As a DJ, your ears are everything. If you're working night after night in loud environments, you need to think about protecting yourself against damage. For industries such as construction, manufacturing and heavy industry, occupational hearing loss is a common issue that has a lot of awareness, and something that is actively managed. For DJs, it's less strictly regulated and can become a serious problem as your ears are what essentially pays the bills.
One danger sign that most DJs / punters that have experienced is Tinitus or "the hearing of sound when no external sound is present." (Wikipedia). While most DJs have experienced ringing in their ears once or twice without further problems, it can be a sign of potentially longer term permanent damage. If this is something that's happening on a regular basis, you should start to think about protecting yourself.
Most damage occurs from prolonged exposure to high decibel ranges. For DJs spending anything from 1 - 6 hours in the club, this can start to cause problems over time. Here are a few things to know so you can prevent permanent damage and keep DJing for many years to come.
- Ear plugs
Probably the most obvious way of mitigating hearing damage is by using ear protection. Wearing earplugs before your set while at the club and also when attending other gigs is also a great way to make sure you're keeping your ears safe from unnecessary stress.
You can just throw in some basic foam plugs for most general situations but if you are wanting to perform using ear plugs, you may want to look at getting custom moulding done and purchasing musician specific protection. This can be expensive but it's money well spent.
Like anything, making sure you give your ears a rest from time to time is important. If you do spend a night out in a loud place, giving them ample recovery time is a good idea. Taking a break during you rset, or during the night is also a good idea if you can to limit your exposure.
- Manage your monitors / headphone level
Most clubs will have their booth setup so it's behind the main system giving the DJ some level of protection, but what can cause issues is the level of the booth monitors. One way to limit the temptation to turn these up to full, is to trust your meters. If you've set a good level earlier in the night,resist the urge to continue to increase it. Chances are your ears are just getting used to the level rather than it actually being any quieter than it was.
Try to keep your monitors at a responsible level. No-one enjoys entering the booth after a DJ who has everything turned up to 11!
Using headphones that completely cover your ear can give you some protection also, which will mean you can have your monitor a little quieter.
Finally, if you're worried about hearing loss or potential damage, we'd recommend visiting a hearing specialist and getting a test done. If you're planning on a long DJ career, there's nothing more important.
Let us know if you have any stories or strategies for dealing with too much volume in the club?