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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I practice in a small booth, with enough padding, so very dry. Sometimes i use background tracks, metronome,..thru an speaker.
Lately i am having ringing or cracking noise in my right ear when i play higher notes on alto, just A2 and up, in a certain volume. Since i woke up last monday
with dizziness and ready tired after practicing a lot for three days i knew i had to protect my ears. I am now using over the ear headphones which gives an almost
underwater impression of the sound of the sax.
So i plan to buy custom molded earphones but not sure what would be the best filter for my needs, usually practice in the booth and occasionally a rehearsal or concert.
I am inclined toward the ER9, but maybe ER15 would be a safer and practical option for everything and still hearing good quality sound.
Could someone give me some hints?

Thanks.
 

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I use ER15, and I think this is the most common strength used by musicians

They are great for reducing the volume of everyone else, but I wear them as little as I can, because they dont allow me to hear myself in the way I want.

I think the problem comes because as well as hearing via the ear, we also have the sound conducted through the bones.

So, when you block of the normal route for sound to reach the brain, the bone stuff kicks in. Or, something like that !!!

It isnt ideal, but it is better than having tinnitus or other noise induced problems.
 

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I went to an ear doctor and he made a pair for me that were fairly expensive but have been excellent. He took a mold of my inner ear so it's a perfect fit and then their are inserts with different filters that lower the decibels. Mine is 15 decibels and the EQ is completely flat so it really just sounds like the volume is turned down. No problem singing in pitch or carrying on conversations between tunes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I went to an ear doctor and he made a pair for me that were fairly expensive but have been excellent. He took a mold of my inner ear so it's a perfect fit and then their are inserts with different filters that lower the decibels. Mine is 15 decibels and the EQ is completely flat so it really just sounds like the volume is turned down. No problem singing in pitch or carrying on conversations between tunes.
I went to the specialist and did the same this week. The earplugs will came in two weeks, i am sure it would be one of the best buys i have ever done.
 

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I've tuned pianos by ears almost everyday for 47 years and pound for hours.
I have some ringing in the higher frequencies but still can get high C in tune.
Can't use earplugs.
Good luck.
 

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I had the same symptoms as the OP, cracking noises in ear, but cannot get accustomed to the best earplugs that are not custom made - which is for me Earasers. They are very soft and comfortable but still that feeling of being disconnected while the sax is strangely sounding through the scull bones.
Because I don't believe that this effect can be different with custom made plugs, I did not spend the money. I now use to muffle the bell of the sax with home made damper (foam rubber and a cardboard tube haha) - no hard resistance, just enough to take the edge off, very comfortable.
Main idea is: to decrease the stress impact in the practice room in daily sessions and then be free at rehearsals and gigs.
 

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Get a sound pressure level meter-SPL (electronics shops, amazon, etc.) don't trust the app on your phone they are notoriously off.

Set the meter to "A" weighting and "Slow" response. Play loud licks and see what they register. The safest listening level is 85db(a) so subtract 85 from your highest reading, and go to the next level above that.

Say you are playing at 100, 100-85=15 so get 15s. If your max level is 105, 105-85=20 so get 25db filters

For best results, go to an audiologist, have them shoot a custom mold of your ears (tell them to go deep, past the first bend) and have them send the molds to Etymotic or Westone for the filters. Going deep is especially important for sax players, it minimizes the bone conduction.

In the long run, you will be glad you did. Your ears are your most important musical instrument.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I had the same symptoms as the OP, cracking noises in ear, but cannot get accustomed to the best earplugs that are not custom made - which is for me Earasers. They are very soft and comfortable but still that feeling of being disconnected while the sax is strangely sounding through the scull bones.
Because I don't believe that this effect can be different with custom made plugs, I did not spend the money. I now use to muffle the bell of the sax with home made damper (foam rubber and a cardboard tube haha) - no hard resistance, just enough to take the edge off, very comfortable.
Main idea is: to decrease the stress impact in the practice room in daily sessions and then be free at rehearsals and gigs.
I understand what you say. However i find the cracking ear happens after some time playing, so i simply think that i could use the ear plugs for an hour and then play without them half an hour more, for example. Just reducing the time i play without protection, which is directly related to the hurt you can make to your ears.
I have use over the ear earphones some days and i definitely am sure that custom made earplugs will be a major update from there.
Of course i don't plan to use it on live gigs or rehearsals except when it could be more rock oriented or with a louder drummer.
Having the plugs will be also an option for live concerts and loud music in clubs, last time i went out i came home with ringing in my ear.
 

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Does anyone know what that crackling ear thing is. I get it all the time when I am listening back to my alto clips when in the high register. The weird thing is I don't notice it when playing but only when listening. It's very annoying and unpleasant for me enough so that I hate listening to alto in the higher register. Someone asked me why I don't play more altissimo on my alto clips and this is the reason. Drives me crazy! I would love to know what is happening. It's almost like a speaker when it is blown and crackling..........
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Does anyone know what that crackling ear thing is. I get it all the time when I am listening back to my alto clips when in the high register. The weird thing is I don't notice it when playing but only when listening. It's very annoying and unpleasant for me enough so that I hate listening to alto in the higher register. Someone asked me why I don't play more altissimo on my alto clips and this is the reason. Drives me crazy! I would love to know what is happening. It's almost like a speaker when it is blown and crackling..........
That is just what is happening to me when playing at my booth, but not immediately, just after some time, like my ears are tired or something, specially my right ear. I think it would also happen if i listened an alto recording at low volume or using earphones(which i don't use a lot).

How is the experience when using ER25s?
 

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That crackling in the ear - it went away after I took care to play less, less loud, trying earplugs etc. I guess it is one of many versions of Tinnitus.
I knew a ear-nose-throat doctor who as a friend told me that they (doctors) do not really know what a tinnitus really is or why, they treat symptoms. That's 20 years ago, but probably still the case...
 

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That is just what is happening to me when playing at my booth, but not immediately, just after some time, like my ears are tired or something, specially my right ear. I think it would also happen if i listened an alto recording at low volume or using earphones(which i don't use a lot).

How is the experience when using ER25s?
I hate using the ER 25s. I feel like I am distant from the music and separate. I prefer not to use them but I do because it is better than going deaf..........
 

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I am inclined toward the ER9, but maybe ER15 would be a safer and practical option for everything and still hearing good quality sound.
Could someone give me some hints?
The audiologist I went to was torn between the ER9 and ER15. There were two situations I wanted hearing protection. The first is in big band where we have great, but extremely loud, trumpet players. The other is in a funk band where on-stage monitors get turned up more and more throughout the night. ("Can I get more of me in here," says the guitar player, which causes the keyboard player to say "Hey, now I can't hear me, turn me up," etc...)

He ultimately recommended the ER15's. Just this week I ordered ER9 filters because the ER15's were too much for me. For your situation, I'd give the ER9's a try first. The good news is that the filters are replaceable. Of course, it will set you back some cash if you need to switch, but at least you CAN switch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The audiologist I went to was torn between the ER9 and ER15. There were two situations I wanted hearing protection. The first is in big band where we have great, but extremely loud, trumpet players. The other is in a funk band where on-stage monitors get turned up more and more throughout the night. ("Can I get more of me in here," says the guitar player, which causes the keyboard player to say "Hey, now I can't hear me, turn me up," etc...)

He ultimately recommended the ER15's. Just this week I ordered ER9 filters because the ER15's were too much for me. For your situation, I'd give the ER9's a try first. The good news is that the filters are replaceable. Of course, it will set you back some cash if you need to switch, but at least you CAN switch.
They said changing the filters will be like 100 euros and again sending the earplugs so they can insert the new filters. And they have no plugs there to try at least for a moment to make my mind.
 

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They said changing the filters will be like 100 euros and again sending the earplugs so they can insert the new filters. And they have no plugs there to try at least for a moment to make my mind.
First off, I live in the US. So, your experience will vary.

I changed the filters myself. It was as easy as pulling out the "old" ones and pushing in the "new ones."

I paid $60.00 USD for the filters and $13.25 for priority shipping. That's about 56.64 Euro. There was no fee for me to remove and replace the filters as I did that at home. (I can't imagine anyone needing help with that process.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
First off, I live in the US. So, your experience will vary.

I changed the filters myself. It was as easy as pulling out the "old" ones and pushing in the "new ones."

I paid $60.00 USD for the filters and $13.25 for priority shipping. That's about 56.64 Euro. There was no fee for me to remove and replace the filters as I did that at home. (I can't imagine anyone needing help with that process.)
I asked about that possibility and that's what the audiologist said to me. She said that the filters were like embedded or built in the mold. I will check if they can be taken out and then see what i can do.
 

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Without a sound level meter, you are just guessing. You might be using too much attenuation resulting in not being able to hear the music enough, or worse than that, you might be using not enough and slowly damaging your hearing.

With my Westone ear molds, I can replace the 15 attenuators with the 25s in less than a minute.

Here are a list of meters at Amazon SPL meters. Be sure you get one that can be set to "A" weighting and "Slow" response. It's a small investment that can save your hearing.

Notes
 

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I use ER15, and I think this is the most common strength used by musicians.
Do these ER15 make the sound to feel "stuffy"?




I had the ER20 (the ones with the three rubber domes) but I couldn't use for playing. Too much stuffiness when I play. They were good for loud music, but not for saxophone playing.
I've ended up using cotton wool little plugs... stuck in my ears.
 
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