halving the exposure time, note that this is also showing that each increase of 3dB is actually doubling the volume!

To view the full range of universal and custom moulded earplugs on our site: Click Here

Hearing Protection: UK Law & Noise Regulations

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the Noise Regulations) came into force for all industry sectors in Great Britain on 6 April 2006 (except for the music and entertainment sectors where they came into force on 6 April 2008)

The aim of the Noise Regulations is to ensure that workers’ hearing is protected from excessive noise at their place of work, which could cause them to lose their hearing and / or to suffer from tinnitus (permanent ringing in the ears)

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 replace the Noise at Work Regulations 1989

The level at which employers must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones is now 85 decibels (daily or weekly average exposure) and the level at which employers must assess the risk to workers’ health and provide them with information and training is now 80 decibels. There is also an exposure limit value of 87 decibels, taking account of any reduction in exposure provided by hearing protection, above which workers must not be exposed!

To view the full range of universal and custom moulded earplugs on our site: Click Here

Hearing Protection: DJs - EarPlugs or In-Ear Monitors?

DJs are particularly vulnerable to Noise Induced Hearing Loss as they spend many hours in high ambient noise areas

The usual image we have of a DJ is of someone with headphones clasped tightly to one ear while they cue up or beat match the next track. There are a number of problems to deal with here. Our ears are intended to listen "in stereo" to give us a clear sound picture of our environment, if we try to listen to different signals in our ears, then the natural tendency is to turn up the one we are concentrating on - the monitor feed. If the DJ is already in a high noise area then the level in the headphone will have to be dangerously loud in order to be heard. Listening using one ear is not a safe way of monitoring. Other DJs use a loudspeaker for monitoring and this can be equally as bad because they have to overcome the high ambient sound before they can hear what they need to - In order to hear what is necessary, without risking hearing damage, it is important to achieve some isolation from the ambient sound. This could be achieved by using custom earplugs (20dB+) to reduce the ambient down to a safe(r) level, the DJ can then continue to mix how they are used to, headphones or monitor

Recent developments in hearing technology now also allow users to use In Ear Monitors (IEMs), similar to those worn by musicians, that fill the ear canal. These provide isolation that is as good as earplugs and will allow the user to hear their monitor mix with a much lower level at the eardrum. However, IEMs are not without their risks. The drivers used are capable of producing very high levels at the eardrum and so it is wise to use some sort of limiting device to protect your ears - This is where an AdaptEar comes in. It is designed to be easily adjusted to match the specific sensitivity of the IEM to provide a safe listening level, and contains a patent (applied for) peak limiting device which protects against acoustic shock and helps protect against long periods of high volume from the communications device. AdaptEar has a high level indicator LED which informs the user that the volume limit is being reached, protection is being implemented, and they should consider turning down the source. The video below shows the AdaptEar in action:

To view the full range of Hearing Protection on our site including the AdaptEar: Click Here. Our full range of custom IEMs can be found by: Clicking Here