|Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr|
|Are you really gonna trust your hearing to these things?|
A high-pitched mewl, a mosquito's whimper, the shrieking voice of a dentist's drill. This is the sound of tinnitus, a side effect of noise-induced hearing loss and a sound I had become far too familiar with. I don't remember which extremely loud concert had been the tipping point -- maybe Deafheaven, or Destruction Unit, or The Black Lips -- but a little ringing after a show was normal, just lasting a few hours.
Then it started to last a few days. Then a week.
If I actually have tinnitus (without going to an otolaryngologist, or ear doctor, it's hard to know for certain how bad the damage really is), it's faint. Only in really quiet areas do I consciously notice it. But whatever it is, I don't want it to get worse and I want to be able to hear music the rest of my life, so I finally started wearing earplugs at shows.
Only, wearing earplugs kind of sucks. They're uncomfortable, they muffle the music, and I often forget them. (I won't even get into how neon-green pellets stuffed in your ear look stupid, because I don't really care about that.) But I don't want to risk going without them. So I decided to find the best pair of earplugs on the market -- something that gave me protection, but didn't ruin the experience of going to a show.
I tested these earplugs in the field (i.e. at concerts and other loud environments) and also at home using my stereo on full volume. My neighbors were thrilled. Anyway, here's what I learned.More »