Veteran Guitarist on Dangers of Loud Listening Environments
Paul Gilbert is one of the world’s best guitar players. But after years of exposing his hearing to dangerously high volume levels, he suffers from hearing loss. Gilbert’s message, which can be applied to installers, is to protect your hearing when exposed to high volume levels.
Reading a recent column in Premier Guitar written by well-respected guitar player Paul Gilbert, I realized there’s another side to the massive amount of volume these mega home theaters produce, and it isn’t good.
Gilbert openly discusses the hearing loss he now suffers from after years of listening to his walls of Marshall Amplifiers cranked to 11.
Half jokingly, he recommends a few things:
- Don’t put your ears up against some 4x12 guitar cabinets over long periods of time
- Don’t listen to Rush with your headphones cranked up every night
- Don’t listen to your car stereo full blast every time you take a drive
- Don’t record and mix in a home studio if the room has not been designed for audio playback
- Musicians shouldn’t try to be Mr. Cool by not protecting their ears in situations such as live shows or anywhere else music is loud
A good audio system can achieve a high level of volume and those volumes can be sneaky loud with content like movies or a favorite music playlist. With headphones and an iPhone, iPod or iPad, it’s also easy to play music at extremely loud levels and damage your hearing.
Gilbert’s point on quality room environments focuses on the fact that musicians - or electronics professionals - can condition their ears for good sound. “Trying to mix in an untreated room will confuse your ears and the tendency to solve this problem is by turning up the volume doesn’t help.”
A person’s hearing will degrade gradually over time, and it’s not something you notice until it’s too late. Gilbert says he suffers from Tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Gilbert says he’s learned to deal with his hearing loss, but the biggest challenges he runs into are when he’s trying to listen to speech.