The University of Auckland Clinics

Hearing protection for musicians and people exposed to loud noise

About 150,000 New Zealanders have some form of hearing loss attributed to exposure to loud noise.

The Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health regulations allow for a maximum exposure to sound of 85 decibels over an eight-hour day without the use of hearing protection.

Sounds at 100–110 decibels can damage hearing after 15 minutes’ exposure.

Sounds at 110–120 decibels can damage hearing exposures after just 30 seconds.

The sound levels at musical concerts can peak at 110-120 decibels, which means that musicians run a very real risk of hearing loss.

What are the warning signs?

Your hearing system may not give you any warnings. But some musicians do experience temporary tinnitus or muffled hearing after performances. Both these symptoms indicate a musician’s hearing is at risk of permanent damage if the exposure to loud sounds continues.

How can musicians protect their hearing?

Wear musicians’ earplugs designed to protect hearing without adversely affecting how the musician hears music. Unlike conventional earplugs, musicians' earplugs preserve sound quality, while at the same time reducing the level of exposure to sound. They can even be designed to reduce specific pitches.

After a loud concert or practice avoid loud music or other loud sounds (from power tools, for example) for at least 16 hours.

Have regular hearing tests. Our clinic offers a special test which checks on the health of the sensory “hair” cells in the cochlea even before any hearing loss becomes apparent.

Come and see us at The University of Auckland Hearing and Tinnitus Clinic. Our expert audiologists can help you select the most appropriate protection.

Book an appointment