Many fans, even some rockers, go for ear protection HOW LOUD IS TOO LOUD?

August 11, 1991|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

For some people, waking up with ringing ears is an annoyance. For me, though, anything that interferes with my hearing also interferes with my work. Which is why I haven't been to a rock concert without earplugs in over a decade.

Nor am I the only one wearing them. Look around next time you're at a show, and you'll probably notice that virtually everyone who works at the venue is wearing earplugs. (Shouldn't that tell you something?) Moreover, a fair number of rockers themselves keep plugged up while on stage, including big-name hard rockers like Ted Nugent (who for years only wore one plug, and now is partially deaf in the exposed ear) and Jani Lane of Warrant.

What kind should you wear? Robert Goldstein of Maryland Sound recommends earplugs which "look like screws," and can be found at rifle and sporting goods stores. "They screw into your ears, basically," he says. "They're very soft and very comfortable, and they cost about two or three dollars. They have a little carrying case for them. You clean them off after, and they last for years and years and years."

Less advisable are the "ear stopple" style of plug. These are soft, pliable plugs (usually made of wax or silicon) that mold to the shape of your ear. Trouble is, if you laugh or yawn while wearing them, the "seal" over your ears is easily broken, and the noise floods in.

My preference runs to the soft foam or "Swedish wool" style of plug, like the E*A*R Noise Filter, which reduces noise levels by up to 29 decibels, or Quiet Please! by Flents, which is rated at 32 decibels; these can be found at pharmacies or, in the case of E*A*R, at some music and record stores.

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