MSU and Big Ear Custom Earplugs

Marching Band Students

Why Do I Need Hearing protection?

Musicians around the world are suffering from hearing loss more than ever before as they have spent a lifetime without wearing any form of band hearing protection.

Surveys of universities reveal that more than 60% of band members suffer from tinnitus, or ringing in their ears, and more than 50% suffer from the noise-induced hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization, loss of hearing has escalated over the past 20 years and shows no sign of slowing down.

Band members have an increased risk for hearing loss as they have spent a majority of their young lives playing loud instruments near each other and during this time they have been exposed to horribly dangerous and irresponsible decibel levels without being warned about the lifelong pain and discomfort that they may potentially face due to playing in the band. Most musical instruments used in marching bands produce sound levels ranging from 92 – 126 dB as shown below will if unregulated or protected against cause irreparable hearing loss and may have already caused you tinnitus (Ringing in the ears). 

Here are actual sound level meter readings from the practice field and at a football game.

                     Marching Band Sound level meter readingsMarching Band Sound level reading

MSU Marching Band with Big Ear Custom Earplugs

Listening is everything

The Problem

Hearing protection companies have done a very poor job creating products that allow musicians to still hear their Balance, intonation, and note accuracy when playing a piece of music as a generic earplug or generic musician earplug creates an uncomfortable muffling effect. In order for any form of marching band hearing protection to work the players have to first wear it, and second be able to understand when and why they should be using it, students should be cultivating the mindset that hearing protection is the most important piece of equipment (other than their instrument) they have. And unfortunately, because companies have opted for the quick cash grab, they have in turn muddied the waters and established a sub-par standard for hearing protection rather than providing a product that actually works.

The Solution

We were angered by the lack of foresight and the overall laziness on the part of hearing protection companies who at the time felt that mediocre filtered hearing protection was up to the musician to adjust to. In response to this, we spent five years traveling from place to place meeting and discussing hearing conservation with musicians and band Directors. We concluded that there was no form of marching band hearing protection that existed that could allow the musician to be comfortable with the earplug in their ears and not degrade the way that they hear the environment around them. The challenge was set.

Our team worked for months alongside Dr. Weiss, Director of Band for USC, David Thornton Michigan State University | College of Music and hundreds of musicians the University of South Carolina and Michigan State University to come up with a solution.

We looked at what every individual musician needed from the piccolo to the drum line and developed a patented solution to give musicians total situational awareness while focusing on comfort and hearing protection.

The result was our Musician Earplug Trainer, a two-part non-linear and linear filtered earplug that allows the musician to be protected from decibels over 85 decibels while at the same time not once being taken out of their immediate surroundings due to the plugged up feeling that earplugs give a performing artist. After releasing the product into the world, the feedback was outstanding and we refined the product to what it is now, little did we know we were in for a rude awakening.

Months passed and we decided to hit the road just like musical artists to promote our new product to bands across the country. However what we found upon arrival at most of the universities that we visited was heartbreaking. Musicians were understandably wary of filtered earplugs as they had already been bitten once by bad filtered earplugs and most of the students that we saw had no hearing protection in their ears, many cited that our products were too expensive (which upon reflection, they are pricey but not completely unaffordable) while others claimed that they were not feeling any ill effects from the band and are happy not protecting their hearing.

This confounded us and we had an a-ha moment, maybe it’s not only the products themselves but the education around hearing conservation that is extremely lacking. From that point on we have made the education of proper hearing conservation our guiding light and with each school, we visit our goal is to not just sell you a piece of equipment but to educate you on proper hearing conservation and give you the ability to play your music comfortably for as long as you choose. 

What We Do

The process is straightforward. We visit your school and discuss your goals of hearing conservation for your band. After, we take that information and create a custom-tailored installment plan for your specific needs.

As music lovers, we want to do whatever is possible to protect band members and preserve music as a safe and honored tradition. We welcome you to assist us in that goal.

As we know all too well, there will still be a great majority of players who will choose to go without hearing protection when you play or a greater portion of you who will choose to suffer through generic poor fitting earplugs. While we here wish that we could make a set of our earplugs for every player we visit, that is just not a reality. What I can offer is a few tips on how to conserve your hearing starting right now.

  1. If you feel any sensation in your ears, speak up. Your section leaders and band directors are across the board caring people with a healthy appreciation for music and those who make it, so don’t ever feel like you are being bothersome if you talk to them about pain in your ears.
  2. Notice the times of your rehearsal when the music peaks and prepare yourself by having a cheap pair of foam earplugs to stick in for that overwhelmingly loud duration.
  3. Distance yourself from an unruly player. If there is a member of your band who is known to let off an extra loud trumpet, piccolo, alto sax, or drum solo after you finish a song, try to distance yourself from the blast zone and be aware of your surroundings.
  4. Hand in hand with tip number 3, talk to that person about their habit and politely ask them to be mindful of their fellow musicians around them.
  5. If you are taking any medication, talk to your doctor or school nurse about the specific medications interaction with decibel levels as there are hundreds of medications that can damage your inner ear hair cells and cause you permanent hearing damage.
  6. In the same light If you hear the word ototoxic followed by the name of a medication you are taking speak to your doctor and band director immediately
  7. If you hear for any reason at all ringing in your ears, address the sensation immediately with your section leader or band director.

Now that we have prepared you for life without our product, below this picture is a list of reasons why we believe you would benefit greatly from wearing what we provide.

Big Ear's The One M.E.T Select Series For Marching Band

(The One®) Select Series is the second tier selection in our M.E.T series. Furthering the idea of the standard set we wanted to give you multiple decibel reduction choices.

A list of the reasons why The One is right for you

1. It’s clear and not very visible which will reduce the comments of your peers.
2. Unlike cheap foamies and generic musician earplugs, the one does not hurt when you wear them all day as they are custom made to your ears.
3. By wearing them all day, you will reduce the chances of getting dosed if someone decides to blast their instrument during downtime in a rehearsal session.
4. Because of the dual filter system, you can hear everyone and everything around you clearly and not miss anything.
5. When you are playing, you can hear the color of the music and stay in beat and in tune with your fellow players.
6. When the full band is playing, you can hear your own instrument and your section while being protected from the massive decibels that you produce.
7. You will be protecting your most important investment, and that is your hearing. As you get better at your craft, you can be assured that you will have your hearing for the rest of your life.

We will be attending the opening camp day August 20, at registration with Emily Hall (hallsemi@msu.edu) to make this hearing protection available for the students.

During this time we will make custom Impressions. The clear earplug is lab generated and takes 21 business day to build and ship. If you order the filtered earplugs you will receive our main specialized filter (a 20-decibel blue filter as seen in the picture below) that you can use in a generic earplug until your custom plugs arrive in the mail.

We take all form of payment and on the 15th we will be able to finance our hearing protection with a $50.00 down payment.

Recently we have developed a three-tiered product option kit for musicians that allows the player to have more flexibility in how they wish to protect their hearing.

The first is our Custom Musician Earplug Standard Series that comes with  One set of filters, a lanyard, a Big Ear-cup, and case. (Click the link to see the product on our website)

How the one Works 

The One Standard series

Custom Musician EarPlugs

Filtered Earplugs For Musicians. Allows the musician to hear their music and others around them while eliminating the plugged up feeling of earplugs while playing.

The second tier is the select series that includes an extra filter set so you can adjust the decibel levels that you reduce. The orange set in the picture below is a 25-decibel reduction, we also have a green 15 dB reduction and a purple 9-decibel reduction.

Marching Band Hearing Protection “Select series”

Big Ear's The One M.E.T Select Series For Marching Band

(The One®) Select Series is the second tier selection in our M.E.T series. Furthering the idea of the standard set we wanted to give you as more choices to protect yourself.

The Third Choice is our premium set with all 4 sets of filters for all your needs. (9 dB, 15 dB, 20 dB and 25 dB) Filters, one pop chord two filter plugs and a tactical piece with a rugged case.

Marching Band Hearing Protection Premium Series

Filtered Ear Plugs, Custom, Musician earplugs, Tactical Pieces, Rugged Case

The magnum opus of our Met Series, with all four filters, one pop chord, one tactical piece two filter plugs and a rugged carrying case this is the best money can buy

We wish you the best this season and if you have any questions you can contact us at any time via the website or the phone number 719-271-9081 or email us at ghood@bigearinc.com. If you wish to have a different selection of filters with your filtered set simply specify which one you would like when you have your impressions made.

Trumpet Player Testimonial

Alto Sax Testimonial

A second Trumpet testimonial