The music industry is filled with artists and crew members who have blown out their ears by being around loud music too long. Unfortunately, most people don’t wear earplugs, but they aren’t very effective when you need to be able to hear nuances in live music, and they also tend to fall out of your ears, so they are often abandoned. When we are on tour, we arrive at the venue hours before the show.
We load-in the instruments and gear and the band sets up and sound checks their equipment so that our audio engineer can adjust the sound system and make the show sound as good as possible. The theater is usually empty, except for me, the band and the rest of the crew and stagehands. While the band is rehearsing, our sound engineer needs to have the volume turned up as loud as it will be later in the evening when the venue is packed with bodies that naturally dampen the volume coming from the stage.
This means that sound check is loud. When I am wearing my earplugs, I can listen to the band and make sure they are getting the sounds they want, while protecting my hearing from excessive volume, which can spike as high as 110 decibels. During the show I wear them too, in case I have to get onstage to trouble shoot a problem or otherwise get close to the speakers.