Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Fighting Hearing Loss- A Note to Fellow DJ's

       I was warned. We were all warned. It’s no secret. Playing music repeatedly at loud volumes creates the potential to damage one’s hearing. We’ve heard this fact since we were kids. Only now, this Top Notch DJ is no longer a kid. I’ve personally lived by the concept “worry about it later”. Strangely enough, due to this profession that “worry” has crept up sooner rather than later. After over a decade of playing music in and out of clubs throughout North Carolina, I can unfortunately state that I recently have become very cognitive of a slight decrease in my hearing. I find myself misunderstanding words and asking people to repeat their statements more frequently. What can I say, it’s not like I didn’t see this coming and I do know that I am not by any means in this boat alone. I’ve had discussions with fellow DJ’s & musicians around the Raleigh area that have addressed these same concerns with me. In fact, it was recently reported that even artists/hitmaker Zedd has lost hearing in his left ear. It’s a risks that all entertainers are wary of. Fortunately. there are however, steps that I intend to take moving forward to avoid further loss if possible. Fellow DJ’s, I hope the below tips may assist you as well.

1.     Be Aware of Your Exposure and DJ Schedule- It is critical for us to be knowledgeable of how often we are exposing ourselves to music at increased volumes. This does not pertain to just our job as a DJ, but also everyday practices and/or habits that may not be assisting your fight against hearing loss. For me personally, this exposure was found via my “ear plugs” when exercising. Do you listen to music loudly when in your car? Along with deejaying, do you have a 9-5 that entails construction with loud machines? In your spare time do you enjoy attending local or large concerts? It is important to simplify identify the lifestyle actions in addition to our deejaying that could increase our level of hearing loss. Only after identifying these exposures can you personally make the decision to cut back or avoid them if you so choose.
2.     Know your Schedule- What does your schedule have to do with hearing loss? If being a DJ is your profession, EVERYTHING! It is essential to know not only where you’re playing, but also your length of scheduled playing time, and even how the size of the crowd you are playing for (if your supplying your own speakers). For resident DJ’s that bounce from club to club, this practice applies to you as well as you should know the sound system, amount of speakers and even the volumes level that the music is played at. Knowing these facts again ties into Tip #1 which is EXPOSURE. Additionally, Top Notch Entertainment and DJ Services very rarely schedules more than 2 events per day, and never more than 4 per week, as the constant exposure to hearing loss leaves very little time for ear follicles to recover from the loud music.
3.     Don’t Use a Monitor Unless You Have To! – I know it sounds crazy especially for resident DJ’s in the bar/club scene, but utilizing a house monitor is undoubtedly the biggest threat to Tinnitus that we most likely face. The quality of these monitors vary drastically from venue to venue. Some lack power, some lack volume,  but rarely have I personally encountered one that is adjusted perfectly to my hearing preference. This Tip is pretty obvious. Along with playing music in your headphones at loud volumes while simultaneously blaring tunes on the house speakers at loud volumes, having an additional speaker at close proximity to your ear drums, is simply not the best case scenario for fighting hearing loss.
4.     Quality! Quality! Quality! – Have you ever heard the saying “If you don’t buy quality, you’ll pay for it later”? The cost could be your hearing! It is imperative to have quality headphones while mixing your set.  Additionally, always strive to find the highest quality of your music when possible. The more clearer the sound and the better you can hear, the less you will be adjusting volumes in your cue for listening.
5.     Get Ear Plugs- Yes, I know 90% of DJ’s are completely against this option. But, ear monitors are available at affordable prices now, and one can even purchase DB frequency reducing ear plugs that fit quite nicely in your near, and to some could even be unnoticeable. Furthermore, many ear plugs can now even be customized and specifically molded for you. For more information regarding customizable ear plugs, Top Notch recommends reading this helpful article here by DJ Tech Tools. (click this link
     Keep in mind, that Hearing Loss aka Tinnitus is at the current time, without a cure. Once your hearing is gone, it’s GONE! Although I would never suggest that fellow entertainer, musician or DJ halt their passion and practice of playing music to simply avoid this risk, I hope this article does at least assist in identifying a few strategies that can be practiced to at least delay or decelerate the hearing loss progress.

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