If you're a musician or a construction worker, you've probably experienced some form of listener fatigue due to prolonged loud noises. It may seem like the only and obvious answer is to take a break from the noise and get back to it later, but there are some other tips and tricks that come in handy that can help you avoid this phenomenon successfully.
There's still a lot of mystery in the science world surrounding the technical causes of this fatigue, but the irritation in your ear is caused by stereocilia or hair-like cells that get damaged by loud or prolonged noise.
When hearing loss is present, the brain has to compensate for the loss and work harder than before to process the same information, causing stress on the brain and, finally, fatigue. This can bring you tiredness, pain, and loss of sensitivity. Here are some ways to avoid this when you're having long studio nights or on tour with crazy amounts of noise constantly hitting your eardrums.
According to a Scandanavian Audiology study, there is a direct link between listener fatigue and exercise. If you are suffering from this fatigue while doing your workout, consider choosing a form of working out that doesn't involve loud music or loud noises for an extended amount of time.
According to this study, there has also been a link between high temperature and high amounts of listener's fatigue, which can also be referred to as temporary threshold shifts. If you are in an environment where the music or audio must be loud, consider lowering the temperature to lessen the risk of fatigue. If you are outdoors in intense heat, you are at greater risk.
If you need a quick recovery break after extended loud music or sound, try dampening the sound immediately with earplugs or earmuffs. It's much more effective than just turning down the volume on the sound or going into a somewhat quiet environment. Locking out sound as best as possible will help your body recuperate.
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Sonic artifacts are music materials that are accidental or unwanted, resulting from the editing or manipulation of a sound. If you're a musician, producer, or engineer, chances are you have been hearing sonic artifacts in rough mixes and edits that play back while songs are created.
Listening to these unmixed or distorted sounds, including clicks, pops, vocal peaks, and similar harsh sounds, is a very easy way to send yourself into Listener's Fatigue. If it's your job to listen to music for mixing, ensure you're not exposing yourself to these sounds for long periods. Take multiple breaks! Most audio engineers know better than to sit for a long period of time and put their ears through that type of work all in one go.
If you're experiencing this type of fatigue time after time, consider talking to your doctor about it. You may be in need of a hearing aid that can help you dramatically while you work throughout your day while listening to deafening noises. You can only buy hearing aids through an audiologist or a licensed hearing aid dispenser, so don't think that you can just get one on your own without a referral from a professional.
Sound is commonly measured by decibel, also known as dB. If you want to ensure you aren't damaging your ears, try to keep your dB levels under a certain amount. A whispered tone is around 30 dB, and a normal spoken voice level is about 60 dB. On the higher end, a motorcycle engine running is about 95 dB.
With headphones or loudspeakers, we often go too far with our music levels and hit over 100dB. Noise above 70 dB over a prolonged period of time may cause damage to your hearing. Noises over 120 dB can do damage immediately. Download a mobile decibel-reading app, like Sound Level Meter or Decibel Meter, to measure decibels.
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As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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