jrmasteringsmall

5 sound engineer prevent tinnitus

Millions of people suffer from tinnitus.  A new study shows around 10% of the U.S. population suffers from it in some form, but many have never even heard of it until they get it!  Unfortunately, I was one of those people.  It can happen quickly and it lasts a lifetime... 

 

As a sound engineer, your hearing is your most important asset.  It's critical that you protect it for as long as possible.  In this section, I will discuss the causes and prevention of tinnitus, and general safety practices that will help you keep your ears healthy.

 

What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the constant hearing of a sound when there is no sound present. 
Some describe it as a ringing sound, a hiss, or a high pitched tone.  The sound is continual, and it varies from one tinnitus suffer to another.

 

How Is Tinnitus Caused?
Tinnitus is caused by either a single extremely loud sound or by loud sounds over a period of time. 
I know a military vet who got severe tinnitus from the sound of jets taking off in close proximity.  Another guy I know got it from a single bomb explosion that was right next to him.  Listening to loud music at a concert or club, if you're in a band, if you play music loud on your iPod, or monitoring music very loud as a sound engineer, over a period of time any of these scenarios could cause tinnitus.  If you cut grass for a living and don't wear earplugs, I would imagine that could eventually cause it too.

It can also be caused by prescription drugs in the benzodiazepine family or even by over the counter drugs like ibuprofen.  I heard of a man who got severe tinnitus from MSG in Chinese food.  The cook made a mistake and loaded it up heavy with MSG.

 

How Did I Get My Tinnitus And How Did It Sound?
I got tinnitus in 1999, working on one of my very first mastering projects the day I opened my studio, JR mastering.
  At that time, I needed to listen to the songs much longer than I do now because of my lack of experience, and I listened to them WAY too loud. 

I was reviewing my final masters at a high volume level (105-110 dbs) for about 30 minutes non-stop.  When I was finished I didn't really notice anything.  But, when night time came I could hear a high-pitched tone.  It sounded like a 40db test tone @ 5k.  I could hear the tone in both ears, but my right ear was twice as bad as my left.  The first few days it was hard for me to sleep because I kept thinking about this sound.  The sound was also very annoying when sitting outside in a quiet area.

 

Is There A Cure For Tinnitus?
No.  There are many pills and snake oil products online, but I have never heard of a valid cure.
  But, experts say it gets better over time as long as you don't make it worse.

The first few months I suffered from tinnitus, I would say it was very annoying at night but not too bad during the day.  It did not effect my sound engineering.  After six months, it improved about 25%.  After a year, roughly 50%.  Now, many years later, I would say I have maybe 20% of the original tinnitus I got in 1999 (an 80% improvement).  It's pretty much gone because it was a mild case of tinnitus to begin with.

 

Can You Mix And Master Music With Tinnitus?
Mine was not severe, so it did not hinder me at all.  The noise I heard was a 40db loud test tone @ 5k (at a narrow range).  I started doing my initial mixing and mastering at around 85dbs, so the tinnitus tone was pretty much masked (drowned out).  Its kind of like when someone records mic hiss.  You can hear it when the music stops, but when the guitars are playing you can't hear it at all because the hiss is being masked.

Singer Phil Collins retired because of his tinnitus.  Bono also has very severe tinnitus that greatly affects his everyday life.  If your tinnitus is very severe like those two, I'm sure your sound engineering skills would be greatly affected.

 

How To Prevent Tinnitus In Everyday Life
Always use hearing protection (earplugs)
when at a concert or a club playing loud music, when cutting grass, when using a blower or electric power tools, and for sure when shooting a gun.  Any situation where a continuous 100db sound is present. 

Also, don't listen to music over 100dbs for long periods of time.  OSHA recommends no more than 1 hour @ 105dbs.  I would NEVER go more than 20 minutes straight at 105dbs, if that.  Also, be careful with ibuprofen and prescription drugs.

 

How Loud Is Too Loud When Mixing And Mastering?
Well,
105-110dbs for 30 minutes straight was too loud for me.  I had tinnitus at the end of the 30-minute session!  Everyone is different, so I don't want to give you specific sound ranges and upper limits.  All I can tell you is what gave me tinnitus, and what's worked for me to improve my tinnitus 80% since 1999.

 

How To Protect Your Hearing As A Sound Engineer

THE GUINEA PIG EXPERIMENT
I read a study online where a scientist exposed guinea pigs to extremely loud music.  The results were that the guinea pigs who listened to extremely loud music continuously, say for 30 minutes, had severe structural damage to their internal ears. 

The guinea pigs who listened to the same extremely loud 30 minutes of music, but it was not continuous (roughly 2 minutes of music and then a 2 minute break), the damage to their internal ears was FAR LESS severe compared to the first group. 

Now remember, both groups listened to music the same total time (30 minutes).  But, continuous listening was far more damaging than intermittent listening.

 

The Rules I Follow During Music Mixing And Mastering
I initially mix and master at a lower level.  I keep levels around 80-90dbs.  I listen 10-15 minutes at these levels, then take a 5-minute break.  I will do this for between 2-4 hours, then I take a full two-hour break.

When it comes time for the finalization (loud listening @ 105-110dbs) I NEVER go more than 2-3 minutes continuous and I pretty much split time.  If I listen to loud music for 5 minutes, I take a 5 minute break before starting up again.

Above is what I've doing since 1999 and it works for me.  Maybe you can go 100dbs for 8 hours a day and never have a problem, but I'm not risking it.  105-110dbs for 30 minutes continuous ruined my ears pretty good, and I had to make sure they didn't get any worse. 

Tinnitus isn't fun.  I might be going overboard a bit with my silence rests, but it's working for me.  Better safe than sorry with tinnitus because it lasts A LIFETIME!

Click here for HUNDREDS of mastering articles, tips and secrets!

 

If you enjoyed this article like, share, tweet, or pin it!  Thanks!



My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

How To Correctly Set Mixing Levels Before Mastering

set mixing level meters

Correctly setting your mixing levels before mastering is essential for great mastering results.  Having the best DB levels for mixing is critical.  Here's how to properly do it!

 

#1 Best PC Desktop Computers For Music Production And Recording In 2017

PC Computer For Music

Looking for the best PC desktop computers for music production and recording in 2017 for your DAW home recording studio?

Out of all the components in the home recording studio, your PC music laptop computer is one of the most import choices you'll have to make!

 

15 Common Music Mixing Mistakes I See Daily

audio music mixing mistakes
 
These are the 15 common music mixing mistakes I see daily.  Correcting these music mixing mistakes could greatly improve your audio mastering results. 
 
 

#1 Best Audio Interfaces For 2017 DAW Home Recording Studio

best audio interfaces
 
Looking for the best audio interface for your DAW home recording studio in 2017?  An audio interface is another essential part of the DAW home recording studio.
 

#1 Best Music Recording Software For 2017 DAW Home Recording Studio

In this article, I will discuss the best music recording software and best music production software for your DAW home recording studio in 2017.

 

How Much Headroom Before Mastering Should I Leave?

mastering headroom

How much headroom before mastering should you leave in your mix?  Here's the correct amount of headroom you should leave, using detailed graphic examples.

 

#1 Best Midi Music Keyboards For 2017 DAW Home Recording Studio

best music midi keyboards

Looking for the best midi keyboard or music keyboard for your daw home recording studio in 2017?

 

How To Set Mixing Levels For Each Instrument

How to set mixing levels for each instrument is a question I see all over the Internet.  I'm going to explain exactly how to set mixing levels in this article.

 

#1 Best Vocal Microphones For 2017 DAW Home Recording Studio

vocal microphone

Looking for the best vocal microphone for your DAW home recording studio in 2017?

Out of all the components in the home recording studio, microphones offer the most choices and opinions on which ones are the best.

 

#1 Best Studio Monitor Speakers For 2017 DAW Home Recording Studio

Looking for the best studio monitor speakers for your DAW home recording studio in 2017?

The are quite a few choices when it comes to studio monitor speakers. This article will help you choose the best set for your needs.

 

Best Free Redbook CD Burning Software

Yes, burning your own redbook master CDs is very easy!  Here's how to make your own redbook CD masters for free!
 

How Long Does It Take To Master A Song?

How long does is take to master a song?  There are several extra song mastering procedures I offer that other mastering engineers will not do.

 

How To Prepare Your Songs For Mixing

prepare songs for mixing

In this article, I'll show you how to prepare your songs for mixing.

 

Best Music Gear For Your DAW Home Recording Studio in 2017

best gear for daw studio

What's the best music gear for your home recording studio in 2017?

 

Can You Master A Song That's Already Been Mastered?

Can I master a song that's already been mastered?  Yes!  Every month I master songs that have already been mastered.
 

Top 20 Audio Mastering Tips, Techniques, And FAQ

 
 

 

 

 

 

Here are the top 20 audio mastering tips, questions, and answers that I've been asked over the years.

 

 

What Does Channel Mean In Music And Mixing?

It's the most basic of all questions, but someone asks it at least once a week.  In this article, I will explain what channel means in music and mixing

 

Mastering Hardware Equipment You Need For Your DAW Home Recording Studio

7 mastering hardware equipment daw recording studio

Here's the basic hardware you need to master music:

 

#1 Best Website Hosting For Musicians, And Music Recording Studios

If you're looking for the best website hosting for musicians, bands, and music recording studios, here's my own personal experience with website hosting companies.

 

The Sound Engineer SCAM! Does More Expensive Mean Better?


The sound engineer scam, the online recording studio ripoff, whatever you want to call it.  I hear about it 3-4 times a month from my clients, since 1999.  It never changes!

 

 

Looking For The Best Hosting For Your Website?  Under $4 a month!!
http://BestMusicHosting.com

amsbannerbottom2

Go to top