HEARsmart Champion: Phil

Phil is a Project Manager in the Community Sector in his late 30s. He is passionate about music and has been going out to see bands and DJs for the last two decades.

To maintain his ability to appreciate his love of music, Phil has recently decided to take a more proactive approach to protect his hearing when he goes out to clubs and pubs.

“Fortunately for my ears, I’ve sporadically worn foam earplugs for many years. A lot of the music I listen to is electronic and is mastered so the bass dominates.  On the dance floor, I tend to spend a lot of my time finding the ‘sweet spot’ where you can hear everything without it becoming overpowering or feeling uncomfortable. This is quite different to some band gigs, where I end up sitting at the back of the room, but sometimes the sound still hurts.”

“What made me get professional musician earplugs was going to post-rock gigs, a genre typified by non-traditional use of electric guitars. Many sound engineers have no idea how to mix this progressive style of music and, like in Spinal Tap; they often turn the guitars up to 11.

“Those shredding electric guitar frequencies cut like a buzz saw across the mid-to-high ranges of your hearing, which can really hurt,” Phil explained.

A faint and continuous high pitched tone in Phil’s left ear prompted him to seek professional help about his hearing.

“I went and saw an audiologist and had my hearing assessed. Thank goodness, I haven’t suffered hearing loss but instead found out I had tinnitus caused by a stuck neurological signal. Soon after, I ordered some professional musician earplugs that I now wear mainly to concerts,” Phil said.

While Phil has been aware of the hearing loss risks associated with going out and enjoying music for many years, he is concerned that his friends and the venues he goes to do not share his awareness of the risks.

“There needs to be more training on how to do back-of-house mixing and a better understanding of the health risks associated with loud-noise exposure,” Phil stated.

“Greater levels of professional responsibility for those who can actually do something about it will have us all enjoying the music that we love, for longer.”