If it is too loud, you are too old – so say those with no regard for their hearing. The truth is, anything you expose yourself to with a decibel in excess of 80dB could permanently harm your hearing.
This is bad enough for most people, but potentially catastrophic for those who rely on their hearing to do their jobs.
This puts the professional DJ in something of a predicament. Turning things down in a packed venue is not an option, but you need to prioritise your own health and wellbeing.
Some DJs turn a blind eye to the whole thing, and simply hope for the best. Elsewhere, others take proactive steps to protect their hearing, and pave the way for a future without permanent hearing loss.
But what are the most practical and effective things you can do as a DJ to protect your hearing? Assuming you do not want to compromise the quality of your set, how can you keep your ears safe while strutting your stuff on stage?
- Turn down the club monitors
You may have no control whatsoever over the general sound level in the club or venue. That is for management to decide, but you do at least have control over your monitors – if present. Where monitors are positioned by the booth for the DJ’s benefit, it is best to keep them only as loud as they need to be. Keep in mind that monitors aren’t there for volume, but for balance – the ‘dryness’ that needs to be added to the ‘wet’ mix you hear from the main speakers in the club. Try it out and you may discover that you do not need your monitors to be nearly as loud as you think you do.
- Invest in some decent quality earplugs
Standard earplugs for sleeping and general noise reduction can be a useful tool for preventing hearing damage. However, they have a tendency to muffle and obstruct sound in a way that makes them impractical for the professional DJ. Precisely where purpose-made DJ earplugs come into the mix, which are precision-engineered to reduce volume levels without affecting the quality of the sound signal your ears pick up. Some are loaded with cutting-edge technology, while others simply feature a small hole to allow just the right amount of sound through; cheap, easy to use and perfectly capable of protecting your hearing for life.
- Play quality audio files
Evidence suggests that the quality of the audio files you play could have a major influence on the extent to which they can damage your hearing. Low-quality digital audio files that sound grainy and completely unbalanced are theorised to be far more hazardous to your health than higher-quality digital files. Not that you should be settling for substandard audio files as a self-respecting DJ in the first place, but still – another reason to go through your arsenal and ensure everything is of the same impeccable quality standard.